Friday, April 26, 2024

Modeling X29 (Part 3) - PRR 504385 Early X29s

Recently, I decided to pick up one of the IMRC's new X29s from late 2023 run.  I've mentioned in previous posts in this series, the PRR X29 models have always seemed to elude me.  So I finally bit the bullet and ordered one.  This Ready-to-Run (RTR) model comes with installed KD-5 couplers.  The model is of an early production X29s prototype, which had three-panel doors, plate ends, and vertical staff handbrake.

Differences of "Early" X29s

An example of the "Early" X29s which had the 3-panel doors and plate ends. IMRC 2023 RTR production.

The early X29s, like the early NYC steel boxcars of the mid-1920s used double rivet rows in the construction of the car sides (one tight spaced row, with the second row using double-spaced between its rivets).  This pattern looks similar to that used on the SP's B-50-24 class of boxcar 20 years later, which were called ACR (Alternating Center Rivet) and had to do with the shape and construction of the vertical framing of the carside and attachment of the side sheets.  This is modeled nicely on the early X29 body and I'll be highlighting it when I weather the car in the future.  I should note the Red Caboose/IMRC's later X29 (and BLI's later NYC) cars model the simplified sides, which used only a single rivet rows of the standard tighter spacing.  The AAR '37 boxcars also used single row riveted construction at their panel joints.

Some Prototype Photos from Web-search

PRR X29 horseshoe with freight cars - Matt Glumac collection - found on-line - Cropped

This is a nice weathered example of an early X29 with the details that match those of IMRC's 504385.  This photo's a little later than my modeling era, as there are GP7/9s helping a passenger train in the full photo.  There appears to be a bit of rust starting to blister through to the right of the herald.  Dirt/mud is coating the truck sideframes and lower carsides.  The car still has vertical staff hand brake.  Of note is that it has the extra door stop next to the data block stenciling.  It is hard to tell from this photo if this car has the replacement lower carsides.

PRR 572857 very early 1924-series X29 & NYC Steel Boxcar - antiquesnavigator,com collection

Also note that this model has a vertical staff handbrake and AB-brakes installed, while the PRR 100813 kit I was building in X29 Part 1 has the upgraded geared hand brake assembly.  I think I'll leave the vertical staff handbrake on this model.

PRR 570862 very early X29 (circa 1924) - Antiquesnavigator,com collection

As they did stay around, even after the car was upgrade to AB schedule air brakes.  Many of the SP's single-sheath boxcars from the 1920s also kept their vertical handbrakes after upgrading to AB schedule equipment was hung on the underframes.

Here's a comparison between the "late" X29 (left) and the "early" X29 (right)

The PRR 100813 kit that I assembled in Part 1 of this series is shown with the RTR 2023-produced 504385 from IMRC at right.  The visual differences of the Youngstown door (left) and 3-panel door (right) provide some variety between the otherwise nearly identical models from a few feet away.
It is interesting to note the subtle change in PRR Freight Car Red which was used on the newer model.  These sorts of color changes on a model don't really bother me, as the weathering on these two models will actually look better if not all my cars are exactly the same base color.

Another comparison between the X31F automobile boxcar with raised roof (left) and the "early" X29, which was much shorter in height.

Just to compare some more examples of various manufacture's choice of PRR's FCR color, I pulled out my X31F which I covered last year, which is a newer Bowser model with better lettering than the older 2000-vintage models.  The IMRC X29 has a slightly more red hue to it.  Again, only one or two shades, and any weathering will easily account for that.  Just the color change that paint normally goes through in the first few months could account for this.

Prototype Repairs & Upgrades

Side view of PRR 504385 with patched lower side panels.

Plus an extra feature molded into this model is the typical "patched sides" which was required on many X29s as the lower sides tended to "rust out" before the rest of the body or underframe.

"P441 10-53" Tare stencil on PRR early X29 patched sides - Pintrest webphoto

The Red Caboose tooling, which includes the patched panels is a good basic starting point to simulate this repair on the cars.  I'll cover more in the future kit-builds on the patch-panels on the sides.  However, the variations in size of these patches were installed is not 'standard' so I'll be looking to create custom-sized patches on my future kit-builds!

Model Upgrades

A 3/4 view of the A-end of the 504385.

I need to cross check my sources on PRR's painting standards if they really maintained the black underbody and trucks into the 1950s or if they, like the SP, switched to all over FCR scheme - including the underframe and trucks.

Truck washer and scale-head coupler installed.

As I'm continuing to work on cars for the Jawbone Branch fleet, I've decided when possible to replace the larger KD-5 couplers with the 158 'scale head, whisker spring' couplers.  This car thankfully was easily converted by popping out the out-board wheelsets, unscrewing the coupler box lid, and then installing the 158 couplers.

One truck's brake beam assembly was loose in the box and the second truck's brake beam came loose when I removed the wheelset.  After changing couplers, I reinstalled the brake beam detail part (which is sprung in place with a few small tabs between the truck sideframes.  This time I added a few drops of thick ACC superglue to the holes in the truck side frames.  This should help keep the part from randomly popping out in the future.

I also noticed that the stock model has some larger metal washers in the truck bolsters, to raise the car's coupler height.  I'm not sure why this was needed from the factory, other than they have changed to a AAR U-section IMRC truck from the original PRR prototype trucks that were supplied with the Red Caboose era model.  I've checked the coupler height and the height is correct, but the older kits didn't need this modification, as they were also correct height.

