Wednesday, October 18, 2023

GN 10784 Plywood Boxcar - Quick Weathering

Time to dive into weathering my new Bridgetown 2023 acquisition, a GN "Plywood" boxcar.   Normally, I've thought these cars were gaudy and strange.  

Orange... in a freight?!

To be fair, I'm not much of a GN researcher, but I do want to model GN cars as foreign cars showing up on my Southern Pacific layout.  Over the last two years or so is that these cars did run across the area that I model, namely Tehachapi and even the Jawbone Branch.

Great Northern Paint Schemes?

IMRC/IMWX boxcar kit painted in the 'normal' paint scheme for 1948-1956.

While I'm more used to the classic brown GN boxcar fleet, adding this bright orange car will certainly be an outstanding model, drawing attention.  

Timeline of GN paint schemes:
1941: Side Facing Goat Herald introduced. First FT's delivered (first orange and green livery).

1948: New/repainted freight cars use "Great Northern" instead of "Glacier Park" in logo.

So oddly, the IMWX/IMRC kit has the post-1948 herald with the Great Northern, not the Glacier National Park phrasing in the herald.  Orange/Green paint scheme on the plywood car started back in 1941 with side facing goat. - Good to know, I'll have to change the tare date anyway on the brown car kit, which will work to be a 1948 repaint, probably just remove the "NEW" and leave the "F" date.

IMRC 46055-03*, a RTR GN "Plywood" panel boxcar in orange and black.

These cars were built in 1947 at the St. McCloud Shops with the upgraded post-war steel ends, and retained pre-war design of panel roofs.  It looks like there were two groups of cars, one of 500 cars built in 1945, then 400 cars in 1947.  The GN 10784 would be in the second group of 400 cars.  It would also appear that within the first three years, about 7 cars were destroyed and struck from the roster.

GN 10000-series 'plywood' composite boxcars ORER data 1950.

These were some of the first cars built with plywood sides.  Some PFE reefers were also rebuilt/built with plywood sides, but ended up being changed back to other materials within 5-8 years as the early plywoods failed faster than standard board or steel-side construction.  I don't really know what the disposition of the plywood-sided boxcars on the GN, but clearly they existed into the early 1950s and roamed freely.

Minor Repairs

Somewhere along the route from IMRC's Chinese factory to my hands the car seems to have been dropped and had the steel weight knocked loose from the inside of the floor.  Thankfully, there was not very much glue holding the roof to the upper body edges, and I was able to remove the roof to reattach the weight.

Interior with re-glued weight.

I used some standard automotive RTV-Silicone.  Don't forget to be sure the weight is centered on the floor and with a bit of RTV around the edges to hold it firm.  Then the RTV was allowed to gas-off for a couple days before reattaching the roof with MEK (Tamiya glue).

Weathering Goals

Generally, I want to keep the weathering on this car moderated.  The 1947 build date can mean that it showed up on my railroad within the first year or two.  Given that I model into 1954 with RSD-5s, then I could have them with nearly 7 years of weathering.  I'll aim to go with some grime weathering on the lower car, and also some washes on the panel-edges. 

Some basic roof weathering with Pavement and Territorial Beige highlights along the running board.

Dusty/sooty roof gets a bit of typical weathering.  Rain washed-effects of the Pacific North West should play a part in the weathering too, which will extend onto the car side.

Weathering with Acrylics

Right side with weathering starting.  Ladder mud/boot kick marks onto the side.

 The trucks and underframe are Pavement wash and highlighted with Territorial Beige.

Left side with panel lines.

Most of the side weathering at this point is just highlighting the panel edges with grimy wash and a bit of Pavement from Apple Barrel. 

Weathering with Chalk Marks

Right side chalk marks.

A couple light chalk marks for release lever and hand written "Seattle".  Dark chalk mark of "21" at the left end of the car.  I decided to make the sharp dirt/soot drips from the ends of the door track with my new dark gray Gelly-Roll pen against a straight edge ruler.

Left side chalk marks.

