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.

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