Early Phase of Weathering

Roof weathering started with Apple Barrel "Pavement" wash.

I started my weathering process on this new model with some dirt and dust on the trucks and underbody.  

First pass on the flat panels of the roof and running boards.

Then I moved onto the roof with a wash of Apple Barrel "Pavement" wash with brush manipulation.  I put a few dark gauge wheel-streaks up the end plates.  I kept the weathering off of the car sides for now, so that I can deal with an oddity in IMRC's lettering of the car.

Oddity of Stock Tare Date

I've seen for years the PRR used a "P-code" for their weighing station shop code.  Thankfully Richard Hendrickson, Bob Johnson, Art O'Toole, Frank Peacock and Jerry Stewart put together a spreadsheet that documents tens-of-thousands of photographs with tare codes and decoded them for dozens of common carriers across North America. 

Close-up view of IMRC's 2023 X29 details of the lettering.

The IMRC 2023 sample X29 I have shows the tare stencil as "P7-1-21-51" - which is complete jibrish according to the standard code format that has been used on multiple manufactures and Ted Culotta's Speedwitch decals.

Tare codes do not use "day-week-year" format, instead they used "station month-year format."  The more likely stencil for the IMRC model should be "P-712 1-51", which would be P712 PRR at New Shop at Terre Haute, IN researched by Schoenberg.

"P441 10-53" Tare stencil on PRR early X29 patched sides - Pintrest webphoto

I'll be patching over the tare stencil with an appropriate FCR paint color and pull out one of my Speedwitch decal sets to put together a new tare stencil.  One of the favorite tare stations to use by module manufactures is P57, East Altoona, PA.  However some of the research photos on-line that I found show "P441" in 10-53.  Another tare station I might use on one of these cars is "P456" PRR 55th St. Yard WB IL, Chicago, or some of the other larger yards around the east coast.

I wonder if PRR cars would have been grabbed out of LA or the San Joaquin Valley for loading at Bartlett at the Southern Columbia Chemical Co., which was owned by Pittsburg Plate Glass Co., to ship bagged soda ash east to PPG manufacturing plants.

The small tack-boards for routing cards is just to the left of the door along the bottom sill.  The IMRC detail part is glued on a little bit oddly, so I'll probably cut it off, sand/file the back of the tack-board, and maybe cut into the detail on the carside just slightly to ensure that it has a level place to be glued in place.  I really don't want to have it catch and get pulled off the model with the way it is attached now.  After weathering and finishing, I'm sure I'll be putting a couple OwlMtModels 1220 Routing Card decals on my X29s!

In Closing

Basic weathered model, ready for service.

This will do it for now on this car, I'll be doing more on all three models finishing up the details and getting into the weathering in Modeling X29 (Part 4).

Jason Hill

Related Articles:

Modeling X29 (Part 2) - PRR 100305 - Ex-Battery Car

NYC "Standard" Steel Boxcars by BLI (Part 1) - Another Signature Freight Car - Competing design from the NYC for the "Standard" boxcar.

Tuesday, April 23, 2024

Modeling X29 (Part 2) - PRR 100305 - Ex-Battery Car

This X29 started as a Red Caboose "Gray Battery Car" in MW Gray for PRR.  I started on it probably around 2004.

I started this Red Caboose X29 kit by repainted from a Gray Battery Car MW version.

This was to be the first of three X29s that I was going to build from the Battery MW kits.  I got started on this one and painted it a rough guess at PRR FCR probably around 2005. 

I started this Red Caboose X29 kit by repainted from a Gray Battery Car MW version.

The decals are some that I picked up years ago from Speedwitch,  I'll be using the rest of the decals to do the next Battery Cars when they come to the top of the construction que.

PRR 100305 with over-weathering of the lettering.

The original version of this car as I did it, I really over-weathered the decals on the car, circa 2008, so around 2020 I de-weathered the lettering with a fiberglass brush from P-B-L.  I was able to keep from damaging the decals for the most part.  I expect to put a finishing dullcote layer over the car when I'm done with the details.  Then I can do any chalk marks, etc that I need to do.

Deweathered lettering on X29 repaint with fiber-brush.

Gluing the roof on also resulted in some glossy glue squeeze out, so the future dullcote should help that issue too.

Finishing Up The Details

In April 2024, I weighted the car by added two sections of 2"x 1"x 1/16" lead sheet, one at each end, bonded in with RTV silicone rubber.  This allows the door to be open and not show the weights, unless the car is being viewed from 1/3 or more towards the ends.

PRR 100305 X29, with the door open.

Now that the weights are in, I can proceed with the rest of the detail part installation: grab irons, stirrups, roof corner grabs, brake rods, etc.  The brakewheel popped off and has been in the box for several years, I plan to drill a 0.015" hole in it and into the hand brake gear box.  This hole will mount the wheel with a brass wire.  I plan to do this on any of my freight cars which start shedding their brakewheels.

Repainting the Door... Again

I've repainted the 'replacement' door on the car with some Barn Red paint from Apple Barrel better matched PRR FCR to match the unassembled PRR 100813 kit that I bought in the last couple years.  While not perfectly matched, it's the freshest paint on the 100305, so "close enough" applies.

In Closing

PRR 100305 & 100813 - filthy & clean X29s.