On this side I went with a "Mill St" chalk mark and a very faint tally mark set to the left of the door.  I also did the same dark gray Gel-pen marks from the door tracks.  Generally these streaks can be done with a fine brush, but I wanted to try making sure that they were straight by using the straight-edge and pen method.  It seemed to work.  I can also use a bit of 70% iso-alcohol to feather the end of the streak down a bit more.

Routing Cards

On many of my cars starting in October 2023 and moving forward will have a couple of the OwlMtModels 1220 Routing & Grading Cards applied.

Right side with routing card

On the right side I put a simple routing card under the 7 of the car number.  The car's plywood sides could be hammer-stapled to, thus allowing the cards to be placed pretty much anywhere, although I'm sure GN would prefer the clerks to use the card boards, fitted low on the doors!

Left side with routing and a grading card.

The left side has a Grade "B" card over in the right side data block, below the herald.  There's also a routing card placed over the "Mill St" chalk mark.

In Closing

The basics of weathering this car to this point only took a little over an hour.  So don't be afraid to do a "quick and dirty" weathering pass on a model.  

Wrapped up and ready to roll.

I may experiment with some chipped paint showing a section of the plywood layer failing in a follow-up Part 2 post.  I may also make a light pass with the airbrush to blend everything together a bit.

Jason Hill

Related Articles:

Routing & Grading Cards with OwlMtModels 1220 Decals - Prototype Routing & Grading, demonstrated on NC&StL 15337.

GN Paint Schemes - off-blog reference resource

Sunday, October 15, 2023

SP Jawbone Branch (Part 38) - Freight Forwarders & Connecting Freight Symbols

In this post, I'm moving away from the Jawbone Branch that I'm modeling, and to the larger world around it, through which the cars to and from the Jawbone travel.  La Mesa Model Railroad Club in San Diego has modeled the areas that I'm talking about.  So I will be using my photos from the last 26 years of operating sessions.

Mojave Shorts West

SP Mojave Shorts West works Caliente on the LMRC layout.

The Mojave Shorts West works from the Los Angeles Yard (Taylor Yard) west with "Shorts" traffic to Mojave where most of the traffic for the area around Mojave is exchanged for another block of cars going west of Bakersfield.  Some low-priority through cars for points short of Fresno may continue west of Mojave to Bakersfield after spending a day being sorted out in the Mojave yard.

Mojave Shorts East

Typical mid-train photo of Mojave Shorts East between Cliff and Cable on the LMRC layout.

The Mojave Shorts East works from Bakersfield east to Mojave where most of inbound cars for Mojave are exchanged with outbound cars from the local freights that work out of Mojave.  Eastward cars arriving from the local trains into Mojave are resorted and make up a new strings of cars the train continues to Los Angeles Yard (Taylor Yard).

Santa Fe Interchange at Mojave

ATSF 265 with N-34 switching on the old A&P mainline in Mojave, Jason Hill photo at LMRC.

The Santa Fe freight symbols N-34 and BAW are the regulars that work Mojave.  While Santa Fe does have agreements with the SP to solicit traffic off the Jawbone Branch (mostly China Lake, Trona and West End), the SP hauls the traffic to Mojave then hands it off to the Santa Fe.  Traffic also can come in on the Santa Fe to the Jawbone Branch.

Although there are photos of ATSF boxcars on the Jawbone branch.  These are probably from two sources. 1. ATSF home cars to support the traffic that they have solicited on the Jawbone.  2. ATSF freight forwarder cars traveling to destinations on the Jawbone Branch.

Searles Turn

Trona Rwy Engine 50 & 51 at Searles - This is the interchange train with the SP's Searles Turn. - Jason Hill collection.

The Searles Turn works out of Mojave and primarily interchanges with the Trona Railway at Searles, called Searles Station on the Trona Rwy about 40 miles Northeast of Mojave.  I suspect that the Searles Turn was allowed to go as far as Inyokern for heavy interchange to the US Navy Weapons Center, China Lake.   The Employe Timetables show heavy engines being allowed as far as Inyokern, so that would make since that the job could go that far without getting into trouble.  China Lake had it's own US Navy switcher, so the SP simply dropped and picked up cars on the interchange track.

