UMTRR January, 2004 || Edited From Subscriber Edition
©2004 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:

45270, $14.85
50 Foot Flat Car, Fishbelly Sides, with Simulated Canvas Covered Load, New Haven (New York, New Haven and Hartford).

Black paint with white lettering, including reporting marks on left and roadname off center to right.
Reporting Marks: NH 17208.
Approximate Time Period: late 1930's (1937 build date) or mid-1950's (more strictly speaking) to late 1960's.
NOTE: This item has been sold out and discontinued.

The Morning Sun Color Guide (MSCG) to New Haven Freight and Passenger Equipment has a photo of the exact car NH 17208 taken in 1968 at Middleboro, Massachusetts. The car is stenciled similarly to the MTL model, but with one exception: "Home For Repair Rule I / Do Not Load Until Repaired" ! Kind of ironic that the prototype photo would say don't load when this is the first MTL 45000 series flat car that comes equipped with one! According to the MSCG, these cars were used in the New Haven's "Trailiner" piggyback service and could carry the 20 or 25 foot trailers that were common at the time. © 2004, George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

Although built in 1937, these cars were returned to general service by removing trailer handling devices in around 1952 or so. In addition, the roadname looks like a McGuinness era style as opposed to Railroad Roman. For those reasons, the strictly speaking ATP is going to start in the early fifties instead of the build date. Let's check the Official Railway Equipment Register (ORER) for January 1955 (Westerfield CD-ROM), then: The original series 17200 to 17274 had already dropped off to 17202 to 17270, of 46 cars. The description was "Flat, Steel Underframe" and the AAR Designation was "FM" which is your basic flat car. The "inside length" was shown as 49 feet 3 inches and "outside length" 49 feet 4 inches, even though the MSCG tags these as 52 foot 6 inch cars. These were 70 ton capacity cars. In January 1964 the series was expanded to 17200 to 17299, I guess via consolidation of several groups of flats, and there were 49 cars in the new group. Thirty-two cars made it into Penn Central upon the 1969 absorbtion of the NH into the PC and they're shown in the April 1970 ORER. Ten of those had their capacity increased to 154,000 pounds. Based on the beating that flat cars took, it's not surprising that the MSCG shows other NH flats with crudely restored reporting marks, and my wager is that's what most of these cars looked like by then, if they weren't "bad ordered" entirely. So we'll end the ATP at that point even though 23 of the series survived long enough to be included in Conrail in April 1976. © 2004, George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

56350, $24.90
33 Foot Two Bay Open Hopper, Rib Sides, Flat Ends, Waddell Coal Mining Company.

Orange paint; Black and White lettering, including reporting marks on left, large company name across car, and logo on right.
Reporting Marks: WDLX 101.
Approximate Time Period: early and mid-1950's.
NOTE: This item has been sold out and discontinued.

Let's start right out with an answer to the question that at least some of you are asking: Yes, the car is legit.

The four weeks from early December 2003 to early January, have been the single best time to be an N Scaler and a fan of the New York, Ontario and Western Railway. At the close of 2003, the first commerically available locomotives in 1:160 with reasonable (or better) fidelity to the real thing have been released; better yet, those two are a steamer and a diesel. (Sorry, MTL, wish it was yours.) And now we add this car. The "Old Woman" has been well represented in HO for a number of years, thanks to firms like The Old and Weary Car Shop. They happened to be at the "Big E" for the Amherst Railway Show, and I must admit I personally escorted MTL CEO Eric Smith over to their display and pointed out the NYO&W cars that Micro-Trains could legitimately do in N. This one is, of course, by far the most colorful, even if it's not strictly an O&W car. © 2004, George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

The Waddell Coal Mining Company of Winton, Pennsylvania was located along the O&W's line between Cadosia, New York and Scranton, and leased cars in support of what I'll call its "retail" coal business. Most coal went out of Anthracite Country to the large metropolitan areas in the Northeast, and today it seems incredible that there were as many railroads as there were to handle this business (for starters, the NYO&W, the Lackawanna, the Lehigh Valley, the Reading, and the Central of New Jersey). Waddell had its own coal breaker and supplied local needs for black diamonds. © 2004, George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

