©2002 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Legal Stuff
NOTE: This archive edition covers single car releases only. Reviews of and commentary on Micro-Trains locomotives (including the FTs) and Special Edition sets such as the Evergreen Express are available exclusively in the e-mail subscription edition of the UMTRR.
N SCALE NEW RELEASES:
54130, $17.40 - 61 Foot 8 Inch Bulkhead Flat Car, Indiana Harbor Belt.Yellow with black and white lettering including reporting marks on left. Reporting Marks: IHB 17021. Approximate Time Period: late 1990's to present (1986 build date and 1997 service date given by MTL). NOTE: This item has been sold out and discontinued. © 2002 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.
The Indiana Harbor Belt began operation in 1896 and continues today with its mission as a switching and transfer line in the Chicago area. Although most closely affiliated with the New York Central, which provided equipment to the line, the IHB retained independent operations. Today the line is, according to its website, the largest switch carrier in the United States, boasting 54 route miles of trackage and 266 miles of yards and sidings. Its principal customer is the steel industry, but the Harbor Belt has a variety of other duties as well, not the least of which is serving as an intermediary for the Class Ones that come into Chicago. It's headquartered in Hammond, Indiana (hometown of "A Christmas Story"'s Jean Shepherd!) and runs west then north out to about O'Hare Airport in Chicagoland. The current roster of road unit and switcher diesels is painted in an attractive dark gray and orange scheme emphasizing the word "Harbor" in large print on the hood. But one of the most ubiquitous model railroad locos ever, the 0-8-0 steam engine made by Rivarossi in N, HO and O scales and initially marketed by Atlas in N and AHM in HO and O, was based on a unique IHB prototype. © 2002 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.
The first ever MTL release for the Indiana Harbor Belt represents one of the smaller portions of the line's roster, which is mostly gondolas and coil steel cars. The paint scheme strongly suggests "restencil" to me. In fact, although built in 1986 and serviced in 1997 according to MTL's car copy, I don't pick up the car in the IHB's listing in the Official Railway Equipment Register (ORER) until the April 1999 issue, which would make sense if the IHB were a second hand owner. There we find the series 17000 to 17025, of 25 total cars. The series is AAR Classification FB with description "Bulkhead Flat." Inside length is 60 feet 6 inches and outside length 71 feet 2 inches, so the MTL model is a little short of the total length. Extended trucks will help there. Capacity is 180,000 pounds for 20 of the 25 cars, and another 1,000 pounds for five exceptions including the modeled number 17021. The January 2002 ORER shows the same 25 cars but with the "GRL" or Gross Rail Load at 263,000 pounds. That's a change from reporting the capacity only in the Register's pages. © 2002 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.
73040, $21.85 - 40 Foot Boxcar with Single Youngstown Door, No Roofwalk, Full Ladders, Santa Fe (AT&SF).
73040, $21.85 - 40 Foot Boxcar with Single Youngstown Door, No Roofwalk, Full Ladders, Santa Fe (AT&SF).Mineral (dark boxcar) red with aluminum roof and white door. Mostly white lettering including reporting marks and large "circle cross" herald on left and "Ship and Travel" slogan on right. Reporting Marks: ATSF 39834. Approximate Time Period: decade of the 1970's (1969 rebuild date given by MTL) at most, see text. NOTE: This item has been sold out and discontinued. © 2002 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.
I didn't hesitate to go right to the "Priest Book" (officially titled "Santa Fe Freight in Color... The Series, Volume One, Boxcars" by Stephen Priest and Thomas Chenoweth) upon spotting this Santa Fe car. It appears, road number, white door and all, just one page away from the inspiration for the MTL 73010 ATSF boxcar released in November 2001. This one sports an earlier paint scheme than the 73010, a bit more complicated and thus a bit more expensive to produce. (The aluminum roof, you know.) I'll wager that this is the paint scheme that this car wore immediately after its 1969 rebuild to a Bx-136 from a Bx-53 class boxcar, since in '69, Amtrak was still four years away and there was still a reason to advertise "Ship and Travel Santa Fe." Decoration-wise, the car more than holds up against the prototype photo on page 101 of the Priest book, right down to the routing information below the circle cross herald: "When Empty Return to Agent, ATSF RR, Newton Kans," and the "Flour Loading Only" instruction on the door. © 2002 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.