I'm not sure if the Searles Turn worked the smaller spurs between Searles and Mojave, such as Saltdale and Cantil, or if the Owenyo Local worked those and the Searles Turn stayed with the largest two interchange stations on the branch.

Owenyo Local "Long Haul"

SP 3237 works cars at Bartlett on the Jawbone branch - Leo Barusch photo - Dani Collection (color balanced)

Worked between Mojave and Owenyo, primarily north (compass) of Inyokern I suspect, see comment above.  This was 143 miles by rail through the desert, although no two scenes were the same along the way.  The eastern side of the Sierra-Nevada constantly changed, with the mountain range to the east, including the White Mountains changing as well and the valleys in between marked with evidence of various geologically activities.

Local Freight Loading

Freight Forwarders

Santa fe Freight House LA - Photographer Unk

Street side freight docks to transload goods to boxcars to move around the nation using the companies known as freight forwarders.

Acme Fast Freight (SP)

The SP contracted with Acme Fast Freight for their freight forwarding services.  This isn't to be confused with the SP subsidiary Pacific Motor Transport (PMT) which is famous for the L.C.L. freight movements around the SP system.  Acme was the 'friendly' connection to the off-line freight forwarders.

PMT Loading at LA Freight House - Alden Armstrong photo

The SP Freight House at Los Angeles would handle the PMT and Acme freight needs for the Jawbone Branch.  The Jawbone might also get the occasional carload of freight forwarder traffic consolidated coming from the Bay Area at Oakland, but more likely it was gathered at Los Angeles as the closest large freight house to consolidate the carloads.  I suppose Mojave's Freight House might have also re-consolidated regular cars from LA or Oakland into more local service L.C.L. or Freight Forwarder carloads for the various branch lines.  

SP 2751 at Little Lake 1950 serpico_little_lake003_sml - Owens Valley History,com

Some stations such as Little Lake on the Jawbone did have a small freight platform on the mainline as late as 1950, so this suggests that the regular local freight would have a single L.C.L. or Freight Forwarder car that was worked en route and stopped briefly to work each of the very small freight docks.

Western Car Loading (ATSF)

Typical Santa Fe boxcar used for Freight Forwarder loading around California.

Like Acme Fast Freight for the SP, the Santa Fe preferred Western Car Loading for their freight forwarding service.

Station Codes

My planned Employe Time Table for the Jawbone Branch layout.

By the post-war years the SP had established a system of station code numbers.  1511 was Bakersfield, which would be the immediate destination of all westward Jawbone Branch cars and 3429 Los Angeles Yard would be the eastward traffic.  Beyond which the cars would probably have additional routing information provided.

I'll probably use these to some extent, but in a way this is the unfortunate part of modeling a branchline which is not part of the SP's main trunk route with the bridge traffic moving through between a variety of station numbers.  It would be interesting to set up a model railroad to use these station codes properly.  I know the ATSF used these station codes, based on mile posts, regularly to help direct cars with only 4-5 digits.  I'm not sure what logic was behind the SP's station numbering system.

I can certainly use this system for inbound cars going to 3144 (Owenyo), 3130 (Bartlett), and 3089 (Little Lake) with 1579 being Mojave on my switch lists.  I'm considering some form of spot numbering as well, shown on the station drawings.

In Closing

Hopefully this larger view will help expand the view of my layout's position in the larger world.

SP 102856 post-war B-50-28 boxcar SPNG Owenyo Transfer Dock 1954 - owensvalleyhistory,com (s-l1600_ebay01_sml)

It will be fun to incorporate these traffic routings into the operations on my layout, but I have the feeling they will be pretty shallow, and not as in-depth as I'm used to in the past.

Jason Hill

Related Articles:

Jawbone Branch Index Page - Links to all my blog posts on my new Jawbone Branch layout.

