©2003 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting Prohibited.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:
20606, $11.10 - 40 Foot PS-1 Box Car, Single Door (Youngstown or "Narrow Rib" Door), Norfolk and Western.Boxcar red with white lettering including reporting marks on left and small three line roadname on right. Reporting Marks: N&W 44324. Approximate Time Period: early 1950's (1951 build date given by MTL) to early 1960's. NOTE: This item has been sold out and discontinued.© 2003 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.
Call this good news and bad news, the proportion of each depends on your point of view.
Some time ago, I had mentioned that I thought it would be a really good idea if Micro-Trains would consider doing the paint schemes that the "brother company" Kadee had done on its HO Scale PS-1 boxcars. Kadee researches these very carefully and basically refuses to do any car that isn't an exact match for the body style produced. The result is very much state of the art in 1:87. And were MTL to emulate the paint schemes in N, they couldn't go wrong, right? © 2003 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.
Well, here's the good news: This release does in fact emulate the Kadee HO release of a Norfolk and Western boxcar, specifically their catalog 5001, down to the same road number 44324. And here's the bad news: The Kadee HO car, like its prototype, has an eight foot door, not the six foot on the MTL body style. Yepper, it's a "door thing." © 2003 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.
Uh, guys? That's not exactly what I meant...
Anyway, this car represents the B-8 class on the N&W, as noted by UMTRR reader Robb Fisher. Robb added that this as-delivered scheme was replaced by a scheme with a larger roadname and with reporting marks also larger moved farther up on the car. That second paint scheme was introduced circa 1955. Later, they were switched to the 1960's version with the very large roadname and the "hamburger" circle herald, and some also made it to the 1970's black and white decoration with the runtogether "NW". Kadee has done HO versions of all these cars, and all as B-8s. The November 2001 issue of Mainline Modeler has drawings of these cars. Robb Fisher also passed along a reference to "Kim Thurlow's N&W Portfolio of Box Cars." Thurlow credits the Virginia Tech imagebase for the views of the cars on his site. © 2003 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.
The Official Railway Equipment Register (ORER) for January 1959 shows the series 44000 to 44999 with the following dimensions: inside length 40 feet 6 inches, inside height 10 feet 6 inches, outside length 41 feet 9 inches, extreme height 15 feet 1 inch, an 8 foot door opening (grumble) and capacity of 3898 cubic feet or 100,000 pounds. There are 973 cars in the series of a possible 1,000; no doubt the entire thousand were originally built in 1951. By the way, the series just above this, from 43000 to 43999, are of the same dimensions except with a six foot door, and Kim Thurlow's site has a three quarter view of N&W 43092. It's painted almost identically, with the exception of an ampersand "&" substituting for the word "and" in the roadname "Norfolk & Western". © 2003 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.
There were 943 cars in the series in the January 1964 ORER and 905 cars across four subseries in the April 1970 Register. We know from Kadee's selection of paint schemes that the cars lasted into the 1970's, and with the roofwalks. Although the N&W is somewhat famous for slow repainting of cars, I'd be surprised if there were any left in the "as delivered" scheme by the mid 1960's. Call me crazy but that's where I'll end the Approximate Time Period. © 2003 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.
21420, $13.90 - 40 Foot Plug Door Boxcar, Eastern States Farmers Exchange.
21420, $13.90 - 40 Foot Plug Door Boxcar, Eastern States Farmers Exchange.Dark green with black ends and roof. White lettering including large reporting marks on left and Eastern States logo on right. Reporting Marks: ERDX 10060. Approximate Time Period: late 1950's (1958 restencil date given by MTL) through early 1960's. NOTE: This item has been sold out and discontinued. © 2003 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.
Our long-time UMTRR friend Joe Levitzky supplies a guest commentary for this car. Here's Joe (start quote):
I knew that somewhere before I'd seen a picture of the prototype for Micro-Trains #21420. Sure enough on page 28 of the Morning Sun Books "NH Color Guide to Freight and Passenger Equipment" by David R. Sweetland with Stephen Horsely in cooperation with The New Haven Railroad Historical & Technical Association is a picture of the exact car (road number 10060) that MTL has replicated.