The Priest Book shows the group 39500 to 39999 as one set of 500 cars, but the ORER for April 1970 calls out two groups. The first ran from 39500 to 39799 is of AAR Class XM, and the second covered 39800 to 39999 with AAR Class XP. Both were described "Box, Steel Sheathed, Non Insulated" and had the same overall dimensions, namely inside length of 40 feet 6 inches, outside length of 44 feet 6 inches, inside height 10 feet 6 inches, extreme height 15 feet, door opening 8 feet (yes, a "door thing"). Capacity was not yet marked on the second group but the first group was listed at 110,000 pounds. Also note that the Bx-53 on which the Bx-136 is based was not a PS-1 as the MTL 20000 body style is. © 2002 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.
At some point in the mid-1970s, two things happened, not necessarily in this order: first, the Santa Fe abandoned its "Ship and Travel" slogan in favor of a large roadname; second, the ladders on this class of cars were cut down, usually in conjunction with the move of a brake wheel. So although I see the series going out to at least the April 1981 ORER, the ATP for this particular car would be a little shorter. All cars in the 39000 series were off the roster by the January 1985 Register. © 2002 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.
92160, $25.50 - 2 Bay ACF Center Flow Covered Hopper, Chesapeake and Ohio/Chessie System.
92160, $25.50 - 2 Bay ACF Center Flow Covered Hopper, Chesapeake and Ohio/Chessie System.Yellow with dark blue bottom sill. Mostly dark blue lettering including reporting marks on left, "Cat in C" logo in center, and Chessie System roadname on right. Reporting Marks: C&O 605527. Approximate Time Period: mid-1970s to late 1980's at least (1976 build date given by MTL). NOTE: This item has been sold out and discontinued. © 2002 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.
The only thing that particularly surprises me about this sharp looking release is that MTL hasn't done it, or any other Chessie covered hopper, sooner than now. Gray stuff is easy. A multi-color scheme, especially one as recognizable as this one? Now, that's more of a challenge. You can see for yourself how MTL did versus prototype photos of two sister cars in the series on George Elwood's website. They look good to me. © 2002 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.
What you might notice is that the ends of the car look a little funny, though. The "body" of the hopper doesn't come all the way out to the ends. That's the distinguishing feature of the CF2700 variation versus other cars of this type. The body is 2 feet 8 inches shorter than the "standard" CF2970's and CF2980's although it rides on the "standard" two bay hopper frame. Before getting out the artillery and aiming it towards Talent, folks, allow me to note that besides the group of cars picked up by the C&O and the B&O, only the Detroit and Toledo Shore Line (part owned by the Chessie at the time) bought CF2700's. Seems to me that your options for a more faithful CF2700 in N Scale (or arguably any other scale for that matter) are most likely limited to kitbashing, scratchbuilding, or hoping for something in resin or brass. © 2002 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.
The ORER for April 1976 shows the C&O's "new addition" of the series 605500 to 605899, of 400 cars, AAR Class LO and description "Covered Hopper." Key dimensions were: inside length 32 feet 1 inch, outside length 41 feet 11 inches, extreme height 15 feet 1 inch. The B&O had a similar series numbered just in front of the C&O's, taking 605000 to 605499. The April 1981 Register showed a total of 397 cars out of the original 400, with five of those specifically called out for sand service. That was one of their purposes in life; the other was hauling roofing granules. © 2002 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.
A photo and caption in the August 1995 issue of Rail Model Journal illustrates that the CF2700s were eventually repainted into CSX tan with black lettering. The photo, taken in March 1988, shows extended draft gear, as provided by MTL for this car. It also shows that at least for a while the cars carried B&O or C&O reporting marks. From later still is a photo of the renumbered CSXT 227555 on Elwood's site; when flipped to CSX Transportation, the number series for the CF2700s went into the 220000's. The January 2002 ORER showed a number of these cars still in service, but unfortunately without the Chessie cat. Calling the exact year for the removal of all Chessie System painted cars would be tough, but then, that's why I call it an Approximate Time Period. © 2002 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.
105090, $12.95 - 50 Foot 14 Panel Steel Gondola, Fixed Ends, Wisconsin Central.
