Monday, March 4, 2024

SP Boxcar Recap for Modeling in 1950-1955 Era

SP 3203 arrives at Owenyo, pulling past the string of spotted boxcars in 1953.

While I've covered each of these classes in more detail relating to their era of construction or manufacture's review, I want to cover the SP Boxcar models that I'm planning to use on the Jawbone Branch as a whole in this post.

Balancing the Prototype Fleet Roster

I'm specifically looking at the fleet roster for 1950 and 1955 data points, as it will cover the biggest swing of the fleet from single-sheathed wood cars to new post-war all-steel cars.

Switching the fleet of SP Boxcars at Owenyo around 1953.

Fleet Breakdown         1940,   1950 & 1955    Number of Models in Jawbone Layout Fleet (March 2024)
  B-50-8/10/11        :      1673      171         1      = 1
  B-50-12:                        976          0         0      = 1 car (Last revenue -12 was rebuilt/retired Summer '49)
  B-50-13/14                  6858    5189     716      =  ~10+ cars
  B-50-15/16:                 4853    4745   4218      = 5 cars (I still have an unbuilt resin car, making 6 total)
  B-50-18/19:                 2750    2704   2659      = 2 cars (maybe 3rd car if I convert an old Athearn car)
  B-50-20/21/23:            5244    5220   3692      = 8 cars (with up to 4 more unassembled BLYM kits)
  B-50-25/26/27:                  x    8950    N/D      = 0 cars (would be nice to have a few, but no current plans)
  B-50-28/29/30/31/32/33:   x ~2000 ~10500    = 2 cars (I may still break down and pick up a T&NO car too)
                         Totals: 22354,~28979,30736    = ~ 28 cars (nearly one car per 1000 prototype average)

* I did not subtract out the T&NO boxcars of these classes. 
* B-50-24 is not shown because all of that class was in Express or Overnight service during the time I model, and wouldn't be likely to show up on the Jawbone. 
* Also missing from this list is the increasing numbers of 50ft single-door steel boxcars and rebuilt B-50-12A all-steel cars.
* Majority of B-50-29/30/31/32/33s built after 1950, so only show full numbers in the 1955 column.

It seems, looking at the data, that the 1950 era was the crossover point when the SP was rapidly expanding the boxcar fleet with new classes, and before the majority of pre-war cars started being retired en-mass.  There were still a few of the older classes of B-50-1/2/3/4/5, & -6/9s in service after WWII, but I'm not bothering to show them here as it was only a few hundred cars left by these dates.  The remaining post-1950 new builds of B-50-29/33 series of about 8500 cars by 1953 filled out the fleet and allow the retiring older boxcars.

The 4 extra unbuilt BLYM '37 AAR cars will add extra cars to that group, which is already over represented, but lacking any B-50-25/26/27 class cars, I think it will balance out for now with an eye towards adjusting this in the future.  There also is the possibility that the B-50-20/21/23s would be more likely to show up on the Jawbone Branch given their age, and the new-postwar B-50-25/26/27s would be kept for more priority loadings.  While this theory is promptly shot down by the photos of the B-50-28/32s showing up at Owenyo by 1956-60 in noticeable numbers over the pre-war '37 AAR cars.

Class Details & Modeling Options

This is post is ending up being a super-index of all my previous SP Boxcar blog-posts.  So here's the quick notes on the classes listed in the roster above.

B-50-8/10/11 - Composite Boxcars (Pre-WWI) - (Kitbashed Accurail)

Pre-kitbashed B-50-10, SP 24864 with white bulk-load/dust leaks between the boards.

All of my Accurail B-50-8/10/11/13/14 class cars I'm planning to rebuild with new 3d printed ends, to make them look more accurate for the SP prototypes.  Hopefully, this project will move forward in 2024.

B-50-12 - USRA Boxcars (WWI "Standard") - (Tichy) 

SP 26948 from Tichy kit, assembled by IMRC.

The Tichy/IMRC USRA models for B-50-12s are pretty accurate for the SP's 1000 cars of this class, however the remaining 625 cars were all rebuilt in mid-1949 to All-steel B-50-12As for automobile parts service into the early 1950s, so I'm not planning to have any B-50-12As for now, and this model is more heavily weathered to model the end-of-life of these cars just before retirement in 1949.

The SP 26948 took a little damage to the plastic handbrake wheel, during the weathering process.  So I'll be replacing it with a brass one before the Jawbone Branch really gets into regular "high detail" operating sessions.