End quote. And absolutely on that usefulness, Joe. This time I get to provide the "Incremental Information" ! First, a peek at the January 1959 ORER listing for Merchants Despatch Transportation, the subsidiary of the New York Central that was the lessor of these cars to Eastern States. The series ERDX 10000 to 10099 of 94 cars with AAR Classification "RB" had an inside length of 40 feet 6 inches and an outside length of 42 feet 6 inches. Joe's right on the "less tall" attribute with an extreme height of 13 feet 7 inches, which is lower than the 21000 series body style. There was a six foot door opening and capacity of a relatively low 2906 cubic feet or 84,000 pounds. "Note F" adds that these cars had sliding doors. Most MDT cars had hinged doors, as did most refrigerator cars of the time, of course. The January 1964 ORER shows 93 cars in the ERDX series and the April 1970 Register has 65 cars in the group. Also, Volume 3 of "Classic Freight Cars" has a 1959 photo of ERDX 10019 at Danbury, Connecticut. © 2003 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.
The removal of the Eastern States logo will probably shorten the ATP a bit from what I've listed, although it's a lot easier to remove a logo on a model than to add it! As Joe noted, Agway was formed through a merger of farmers' cooperatives including Eastern States. That was in 1964, and I'll wager that's when the logo started disappearing from the side of the ERDX cars. © 2003 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.
38330, $17.90 - 50 Foot Plug Door Boxcar, Canadian National "Supertherm".
38330, $17.90 - 50 Foot Plug Door Boxcar, Canadian National "Supertherm".Grey with mostly black lettering including CN "wet noodle" herald and reporting marks on left. Blue and black "Supertherm" device on right. Reporting Marks: CN 289004. Approximate Time Period: 1981 to 1994 (given by MTL, we'll take it). NOTE: This item has been sold out and discontinued.
If you didn't know there was a prototype you may not believe that the mostly conservative Canadian National would have come up with a scheme like this! I'm not aware of any previous models of this car in N Scale, or any other scale for that matter. The bilingual requirement for the roadname is neatly skipped here, since the roadname isn't on the car. © 2003 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.
Sometimes there isn't much more to add to a commentary than what MTL's already provided. This is one of those cases; nearly the whole story is out there for you to read in the car copy. And I did validate the basic data with Ian Cranstone's "Canadian Freight Cars" site including that these five cars came from the CN series 280300 to 280499. I didn't have any luck finding 'net based illustrations of either the source cars or the "Supertherm"s that resulted. In fact a 'net search on "Supertherm + Canadian National" resulted in only three entries, two of which were in French! (The third one was Ian's site.) There are photos in two printed references: First, the Morning Sun Color Guide to the CN, and second, Canadian Rail Car Pictorial: Volume Four. © 2003 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.
So I suppose we'll just have to content ourselves with the ORER for January 1985. Listed therein are the five cars numbered 289000 to 289005, as "Box, Steel, Movable Bulkheads, Supertherm Cars, 25K" with AAR Classification "XPI". They had an inside length of 50 feet 2 inches, outside length of 55 feet 4 inches, inside height of 9 feet 2 inches, outside height of 14 feet 6 inches, extreme height of 15 feet 1 inch, and a door opening of 8 feet. The capacity was 3957 cubic feet or 153,000 pounds. You can see what the extra insulation does to the car's capacity just by noting the difference between the inside and outside heights, over five feet. I'm going to take MTL's word for it that the cars were off the roster by October 1994 since that sure sounds like the issue date of an ORER. © 2003 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.
92170, $21.25, ACF Center Flow® Covered Hopper, Two Bay, Great Northern.
92170, $21.25, ACF Center Flow® Covered Hopper, Two Bay, Great Northern.Gray with black lettering including reporting marks on left and large roadname across car. Red and black "goat" herald. Reporting Marks: GN 173813. Approximate Time Period: mid-1960's (1966 build date given by MTL) to early 1990s. NOTE: This item has been sold out and discontinued. © 2003 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.
Built in 1966, when the behind the scenes work for the big Burlington Northern merger was already going on, this car represents one of the later orders of the independent Great Northern. The treatment of the famous GN "goat" logo is a bit different on this car than on, say, boxcars, with that red background for the goat. Kind of like a goat in a sunset, no? Later, at least some of these ACF2970 cars were painted in the sky blue scheme, according to a Jim Eager article in the January 1995 edition of Rail Model Journal. I feel reasonably certain that the MTL models are of the ACF 2970s that were the prototype cars. The 2980s, built later, used sheet steel for the sides and appear to have more noticible seams as a result. © 2003 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.