105090, $12.95 - 50 Foot 14 Panel Steel Gondola, Fixed Ends, Wisconsin Central.White with maroon and black lettering including reporting marks on left and large roadname in center. Reporting Marks: WC 55077. Approximate Time Period: early 1990's to present. Note: This item has been sold out and discontinued. © 2002 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.
The Soo Line heritage seems obvious in the paint job on this gondola. The Soo, which leased and then absorbed the "first" Wisconsin Central, and then spun off this "second" Wisconsin Central, sold off a fair amount of rolling stock to the "second" WC to get it started. And the Soo, like the WC, painted some of its gondolas in white with roadname in its primary color (red for Soo, maroon for WC) and black dimensional data. Micro-Trains did an example of a white Soo gon as its catalog 46240 in December 1992. © 2002 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.
Assuming that the car in question did come from the Soo Line, I couldn't find an obvious series from which it was plucked for sale to the WC. The July 1989 ORER, the closest I have to the October 1987 startup of the "second" WC, shows the beginnings of a series of gondolas numbered 55000 to 55266. The main series has only six cars in it, but there are numerous exceptions with lengths, heights and capacities all over the place. There does not appear to be a 55077 yet, so it's off to October 1991. In that ORER there are a total of 181 cars with various dimensions and capacities, and one of them is the 55077 as a general service, not GBS class, gondola. The inside length is 52 feet 6 inches, inside height 5 feet even, outside length 56 feet 10 inches, and extreme height 8 feet 11 inches. By October 1996 this car has indeed "become" a GBS class gondola! It, and its many assorted counterparts, are still listed in the January 2002 ORER, yielding a "to present" ATP. But I'd wonder how clean that white paint is. © 2002 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.
Photos of similarly painted Wisconsin Central gons that are not in the same series are available on George Elwood's website. In the course of my searching I've noted that a number of WC Internet resources linked or cited from other sites have fallen victim to the dreaded "404 Disease"-- they've disappeared. Pity. © 2002 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.
113010, $13.95 - 40 Foot Skeleton Log Car.
113010, $13.95 - 40 Foot Skeleton Log Car.Black body, brown trucks, no lettering. Comes with cast resin "Load #1" of five Cedar Logs. Approximate Time Period: Most of the 20th Century, more or less. NOTE: This item has been sold out and discontinued. © 2002 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.
Quick-- think of logging railroads, and what comes to mind? Okay, probably geared steam locomotives ascending steep grades, first, but then there's what they pulled. Logs. Lots of logs. I don't even know enough to be dangerous about these special purpose lines, and I suppose I'd better learn for future reviews of this body style. But I do know that there were generally two types of cars on which logs were hauled. Most simple were "disconnected" log cars which were basically just a set of trucks on which the log rested. And then there are "skeleton" log cars which weren't much more than an underframe, trucks and brake rigging. © 2002 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.
MTL's debut skeleton car is the first widely available N scale model of this type of car. It's a general representation, as, as far as I know, these cars were tailored to different operations based on such attributes as size and length of the logs being hauled. A quick scan around the 'net showed that cars ranged from around thirty to forty feet long but were all similarly constructed with a center beam and crossbeams to support the load. Details varied, of course. © 2002 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.
This 92nd body style from Micro-Trains is, in a word, gutsy. First, collectors are hardly going to be excited about a car with no lettering. It's my understanding that most skeleton cars didn't carry any lettering. Certainly that's true on the photos I've seen, although that's hardly a statistically valid sample. (Someone I know who models in HO declared the recent selection of roadnames on a recent 1:87 release of logging cars "bogus.") Second, this is a specialized car used for a specialized purpose, and is not your common carrier fare. Basically, these cars aren't going anywhere but from forest to sawmill or other processing point and back, on a private logging railroad. Therefore, most runners won't be able to use this car, unless they've got a lumber road incorporated into their pikes. But the ones who do have such an operation on their pike will probably not stop at one copy of this new entry. And who knows? Maybe more N Scalers will think about it now. It would be a lot easier to do a 1:160 logging road set in the diesel era than with steam (think, for example, SW1500s), but these log cars should work in either case. They are generic enough to be useful within a long ATP, and don't worry about those Arch Bar trucks because they were outlawed only for interchange service. What finally killed these off were large logging trucks, not ICC regulations. © 2002 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.