I'm also building a second B-50-12, but as one of the few cars that lasted into 1956 in MW service, specifically one of the two Supply Cars.  I'm renumbering it as SPMW 3931, which I've covered here before as SPMW 2676, and needed correction from a decal typo from a few years ago.

B-50-13/14 - Composite Boxcars (post-WWI) - (Kitbashed Accurail)

Pre-Kitbashed PE 2707, B-50-13 boxcar with MicroScale 87-911 decals.

All of my Accurail B-50-8/10/11/13/14 class cars I'm planning to rebuild with new 3d printed ends, to make them look more accurate for the SP prototypes.  Hopefully, this project will move forward in 2024.

B-50-15/16 - Composite Boxcars & Steel Rebuilds) - (Rapido & Resin)

SP 15203 represents the wooden B-50-15/16s with post-'46 lettering.

The Rapido models are certainly a starting point which allows them to be placed into service within a couple hours (assuming you want to put some touch ups and weathering on them), but the wooden sheathing boards are too wide, almost double the historic size.  I'm still considering options of how to 'fix' this on the two I have.

SP 15564 is a great B-50-15 steel-sheathed model.

For all the B-50-15/16s that were resheathed in steel, the Rapido model works very well.  The 15564 only needed a little light dusting of FCR to tone down the lettering and give a little depth to the paint job.  I also very lightly dusting on the lower carbody with a 'dust' mix through my airbrush, to replicate some photos I've seen of these cars at Mojave and years of Southwestern desert operation.

SP 37821, an Overnight-assigned B-50-16 steel resheath.

I decided I couldn't help myself.  I picked up one of the all-steel B-50-16s as a post-war "Overnight" scheme express boxcar.  Depending on exactly what era I want to claim I'm modeling, this car could be coming out of Overnight service and back to regular service in the 1949-1950 timeframe, and still retain the black scheme for a few trips.  I may decide at some point to patch the tare-date with some FCR, hinting that the car's not in Overnight service anymore.  I believe these cars should have the door steps and half-ladders applied from when they're in express l.c.l. service.

SP 32451 started as a Sunshine Resin kit. - Notice the correct narrow board-widths in the side sheathing.

Even though I started this resin kit a year before the Rapido cars arrived... I still need to do the last 5-10% to finish this car.  I guess if the over-sized spacing of the sheathing boards on the Rapido cars gets to me too much, I could always build a couple more Westerfield resin cars! - but that will wait until after I get the Jawbone up and running.

B-50-18/19 - Early '37 AAR All-Steel Boxcars (Square-Corner Post) - (RC/IMRC)

SP 38542, a B-50-19 from RC/IMRC

I'm planning to do a bit more weathering on my B-50-18/19s, this photo shows the problem with the photo-stacking and not having any weathering on the panel lines... they simply disappear.  So I'll probably do so weathering like the SP 102856 or 106272 (shown below) so these models photograph better.

B-50-20/21/23 - '37 AAR All-Steel Boxcars (Rounded W-Corner Posts) - (BLYM & RC/IMWX kits)

This group of cars is one of the largest groups that I should have in the post-WWII era and into the early 1950s, so I have quite a pile of old Branchline Yardmaster-series kits that I've built over the years, and several more that I've been working on recently.

SP 96311, a B-50-23 class boxcar, mostly decalled.

This was a repainted BLYM car from another foreign road that I decided would be more useful as an SP car.

Mostly finished, but still needs data decals on the right side...

Another car that I repainted from a less useful paint scheme, SP 84550 is a B-50-20 class car - which I still need to finish applying the class and data stencil decals below the herald.  Notice on these cars how far left the railroad name is placed.  A couple of my older models from the pre-Tony Thompson Vol.4 days has the decals starting to the right of the grab irons, which I believe is not correct.  I'm not sure if I'll get another full set of National Car Company decals to fix that or not... but it is starting to get annoying now that I have so many 'good' cars with the correct lettering.

Both SP 96311 and 84550 need some mechanical work and weathering to be put into regular service on the Jawbone Branch, which will probably wait until I have more of the physical layout built.

B-50-24/25/26/27 - Postwar All-Steel

Postwar B-50-26 builders photo from Tony Thompson's blog - Improving a freight car

All B-50-24s were assigned during my era to special Passenger Express and Overnight services, and would not be likely to show up on the Jawbone Branch in general freight service.

Tony Thompson covers an example of this in his blog post: Improving a freight car where he is kitbashing a B-50-26 from an IMWX kit. - Maybe if I can find a couple of these kits, I could do a few of these cars.