The ORER for April 1970, which is already for the Burlington Northern, shows the GN series 173800 to 173999, 198 cars out of the possible 200. Hey, what's this? MTL has already noted in the car copy the inside length of 34 feet 9 inches, the extreme height of 15 feet 1 inch and the capacity of 2970 cubic feet? OK, how about the outside length of 36 feet 11 inches? In April 1976 there were 190 cars and in April 1981, 174 pieces. Looks like the BN didn't get around to restenciling these for a while. In fact, I'd say they just attritted with the GN reporting marks, down to just three by October 1996. No word on how bad they looked by that point, though. At least one made it to 1984 in the paint scheme depicted by MTL and its image was captured in the RMJ article cited above. © 2003 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.
N SCALE REPRINTS:
20090, $13.65 - 40 Foot PS-1 Boxcar, Single Door (Youngstown or "Narrow Rib" Door), Southern Pacific "Overnights."Black with white lettering including roadname and roadnumber on left. Red and yellow "Southern Pacific Lines" circle herald on left and red and yellow arrow-through-circle "Overnights" device on right. Road Number: 97950 (will be "SP 97950" on the website listing). Approximate Time Period: mid-1950's only (from the paint scheme), but see text. Previous Releases (pause for deep breath): Road Number 98068, February 1977, then a six pack of road numbers 97621, 97663, 97752, 97804, 97960, and 98001, December 1982; then a six pack of road numbers 97632, 97635, 97648, 98022, 98152, and 98163, March 1986; then a six pack of road numbers 97622, 97635, 97813, 97846, 98012, and 98062, February 1987; Road Number 97940, April 1995; Road Number 97947, April 1997. NOTE: This item has been sold out and discontinued. © 2003 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.
Quick MTL trivia question: What's the single most reprinted car in the Micro-Trains series? Answer: You're lookin' at it. This is the twenty-second road number for this particular paint scheme.
Another trivia question: What's wrong with all 22 releases? Answer: The SP never painted any PS-1s in this scheme. I'm not even sure the Espee ever had any PS-1 boxcars at all during the ATP of these cars. © 2003 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.
Getting close to the actual model in N Scale requires cross-kitting of two different earlier-era boxcars that are offered by a different manufacturer located somewhat east of Oregon (and that's as far as I'll go), as chronicled by Kirk Reddie's close friend "Clifford Notes" in the March/April 2001 and March/April 2002 issues of N Scale Railroading magazine. Mr. Notes, well, notes that the Overnights cars were Espee's B-50-24 class built in 1946 in series 97620 to 98069. There were 500 built with 50 put in express service and the rest painted black with white and yellow lettering as shown. Well, maybe not as shown. The use of the full "Southern Pacific" roadname instead of the SP initials for the reporting marks was during a short mid-1950's window prior to the repainting of these cars into the silver with black and red "Overnights" scheme (represented by MTL as their catalog number 20760 from 1987 and 1996). Even I didn't realize how short this makes the "strictly speaking" ATP, even though the "Overnights" Service was started well before then. © 2003 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.
24160, $15.90 - 40 Foot Boxcar, Single Door (Youngstown or "Narrow Rib" Door), No Roofwalk, High Ladders, Seaboard Coast Line.
24160, $15.90 - 40 Foot Boxcar, Single Door (Youngstown or "Narrow Rib" Door), No Roofwalk, High Ladders, Seaboard Coast Line.Beige with red door. Mostly red lettering including large slant "SCL" on left and SCL herald on right. Reporting Marks: SCL 813557. Approximate Time Period: early 1970's (1972 service date given by MTL) to early 1980's, but see text. Previous Release: Road Number 813559, June 1985.
Reverse engineering the SCL road number yields the information that this car should have originated as Seaboard Air Line's 13557, as described in numerous ORERs that followed the 1967 merger of the Seaboard with the Atlantic Coast Line. © 2003 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.
There are only two problems with this: First, there is no SCL 813557 listed in the April 1970, the April 1976 or the April 1981 Equipment Registers. Second, there is no SAL 13557 listed in any of these books either. In fact, the closest I can get is the series SAL 13100 to 13334, or SCL 813100 to 813334, which is a group of boxcars that have roof hatches and were used in clay or phosphate service, depending on what source you're citing. Going back to the January 1964 ORER, there is a Seaboard series numbered 13001 to 13965, but it's just six cars. Well, that won't work. © 2003 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.