The ORER for January 1955 contains a text listing of the four hoppers with WDLX reporting marks, numbered 101 to 104. These were 55 ton hoppers, class HM. Of course, it doesn't report that they were orange! But at least two were, the 101 and 102, and they were captured in 1952 in or near Scranton. Two photos are included in the Morning Sun book "The New York, Ontario and Western In Color" by Paul Lubliner. One striking detail of the cars are the phone numbers: Jermyn 564, and Scranton 3-7644. I can just see trying to explain that to my kids. Technically speaking, the 56er body style is not perfect for these cars, since they were grown from smaller hoppers as evidenced by a row of rivets near the tops of the sides and some fairly obvious splicing on the ends. But the "look and feel" is there. A citation on the NRHS site shows the Waddell reporting marks active from January 1952 to October 1957. © 2004, George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

75130, $19.35
50 Foot Box Car, Double Plug Door, No Roofwalk, Full Height Ladders, Wisconsin and Southern "Model Railroader 70 Years."

Maroon paint; mostly white lettering including reporting marks on left and roadname and small herald on right. Blue and Model Railroader logo and "Celebrating 70 Years" device at top left.
Reporting Marks: WSOR 503149.
Approximate Time Period: 2003 (i.e. the present).
NOTE: This item has been sold out and discontinued.

This is not a Special Edition, but a prototype release, as many of you are already aware. In fact, the prototype for this car as it traveled eastbound through East Rochester in a general freight train on the CSX, back in mid-November. In other words, I was there, I saw it, but I didn't have a camera. © 2004, George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

This is probably the first time that MTL has done five modern cars from exactly the same prototype series with five different paint schemes, however subtle the differences. (I must use the "modern" modifier given that several Santa Fe map and slogan groups have different slogans and are from the same prototype series.) This car, 503149, comes from the same series as the 9/11 commemorative three pack and the previous "standard" 75070 release. That would be the group 503005 to 503191, which are AAR Class RBL, description "Refrigerator" although they are more properly insulated boxcars. As we've noted before, the 75er is really a bit shorter than the real things' outside length of 60 feet 3 inches. © 2004, George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

This is the fourth time that a big Model Railroader birthday has been celebrated with the release of a Micro-Trains car. Most of you probably recall the 65th Anniversary car, catalog 32360 from December 1998. (And perhaps you also recall the uproar that resulted from some quarters when MTL deigned to assign a regular run slot to a "fantasy car". And we know what happened after that... Pepsi, Smokey, Popsicle... and all survived, we trust.) But two special runs preceded that 65th birthday car. Continuing backward, there was of course the regular run of the prototype Wisconsin Central boxcar as Catalog 27210 for MR's 60th. And there was a 50th Anniversary boxcar done on a 20000 series car in 1993 as a project of the N Scale Collector's Society. And ten years before that, there was a red, white, blue and black boxcar lettered for the Great Gulch, Yahoo Valley and Northern, which was the late Al Kalmbach's model railroad, and for MR's 40th Anniversary. After the fact, it was assigned N Scale Collector Special Run number 74-01. And have you guessed? It was the very first special run done by Kadee. It was also the only special run of 1974! (How far we've come, perhaps.) © 2004, George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

77080, $27.60
50 Foot Box Car, Single Door, No Roofwalk, Full Height Ladders, Delaware and Hudson "I Love New York".

Half blue and half white paint on sides, divided diagonally. Blue ends. Black and white lettering including "The D&H" shield herald and reporting marks on left. Black and red "I(Heart)NY" on right. Bright green "Operation Lifesaver" logo on right.
Reporting Marks: DHNY 50137.
Approximate Time Period: early 1980's (or mid-1980's given OLS logo) to early 1990's.
NOTE: This item has been sold out and discontinued.