Links to Anthony Thompson's Related Blog Posts:
Improving a freight car - Modeling T&NO B-50-26 with IMWX Kitbash

Improving a freight car, Part 2 - Modeling T&NO B-50-26 with IMWX Kitbash

Improving a freight car, Part 3 - Modeling T&NO B-50-26 with IMWX Kitbash

One last Paul Lyons model - Finishing a B-50-27 Resin  Boxcar

Ted Culotta's Articles:

With nearly 9000 cars, these classes would be a great help to 'balance' my fleet out.  I don't have any models of B-50-24/25/26/27 classes, as they will either require finding other models that I don't have currently and then kitbashing to model or getting resin kits. 

Photos of Owenyo show the earlier B-50-20/21/23 class cars at Owenyo during my modeling era more than the -25/26/27 class cars, so my current fleet in-balance of larger numbers of pre-war steel boxcars is probably ok.

B-50-28/29/30/31/32 - Post-1950 All-Steel (Tangent's new B-50-28 models)

These are certainly my most recent modeling project entering early 2024.  Note the lettering changes between the Pullman-built B-50-28 (top) and the SP Sacramento-built B-50-31 (bottom).  The 1952 B-50-31 class also leads the SP fleet in dropping the bars above and below the reporting marks.  This change appears to be an interesting step towards the SP's 1953 general lettering change, but applied a year early!  The Pullman-built cars also have a wide spacing of the car numbers, which is unique to the class.

Tangent B-50-28 & -31 decaling

I've covered these in my blog post: Tangent B-50-28 & -31 Custom Decalled to Match Owenyo Prototypes in early Feb '24.  Final touches have been some light weathering and a pass with some dull-cote to seal everything in.

My Operating Plan

Tangent B-50-28 and -31 on my Jawbone Branch yard at Owenyo with photoshopped photo of Inyo Mountains behind.

The Jawbone certainly won't need 30 SP boxcars all out on the sceniced part of the layout at once.  The mix of these cars should make up a good slice of the SP fleet, and make it so the cars are rotated through.  Roughly 30 SP cars does give me the option to use the 5-track staging yard to full effect when combined with other foreign boxcars rotating in and out, so that no boxcar becomes too regularly seen on the branch.  The possible exception being that more photos from the 1955-1960 era shows that the SP/T&NO 7-foot door post-war cars (B-50-28-to-32-series) did start showing up fairly regularly.  So maybe the two new Tangent cars will be recycled through staging faster than the other cars to simulate the new car type showing up more regularly for that era, as the B-50-8/10/11/12s were basically all gone by 1950, and even the B-50-15/16s seemed rare in the 1955+ photos of Owenyo, while they did last on the system well into the 1960s as steel-sheathed rebuilds.

My fleet still has a skew towards the single-sheath boxcars of the B-50-13/14 series and lack of any good plastic models for B-50-25/26/27s shows a major hole for modeling circa 1950.  Maybe I'll find a couple IMWX or IMRC 6-panel 10ft cars to work with sometime, as the basic roster numbers would suggest that I should have somewhere around 9 cars from the -25/26/27 series, but I'm probably not going to get 9 new cars overnight.

In Closing

One of the operating schemes that I'm pondering doing is setting up the staging yard to reflect the way the equipment changed between 1940/46 and 1950 and 1954.  Showing that not only will the engines working the trains change, but that I could have the balance of freight cars shift from earlier eras through a transition, then to the later era over the course of 3-5 days of consists being switched on the layout.

The extra Accurail B-50-13/14s in my fleet will allow me to more easily make 1940-1945 era operations on the Jawbone Branch and model the 'mixed' Owenyo Local.  Then spread the remaining cars out through the sessions as the era moves forward.

SP 3203 arrives at Owenyo, pulling past the string of spotted boxcars in 1953.

I figure the operations could easily take an hour to make one lap out of staging to the layout... so to run 5-6 complete trains, without even doing live re-staging, which is possible, that will give a 'full day' of play value in the rather simple layout.

Jason Hill

Related Articles:

Modeling B-50-Series Boxcars (Part 3) - Plastic Options for B-50-8, -10, & -11 class cars

Plastic Options for B-50-12, B-50-13, B-50-14 class cars - Accurail & Tichy models

Modeling B-50-12 SP 29648 from Tichy USRA Boxcar (Part 1)

Ted Culotta's Articles:


  1. This is incredibly useful! Even with all the reference material sitting in the bookcase, having a distilled-down version is really beneficial. Many Thanks!!!

    Richard Brennan - San Leandro CA


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