What also seems a little interesting about this particular release is that the original run of the 24160 was followed by the original run of the 24170, another SCL boxcar but this time in boxcar red with white lettering. Among that white lettering was exactly the same dimensional data as on the 24160! Right down to the lettering on the door, which by the way says it's nine feet wide (it's six) and the AAR designation "LC" which is short for a house car with side doors and roof hatches. © 2003 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.
So, in short, although this is a cute looking little car, I can't come up with anything that links it to a prototype, rightly or wrongly. I would venture to guess that the beige paint scheme indicates some sort of special service. The "LC" in the data and the fact that the MTL car numbers most closely adjoin prototype cars with roof hatches probably means that these should have roof hatches too, and also a lot of weathering. The SCL series 813100 to 813334 was outta there by January 1985, so in my estimation that's an approximate place to end the approximate time period of what will probably be seen as an approximate model. © 2003 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.
25260, $17.10 - 50 Foot Exterior Post Box Car ("Railbox" Type), Bangor and Aroostook.
25260, $17.10 - 50 Foot Exterior Post Box Car ("Railbox" Type), Bangor and Aroostook.Red (or actually "International Orange") with white lettering including roadname and reporting marks on left. Large white and green herald on right. Reporting Marks: BAR 5639. Approximate Time Period: early 1980's (1981 build date given by MTL) to late 1990's. Previous Release: Road Number 5635, January 1985. NOTE: This item has been sold out and discontinued. © 2003 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.
Thanks to another assist from Joe Levitzky, I was reminded to head over to the "Maine Rail Photos" website of Larry Goss for some insight on these BAR cars. And I finally learned what that triangle herald is all about; I never knew that it represented "the mountains, forests and seacoasts of Maine." OK, that makes sense now that I look at it again. Larry's page includes an image of sister car BAR 5729 which is from the same series. These were built by Berwick and as such will be slightly different from the MTL model (which is technically of an FMC-built 5077 cubic foot prototype). The April 2001 issue of Rail Model Journal also has a photo of a car from the BAR prototype series, this time BAR 5670, and adds that these cars came equipped only with 10 inch end of car cushioning. © 2003 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.
This is as good a time as any to go to the ORER; January 1985 is as close as I can get to the September 1981 delivery date. The series 5600 to 5749 of 150 cars had these vital statistics: inside length 50 feet 6 inches, inside height 11 feet even, outside length 57 feet 11 inches, extreme height 15 feet 4 inches, door opening 10 feet, capacity 5277 cubic feet or 154,000 pounds. In September 1996 there were 143 cars of the original 150 still on the roster; ditto in April 1999 and January 2000. But the entire series has disappeared from the January 2002 Register, so "to present" won't work for the ATP. © 2003 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.
Larry Goss goes on to say that following this 1981 order from Berwick, the BAR got its 50 foot boxcars second hand. Many of these cars were restenciled only or hastily repainted to remove the identification of the railroads from which they came. None of them got the dressy look of the car reprinted this month; in fact in the 1990's some of these cars were repainted in solid orange with no logo. © 2003 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.
By the way, now that I've gotten tired of checking exactly which manufacturer's prototype is the basis for the MTL X-post boxcars, I've posted this information in the Body Styles table on the UMTRR website. For the record, according to the August 2000 issue of Rail Model Journal, the 25000, 27000 and 30000s are models of the FMC 5077s, with single sliding, single plug and staggered double sliding doors, respectively. Three body styles down and umpteen to go! Researching the rest of the MTL line will be an interesting project. An interesting long term one! (That's a hint, folks.) If you like projects of another sort, check the cover story of the July 2003 issue of Railroad Model Craftsman, featuring a way to really weather these BAR cars... and I mean Weather. © 2003 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.
32080, $11.10 - 50 Foot Box Car, Plug Door, Nickel Plate Road.
32080, $11.10 - 50 Foot Box Car, Plug Door, Nickel Plate Road.Boxcar red with white lettering including reporting marks on left and herald on right. Reporting Marks: NKP 85484. Approximate Time Period: early 1960's (1960 build date given by MTL) to early 1970's. Previous Releases: Road Number 85496, November 1974 (in several variations and also under catalog number 32499, see text); Road Number 85499, December 1992. NOTE: This item has been sold out and discontinued. © 2003 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.