Saturday, October 14, 2023

Bridgetown 2023 RPM Meet - GN Plywood & Unlettered Tangent B-50-28 Boxcars for the Jawbone Branch

SP 4230 leads OCM-7 through the snow approaching Oakridge with a heavy consist of open lumber laden gondolas and flatcars. - Bob Zenk photo

I want to just do a quick report on the Bridgetown RPM meet in Portland, Oregon this month.  I enjoyed visiting with everyone who attended.  Thanks to Bruce Barney, Rod Loder, and the rest of the crew that was able to get the event set up at the Airport Shilo Inn at the Portland airport.  As always, conversations were fast and everyone seemed busy!  I was last able to attend the first Bridgetown RPM meet in 2018.  So after 5-6 years it was great to be able to visit friends again in the greater Pacific North West area.

The second consist I brought is a Valley extra freight with a classic "Deck" & a work consist with a 2-8-0 and a couple SPMW bunk cars, covered previously in early October 2023. - Bob Zenk photo

The models I brought to the meet included a ~40 car OCM lumber train with about 80% of the cars loaded with OwlMtModels Modular Lumber Loads.  The other consist pulled by SP 3666 was a San Joaquin Valley consist with three OwlMtModels Blackburn Sugarbeet Racks on F-50-series flatcars, a Red Caboose composite GS gondola, and the NC&StL Accurail 36ft Fowler boxcar kitbash I recently posted about here.  Unfortunately, I ran out of time during set up to pull out another 10-15 cars which I've been posting on the blog here, which would have included the NP 11661 double-sheath boxcar, a couple of UTLX tank cars, etc.

As my Jawbone Branch really isn't set up to show, let alone photograph, full freight consists of 40-50 cars, it was nice to get out and see some big consists again.  I'm hoping to remember my tripod so I can photograph the full consists at the SPH&TS convention in Bakersfield later this month!

Bob Cromwell's F-50-2 with OwlMtModels Lumber Loads

When I was able to go walk around the other vendors tables and model display tables I found Bob Cromwell's SP F-50-2 (printed by one of his friends many years ago) with a partly built up OwlMtModels 3004 lumber load on it! - Looking good Bob!

I look forward to seeing how Bob wraps this one up with all the stakes and bracing!

Bob's other models included a large number of tank car models from the 1920s and 1930s, all very nicely finished.

Remember that RPM meets are for you to bring your incomplete models to discuss and chat with others about.  It's not all about bringing "finished" models to show.  But like so much in the hobby, there's still stuff to do on the models.  This aspect is one of the main reasons I highly prefer attending RPM meets over any form of 'contest'.  Many of those that come to the RPM meets could and I'm sure have easily one 'contests' that they've entered.  And quite frankly, winning isn't worth it if you don't have friends to share it with.  So RPMs are a place to enjoy, and leave the competition outside.  The only one you're truly competing with in modeling is what kind of modeler, what kind of a person you can become.

GN "Plywood" Boxcar

For the last couple years I've been keeping an eye out for GN Plywood boxcars after seeing the photo below at Little Lake (Consist Photo Analysis (Part 2) - Owenyo Local, Circa 1950), with the train pulling a couple of GN boxcars near the rear of the consist.

SP 2751 at Little Lake 1950  by Serpico (little_lake003_sml) - Owens Valley History,com - Cropped & Enlarged Consist

While the model doesn't have the Superior-hybrid door of the newer announced IMRC run, which I think is what's in the photo at Little Lake, it was on sale for 50% off from Portland Whistle Stop!

GN "plywood" boxcar with Youngstown doors by IMRC.

I like the oddity of having a bright orange boxcar in regular service able to add some "spice" to the fairly 'boring' consists expected on my Jawbone Branch layout.  Yes, occasionally PFE reefers show up, but this adds a bit as foreign boxcars can roam around in the high desert too.

The red and white herald over the orange side is certainly interesting in the lack of contrast normally associated with the GN's paint schemes.

This car is shown in the new scheme from 1947 "as-built".  I may decide to dig up some black reporting marks and put some on, as the 'new' version doesn't appear to have any tare data, expecting anyone needing it to look at the right side data block for the build date.