For now that will cover what's happened with this model.  The PRR 100813 kit is coming along too, so I'll be covering it's assembly in the next part of this series.

Jason Hill

Related Articles:

Modeling X29 (Part 1) - PRR 100813 Basic Construction

NYC "Standard" Steel Boxcars by BLI (Part 1) - Another Signature Freight Car - Competing design from the NYC for the "Standard" boxcar.

Monday, April 22, 2024

NYC "Standard" Steel Boxcars by BLI (Part 1) - Another Signature Freight Car

As I've mentioned in previous blog posts about the SP's boxcar fleet (
SP Boxcar Recap for Modeling in 1950-1955 Era), much of my modeling for many years left some fairly large holes in my prototypical balanced fleet.  I started to remedy the short comings of any representation of some of the signature cars from the two largest railroads in the country, the PRR and NYC.  While I'd pretty well started modeling PRR with the offerings from Bowser (X31/32) and Branchline's (X43/44), I still didn't have any of the classic early all-steel cars that both railroads ordered in the thousands during the mid to late 1920s, which lasted into the well into the 1960s in numbers.

BLI Models

Broadway Limited's NYC "Standard" boxcar, in this case one of the later 1920s built examples.

Around the 2015, I did pick up a couple of these NYC 'standard' steel boxcars when BLI came out with their models.  These are a good starting point to expand my NYC fleet.  As shown in the 1950 ORER, the NYC still rostered almost 15,500 cars of this early "Standardized" steel boxcar design, or equal cars with 2955 cubic foot volume, which indicates identical design.

BLI NYC Lot 489-B 1924-built "Standard" boxcar (left) and Red Caboose PRR "late" X29 1934-built (right).

In short, these cars were the NYC version of the Pennsy's X29 "Standard" boxcar (Part 1).

Early Series Cars

Earlier Lot 489-B 1924 series with ACR (Alternate Center Rivet) pattern at the side panel joints and steel 7-8 ends.

Note: All of the cars in the full series from 102500-123499 have exactly the same dimensions in the ORER.  This doesn't cover exactly what construction details for the sub-groups of cars within the group as a whole have.  I'm arbitrarily breaking the roster at 120000, I'm not sure this is where the physical changes in the cars occurred.  Any NYC experts are free to weigh in and I'll edit this post.  

NYC's 2955 Cu Ft Boxcar Series in 1950
NYC 102500-104499 - Lot 437-B ACF - ST. LOUIS - 1922 BLI 1750, 1751, 1754 "Early"
NYC 104500-104999 - Note +
NYC 105000-105999 - Lot 438-B ACF - ST. LOUIS - 1922 BLI 1750, 1751, 1754, 1758 "Early"
NYC 106000-106999 - Lot 439-B SSC - HAMMOND - 1922, Note ++
3766 cars remain in 1950 ORER from Lots 437, 438, 439 - plus the 104500-104999 group.

NYC 107000-108999 - Lot 489-B ACF -BUFFALO - 1924 (Ex-NYC 98000-99999)
NYC 109000-109999 - Lot 490-B ACF - ST. LOUIS - 1924
NYC 111000-111999** - Lot 491-B ACF -ST. LOUIS - 1924 *BLI models
4323 cars remain in 1950 ORER from Lots 489, 490, 491

NYC 113000-113999 - Lot 500-B SSC - HAMMOND - 1925
NYC 114000-114999 - Lot 501-B ACF - ST. LOUIS - 1925
NYC 115000-115999 - Lot 502-B PRESSED STEEL - McKEES ROCKS - 1925
2379 cars remain in 1950 ORER from Lots 500,501,502

NYC 117000-117999 - Lot 627-B NYC - EAST BUFFALO - 1933 - 929 cars, Note +++
NYC 118500-119999 - Lot 530-B ACF - ST. LOUIS - 1926 - 1437 cars - 
Totaling                       12834 cars in 1950 ORER

It seems that in the earlier series, most of the cars were still in service.  Some of the earliest groups were missing up to ~500 cars out of 3500 car series.

+ I'm not sure the details of the 104500-10499 group of cars, as they are shown in the ORER as mechanically identical size cars (2955 cu ft), but they are not shown on the website spreadsheet.

++ Renumbered from NYC 182k series by 1953, only 21 cars in old series in 1950 ORER.

+++ Lot 627-B conversions from Lots 440-B, 464-B, & 465-B in 1933.

Later Series Cars

The Lot 559-B-series cars have single rivet lines with Dreadnaught Ends.

NYC's 2955 Cu Ft Boxcar Series in 1950
NYC 120100-120499 - Lot 532-B ACF - ST. LOUIS - 1926 - 380 cars 

NYC 120100-120499 - Lot 503-B MDT - EAST ROCHESTER - 1925 - Dup #-series to Lot 532 ***
NYC 120500-120898 - Lot 504-B MDT - EAST ROCHESTER - 1926 - 385 cars 
NYC 121000-121999 - Lot 559-B ACF - ST. LOUIS - 1927 - 946+ cars * BLI models
NYC 122500-123499 - Lot 563-B MDT - EAST ROCHESTER - 1927 - 952+ cars * BLI models
Totaling                       2663 cars in 1950 ORER

* Lot 559-B Ex-CCC&STL 49000-49999 series:1927-1953, looks like the transfers started around 1936.
* Lot 563-B Ex-NYC 94500-95499 series: 1927-1955, looks like the transfers started around 1936, but wasn't complete until 1955.