In fact, what may be the only distinguishing feature of this car from release to release could be its load: different logs on different catalog numbers. Therefore, the log load is going to get a lot of attention. I have not yet seen a sample in person but the photos look pretty good. How different from each other will these loads be? You're probably asking the wrong person; I can't tell types of trees apart when they're complete, never mind when they're cut into pieces. I can tell you from some lookups on the 'net that currently, cedar is used for log homes and furniture, including the famous cedar chests which kept pests away from clothing. I have planned to line the hall closet with cedar just about since I moved into the house back in 1996, since it's both an effective countermeasure against moths and a decent enough layer of incremental insulation. In past times, a single cedar log was the beginning of a canoe, and served many other purposes as well with little going to waste. And of course references to cedar go back to Biblical times, and the cedar tree was and is the symbol of Lebanon. © 2002 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.
All in all, the 113er is quite the interesting choice, and we'll all wait to see how successful this gamble is. Folks that don't like the "Special Editions" please pay heed to this entry, which is very much a "modeler's" release. © 2002 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.
N SCALE REPRINTS:
20110, $11.95 - 40 Foot Boxcar with Single Youngstown Door, Denver & Rio Grande Western "Cookie Box".Silver with black and red lettering including reporting marks and "Cookie Box" legend on left and "speed lettering" roadname on right. Reporting Marks: D&RGW 60034. Approximate Time Period: mid 1950's to early 1960's at least, see text. Previous Releases: Road Number 60036, December 1976; Road Number 60035, May 1999. NOTE: This item has been sold out and discontinued. © 2002 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.
We get to the third release of this boxcar with more prototype information than I had available last time... which just confuses things more.
Back in May 1999, I reported that this is one of a group of insulated cars that were placed in service for bakery goods from the Keebler bakery in Denver. The small group of "Cookie Box" cars, numbered 60000 to 60046, were painted either silver or white, at least if you believe some other model versions that have been released over the years. An "unofficial" Rio Grande website (since moved and downsized) showed the time period for these cars to be 1954 to 1961, but the CDS Lettering folks gave a time period of 1950 to the late 1970's. Now here's a third data point: a roster on the Rio Grande Modeling and Historical Society site shows the series 60000 to 60046 as being rebuilt from a group out of the series 68400 to 69899, but on the scene only from 1954 to 1959. But the January 1964 ORER lists series 60000 to 60076 as "Specially equipped and assigned to bakery goods loading out of Denver, Colorado." Also, the January 1959 ORER (Westerfield CD-ROM), which I did not have in 1999, shows the series as an "addition." And as I previously reported, 12 cars in the group remained in the April 1970 Register. Perhaps not in the Cookie Box paint? Can't say. But let's not forget a 1962 Otto Perry photograph of car number 60064 in the silver version of this scheme in the web archives of the Western History department of the Denver Public Library. So there are a lot of different sources that don't necessarily match, which just makes me happier that this is just a hobby. © 2002 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.
I also noted last time that the Rio Grande appears to have not owned any PS-1 boxcars, at least not any forty foot ones. MTL cites Pressed Steel Car Company as the original manufacturer and 1939 as the built date, well before Pullman-Standard debuted its famous design. As for the door... well, there have been a number of versions of the Cookie Box released in N Scale, by no less than four different manufacturers, and guess what? Technically they are all wrong on this count, as the prototype door opening was listed at just 5 feet 3 inches. A multiple "door thing"? Yepper, if you're being picky. A seven inch difference is definitely not the end of the world, though, and a retrofit would be, let us say, quite difficult. Meanwhile, it's an attractive car which sold pretty quickly last time out, and might do so again. © 2002 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.
27090, $14.50 - 50 Foot Exterior Post ("Ribside") Plug Door Boxcar, Pacific Fruit Express.
27090, $14.50 - 50 Foot Exterior Post ("Ribside") Plug Door Boxcar, Pacific Fruit Express.Orange with black and white lettering including reporting marks and dual heralds (Union Pacific and Southern Pacific) on left and company name on right. Reporting Marks: SPFE 453571. Approximate Time Period: mid-1970's (1975 service date given by MTL) to early 1980's. Previous Release: PFE 457524, February 1985. NOTE: This item has been sold out and discontinued. © 2002 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.