The ORER for January 1964 shows the twenty-five car series 85475 to 85499 described as "Box, All Steel, Insulated Plug Doors" with an AAR Classification for a refrigerator, "RBL." That's typical of many insulated plug door boxcars of the period. Before going after MTL for stating that the cars were classed XMEI, not RBL, remember that designations could and did change over time. A notation adds that the cars were equipped with Sparton Tri-Belt Loaders; that's what the "S-TB" logo on the left of the car advertises. They had an inside length of 50 feet 1 inch, inside height of 9 feet 7 inches (the insulation wouldn't have been counted), outside length of 51 feet 10 inches, extreme height of 15 feet 1 inch, door opening of 8 feet, and capacity of 4490 cubic feet or 100,000 pounds. This ORER was one of the last issued before the NKP went into the Norfolk and Western. © 2003 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.
In the April 1970 ORER listing for the N&W, there were some changes. First, the series was split into two subclasses, one with 50 tons capacity and one with 55 tons, although there were not yet any cars listed in the second series. Second, the outside length increased to 54 feet 4 inches. By April 1976, there were just two cars left in a subseries which had pallets, namely the 85476 and 85497, and none in the main series-- and no, that doesn't make any sense-- so that's the end of your ATP. It's possible that cars that were only around four years old as of the acquisition date of the NKP made it into N&W lettering, but I can't be definitive on that. © 2003 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.
Though the three ORER citations I found classed the cars as "RBL," the MTL models do show "XMEI" which might have been their as-delivered designation. None of the resources available to me had this information... hmm, I guess I can't be definitive on this either. © 2003 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.
But I can mention the variations of the original November 1974 release. First, there was the catalog number switch from 32499 to 32080. Second, there are known versions of this car with "clip-on" trucks. Third, there are "small letters" and "no small letters" versions, in both clip-on and standard truck types. The "small letters" are probably referring to the "NYC&StL" at the top left corner of the car, standing for the New York, Chicago and St. Louis which was the official corporate name of the Nickel Plate. Both the 1992 reprint and this one have those initials in place, as does my copy of the original 1974 release (well used and bought unboxed, sorry collectors). © 2003 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.
57020, $15.10 - 33 Foot Two Bay Hopper, Composite Sides, Flat Ends, Burlington (Chicago, Burlington and Quincy).
57020, $15.10 - 33 Foot Two Bay Hopper, Composite Sides, Flat Ends, Burlington (Chicago, Burlington and Quincy)."Hopper" (mineral) red with white lettering including reporting marks on left and square "Burlington Route" herald on right. Reporting Marks: CB&Q 194328. Approximate Time Period: early 1960's (based on paint scheme) into the 1970's. Previous Release: Road Number 194573, November 1978. NOTE: This item has been sold out and discontinued.© 2003 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.
Call this a "vintage reprint" and also call it a "not a reprint" if the MTL website image shows the color faithfully for this second run. This is the first rerun of this car since its 1978 debut, which to me makes a "vintage reprint" even if it's not advertised as such. That first issuance of this car was in a fairly garish, almost fire engine red, which didn't seem right. This "hopper red" seems more muted and in line with the times in which it ran; and in fact the Burlington's famous "Chinese Red" wouldn't be introduced for a few years after this series of cars was originally constructed. © 2003 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.
Ed Hawkins' definitive article on these "War Emergency" hoppers, which appears in the December 2000 issue of Rail Model Journal, tags these cars as being "mineral red." There were several different variations of the lettering scheme, including the one presented on this reprint. Other choices for composite hoppers would have the Burlington herald on a black background, slogans at the top center of the car, and both slogans and a black background (on a different series of these cars that were slightly larger). From the photos that accompany the RMJ piece, the paint scheme chosen by MTL is somewhat later than "as delivered," a note echoed by MTL in its car copy-- but they also call out that the cars could have been painted in Chinese Red too. All of the RMJ photos are in black and white. There are two photos on George Elwood's Fallen Flags site as well, and to be honest, the color image does look like the much brighter red. There's nothing quite like ambiguity, is there? © 2003 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.