This 3/4 view shows the A-end's post-war style of Dreadnaught end and plain rectangular panel roof.

I'm not sure how much weathering I'll be wanting to put on this model.  Maybe just enough to highlight the screw details at the panel joints to show that it's not the normal riveted construction.  As my modeling era targets 1946-1954, this car's 1947 build date keeps it mostly in the first few years of the car's existence. 

Left side view of GN 10784 with basic weathering that I'll show in the upcoming blog post using AppleBarrel acrylic paints and some Gel-pens. - Still subject to some revisions and adjustments to the weathering!

Thus the paint shouldn't be 'falling off' yet by any means.  Although I could do a little chipping here and there along the edges of the plywood panels.  I'm sure I'll cover a weathering post specifically on GN 10784 when I get to working on this car specifically.

SP 102856 - Tangent B-50-28 Unlettered - Youngstown Door Boxcar

SP 102856 Bags of Gypsum Owenyo CA Transfer Docks - owensvalleyhistory,com - (sp_narrow_g44b_sml)

Owenyo is certainly the focal point of my Jawbone Branch layout, with probably 80% of the freight traffic heading to or from the transfer platforms or the transfer trestle.  These two photos from 1954 show the three year old car starting to weather some, notably the herald is starting to have some paint failure.

SP 102856 post-war B-50-28 boxcar SPNG Owenyo Transfer Dock 1954 - owensvalleyhistory,com (s-l1600_ebay01_sml) - (Cropped to show only boxcar)

Tangent has offered painted, unlettered versions of their RTR B-50-28 boxcars.  I was able to get one to do the car above.  The car should be the focus of a future blog post when I get around to doing it.

Painted SP FCR version of Tangent's B-50-28 boxcar with 7ft Youngstown Doors.

In my first review blog of Tangent's new B-50-28 boxcars, I introduce these models. New Tangent SP B-50-28 and T&NO B-50-32s - Review

This is the info for the unlettered version of the boxcar I've picked up for the SP 102856.


Built 9-12/1950 thru 6/1951 *
SP 102100-103599, 1500 cars <- Tangent's current offerings - 2023.
SP 104100-105099, 1000
SP 105100-105599, 500
T&NO 59750-60249, 500
T&NO 60250-61249, 1000

Modeling SP B-50-series Boxcars (Part 2) - Post-War All-Steel - Roster including SP 102856

SP Post-War 7ft Boxcar Decals by Dan Kohlberg

Daniel Kohlberg was holding down the Tangent Models table and on the side his selection of decals for use on the unlettered Tangent B-50-28s.

Daniel Kohlberg's catalog of decals he offers - Page 1

It was enjoyable to talk with Dan for a few minutes while I was away from the OwlMtModels table.

Daniel Kohlberg's catalog of decals he offers - Page 2

I picked up his set for various SP B-50-28+ series cars for $12 and will be looking forward to decalling one of my unlettered Tangent B-50-28s.

Dan Kohlberg's SP Post-War boxcar decal sets.

Reverse side of SP Post-War boxcar decal set, which shows lettering diagrams.

I look forward to sitting down and finishing the RTR-pre-painted, unlettered B-50-28 as the car in the photo.  I like having a prototype weathering/details photo to aim for.  I feel it actually makes modeling the 'typical' prototype easier when you have a specific target to make yours look like. - Maybe I should finish other projects I've already started first?

In Closing

One of the Proto:48 modelers at the RPM brought a Fowler 36ft CP boxcar.  I'm building a Westerfield one in HO, so you'll find inspiration in other scales too!

I would encourage all modelers to are interested in prototype modeling to attend one of your local RPM meets, which are held all over the USA on regular basis.  They are not "contests", but more a forum where fellow modelers can get together and share the hobby, discuss modeling techniques, products, skills and help one another become better modelers.  If nothing else, bring your cell phone camera and take pictures of weathering and interesting things that you might like to model someday.