Love it or hate it, the "I Love New York" advertising campaign for the Empire State goes down as one of the most successful tourist promotions in American history. Introduced in 1977, it remains an active program of the New York State Department of Economic Development, and has spawned any number of imitators (including Micro-Trains' own "I(heart)Smokey," yes, I know). Steve Karmen, a commercial songwriter contributed a jingle by the same name as the theme of the campaign, now the "unofficial" state theme song and back then a minor chart hit as well. © 2004, George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

The New York State Department of Transporation financed and leased 150 boxcars to the D&H in the 1980's. These were 1960's era cars, built by Pullman-Standard but with numerous variations within the general PS-1 design, that were bought by New York, refurbished and then leased back to the D&H. MTL quotes a build date of 1966 and I have a photo reference with a different car with a build date of 1962, but you get the idea. The roofwalks were taken off and the ladders cut down, also there is a "door thing" but the 77000 body style is the closest option MTL has for this car. Does that make it a "stand in"? By some accounts, yes, but it's certainly a colorful one. I'll wager that the reject rate in the paint department was higher than usual. The doors had to be done separately but the diagonal line had match the car. A non-trivial task, this, and a contributor to the price tag. © 2004, George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

George Elwood's Fallen Flags site has more than a dozen photos of the cars, including an example, DHNY 50158, with the "Operation Lifesaver" logo as depicted by MTL. Also, Jeff English wrote an article on these cars that appears in the February 1987 issue of Model Railroader. English notes that about 90 percent of the cars had the panel door but the remainder did get a corrugated door similar to that on the MTL model, so even the "door thing" might not be quite as bad as it was on first look. The national program "Operation Lifesaver" was founded in 1985 (individual state efforts apparently pre-date this) so I think the addition of the OLS logo in green would have been after the initial arrival of the cars. Jeff English confirms this in the MR piece, noting that some cars got black and others green renditions of the OLS logo, and some didn't get a logo at all, but all after the roadnumber 50120. The first 20 cars in the series got the NYSDOT logo of the time period. I honestly don't recall seeing either of these insignia on the real life DHNY cars I spotted. © 2004, George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

The ORER for January 1985 listed the series DHNY 50051 to 50199, a total of 149 cars, of which 132 had cushion underframes. All were class "XM" and had an inside length of 50 feet 6 inches, an inside height of 10 feet 5 inches, outside length of 60 feet 5 inches (so those extended draft gear trucks are correct!) extreme height of 15 feet 1 inch, a 10 foot door opening (door thing, as I mentioned above) and capacity of 4932 cubic feet and 149,000 or 150,000 pounds. There was another series numbered 50000 to 50050 with 51 more cars of roughly the same dimensions. © 2004, George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

When brand new, these cars looked just great. But we already know what happens to white paint when not maintained. Long lines of these cars were stored in a yard near Niagara Falls, New York in the late 1980's and early 1990's; I was quite astonished to come across them one day after moving up to the Great White North. I lost track of them after they disappeared from that yard; I suspect that their next stop was the scrap line. All but four of the cars disappeared from the D&H listing in the ORERs by the January 1996 issue, which is after I saw so many rusting away in that yard near Niagara Falls. The DHNY reporting marks appear to have been retired by the year 2000. © 2004, George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

116020.1 [Foreman Office Car] and 116020.2 [Outfit Service Car], $17.70 each
Troop Sleeper (converted for railroad use), Rio Grande (Denver and Rio Grande Western).

Silver paint with black lettering including reporting marks on left and speed lettering roadname at top right.
Reporting Marks: D&RGW AX-2410 (the .1) and D&RGW AX 2566 (the .2).
Approximate Time Period: 1950's to early 1970's at least.
NOTE: These items have been sold out and discontinued.

Here's what will probably be the first example of a troop sleeper converted to "civilian duty" after the war effort was over. Depending on how much modification was done by the railroad in question, there may be more MTL releases of this type on the way. The buyers will decide how popular this will be, keeping in mind that those Allied Trucks would have kept these cars on home rails only, even if the intended service didn't. (MOW cars rarely left their owner's trackage.) Don't forget, though, silver cars with modified lettering could be put to use on your pike with a little creative license. © 2004, George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