*** Not sure what's up with these two entries on CanadaSouthern,com's web spreadsheet, but it seems there's an error in here.  Maybe this partly explains the missing data for 117000-series car lot.

I may consider renumbering one of these later series models from BLI to the previous number series.  Each of the sub-100k NYC roster groups of these cars was between 30 and 90 cars in 1950 ORER, so they were by far the minority.

Other Subsidaries of NYC

Lot 491-B
P&E 3829 model from BLI

P&E 3700-4116 - ACF -ST. LOUIS - 1924 - Transferred from MCRR in Dec 1940-1972.

However, there is also a conflicting entry for the same group of MCRR cars:

MCRR 81000-81999 transferred to NYC 111000-111999 starting in 1936-1966.

The 1950 ORER of course shows that the NYC 107000-111999 series has 4323 cars it in as of June 1950.  While the whole number series could have up to 5000 cars, the ORER does not sub-divide this group of cars any more sadly.

The's roster table notes are unclear on exactly what happened with this series of cars.  The notes show that BLI's 1754 model (shown above) is correct for P&E 3829, in this series, which has a tare date for September 1952, so as I model near that time, hopefully this model is fairly accurate.

Lot 492-B
B&A 50000-50999 to NYC 38000-38999 transfer started in 1952 and seems to finish in 1962, unless this was a typo. - BLI 1761 model.

Lot 531-B 
P&E 3500-3599 ACF - ST. LOUIS - 1926

Lot 560-B ACF - ST. LOUIS - 1927
P&E 3600-3649
"BLI #1752, 1753, 1759, 1760 ( CORRECT BODY - BUT MODELS ARE LETTERED NYC )" from's spreadsheet notes

In Closing

NYC 111869 ready for service at Owenyo with a few chalk marks on it.

Unfortunately, these models from BLI have become quite hard to find on the HO market of late, while N-scale models seem quite common.  These cars are still available in resin from Westerfield's 2950, 2951 kits.

Jason Hill

Related Articles:

NYC Roster List - Canada Southern (dot) com - Link to roster data I used in this post.

Modeling X29 (Part 1) - PRR 100813 Basic Construction - Link to the PRR's competing design, the X29.

Modeling X29 (Part 2) - PRR 100305 - Ex-Battery Car - Redecalling PRR MW car back to general service circle keystone scheme.

Modeling X29 (Part 3) - PRR 504385 Early X29s - Checking out the IMRC's "early" X29 with vertical staff hand brake and plate-steel ends.

Modeling X29 (Part 1) - PRR 100813 Basic Construction

PRR 100813 from a Red Caboose "Late" X29 kit.

In previous posts, I've covered some foreign "Signature" cars, which almost every layout in the steam-diesel transition time should have.  However, I've not covered two of the premier unique prototypes because I'd not finished building any. (Gasp, I know!)

Prototype History

This post starts my PRR X29 build articles that are going to be posted along with the "competition's design", which was formed by the NYC's design for an All-Steel boxcar during the 1920s.  Both designs were built in the thousands by the two designing railroads as ARA looked for a way to gather the railroads into more standardized freight car design moving forward from the USRA's war-emergency designs.  

Partly complete Red Caboose kit of PRR's "Standard" X29 boxcar (left) and BLI's NYC "Standard" 1920s All-Steel boxcar (right).

The ARA's concepts eventually resulted in the early 1932 ARA standard boxcar.  These early designs then evolved into the 1937 AAR design that dozens of railroads bought all the way into the early days of WWII before construction was curtailed "for the duration."

PRR X29 horseshoe with freight cars - Matt Glumac collection - Cropped

This PRR X29, which just out of focus enough that I can't make out the car number, has plate-steel ends and three-panel plate doors and I think still has vertical staff hand brake!  Yes, this photo has a pair of GP7/9 in the foreground as point helpers on an E-unit powered passenger train, showing just how late this X29 is still running around with vertical staff brakewheels!

Circa 1957+ tare date on ATSF 213481 (left) and dirty X29 with plate-ends (right). - Tim Logan collection

This photo shows how dirty PRR X29s could get.  This photo is circa 1957+, judging from the tare date on the ATSF boxcar.  So I'm not sure how much of this filth was already on the PRR car during the post-war to 1953 era, but probably most of it was already there.  Interesting how patchy and partly worn off the dirt/soot is in some places on the car.

Starting Point

Red Caboose X29 Battery Car kit

Many years ago I started reworking a Red Caboose X29 kit which was decorated for PRR's MW Battery Car service, which I'll cover the finishing details in Part 2.  For now, I'm going to start with one of Red Caboose's PRR "Circle Keystone" X29 kits which I finally was able to pick up a couple years ago.  I should add that IMRC of course now has produced several runs of X29s as RTR models.  But I think the older kits are certainly fun to build and deserve some love too.

Basic Car Assembly

PRR 100813, RC decorated X29.

Installing the doors is the first steps I did in construction of the body.  Later cars were repaired along the lower body as the side sheets rusted out with a new strip of metal riveted in place on the exterior.


Underframe of PRR 100813 kit starting to be assembled - B-End to the right.

While the underframe injection sprue is accommodated with notches in the centersill, I went ahead and carved the boss down a bit.  Note that at the upper part of this carving are the two small pin-holes for the brake cylinder bracket.