The ORER for January 1964 shows the series 194000 to 194999 with description "Hopper, Composite" and the following dimensions: inside length 33 feet, inside height 9 feet 4 inches, outside length 34 feet, extreme height 10 feet 9 inches, capacity 2078 cubic feet or 110,000 pounds. Of the original 1000 cars built in 1942, there are an amazing 915 remaining as composite hoppers. This is quite unusual, as most roads either retired the cars after the war or rebuilt them with steel sides (something for which there is still a market opportunity in N Scale, are you listening, MTL?) I seem to dimly recall from somewhere that these cars were used for sugar beet service which could explain their longevity as wood and steel sided cars. I suspect it's a typo that the AAR classification is shown as "FM" which translates to "general service flat car" though. According to the RMJ piece, there were still 736 cars in January 1970 and 699 in October 1972; I'll add that there were 494 in April 1976 and 170 in April 1981-- that last one being almost 40 years after the "temporary" cars were put into service. From 1970 onward, that service was for the Burlington Northern but I don't think there were any of these cars repainted into BN lettering. © 2003 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.
65370, $19.15 - 40 Foot Single Dome Tank Car, United States Army (Transportation Corps).
65370, $19.15 - 40 Foot Single Dome Tank Car, United States Army (Transportation Corps).Black with white lettering including "United States Army" and reporting marks on left and Transportation Corps symbol on right. Reporting Marks: USAX 10936. Approximate Time Period: decade of the 1960's. Previous Releases: Road Number 10986, July 1995. NOTE: This item has been sold out and discontinued.
With this reprint, make it three pair of cars for the US Army. Previously, we've had two olive drab boxcars (catalog 20456, July 1998 and July 1999) and two olive drab flat cars (catalog 45180, June 1996 and July 1997), and now we've got two tankers. © 2003 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.
Although MTL states that this car was serviced in June 1950, the ORER for July 1950 (Westerfield CD-ROM), which shows almost 3400 tank cars registered to the Department of the Army, doesn't include a tank car numbered 10936. There are plenty of 10,000 gallon 100,000 pound tankers in the 10000 series with either USAX or USQX reporting marks, but the numbers from 10901 to 10992 are skipped. What? The same is true in the January 1959 Register (Westerfield CD-ROM again). And there's no listing for the USAX reporting marks that I could see in the January 1940 ORER, which would have been before the MTL-given build date anyway. © 2003 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.
Finally, we get somewhere in the January 1964 ORER, where the armed forces have all been consolidated under the rather bureaucratic sounding "Department of Defense - Defense Traffic Management Service" listing. A group of ICC-103 type tank cars with USAX reporting marks are numbered from 10038 to 11167. There are 851 cars in this group so there's a reasonable chance that both the reprint number 10936 and the original 10986 are in here. By the way, there's a reference to a passenger equipment listing in The Official Register of Passenger Equipment-- wonder if they kept any of those troop sleepers? © 2003 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.
By the April 1970 ORER, the restenciling of rolling stock from USAX, USNX, et cetera reporting marks into unified DODX reporting marks was well underway, although the series of tankers with which we're concerned could have been wearing either the new or old initials. The group is down to 530 cars by then. By April 1976 it looks like the DODX transition has been completed, and there are only 126 tankers in the series left, so that's where I stopped looking. © 2003 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.
In terms of our group of MTL Army cars, therefore, it's possible that the tank cars aren't contemporaneous with the boxcars or the flats, although I haven't thoroughly researched this. Will that matter to most N Scale military train assemblers? Probably not. © 2003 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.
N SCALE SPECIAL EDITION RELEASES:
21360, $19.85 - 40 Foot Plug Door Boxcar, Minnesota State Car.Aluminum sides, black roof, ends, sills and door hardware. Red and black lettering including reporting marks, state name and outline map on left. Four color process graphics including state flag, state flower (showy lady's slipper) and state bird (common loon) on right. Reporting Marks: MN 1858. Fifth release in the States of the Union series. NOTE: This item has been sold out and discontinued. © 2003 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.
Hmm, it's a "common" loon for the bird, but it's a "showy" lady's slipper for the flower, eh?