As one of the attendees (railstiesballast) posted on recently:

"A fun day, with great clinics and awesome modeling on display.
As an SP fan (and former employee) I could not resist getting a couple of Tangent's new SP B 50-28 40 ft. cars with 10-foot wide doors, with their distincive yellow stripe. (See their photo on their thread.)
Here is one of the more imaginative models, an Owl Mountain Models lumber load that has shifted during transit. I have see a lot of these, but simply never thought to make a model of it.
I wish I had recorded the name of modeler who shared it, can anyone comment?
I highly recommend attending these gatherings, they always explore new territories in the art and science (e.g. 3-D printing) of model railroading, and offer a great time to catch up with friends."

SP 79934, F-70-3 kitbash in-process, photo of my load just after I finished it last month.  Railstiesballast's phone-pic was of this car & load.

He posted a photo of one of my shifted OMM 3001 Lumber Loads on a not-quite-finished kitbashed F-70-3 60ft flatcar.  I'm not active on Train Orders, but the community jumped in and answered the question.

"Thank you for the info, and well done Mr. Hill.
I have several of his kits, but have lacked his imagination, my stacks are straight.
What is not obvious in the first photo is that it was a part of a 40 (?) car SP lumber drag with many open loads, being pulled by a Cab Forward.
An excellent contribution to an Oregon modeler's meet."

It is good to see 'railstiesballast' has received some inspiration to up his game of modeling what he saw for years working on the SP, not be limited to "what the instructions say" on the box!  I hope we all can keep our modeling fresh and dynamic, and visiting with fellow modelers will certainly help do that!

Jason Hill

Related Articles:

Modeling SP B-50-series Boxcars (Part 2) - Post-War All-Steel - Roster including SP 102856

New Tangent SP B-50-28 and T&NO B-50-32s - Review - My first review of Tangent's new B-50-28 boxcars

Open Loads (Part 7) - Shifted Lumber Loads - Modeling unique shifted lumber loads - Think outside the modelers box, but inside what the railroaders every day experiences were.

Routing & Grading Cards with OwlMtModels 1220 Decals

Over the years, I've used blank snippings of paper glued to the car sides to simulate the routing cards on my models for over 20 years.  In recent years, modern modeling takes advantage of digital depth of field stacking and focusing which makes it possible to even read the smallest lettering on models.  In recent months, I've started to notice my older models with blank routing cards are starting to draw unwanted attention.

NC&StL 15337 Accurail kitbash with OMM 1220 routing and grading cards matching photo below.

However, for the prototype modeler and the operating modeler there's one detailing aspect which I've that can be improved with modern technology.  Why not also be able to read what is on the routing and grading cards on the model?

For more info on this NC&StL car see links below:
NC&StL 15337 (Part 3) - Wrapping Up & Weathering - Other articles on this Accurail 36ft Fowler kitbash are linked at the end of Part 3 article.
A New Chalk Mark Method - Using Gel-Pens for chalk marks!

NC&StL 15337 - Fowler -TRRA photo, East St Louis, July 1948, Illinois, Joe Collias coll, Bobs Photo - Ted Culotta collection

The prototype photo of NC15337 shows two or three cards.  The ones on the left are probably routing cards, and the one on the right is probably a grading card.  It's another level of modeling enjoyment to be able to match prototype photos even closer now.  Let's look closer at how this came to be.

OwlMtModels' Decal Cards

The OwlMtModels #1220 decal set includes 144 prototypically based cards, two groups are in white, a third group in light green/blue, and the fourth in a manila/beige color.  Thanks to Anthony Thompson and his prototype paperwork collecting contributors for making posts on his blogs over the years documenting the vast historical cards used by various railroads.  I'm also linking directly to Tony's blogs in this post for the prototype examples.

OwlMtModels' new #1220 Routing & Grading Cards decal sheet.

Earlier this summer I asked Todd Osterburg to see what we could do with PDC's fine line decals.  He was nice enough to draw the artwork.  The decals are produced by PDC in Canada and sold through OwlMtModels website for $2.00/sheet.

Railroad print shops would use various basic pastel colors which they had on hand.  Special colors such as yellow or red were reserved for home-routing/shop cards or bad-orders.  If there's interest, OwlMtModels may offer other versions, but this is a starting point for modelers.

