Wednesday, March 20, 2024

Consist Photo Analysis (Part 6) - SP 4203 XMUG Mty Lumber Train - June 1950

Last time we looked at the SP's loaded lumber symbols (OCM & PSS) in "Consist Photo Analysis (Part 5) - PSS Lumber Symbol as Fourth-806 - June 1950", this time I want to look at the trains which returned those empty lumber cars back to northern California and Oregon, the XMUG.  Basically, the XMUGs were built at Los Angeles Yard (Taylor) with empty cars meant for north of Roseville, and could expect not to be switched out until Eugene.  This photo by William J Pontin shows there's a couple of weird cars in the train, but generally I believe this is an XMUG going to at least Roseville, if not beyond.

SP 4203 leads a long string of empty lumber cars down the north slope of Tehachapi into Caliente. - William J Pontin photo, Jason Hill collection

The XMUG symbol freights could easily exceed 100 empty cars, often running 120+ cars.  Minimal help would be needed for these trains westward to Bakersfield, outside one helper engine to Vincent Summit and one engine from Mojave/Rosmond to Tehachapi Summit.  I doubt there's any helper in the back of the train in the above photo at Caliente, which is almost to the bottom of the north-slope grade.

Of the 22 cars visible in the photo, there could easily be another 100 cars behind it, so we're probably only getting a sample size of 1/6th of the train here.  Even given the small sample size, there are some interesting cars to notice here, which raise a few eyebrows.

SP 4203 crosses Caliente Creek. (All cropped photos of main photo, same credit)

Car 1 - CNW steel 40ft boxcar.
Car 2 - Foreign 60ft flatcar, but not SP F-70-3 - as it doesn't have standard SP odd-spaced stake pockets.  Possibly a pre-GSC standard design, but those I don't think GSC-standard cars were built until 1953-54+.

Car 3 - SP F-50-16 with odd-spacing of the stake pockets between the trucks and endsills.  Interesting to see that this car is already heavily weathered in only one year! - SP 140234 is my model kitbashed from Red Caboose/Espee F-70-6/7 kit.

2nd cut of cars.

Car 4 - GN 40ft boxcar with Superior doors
Car 5 - SP 40ft Double 8ft Door Automobile Boxcar - without door stripe, so this is an XM boxcar, typical of lumber loading on the SP. - These are available in resin, but no plastic is really suitable to kitbash one from.
Car 6 - WP? 40ft boxcar maybe... This car's pushing towards too dirty to really see who owns it.

Car 7 - SP A-50-5/6 without end door.  Fairly freshly repainted and clean.  These cars were commonly used in lumber loading once superseded in automobile loading.  T&NO 58448, A-50-6 - Paul Doggett model & photo.  I have examples of these cars to build from the resin kits, when I build them, I'll make some blog posts.

Car 8 - SP F-50-5/8/9/10/12, 40ft Flatcar with sub-deck blocks are visible when zoomed in on. - OwlMtModels #2002 kit of F-50-5/8/9/10/12 class car.

3rd cut of cars.

Car 9 - Seaboard 40ft Double door boxcar. - It is interesting that this car is heading west towards Oregon with the rest of this empty lumber train.  In the small lettering over the herald these cars were stenciled "Furniture Automobile".  Was this car authorized for reloading on the west-coast by the SP and planned to be a long-range "roller" back towards home-rails?  Maybe in East-West Lumber/Furniture trade or sudo-pool arrangement between Seaboard, T&NO, and SP?  Accurail 40ft DD model, stock roster photo circa 2011.
Car 10 - Unknown 40ft boxcar with heavy weathering.
Car 11 - Either GN or maybe CNJ Single-sheath 40ft boxcar.  I think that's a goat herald, so probably GN car.
Car 12 - CB&Q - Looks like a WWII Emergency Boxcar or some 1920s USRA/clone style car, I'm not sure what reporting marks, although the plaque on the door below the tack board suggests possibly this is a Q-car "Burlington Route".

4th cut of cars, note the mostly cleaned decks of debris.

Car 13 - SP F-70-3 60ft flatcar. - I believe this car's longer than 53'6", and has the SP-style stake pockets.
Car 14 - Foreign flatcar - unsure, but probably 53'6" flatcar with very steep fishbelly slopes.  Maybe GN?  Possibly AAR, but weird angle to tell.

Car 15 & 16 - Probably SP F-50-11/13/14 class 50/52ft flarcars or maybe CB&Q or NP.  Several Pacific Northwest railroads owned ~50ft 50-ton flatcars, of similar late 1920s design, so I'm not going to try to nail down which exact cars these are. - Model is kitbashed Tichy USRA 40ft flat into 50ft flat, stand-in for SP F-50-11.
Car 17, 18, 19 - No way we can see what these are, but I think they're 53'6" overhanging deck flatcars.  So could be SP F-70-2/5/6/7 class, or 50-ton 53'6" AAR flatcars.

5th cut of cars.

Car 20 - NYC double-door auto-boxcar.  Like Car 9, this is a weird place and direction for an NYC car to be running empty.  Again, the XMUG routing would put this car north of Roseville and into Eugene yard before it would be switched out, so this can't really being a empty car going back to the Bay Area auto loading.
Car 21 - Obviously a 40ft boxcar wood running board puts this before circa 1940 built.  I can't quite make out the reporting marks on this car.  It's obviously a tall car, so pushing 10'6" or 11'+ car.
Car 22 - GN 40ft single door boxcar with square-panel roof.

Apologies that I'm not fully versed in the nuisances of all the possible foreign cars in the photos.  If anyone reading this recognizes specific cars feel free to comment below what they are.  Please include what car number in the train is the one that you're providing information about, and I'll be happy to edit the post to reflect the provided information.

In Closing

Once the XMUG reaches Bakersfield, the big AC 4203 will cut the crossing, and then be cut off and serviced at the roundhouse.  A freshly serviced 'Deck' 3600-class 2-10-2 backs down to the first section of the train and will take over for the run to Fresno and Roseville.

Bakersfield Yard with No.785 on Track 2.  Cutting the crossing at Haley St. this XMUG is getting ready to leave, circa 1951/52 - (Cropped) - Jason Hill collection

The typical photo showing the mix of empty flatcars and boxcars, which is the main signature for the XMUG for over 30 years.  In later years, the XMUGs often were mostly just flatcars or bulkhead flats... but in the post-war years and into the 1950s, these trains ran with a mix of car types.

Check out the previous post Consist Photo Analysis (Part 5), where I have more information on some of the options for HO models of the cars seen in that consist, which also appear in this photo too.

Jason Hill

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