PRR 100813 with basic parts glued in place.  B-End to the right and marked.

Next came the four cross-stringers at the door, then the main underframe/bolster added.  Note the alignment of the holes in the underframe for brake parts & rigging.  At this point I also drilled out the bolster and coupler box holes with #50 drill, then tapped for 2-56 screws.

Later Dreadnaught Ends

B-End of PRR 100813, RC decorated X29 kit

This model has the Dreadnaught ends.  Earlier X29s had plate-steel ends.  The PRR 100813 shows a build date in 1934, making this one of the later X29s to be built.

Brake Wheel Experimenting

PRR 100813 B-End with details & RTV installed brakewheel.  The retainer valve & pipe still needs to be installed.

I'm experimenting with using some Hi-Temp "Red" RTV Silicone, which is similar to the PRR FCR, to bond the brake wheel to the geared brake housing.  I need to give it a full 24 hours to fully cure before I see if it really will work.  The problem is that the RC brake wheel is too fine to support the brake wheel if it is bumped.  The Battery car (PRR 100305) brake wheel already been knocked off, so I'm also testing the RTV on the 100305.

I still need to install the grab irons at this point in the construction.

Early Plate Ends

RC CGW 85240 shows off the "early" plate-steel ends.

The one RC model of an X29 I have that has the plate-steel ends isn't a PRR car, but a CGW car which bought clones of the X29s.  Also note that the CGW model shows the 'patched' side sheeets in the bottom foot or so of the sides.  Many PRR X29s received these patches.  Some cars had multiple patches which varied in height, reflecting the extent of the unsaveable sections of the sides that rusted out.

Patched Sides

PRR early X29 built in 1924 with double door stops and patched sides - Pintrest webphoto

One of the reasons that I picked up the Battery Car versions, was to be able to make some custom replacement patches on those models.  Hopefully, in some future post I'll be able to show what I come up with in that area.

PRR 2136 X29 patched panels - pintrest photo

This stuffed-and-mounted example shows a better example of the continuous replacement lower side sheet.  This car also shows the later-built X29s with the Dreadnaught ends.

Stuff to Do Next

What's left to do at this point?  It's mostly down to wrapping up the smaller details.

Stirrups & Grabs

I'll probably be replacing the plastic stirrups with A-line flat-wire parts.

I'm not sure which option I'll go with for the grab irons, but I'll probably be using 0.012" PB wire, which I'll end up forming on some of my standard OwlMtModels grab iron jigs.

Underframe Brake Rigging

Like with the grabs, I'll be replacing the brake rods with 0.012" PB wire, but using the plastic brake levers.

In Closing

PRR 100813 at the end of Part 1, I still need to do the grabs and stirrups, and paint the underframe.

That covers the first part of this build.  I'm also working on wrapping up the PRR 100305, which I started years ago, it is currently about the same point that I got the new 100813 kit to.  So we'll start the next part of this series working on both cars.  The X29 blog posts will be at least two more posts, not counting if/when I build the Battery car kits with custom side-patches installed.

BLI NYC 111869, early 1920s all-steel standard boxcar.

Another series of posts that are going to intertwine with the X29 build posts will be on the BLI NYC "Standard" 1920s All-steel boxcars (Lots 437-B, 438-B, 439-B, 489-B, 490-B, 491-B, 559-B, 563-B).  These were the competing designs to the ARA's request for standardizing an all-steel boxcar design in the 1920s.

Jason Hill

Related Articles:

Other PRR Posts
X31 & X32 Boxcar (Part 2) - PRR X32As from Boswer

X31 & X32 Boxcar (Part 3) - PRR X31F "Turtle Roofs" from Boswer

X31 & X32 Boxcar (Part 4) - PRR X31As from Boswer

X31 & X32 Boxcar (Part 5) - PRR X31B & C from Boswer

Monday, April 15, 2024

Plate C's New Trucks Line - 70-Ton trucks

In March 2024, Tony Thompson posted a blog article More about Chrysler trucks which was his first experience with the new Plate C Model Prototypes 3d printed trucks.  I went to their website and found that they also offer two 3d printed trucks for these common prototype trucks in their line of trucks.  These two are "AAR Double Truss" and "ASF Ride Control A-3" trucks.  I bought  one pair of each of the two versions of 70-ton "3-spring" trucks that they offer.  This blog post is to show a pair of cars that I've decided to put the new trucks under.  I may get a couple more of these trucks in the future to equip my upcoming F-70-3 kitbash, which I hope to finish at some point soon. 

Plate C Model Prototypes ASF "Ride Control" trucks.

I've always liked the hefty look of the "3 spring" (which are actually 6 or 9-spring packages) 70-ton trucks which we should have under many of our 70-ton freight car models, but until recently there's not been any good models of these trucks.

Note these are my own pen mark noting on the labels.

I should say that Plate C is using their own custom length axles with semi-scale tread wheelsets, which can not be replaced with standard length IMRC wheelsets.  So any fitting for resistance detection wheelsets will basically have to be applied 'in place' on the car.  I noticed a little bit of sudden binding on the axles and sudden stoppage of the car rolling on the track, so I believe there's a little bit of debris in the journal needle bearings.  I may use a light turn with the A-Line Truck Tuner to remove any remaining 3d print artifacts from the interior of the needle bearing cones.  Hopefully that will clean up the rolling qualities of the trucks.