In April 1970, the Pacific Fruit Express Company had over 17,600 refrigerator cars in service, of which more than ten thousand were mechanical refrigerator types (the rest were "ventilated" or ice-cooled). During this time period the PFE was buying exclusively from Pacfic Car and Foundry, and was buying exclusively 57 foot mechanical refrigerator cars. An article in Rail Model Journal's March 1993 issue discusses the R-70-13 to R-70-25 classes of cars and their subtle differences. Tony Thompson, who is an expert on PFE cars, published an article in the January 1988 Railroad Model Craftsman as well. © 2002 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.
The reason for the "SPFE" reporting marks, as opposed to the original "PFE," was that the company's owners Southern Pacific and Union Pacific were preparing to split up the company. Relettering of cars began in 1971, yielding the earliest possible beginning of the ATP for this car, and the official split ocurred in 1978. If the two railroads knew that they'd be merged back together in 1996, they probably wouldn't have gone to all that trouble, but, as a friend of mine says, you don't know what you don't know. Given the SPFE markings, though, I'll take the 1975 service date over the 1965 build date for the start of the Approximate Time Period. You might also get in the short ladders of the MTL 27000 series as well, since it appears that the as built cars had full ladders even though they weren't given a roofwalk. Then again, if you're going to let a 50 foot boxcar stand in for a 57 foot mechanical reefer, you might not be that worried about ladders anyway. © 2002 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.
Once conveyed to the Espee, the series 453501 to 454000 was combined with other groups of cars and listed under the Southern Pacific Railroad's ORER entry, resulting in, for example, series 453501 to 454500, of 873 cars, in July 1989. The "Pacific Fruit Express" legend had probably been removed by this time, replaced with either "Southern Pacific Fruit Express" or, perhaps, blank space. And of course the UP herald was outta there. Many of the SPFE cars were eventually repainted white. But whatever the color, the entire series had virtually disappeared by October 1996. Some former PFE reefers found homes elsewhere, including the Golden West Service. © 2002 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.
44080, $11.15 - 50 Foot Flat Car with Straight Sides, Spokane, Portland and Seattle.
44080, $11.15 - 50 Foot Flat Car with Straight Sides, Spokane, Portland and Seattle.Black with white lettering including roadname and number across car. Road Number: 34040 (will be "SP&S 34040" in website listing). Approximate Time Period: early 1950's (1951 build date given by MTL) to late 1980's. Previous Release: Road Number 34034, March 1996 (as part of the BN Fallen Flags Four-Pack for 1996). NOTE: This item has been sold out and discontinued. © 2002 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.
The SP&S had a fair number of flat cars, but most of them weren't bought new. Some came from the Spokane's parent railroad Great Northern, and others were gondolas and boxcars with the non-flat car parts removed. But the series from which this reprint and the first run come was a "new buy". The 200 cars were "the backbone of the fleet" according to Ed Austin, writing in the Morning Sun "SP&S Color Guide to Freight and Passenger Equipment" (another recent UMTRR Research Accumulation addition). In fact, if you want to go more exotic with these cars, you could add bulkheads and renumber into the 35000 series. But I'm getting a little ahead of myself. © 2002 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.
The January 1959 ORER (Westerfield CD-ROM) shows 193 cars in the above named series, AAR Class "FM," description "Flat, Steel Underframe." The "inside length" over the end sills was 52 feet even and the outside length 53 feet. Another six cars had already had fitted with bulkheads, given AAR Class "LP," and were in captive service for the Kaiser Gypsum Company, renumbered 35000 to 35005. By 1964 the number of cars with bulkheads had risen to 30. This would be an interesting modification to make for a little variety, if you model SP&S territory or thereabouts. © 2002 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.
Two things "stick out" with respect to comparing the MTL model with the prototype photo in the Morning Sun Guide. First, a fishbelly center sill as part of the underframe; second, the end mount (as opposed to side mount) brake wheel. This is true even on the bulkhead versions. One of the plain flat cars had its picture taken in April 1974, confirming the series' survival into the Burlington Northern. In fact, the last of the group doesn't leave the roster until the late 1980's; I still show 13 cars in the October 1989 ORER. © 2002 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.