The state with at least 10,000 Lakes (it's more than that), and "where all the women are strong, all the men are good looking, and all the children are above average", is MTL's choice for the fifth release in the State SE series. I hope I have the Garrison Keilor quote correct here; I found a couple of different versions of his description of Lake Wobegon on the 'net. Keilor's public radio program "A Prarie Home Companion" is set in that fictional locale in Minnesota. My first visit to Minnesota included another lake-- Itasca, source of the Mississippi River. As John Steinbeck and William Least Heat Moon both observed in their respective books, the mighty river is narrow enough to step across at the point where it begins its journey to the sea. By the time it reaches the twin cities of Minneapolis and St. Paul it's quite a bit wider! © 2003 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.
There has been wondering and speculation about how MTL has sequenced the order of release of the State Cars. Well, here's an excuse for the North Star State coming in this month of June: On June 1, 1849, Minnesota Territory was legally organized. At the time the Territory included what is now North and South Dakota as well. Some time before that, actually about 110 million years before that, Minnesota was on a seacoast when it was partially covered by the ocean that split the North American continent. Minnesota had a near tropical climate then, something to consider when the temps are below zero for the umpteenth day in a row. On the other hand, it's no longer the Ice Age of about 12,000 years ago either. After the glaciers last receded, it's believed that the first human inhabitants of the area arrived. By 1,000 years ago they are part of the Mississippian culture of farming and trading, with its capital of Cahokia near St. Louis (Missouri) being perhaps the largest city on the continent until Philadelphia after 1800. (I hope I remember this for the Missouri car!) The first European explorers meet the Dakota tribe circa 1650, and the Ojibwe tribe arrive from the east in the late 1600's. Meanwhile, France claims trading rights and Louis Hennepin writes an account of his expedition to the area that is well read enough to make the future state somewhat of a tourist attraction.© 2003 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.
In the 1700's, parts of the territory pass between Great Britain, France and Spain, but in 1803 it passes to the United States as part of the Louisiana Purchase. As reported on the Minnesota Historical Society's website, not much changes regardless of who owns the land during that time. In the 1820's, Fort Snelling becomes the first American settlement in what is now Saint Paul, growing out of an outpost established by Zebulon Pike (of Pike's Peak). The railroads arrive-- you knew I'd get to that, right?-- starting in 1862 with a disconnected line between Saint Paul and Saint Anthony, the latter now called Minneapolis. In 1879, the "Empire Builder" Jim Hill bought the St. Paul and Pacific and four years later constructed "Hill's Folly", a stone arch bridge across the Mississippi. It still stands. The Great Northern reached the Pacific just ten years after that in 1893. Hill called it the "great adventure" of his life and he became one of the key figures in the opening of the Northwest to American settlers-- though he himself was a native of Ontario. "When we are all dead and gone," he said of his GN, "the sun will still shine, the rain will fall, and this railroad will run as usual." He's right if you count the merger of the GN into the BN and then into BNSF. © 2003 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.
The railroads opened up vast stretches of land for farming and two companies, General Mills and Pillsbury, make it the flour milling capital of the country by 1880. General Mills becomes known for a number of famous names, not the least of which is Betty Crocker, introduced in 1921 as the personification of answers to baking questions. But let's not forget the "Jolly Green Giant" of the Minnesota Valley Canning Company and then part of Pillsbury-- which now makes him a corporate brother to Betty Crocker since General Mills bought Pillsbury in 2001. There's a "real" Jolly Green Giant towering over Interstate 90 in Blue Earth, in case you're in the area; not quite as big as Paul Bunyan, but not bad. And "Have you tried Wheaties?" That General Mills product was the first to have a singing commerical, which hit radio airwaves in 1926. I'm a radio and TV buff of sorts, so I liked the brochure that General Mills has out on its website describing its "history and innovation" in the media. Would you believe that Wheaties helped give Ronald Reagan his big break? © 2003 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.
Today's Minnesota is now officially more urban than rural, and is thoroughly tied into the Information Age. In fact, the Internet Gopher text search engine was developed at the University of Minnesota and led the way to the World Wide Web. The Skyway in Minneapolis connects more than 50 buildings and shelters folks from those long winters. Although I've visited there, been to the place where Mary Tyler Moore tossed her hat into the air, and shopped till dropping at the Mall of America, the first recollection that comes to my mind remains the start of the Mississippi River. © 2003 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.
Nn3 SCALE (NARROW GAUGE): No releases this month.