Retrucking Projects with New Plate C Trucks

AAR Double Truss style was used for:
SP 94296, G-70-4, detail photo showing the weathered Plate C truck.

G-70-2/4 SP 94250-94264, SP 94265-95264, T&NO 43500-43549 - totaling 90 cars built in 1941-42. Athearn RTR, etc.
F-70-2 SP 79700-79824 (125 cars built 1941-42) with Columbia Steel trucks (similar to AAR Double Truss, probably Col. Stl. version of AAR truck)
F-70-3 SP 79825-79924 (100 cars built 1941-42) with Bettendorf 70-ton trucks (unsure of AAR Double Truss is accurate for these, but probably close)

ASF Ride Control style was used for:
Plate C ASF "Ride Control" trucks installed to form one of the 100 cars from SP F-70-5 class.  This is a conversion from an Espee Models F-70-6/7 kit.

F-70-3 SP 79925-79954 (30 cars, built 1942) with ASF trucks (Ride-Control Plate-Cs should should be accurate for these last 30 cars).
F-70-5 SP 79955-80054 ASF (100 per truck type, built 1946) - (should be correct for Plate C truck)
F-50-5 SP 80055-80154 Bettendorf (100 per truck type, built 1946)
F-70-5 SP 80155-80254 Scullin trucks (100 per truck type, built 1946)

Additional Notes:
F-70-3 are 60ft long, while F-70-2 & -5s are 53'6" long.  The -2/5s were pilot designs which the SP followed up with over 2000 cars in 1948/49 with the F-70-6/7 and then another 1000 cars of the all-welded cars of F-70-10 in 1953/54
G-70-2/4 are 65ft Mill Gondolas

In Closing

SP 94296, G-70-4, gondola with new Plate C AAR "Double Truss" trucks installed and some light weathering.

While many modelers probably will not worry about accurate trucks, but the unique design of the 70-ton "3-spring" packages is something that I like to see represented on my models.  So I'm happy to see some new models available to represent these trucks.

Jason Hill

Related Articles:

SP 65ft Mill Gondolas (Part 1) - Overview

Monday, April 1, 2024

Hotfoot Motors (Part 1) - The New Plan Concept, Operations, & Rolling Stock

So I've been thinking long and hard about getting some more operations into my layout.  The Jawbone just isn't cutting it for me anymore traffic-wise.  I really want some more switching and operations.  Not having Lone Pine and a larger "town" is a problem.  I want some denser activities, so for inspiration, I'm winding the clock back in my mind to a couple layout concepts I had back in the late 1990s and combining them!

Prototype Car Float

NWP at Tiburon in 1949 switching SP fuel-oil tank cars on/off car float. Kevin Bunker collection

The SP subsidiary Northwestern Pacific serviced the San Francisco Bay Area interchange partners WP, ATSF, & State Belt by car float, the SP's interchange at Schellville was a standard land-side interchange, but much of the Bay Area interchange was by water.

NWP's Tiburon Yard complex, which was on the northwest edge of the San Francisco Bay.

Looking at the NWP Tiburon facility maps, the facilities are spread out across the waterfront more than a shelf layout will really be able to accept with the width restrictions.  So my Hotfoot Motors layout concept will be more of a spiritual interpolation of the functionality of a float yard.  The plan view here is interesting in that there's a very long lead (second to the left, below the turntable) and pretty clearly allows the yard engine to pull the yard or float in one shot and shove to the other without obstructions. 

This makes since as each yard track will probably be for a single classification direction or interchange.  The Tiburon Car Float interchanged to at least three other car float terminals, so there would have to be at least that many tracks to sort into.  Then each track would probably be a full float's worth in length.

Only two pairs of tracks have run-arounds - one with a transfer platform, the other pretty clearly an arrival/departure track - or more likely just arrival and engine escape track.  The rest of the four yard tracks are stub-ended.

My Concept Layout - Hotfoot Motors Auto Plant & Car Float Layout!

What happens if a new auto manufacture set up their new assembly plant near Tiburon, California?  Auto-parts by water!  Combining two of the most traffic dense focal points of modeling together!  Will this reach critical mass?  But first a message from my sponsor for this blogpost, "Hotfoot Motors"!

My new layout will be modeling the plant for Hotfoot Motors, which will be building a new series of quality automobiles for the 1953 year.

New product line of commercial truck and coupes for 1953!

Among our new commercial customers will be PMT, buying a new fleet of tractor trucks to put into service with their expanding TOFC LTL overnight shipping plans around California, Nevada, Arizona, and Oregon!  While the star of plant are the new Hotfoot Coupes, coming factory equipped with Nitro-Wings that will make your cars fly down the strip or around the track!

My recent posts on PRR and SP Automobile cars reminded me of a layout concept that I've had rattling around for 20-25 odd years.  Back then, I thought about building the "1930s" Automobile Plant that was featured in MR around 1997 iirc, planned to fit in about 8x6ft L-shape.  but I also had some interest in car floats when Walthers came out with their series of kits around the same time.

3d render of the conceptual Auto Plant-Car Float layout.

So of late, I've been having a bit of fun pondering another shelf-layout design in the computer.  I started thinking about what would happen if they were combined into one layout, slightly larger 13x8ft, with 24" wide shelves, but with the same rough layout of the Auto Plant. The size increase would also be needed to have the required switching lead lengths.