51080, $20.25 - 34 Foot Wood Caboose with Straight Cupola, New York Central.
51080, $20.25 - 34 Foot Wood Caboose with Straight Cupola, New York Central.Freight car red with mostly white lettering including NYC System oval herald and reporting marks below cupola. Reporting Marks: NYC 19559. Approximate Time Period: mid-1930s (introduction of the "system" herald) or early 1940's (1940 service date on car) to mid-1960's. Previous Releases: Road Number 19556, December 1989; Road Number 19551, March 1995 (as a "Super Reprint," see text). Also note that NYC 19559 was released as a slant cupola version, catalog number 50060, in July 1975. NOTE: This item has been sold out and discontinued. © 2002 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.
The New York Central Lines oval herald was changed to the New York Central System herald in 1935, although these particular cabeese were already "veterans" when that occurred. Some of these cars would reach a ripe old age: there are photos in the Morning Sun NYC Color Guide of wood cabooses toiling on in the 1960's! Considering that the "standard" design for the Central had a lower than standard height cupola (and thus doesn't match the MTL cars), I don't know how its occupants could have seen over the tops of 1960's era freight equipment. Photos of NYC and subsidiary waycars (the Central's term for cabeese) show three windows, not four, per side, and also reveal a truss rod underframe and some fairly unique looking "T" section leaf spring trucks. However, as I've stated before in these bytes, given the reality of business economics, it's next to impossible to align a single body style against the myriad variety of cabooses built to the specs of individual railroads. I can't change that opinion just because it's one of "my" railroads in question this month. I could pay for brass if I wanted something more exact... and I did, many years ago, but guess what, it's still not painted! One of these millenia... © 2002 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.
Speaking of which, my first reaction to this car was that it's the first time MTL has done an NYC caboose with yellow grabirons, a welcome addition. My second reaction was that the road number looked familiar! Indeed, 19559 was done before, on the "other" MTL wood caboose with a slant style cupola. I'm a little surprised at this given the number of possible numbers that could have been selected, but hey, it's been 27 years plus, so let's give them a break. Also interesting in the Micro-Trains "history" of this car is that the 1995 run of the 51080 was what the company was calling a "super reprint" meaning it was not being shipped as part of a standing order. The car was given a low-visibility place in the March 1995 shortline, for that matter. (The big news for that month was... remember? The BN 20226 Fallen Flags Merger pack which blew out in minutes and caused wailing, gnashing of teeth and mega-premium prices, at least for a little while.) So I wonder how many of the 1995 cars are out there, and how long they took to sell without that initial push. Suffice to say that the "Super Reprint" was a short lived experiment. © 2002 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.
75040, $14.55 - 50 Foot Boxcar with Double Plug Doors, Without Roofwalk, Tropicana.
75040, $14.55 - 50 Foot Boxcar with Double Plug Doors, Without Roofwalk, Tropicana.Green with mostly white lettering including reporting marks and company name on left and "100% Pure Orange Juice" on right. Reporting Marks: USLX 13087. Approximate Time Period: early 1970's. Previous Release: Road Number 13085, April 1993. NOTE: This item has been sold out and discontinued. © 2002 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.
The company now known as Tropicana began in 1947 as an effort by one man, Anthony Rossi, to improve the quality of the fruit boxes he sold to New York department stores. Rossi moved to the source-- Florida-- and did so. But when he observed that a lot of smaller fruit wasn't being picked to go in these boxes, and could be turned into juice instead, things really got going. Fruit Industries Incorporated changed direction, and with a series of technological innovations, Tropicana became the leader in the sale of fresh orange juice to American homes. In 1951 the "Tropic-Ana" character was introduced, and six years later the company name changed to Tropicana Products. Just in time to christen the world's first and only orange juice tank ship, the "S.S. Tropicana". (The "S.S. Fruit Industries" just doesn't roll off the tongue.) The company went public in 1959 and remained independent until the game of "who owns this?" started in 1978 when Beatrice Foods bought Tropicana in a friendly takeover. The firm of Kohlberg Kravis Roberts took over Beatrice in 1986-- you do remember "junk bonds," don't you?-- and Seagram's, the maker of beverages of an entirely different sort, purchased it in 1988. There was one more change in August of 1998, when Pepsico-- yep, that one-- acquired Tropicana from Seagrams as a further expansion of its beverage business. © 2002 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.