Unfortunately, I couldn't find any 'net based photos of these cars, but I did come across a 'net based posting of the Rio Grande's book "Standard Plans, Roadway, MOW Department, D&RGW Railroad Company, 1966"! So if you want to know about spacing of track ties, ballast sections for single and double track main lines, or perhaps you need instructions for applying and maintaining insulated rail joints (I assume that in real life, it's not just slipping on a plastic joiner!) than you'll want to check out the DRGW "iArchive on the 'net. © 2004, George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

Although there's no information on what they looked like or how they were painted, in that same "iArchive" there is a scan of the D&RGW's January 1, 1955 listing of equipment, and we find that in 1955 there were 37 Foreman Office Cars numbered X-2375 to X-2411! The 2566 aligns with a series of 21 "Kitchen-Diners" numbered X-2550 to X-2570. The quantities were 36 and 18, respectively, in 1963 and 18 and 11 in 1971, the last listing that was available on the website. I must admit that I don't know what the "A" in front of the "X" in the road number is for. I didn't see any references to it in the equipment listings, but every photo of every type of MOW car I found while looking for images of these had an "AX" before the number. By the way, these listings cover revenue equipment as well and I have a feeling I may be heading back to them at some point. Like the next MTL Rio Grande release. © 2004, George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.



N SCALE REPRINTS:

29040, $13.50
40 Foot Box Car, Single Sheathed ("Outside Braced") Wood Side, One and one-half doors, Missouri-Kansas-Texas ("The Katy").

Freight car red paint; white lettering including large reporting marks on left and "Automobile" legend on right.
Reporting Marks: M-K-T 67007.
Approximate Time Period: late 1920's to mid 1930's.
Previous Releases: Road Number 67001, February 1975 (also with catalog number 29221); Road Number 67019, January 1991.
NOTE: This item has been sold out and discontinued.

The prototype series of these cars appears to have had a relatively short lifespan, or at least a relatively short stay in this number series. In the April 1928 ORER, just about a year after they were built, they were described as "Automobile, Staggered Doors, Steel Center Sills" with MCB Classification "XA". (The MCB preceded the AAR.) The inside length was 40 feet 6 inches, inside height just over 10 feet, outside length 40 feet 9 inches, and extreme height 15 feet 2 1/2 inches. The door opening is given as 12 feet, more along the lines of a double door car than a door and a half, setting up perhaps the first "door thing" for a wood sheathed boxcar in the UMTRR. The capacity was 3682 cubic feet or 100,000 pounds. There were all 500 cars in the series in this listing. But just over seven years later, in July 1935, just 99 cars are shown, and the series is gone completely in the January 1940 Register. What happened? © 2004, George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

Well, what could have happened is that the cars were fitted with loading racks, and when they were, they were renumbered. There's a series 68000 to 68399 of 399 cars with identical dimensions with the exception of the inside height, which changes when racks are installed. There are usually two heights given, one with the racks down to permit loading, and one with the racks folded against the top of the inside of the car. That's the case with the 68000 series. So perhaps what happened is that cars were delivered without auto loading equipment and as it was installed, the cars were restenciled. © 2004, George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

Wait, it gets better. In the January 1940 ORER, the 68000 series has been expanded by 100 numbers, to 68000 to 68498, but the number of cars has dropped from 399 to 97. And there are two other series, again with identical dimensions: 67500 to 67700 has 200 cars and 69001 to 69220 has 198. Total, 495 cars or just about where this started. There could be a very logical explanation for this, but it would certainly take someone much more expert about the Katy than I. A speculation: different types of loaders in different number series. By the July 1950 ORER the only auto cars are all-steel and if these cars were still on the rails, I couldn't discern what road numbers they might have been wearing. © 2004, George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

One thing struck me from MTL's car copy: What in tarnation was the story of the "Crash at Crush"? Well, yes, it was in fact a staged head on collision, at a site near Waco, Texas, of two 4-4-0 Katy steamers, the 999 and the 1001, each pulling a short train of boxcars. This was a publicity stunt that rivaled the best of them, and drew fifty thousand spectators, many of whom rode the M-K-T to reach the destination. If only the locos' boilers hadn't exploded on impact, sending debris into the crowd and injuring and killing several spectators. Although the November 1896 event is relatively obscure today, it lives on in the Scott Joplin composition "The Great Crush Collision" and was the subject of at least one Master's Thesis (by George B. Ward, circa 1975). Can you imagine what today's insurance carriers would have said about this? Probably not, "Oh, well, everything's big in Texas." There are several conflicting reports on the Crash at Crush, including an eyewitness account (!) transcribed from a 1950 issue of the Katy's employee magazine, and I'll leave you to seek them out and decide which one is the most more spectacular version. © 2004, George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