Prototype Cards

A clerk cards a SSW boxcar with his hammer-stapler - Linked photo from Anthony Thompson's Routing Cards #11 blog.

Cards would be hammer-stapled anywhere along the lower wooden parts of wooden cars.  Steel cars had 'tack boards' and 'card boards' mounted to the car sides.  Flatcars and tank cars with wooden running boards could have the cards stapled directly into the deck or running boards.

Routing Card typical from Anthony Thompson's blog

The SP used a number system to send the cars around the system.  There were also basics for WB/EB and intcherchange cars seem to have cards for which railroad the car was going to go to.  For example D&RGW or UP at Ogden.

Routing Card Number index for SP - Anthony Thompson's blog Part 10 where other examples are shown.

There were many systems of cards used around the country.  It seems that different divisions would also have their own numbering series.

Another excerpt from Anthony Thompson's Routing Cards #11 blog

Much of the smaller lettering is not possible to print even with modern technology, so the decals are limited to the larger lettering.

Grading Cards

The grading cards: A, B, C, D (or X, depending on the railroad doing the grading) were easy ways to sort out which cars would be available for loading.  The traffic departments would actually keep a large sheet of paper, similar to the operating department's Train Sheet, to keep track of all the cars on the division going to customers and expecting to be becoming available in the coming days.  They would also keep track of how many available boxcars (XM) would be available in each grading category.  Shippers would then be putting their orders in for their loads which would require at least a certain grade of car.

Grading Card examples linked over from Tony Thompson's blog.

Anthony Thompson's blog, Route cards, Part 19: grading freight cars, covers more details of car grading.  Operationally, I'll probably be doing more on car grading for my Jawbone Branch at some point, but for now back to the car carding.  Tony has some additional grading card variations in Route cards, Part 23: varieties of grading cards post, including the octagon-shaped cards.

The railroads would grade cars according to several subjective standards by the carmen looking them over between loadings.  Cars could be improved to some extent by sending the cars over to the RIP track and spending some time cleaning up the interiors by fixing exposed nail heads, damaged boards, etc.  Some cars would be carded to be "CLEAN OUT" which would involve removing old materials and debris from the car's interior.  Normally, the customer that unloaded the car was supposed to clean out the car but that didn't always happen.  The railroads often had a whole track in the typical yard for cars needing "Clean out".  Cars could easily spend 8+ hours in these tracks as you wouldn't want to be inside cars sweeping them out if more cars were being shoved into the track.

Accurail PFE R-40-27 with a routing, Time, and CLEANED card, typical for perishable assignments.

Reefers obviously would need more specialized care and cleaning, thus it was concentrated in a few repair shops.  PFE had three locations, Portabello in Idaho, Colton and Roseville in California.  SFRD concentrated their efforts at San Bernardino and Bakersfield's facilities.  These repairs and cleanings could include removing spoiled perishables, cleaning the bunker drains, repairing or replacing the linings of the car if damaged or contaminated, etc.

Tank cars often needed to be cleaned if they were being reassigned to another loading.  Some loads required regular steam cleanings, other linings required NOT to be steam cleaned.

Flatcars were pretty simple, their wooden deck edges were easy targets for the clerks' hammers.

In Closing

At a little over one cent per card, these decals are quite affordable, and one sheet can do dozens of cars.

Right (not photographed) side of Accurail kitbash, which is finished in 'typical' fashion with chalk marks and routing cards.

I've started applying the cards to cars in my fleet, so you might start noticing them in future blog posts.

Jason Hill

Related Articles:

Some specific blog posts worth a look.

Route cards, Part 11 — examples

Route cards, Part 19: grading freight cars

Route cards, Part 20: more grading cards

Route cards, Part 23: varieties of grading cards

NC&StL 15337 (Part 3) - Wrapping Up & Weathering - Other articles on this Accurail 36ft Fowler kitbash are linked at the end of Part 3 article.

A New Chalk Mark Method - Using Gel-Pens for chalk marks!