Operations Overview

The rough idea is that one switch engine could do everything, but if a friend showed up to join you, they could take a second engine and divide the work of the Auto Plant and the Car Float jobs.  Some of the ear-marks of this concept still are eastern road based, like the large pier warehouse that B&O used next to some of their car float operations, or the large automobile plant one-road across from a car float and pier.  I don't know how many prototype auto-mobile plants even were paired with car float operations, but it could be a fun way to pull cars from "staging" into the layout.

A top plan view of the new layout with notes.

The rough outline of operations are listed above, with track capacities, etc.  I expect that this will be worked by two two-man crews.  The second person on each crew will be the switch foreman, keeping track of what cars are going where, while the engineer keeps up with moving the engine.

The mascot of Hotfoot Motors is the USS Providence, one of the fastest top'sl sloops of the 18th Century!

A fifth person will probably be needed to keep track of the paperwork for the interchanges and restaging of the car floats with the tug boat (Yes, I want to get my nautical modeling in here too!) and making sure that none of the car floats sink!  I've operated on a layout similar to this concept at Bill Kauffman's State Belt north of San Francisco, which models the wharf-rail freight traffic and car float operations north of 1st Street (SP's 3rd & Townsend Station), which uses 5 people to function during operations.  The State Belt is the other end of one of Tiburon's car float interchanges.

Car Float Operations

I know the three "Float Yard" tracks look like a mess of track work, but there really would need to be some room to sort out the Float traffic. The Float 2 & 3 tracks actually have enough room alone to equal the car float.  This would leave the Main Track (Float 1) open to pull the cars off the float with.  The Float 1 track is long enough to leave 5 or so cars on if needed, while feeding cars to the Plant Engine via the Plant Ladder or Runaround tracks, before the Float Engine shifts over on the South Main and shoves Float 2 on to the Car Float, then pulls back and puts Float 3's cars onto the float.  Alternately, the Plant Engine itself could be the engine on the South end pulling the cars off the float back into South Lead, and then allowing the Float engine to only need to do the reloading of the Float.

Hotfoot Motors Operations

The original MR plan calls for the following traffic per 8 hour shift:
Inbound Loads:
6 boxcars, auto parts
1/2 boxcar, batteries (spot and hold for 2nd shift)
1/3 car, cleaning solvent (spot and hold for 3 shifts)
4 gondolas, coil steel
1 boxcar, rear axles
6 boxcar, sheet metal stampings
2 boxcars, tires
2 boxcars, transmissions
78 cars in per day

Outbound Loads:
112 cars finished autos
1 gondola, shredded steel scrap
1/2 car, heavy steel scrap
1/3 car, solvent waste
345 cars out/day
Totaling 423 cars per day, or 141 per shift.

The original MR article would have a problem spotting & pulling 112 carloads of finished automobiles per shift.  Their track plan could only hold 3-5 cars on three tracks, so about 12-13 cars per spot, very close to my design, which is 15-16 cars, which would still require 7 spots per shift to get 112 cars through.  That's respotting each of the four auto loading tracks every 69 minutes. 

The solution - The B&O Auto-Loader! - Ebay photo of Athearn model

One option to solve the 69-minute spotting to load 15-16 cars in less than an hour, would be the circus-style end-ramp loading of the Auto-Loader.  The B&O model shown here could be the answer for Hotfoot Motors!

With a total of 423 cars per day through the plant, it would require a minimum of 25 car float trips with 17x40ft cars per trip, with at least 1/4 of the cars being 50ft loaded automobile cars, so probably more like 30 car float trips.

Thoughts on Car Float-Auto Challenges

So free movement of the auto cars from the car float to the plant and back will be critical.  The design of the Float Yard is designed for quick in and out movements of cars from the car float into the yard, doubling cars off the float and pulling it into the float yard, while at the same time taking cars from the float yard and shoving them back onto the car float.  

Also remember that all of the car counts moved by car float will be doubled, as the second half of the cycle also needs to be figured into the operation.  All of the loaded parts cars coming in have to leave going back to the parts plants and the empty automobile cars have to be set out around the country loaded.  So float operations will end up requiring more like 25 minute turn-arounds to get in the return traffic!

Other Operational Options

REV-B version of the concept with an extension on the Southern end to fit a staging yard.  Size 13ft by the extended 11ft space.

Another optional thought is the two center tracks (South Main & Lead) at the SE corner of the plan, can be adjusted to Free-Mo or other modular standards. This layout could then be an end-of-branch module for a larger layout, which may actually help the Auto-Plant thru-put of freight car traffic and give more places for the freight cars to go than only out through the Car Float.

More Water Operations

The pier warehouse-freight house will be another fun traffic generator/consuming industry, which can take a good string of 7 odd 40 and 50ft boxcars every 2-3 hours, including perishable Express reefers if I have a land-connection off the South Main end of the layout.

The Spur along the water-side of the Pier could be fun to stage other marine ship models "lumber ship", freighter, etc. Tank cars could be fun to spot there too for a coastal oiler, or barge, etc. when the Car Float wasn't in place to supply cars to the layout.  In addition all sorts of heavy equipment, and freight could show up on the wharf side of the pier to load onto ships or barges.  The Pier track can also serve as an "off-spot" for cars that need a place to stash until the customer wants them, or room in the Float Yard opens up.

