Saturday, February 24, 2024

SP Ready Shop Gondolas (Part 1) - New Decals for SPMW 1162 & SPMW 1902

I had a bit of fun when the sun came out this week touching up the decals on a couple of my old SPMW gondolas.  So this will be a short post on the upgrades on two cars.

New small decals applied to add more information about the car's assignments

The SPMW forces seem that they didn't have any gondolas assigned to Supply Train service on their ledgers, but instead listed them as "Ready Gondola - Shop".  It seems that this still put them under the Stores Department, but not under the "Supply" category, which seemed to be what the Supply Trains pulled their cars from or were the regular pool of cars sent around the system for track and other department's supplies.  Material for the Stores and Shop forces was kept separate.  This may mean that these cars could be seen in Supply Trains, due to the "Ready Gondola" general classification

Past Kitbashing of SPMW 1162

Ex-EPSW 40ft gondolas SP 45752 with sideboards and retired sister SPMW 1162 (ex-45138).

Some fifteen to twenty years ago, I started rebuilding this car and got it as far as painting and decalling the basic reporting marks and data on the side.  I stopped working on this car before I drilled all the grab iron holes and installing them.  The hand brakes on the car end still needs to be fabricated.

Side view of SPMW 1162

The prototype was originally an EPSW 40ft gondola SP 45138, which was retired on January 19, 1937 and according to the 1956 SPMW Roster the car was assigned as a Ready Gondola, billed to the "Shop" department.  By 1956, there were only two of these Ex-EPSW gondolas remaining in SPMW service.  I am not sure if more were in MW service earlier and these were the last two.  I would think that these were the last two survivors of a larger number at one time in the SPMW service, but I don't really have a way to know for sure.

Other side of SPMW 1162

I did some basic weathering, mostly in the form of road grime and some "rust strikes" from the interior of the car's steel sides getting hit by materials dropped on the inside, which started breaking loose the paint from the exterior of the car.  So this is starting to show on the SP medallion.  I still don't have any of the car's measurement stencils applied.  Not surprising as the SPMW didn't bother re-stenciling all the mechanical data of the retired cars.

Underframe Rebuild

During the original kitbash, years ago, I put an Athearn 40ft steel boxcar underframe under this car to get some easy bolsters and coupler boxes on the car.  A sheet of lead was cut to fit under the floor, sandwiched between the body and the Athearn underframe.  The trouble with Athearn's underframe is that the brake cylinder's on the wrong side of the underframe!  This is a long standing tooling error dating back 60+ years.  So I'll probably be taking off all the brake components from the underframe.

SPMW 1162 kitbash with Athearn 40ft boxcar underframe.

Because this car was retired in 1937, just at the very beginning of the use of AB brakes and refitting cars in the revenue fleet with it.  Therefore, I highly doubt that the SPMW 1162 could have had its brakes rebuilt to AB at the time it was retired.  I have the car tare-dated for 1948, which means it may have been fitted with AB brakes, as the car lasted until 1956.  Then again, I've seen K-brakes on SP's F-50-series flatcars into 1955, so MW cars still having K-brakes well into the 1950s is certainly possible.

I'll probably put K-brakes on SPMW 1162 in Part 2 as I finish up the details.

Scratch Built Ends

Scratch built ends from styrene shapes and sheet.

The ends were fabricated from styrene sheet and some small plastic angle from Evergreen Plastics.  The exterior of the ends has a top angle and two vertical angles just outside of the frame and draft-gear.  End sills were also fabricated simply out of angles.  I still need to add the grab/ladders around the ends of the car.

The insides of the ends was braced 

The inside ends of the car had horizontal angle iron bracing.  I researched this end from photos in Anthony Thompson's SP Freight Cars book, Volume 1 - Gondolas.

Updating Assignment Decals

I'm not 100% sure, but this sounds like a car that was available for use by the Company Shops... So this could mean for car parts, steam parts, diesel parts, etc. 

SPMW 2452 showing examples of the stenciling for the SP Stores Department.

It's similar to the assignment that I covered with SPMW 847 and SPMW 2452 wheel cars, which carried special stenciling for the assignment, including which Stores Department location the car was to be sent back to. 

Left side of Ex-EPSW gondola, retired to become SPMW 1162.

On the SPMW 1162, I decided that I want more of my SPMW fleet to have specific assignments stenciled on the car itself, if it was historically probable that it was done.