Of course, I'm leaving one thing out with which model railroaders are concerned-- the famous Tropicana "juice trains." The oceangoing method of transporting juice from Florida to New York didn't quite work out; what was really needed was a way to get already packaged juice products up the coast. Starting in 1970, that way was by train, in fact, a unit train of all Tropicana-owned refrigerator cars. Running between Florida and Jersey City, New Jersey, to this day, the juice train became one of the most photographed freight movements in history, and one of the few trains that ran on time on the Penn Central! While the cars ran in a solid block northbound, they were returned south in general freight trains. The typical juice train cars were white at first, then orange, usually not in the green on the MTL model. One of my readers suggested that these were used as singles in general freight trains going elsewhere, say the Midwest. © 2002 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.
None of the ORERs I have from April 1976 to October 1985 show Tropicana Products as owning any cars of this type or in this number series. All of the cars are actual refrigerator cars with 60 foot lengths or more, and these cars get larger as time goes on. But remember, these were leased cars, and the April 1976 ORER listing for United States Railway Equipment does show USLX series 13060 to 13089, description "Box, Insulated, Dual Air Pack Bulkheads," of 29 cars. They had an inside length of 52 feet 5 inches, outside length of 60 feet (MTL's is shorter), and double plug doors totaling... what? Twenty six and a half feet? I have a hard time believing that's not a typo. How about 16 feet which was the usual door opening width. I couldn't find any reference photos, sure, just when I really need them. © 2002 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.
Here's another surprise: By April 1981 the lessor name had changed to Evans Railcar Leasing Company, but there's no sign of the cars, as numbers from 13050 to 13099 are skipped. My guess is that Tropicana used these cars only briefly before taking delivery of its dedicated fleet of white cars for the juice trains. If that's true, there's a short ATP indeed, but one that I expect will be cheerfully violated by accumulators. What is interesting about this reprint choice, though, is that the first run didn't exactly fly off the shelves. You should still be able to find the first road number hiding in a couple of stores here and there, and by no means is it a "premium" item in the aftermarket. © 2002 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.
N SCALE SPECIAL EDITION RELEASES:
68070, $20.95 - 48 Foot Trailer, Pepsi®.White and dark blue with red, white and blue contemporary Pepsi "ball" logo and white Pepsi brand name. Road Number: None. Approximate Time Period: 1990's through present. 17th Release in the Pepsi series. NOTE: This item has been sold out and discontinued. © 2002 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.
Well, one more time once for the Pepsi series, I guess... or maybe one more time twice, as you've got to speculate that where there is a trailer, there needs to be a flat car to put it on, right? Anyway, as with the 67070 trailer from July 2000, this is based on a prototype. In fact, I've seen ones like it myself; not gotten out the tape measure or even the camera for that matter, but I think that MTL's offering aligns more than reasonably well. © 2002 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.
Faster than you can say "The choice of a new generation," I had mail asking my opinion of the MSRP of this item. At first glance, it does seem a bit out of place versus the first Pepsi trailer, which was just $9.95; the tab is double that and more this time around. (Should I have not used "Tab"? Oops, that's a Coca-Cola product, isn't it?) I don't specifically know why this one's so much more; could be more artwork, could be more paint work, could be the different trailer body style (48 feet versus 45), or could be more licensing fees. To be fair, I was surprised when the 67070 came in at under ten bucks, making the delta between the two seem that much larger. © 2002 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.
I was wondering how to figure out exactly when the current Pepsi "ball" logo was introduced, and while trying to tease that fact out of various on-line resources, I did take a spin through the Official Pepsi site, Pepsiworld.com (or just pepsi.com ). For those of you who haven't been there, it's pretty loaded up with historical facts, video of recent commercials and even a trivia quiz. (I got most of the questions right, but then, I've had to research the brand quite a bit over 17 MTL releases.) The 3-D "ball" logo, by the way, dates back only to 1998, although the brand name was first removed from the "swirl" logo and placed next to it on their cola cans in 1991. Pepsi calls the new look trademark "a universal symbol for one Pepsi family." © 2002 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.