New Release: 13624, Marklin Coupler, $21.50, 13624-2, Micro-Trains Coupler, $23.20, 50 Foot Box Car, Plug Door, Canadian/ Canadien National.Box car red with yellow door. White lettering including roadname (English one side, French other side) and reporting marks on left, and large "noodle" herald on right. Reporting Marks: CN 353228. Approximate Time Period: mid-1960's (1964 build date given by MTL). NOTE: This item (both versions) has been sold out and discontinued. © 2003 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.
The renumbering on this series of cars, as reported by MTL, leaves us with quite the short Approximate Time Period, a fact confirmed on Ian Cranstone's "Canadian Freight Cars" website, going from the group 353000 to 353299 to the group 401000 to 401399 by mid-1967. I don't have an ORER that covers the as delivered numbers, so we'll have to cheat and go to the renumbered series for the vital statistics as reported in the April 1970 Register: inside length 50 feet 6 inches, inside height 11 feet, outside length 55 feet 7 inches, extreme height 15 feet 6 inches, door opening 9 feet. Ian Cranstone adds that these cars came with hydra-cushion devices, so if MTL had extended draft gear couplers in Z Scale, they'd be able to use them on this car. (Something for the folks in Talent to think about if they decide to release this car in N Scale.) And the ORER listing states that these are "Large cars within Plate C dimensions." Of the original run of 300, at least 296 cars made it to the renumbering by 1970.© 2003 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.
As of January 2002, believe it or not, there are still 296 cars in the series, not bad! A three-quarter view overhead shot of CN 401133 from February 2003 is available on the "Canadian Freight Railcar Gallery" by Chris Vanderheide. Chris notes that these cars were initially built by National Steel Car for newsprint service, which I believe explains the yellow door. The door isn't yellow any more in the image to which I refer, which might mean that the car is in general service. And of course, there's no longer a roofwalk and the side ladders have been cut down as well. © 2003 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.
Reprint: 13703, Marklin Coupler, $17.60, 13703-2, Micro-Trains Coupler, $19.30, 50 Foot Box Car, Double Door, Norfolk and Western.
Reprint: 13703, Marklin Coupler, $17.60, 13703-2, Micro-Trains Coupler, $19.30, 50 Foot Box Car, Double Door, Norfolk and Western.Black with white lettering including reporting marks and large runtogether "NW" herald on left, and small roadname right of door. Reporting Marks: NW 285245. Approximate Time Period: early 1970's (1972 service date given by MTL) to early 1980's. Previous Release: Road Number 285243, April 1988. NOTE: This item (both versions) has been sold out and discontinued. © 2003 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.
Hey my fellow N Scalers, pay attention to this part of the column too, because you'll get a bonus here: The 13703 is the same car that was modeled many moons ago in N as catalog number 34030/34033. In fact, the 1982 release in N was the same road number as the 1982 release in Z. The original 1:160 release of June 1974 carried road number 285228. © 2003 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.
MTL notes that 1971 was the date for the adoption of the runtogether NW logo and the basic black paint, which supplanted the basic boxcar red and round "hamburger" logo (which itself replaced the basic boxcar red with three line roadname that is found on the N Scale release this month). From there to the probable roofwalk removal date, you don't have much of an ATP. But you could have a while for the paint scheme, as evidenced by fifty footer 286707 on George Elwood's Fallen Flags site. The car as pictured in September 1988 looks pretty close to the model, even though it belongs to a different series. Joe Shaw confirmed for me that there are no 285000s in the Morning Sun N&W Color Guide. © 2003 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.
Speaking of series, both the Z Scale releases and the two N Scale ones hail from the group numbered 285200 to 285374, shown in the April 1970 ORER as being of a mere 36 cars. Of these, 17 had 100,000 pounds capacity and 19 had 110,000 pounds, but otherwise they were the same with inside length 50 feet 6 inches, inside height 10 feet 6 inches, outside length 54 feet 4 inches, and door opening 15 feet (versus 16 on the model, so a "door thing", although a small one in Z). The number of cars in the group actually climbed to 96 in the April 1976 guide, suggesting that this was a place that the N&W put rebuilds or at least repaints. (At least partially confirmed by a look in the January 1964 Register which doesn't have any N&W revenue car numbered above 163399.) But the series probably never reached its theoretical limit of 175 cars, as it dropped back to 88 pieces in April 1981 and slid to 45 total in January 1985, all across various subseries with and without special devices like DF and Tri-Belt loaders. © 2003 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.