Engines & Rolling Stock

The engines that would ideally work this could be as small as the Spectrum GE 44 or 45-ton switchers, up to ALCo S-series, or EMD SW8 or NW-series switchers, or 0-6-0 steam engines.  The point is that they should be small, and able to work 6-8 car cuts around the layout easily.


Sunset S-12 0-6-0 switcher

The classic option for 1920s and all the way into the 1950s would be an 0-6-0 switcher.  If I built this layout concept as an actual layout, something like the 1213 would fit the bill nicely.  They have great low speed operation, and can be fitted with extra power-pickups.  21st Century tech would even allow direct blue-tooth communication and Keep-Alive tech would allow holes in the power pickup over the complicated trackwork to get into some of the industries.


Bachmann S4 ALCo switcher

Another thought would be the S4, such as Bachmann makes, these would be right at home switching California auto plants, either in the Bay Area or north of Los Angeles.


Proto2000 SW8 switcher

Although a slightly later era, the SW8 would also make a great light switcher for a small industrial layout like this.

Boxcars - Autoparts & Automobile Cars

In the late 1990s I started collecting various automobile boxcars and auto-parts cars.  Over the years I've also picked up a few others, which would allow a good variety in cars servicing the Auto Plant.

While many of my older cars, I've since found out to be inaccurate, mostly in the diagonal ribs or door arrangements, there are a number of models that still hold up.

PRR 81348 is a newer Bowser product for the X31F.

Modeling an automobile assembly plant is one fun way to get a bunch of these interesting auto cars in a very small space on the layout.

Branchline BluePrint-series 40ft boxcar (now owned by Atlas)

The Pennsy used both 40 and 50 foot cars in auto-parts service.

Branchline BluePrint-series 50ft boxcar (now owned by Atlas)

PRR X32-series double-door car by Bowser.

They also used double door cars in both lengths.

Another older Bowser X31 with the plain roof.

And single-door X31s from Bowser..

Tangent's new B-50-28+ class boxcar could be used in auto-parts service.

The SP also used 40 and 50ft single door cars in auto parts service, usually for heavier items, such as engines and transmissions, etc.

Larger 50ft single door car were often used in auto parts service.

Both SP and SSW rostered hundreds of auto parts assigned 50ft single door cars for moving large sheet metal stampings to assembly plants.

Auto-parts or finished Autos would move in cars like this P2K double door car.

Both finished autos were shipped and auto parts came in the large double door 50ft boxcars.


A variety of coil steel could arrive in eastern mill gondolas.

While I don't have steel coil loads right now, Tangent I believe has announced that they'll be producing some.  In the past, Walthers has also produced plastic steel coil loads for their cars.

Older gondolas could be used to haul the scrap away from the auto plants to be melted down and used again.

Thankfully scrap loads are pretty easy to model, as there are plenty for sale as casings and several include automobile bodies in the load!

Tank Cars

Many types of tank car would also show up.  From acid for etching and cleaning, to other chemicals, to various lubricants and gasoline.

Acid Tank Cars
This Dow-leased acid tank car is by Tangent Models

Nastier chemicals could arrive by special tank car, often these cars did not have bottom outlet valves or pipes as a spill-risk mitigation, so the loads were removed through the domes.

Lubricating Oil & Solvents
Tangent Models 3-dome GATC 6k gal tank car - Tangent photo from their website.

Various smaller batches of chemicals and lubricants could arrive by either boxcar or multi-dome tank cars.  These 6k gallon cars were divided into three 2k tanks.

Red Caboose 1949 welded tank car

One of the big oil companies would have the contract to deliver the classic "1 gallon per car" of fuel that they would be shipped out with.  These companies for California could include: Richfield, Union Oil (of California), Associated Oil (aka Flying A), Standard Oil (aka Cheveron).  I obviously don't know which one would be dealing what to the assembly plant, but it's interesting to think about.

Standard Oil Cars (UTLX)
Rapido's X-3 10k gallon tank car model.

Unlike my options 20-25 years ago, today there are multiple great options for tank cars that could show up!  Plenty of gasoline and other AAR 111 liquids come to Hotfoot Motors in unassuming cars like these.

Tangent's 1917 GATC-built 8k tank car model.

The nice thing about the UTLX cars, along with the other leasing companies is that you could have all sorts of chemicals arrive without drawing attention to what they are.  

In Closing

UTLX 10673 GATX Type-17 Hercules Powder Co

Hotfoot Motors has been working secretly with Hercules Powder Company to develop the Nitro-Wings technology of tomorrow for the fastest cars on the road or above it!  Catch yours before they're gone!

Jason Hill

Related Articles:

"Modeling pre-war SP 50-foot automobile cars" - Anthony Thompson's blog post on SP A-50-12.

Freight Car Overview Index - One page with links to all my modeling blogs on freight cars.

PRR Automobile & Parts Boxcars

X31 & X32 Boxcar (Part 2) - PRR X32As from Boswer - Double Door 50ft Automobile cars.

X31 & X32 Boxcar (Part 3) - PRR X31F "Turtle Roofs" from Boswer - Double Door Automobile cars.

X31 & X32 Boxcar (Part 4) - PRR X31A from Bowser & Rapido - Single Door (incld. Auto Parts cars)

X31 & X32 Boxcar (Part 5) - PRR X31B & C from Boswer - Double-Door Automobile Cars.

April Fools everyone!
SP TCY Hamburger-Horse-Grill, the new business car for Hotfoot Motors!