Nn3 SCALE (NARROW GAUGE):
I know that the first thing that might come to mind when considering the concept of "common carrier" lines in our 50th state might be something along the lines of "Why does Hawaii have Interstate Highways?" Well, the common carrier status is easier to explain; since that refers to a line that transports something other than its own cargo, as, say, a private railroad on a pineapple or sugar plantation might. I'm surprised that there were as many a seven common carriers on the Hawaiian islands, but I've seen that comment in several places on the 'net so I won't argue. I didn't see the OR&L in the few Official Guides or ORERs I own from the period, however... but wouldn't that have been interesting! © 2002 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.
This particular line did quite the business hauling sugar cane, equipment, supplies and yes, passengers. Sugar cane must be processed within 72 hours of harvesting so railroad transport made sense even in a relatively isolated island paradise. I can just imagine what it must have been like to ship locomotives over the ocean in the 1870's when these lines were first built! What must have been even more dramatic were the World War II years, with small narrow gauge engines struggling to keep up with military demands. © 2002 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.
Two steam engines from the 36 inch gauge line survive at the Hawaiian Railway Society; these are the number 6, an 0-4-2T, and number 12, an 0-6-0. The society also reopened more than six miles of track from Ewa to Nanakuli, both west of Honolulu, and operates tourist rides using three operational diesels. It's the only operational railroad in Hawaii, so Akahele I Ke Ka'aahi! Or, "Look out for the firecar!" For more on the Society and what it's preserved, check out its website. © 2002 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.
If this isn't the first Z Scale car with the "@BW" thing going on, it's certainly one of the first. There have been only three other CB&Q releases since Micro-Trains began making Z Scale cars: a tank car, a gondola, and a Chinese Red boxcar (their catalog 14107) which might have been the first 1:220 MTL car with alternating slogans. (Its N Scale counterpart had 'em.) © 2002 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.
If nothing else, this release gives MTL an easy way to leverage the already prepared artwork produced for the N Scale car; it's even the same number, although it won't have the Allied Full Cushion trucks that came on the 1:160 car. And that means I can leverage the already prepared commentary produced for the N Scale car. To wit: The ORER for July 1950 (Westerfield CD-ROM) shows the CB&Q series 21000 to 22749 with a total of 1093 cars, description "Box, All Steel". Most of these were AAR Classification "XM" but 25 were equipped with DF loaders and given AAR Classification XME, although that's probably not how they were built. The inside length was 50 feet 6 inches, outside length 52 feet 3 inches, inside height 10 feet 6 inches, extreme height 15 feet 1 inch, door opening 8 feet, capacity 4949 cubic feet or 100,000 pounds. In January 1959 there were 935 cars without and 171 cars with the DF loaders. In January 1964 there were 922 without DF and 165 with, and in April 1970 under Burlington Northern, there were still nearly 400 cars remaining although 48 of them had been demoted to the dreaded "hide and tankage loading." And yes, that's an edited "reprint" of the March 2002 bytes on the N Scale car. Please refer to that issue for the complete ramble. © 2002 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.
One thing you can say about MTL's Z Scale efforts is that they try to keep a good selection of locomotives in stock and available. In the October 1, 2002 price list there were eight powered F-7As, three unpowered A's and five unpowered B's. Not bad, not bad at all. © 2002 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited. The Union Pacific had a bunch of F3's and F7's of various varieties (sorry N Scalers: no FT's though). This number comes out of the group 1466 to 1480 of 15 F7A's. According to the site Utahrails.net, which contains an excellent all-time UP loco roster, these units were in service from 1951 to 1964. They were apparently each paired with two B units, to yield, for example, 1467-1467B-1467C. The 1467 was traded into EMD in June 1964. Can't get more accurate than that! But if you want even more data, I heartily recommend visiting the rest of Don Strack's Utahrails site. He's included a history of the UP's F units including an entire narrative section on the F7's, and information on how they were painted. I couldn't find any prototype images on the 'net (the phrase "'Union Pacific' + F7 + Photo" returns around 500 possibilities, a few too many to wade through) but that doesn't mean that there aren't any. © 2002 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.