New small decals applied to add more information about the car's assignments

On this car I want to add the "Shop Ready", "LA GEN STORES", and "STORES DEPT" stencils appropriated from OMM's new 1214 SPMW F-50-8/9/10/12 decal set and also from Todd Osterburg's new Boxcar/Pullman SPMW sets.  Theoretically, this car would be routed back to LA General Shops when empty, of course I could waybill the car to go anywhere on the system, if needed.

It appears from the SPMW book by Ken Harrison that these ex-EPSW gondolas were kept captive to the El Paso Shops, and probably just worked west on the Arizona Division and east onto the Rio Grande Division.

Updating Decals on SPMW 1902

Left side SPMW 1902

Likewise, I decided to add some assignment decals to the SPMW 1902, which is also a Ready Gondola assigned to Shops, part of the Stores Department.  In this case, I used the Sacramento Shops General Stores stencils.

Right side SPMW 1902

On this model, I went with the larger "SHOP READY" stenciling assembled from the larger lettering. 

Unfortunately for my modeling of this car... a few weeks after I added the decals covered here, I read in the roster CD included in Ken Harrison's SPMW book, that the SPMW 1902 was fitted with a sump pump and tank, which would have been cool to see a photo of... but I guess I could experiment with kitbashing a 'what if' theoretical set of machinery of what that could have looked like. - I'm assuming that it was used to clean out the various drain and catch sumps shown on SP's Val maps around water and fueling at shop facilities.  So if I do make a specialized load for this car, I'll probably cover it in another blog post.

In Closing

I just noticed working on these photos that I'm missing the standard lubrication stencils which would be on all cars, including MW cars, at the right end of the car, near the bolster.  So I'll have to go back and add those for the next part in the series.

I've enjoyed doing a little tinkering on some of these old "cheap" kitbashes again with the new decals.   I feel I want anyone operating the cars to get a natural sense of what the car's doing and why it is there.

Jason Hill

Related Articles:

Freight Car Overview Index - Overview list of various blogs, including SPMW projects

Saturday, February 3, 2024

Tangent B-50-28 & -31 Custom Decalled to Match Owenyo Prototypes

I always like modeling off prototype photos, both in the way it actually frees me from inventing weathering and finishing, and it also gives me a specific target to measure the modeling against.  Now that Tangent has produced these huge (over 8000 cars since 1946) and typical classes of SP's post-war cars, I could now easily add these models to my fleet for the Jawbone Branch.

My first Tangent B-50-28 that I picked up to review after renumber and the second unlettered car with decals.

One minor problem for my personal preference of modeling prototype cars that has been nagging me since the arrival of SP 102176 from Tangent is that I would prefer it to be a car that actually was seen on the Jawbone Branch.

The Inspiration - Prototype Photo

This car's a fun project to try to match a specific prototype.  Having the great end-view of the car is nice as well.  In this photo in Joe Dale Morris' book Slim Princess in the Sunset: 1940-1960 the caption says that the car's full of bagged Talc products.  The stacked load appears to be pushing four feet tall, which would suggest that the car's loaded to its 50-ton capacity.

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

Another set of photos show many of boxcars at the Owenyo transfer docks after 1950 show 7ft single door boxcars from both SP, T&NO, and foreign roads being loaded by a small industrial forklift with a front-loader bucket with soapstone.

I'd been wondering about why these quite new 7ft door boxcars were being sent to Owenyo for loading, but it seems that they wanted these cars for the ease of loading with the mechanical assistance.  So the two Tangent boxcars that I have will probably represent the soapstone service.  I don't have very many other models which have larger than 6ft doors.  I have a couple of Branchline Blue-Print series PRR boxcars which could be used to represent the foreign cars showing up.

The 1937 AAR 10ft high boxcar B-50-21 as modeled with Branchline Yardmaster series model.

Older 6ft door SP cars also showed up at Owenyo for transfer loading too, so I'll continue to plan to have the older cars spot for loading with the hand-trucks.

SP 102856, The Plan for Renumbering a Factory Tangent B-50-28

So I have a couple options, one is to renumber the review sample that I bought (SP 102176) to be the SP 102856 (built in 4th quarter 1950). 

SP 102176 being renumbered to SP 102856.

The basics of changing lettering can be done in several ways.  While any use of liquids are best to be able to test them before working on the majority of the visible model.  On this model, I want to replicate the car as it was only a couple of years old (built 1950, and I model before 1954), which means that I can't use weathering to hide any problems from the renumbering.  I settled for abrasive lettering removal.  

Close-up of renumbering of SP 102176 to SP 102856.

While I often use fibre-bristle brushes to lightly scratch away the pad-printing, I opted for the control of a single edge of a sharp No.11 X-acto blade for this model.

End lettering change on SP 102176 to SP 102856.

The end lettering was a bit more challenging, but also came off easily, some of the small flakes are still loose around on the end of the car in this photo.  These flecks were easily removed with a small brush.

New numbers from Daniel Kohlberg's decal set (which I cover on the second car SP 106272 below)

The easiest "85" that I could get to match the 'as-delivered' Pullman lettering on the B-50-28, to snip them out of the number jumble and then reverse them, cutting the "58" after it was wetted.  Then the two numbers were placed carefully on the car-side and Micro-Scale 'Micro Sol' with a small brush.

A quick view of the right side of SP 102856.

I also applied a routing and a grading cards from OwlMtModels 1220 decal set on the smaller lower tack-board.

A close-up of the routing & grading cards.

More Perspiration - Decalling an Unlettered Tangent B-50-28 as B-50-31

Tangent B-50-28 Unlettered version (23107-01)

In October 2023, I picked up a second B-50-28 in the painted, unlettered form at the Bridgetown RPM show.  I decided that the second car will be modeled from another photo at Owenyo (Joe Dale's book, pg 179), SP 106272, which also has Youngstown doors being in the first series of the B-50-31 class, built during the first 9 months of 1952 by SPE company (SP Sacramento Shops).  In the photo of 106272 also there is also a T&NO B-50-32 (1953 built, with 5-panel Superior doors) in the background that I can't see the number on!  So these cars were quite common around Owenyo in the 1950s.

The Decal Set

Contents of SE-28 SP Post-War 40' 7' Door Boxcars 1950+ by Daniel Kohlberg.

Along with the unlettered Tangent boxcar I bought a SE-28 SP Post-War (B-50-28,29,31,32,33) 40' 7' Door Boxcars 1950+ set of decals by Daniel Kohlberg (website:  This set has enough decals to do three cars, including multiple sets of class data and reporting marks.  There are also two sheets of instructions and placement diagrams to supplement prototype photos that I am using to model the specific cars.

Lettering SP 106272 Model

Right side of unlettered car with basic left-side lettering applied.

The top of the road name is aligned with the top of the end-panel joint and the middle-rib on the door centered on the large tack-board.  The road number top is aligned with the upper left grab-iron.  The lower grab is aligned between the LD LMT and LT WT lines.  These alignments I could see from the photo, where as the right data and herald sections weren't really visible in the photo, so I had to go off the supplied lettering plan drawings from the decal sheet.

Here's the car with the new-build tare date, data panel, class, and build date applied.

One interesting point to bring up on just the set of weight data for B-50-31 #106988:
CAPY        100000
LD LMT    124800
LT WT         44200

.. is slightly too wide to fit between the panel rivet lines, the others in the decal sets are slightly narrower and will fit well.  I ended up cutting out about 1/32" between the left and right columns and making the parts of the decal work.  The "LD LMT" & "124800" have to be nearly touch.

The decal set provides black disk for the herald background, also repack data is applied.

The two stacked layers for the heralds each need to snugged down over the rivets with Micro-Sol.

Finally the white portion of the herald is applied.

I also wrote a small chalk mark "bulk" with the GellyRoll 05 white pen that I described using a couple months ago.  

The end reporting marks were cut out and removed the last three digits to be replaced with "27 2"

The special numbering for this model requires me to cut out the "988" from the end reporting marks section and trim out "27" and "2" from number jumbles and other numbers from the decal sheets.

In Closing

I want to point out that these two cars show the changing of the lettering applied to the new boxcars ordered from Pullman and SP Equipment Company from 1950 to 1952.  The Pullman cars of B-50-28 were delivered with the white bars above the road name and below the road numbers, while the SPE cars from 1952 had already dropped the bars, although I believe the SP changed the repainting of the in-service cars in 1953 to this standard.

Time to compare the lettering details of "as-delivered" B-50-28 and -31 classes.

I'm planning to give both models a light over-coat to seal the decal changes in.  Chalk marks and routing cards will be adjusted and some 1-3 year old light weathering to bring the -31 up to my standard for having basic running weathering to run on the Jawbone Branch.  Someday I'll be looking forward to recreating the prototype photos of these two cars at the Owenyo transfer platforms.

SP 102856 after some light weathering to match prototype photo.

I'll be doing a follow-up quick post after the weathering is done on these two cars, detailing the techniques.  This sneak-peak at SP 102856 has some general dusting, but specific paint failures around the herald and darker dirt or corrosion already starting to catch on the panel seams.

Jason Hill

Related Articles:

Anthony Thompson's Articles: B-50-28 series blogs search results.