39140, $16.80
40 Foot Box Car, Double Sheathed Wood Side, Single Door, Vertical Brake Wheel, Northwestern Pacific

Pullman green paint; yellow lettering including reporting marks on left and "Overnight Merchandise Service" legend on right.
Reporting Marks: NWP 1934.
Approximate Time Period: 1930's and 1940's.
Previous Release: Road Number 1946, April 1992.
NOTE: This item has been sold out and discontinued.

The Northwestern Pacific has a history interesting enough to warrant not one but several books. It began as a system of narrow gauge lines and ended as a subsidiary of the Southern Pacific, and then was reborn as a publicly held company in 1996. It certainly doesn't hurt that the Northern California environs of the NWP are known as the "Redwood Empire" and in that part of the country, the giant trees really do dwarf the trains. Even today, the terrain is rugged, the grades steep, and the scenery magnificent. The "original" NWP was jointly owned by the Santa Fe and the SP until 1929 when the Espee bought the ATSF's interest. The "new" NWP didn't fare so well, by the way; it was shut down in 1998 by FRA order, the first time that an entire railroad has been directed to cease operations. The current state of the line is, well, let's just summarize: a mess. © 2004, George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

The double sheathed boxcar series numbered from 1900 to 1999 on the prototype appear to have been painted in at least three different ways. Two of these have been done by MTL in two numbers each, counting this reprint; they are the black with multicolor "Overnights" (catalog 39100 from July 1987 and April 1993) and this pullman green with yellow scheme. They were apparently also painted in very plain boxcar red with white lettering similar to that of parent SP; I found an HO Scale special run done by Accurail in that variety. I'm guessing on the ATP, by the way, although the service date of 1939 helps a bit here. I find it doubtful that many cars were painted this way or stayed that way very long. I also wonder whether they left the NWP. © 2004, George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

A look at the January 1940 ORER (Westerfield CD-ROM) shows the series listed as just "Box" with the following vital statistics: inside length 40 feet 6 inches, inside height 9 feet, outside length 40 feet 9 inches, extreme height 14 feet 1 3/4 inches, door opening 6 feet, and capacity 3098 cubic feet and 80,000 pounds. There were 98 cars in July 1950 but as MTL points out, no freight car listing in 1959. The January 1964 ORER has the barest of entries for the line, just the name, reporting marks and the list of interchange points. © 2004, George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

49260, $19.90
40 Foot Refrigerator Car, Wood Sides, Ice Bunkers, Fishbelly Underframe, Vertical Brake Wheel, Northern Pacific.

Yellow sides, freight car red ends, roof, and bottom side sills; black lettering including curved roadname and reporting marks on left. Round "monad" herald in black, red and white on right.
Reporting Marks: NP 93428.
Approximate Time Period: 1930's and 1940's (1941 service date).
Previous Release: Road Number 93614, June 1988.
NOTE: This item has been sold out and discontinued.

If you model just about any point in the North American rail network in the fourth and fifth decades of the twentieth century, chances are that you're going to need one of these reprints. The NP had almost five thousand freight refrigerator cars listed in the April 1928 ORER, and they traveled near and far with the produce of the Pacific Northwest. The three foot "monad" herald on this reprint places the paint scheme as most appropriate for the 1930's and early 1940's, after which the herald size grew and slogans such as "Main Street of the Northwest" (1948) and "Route of the Vista-Dome North Coast Limited" (1956) appeared alongside the monad. The arched roadname had been around since the 1800's and the herald since the turn of the century-- the previous century that is. © 2004, George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

That April 1928 ORER shows the series 93000 to 93999 described as "Refrigerator, Steel Center Sills" with MCB Designation "RS". The inside length was 34 feet 6 inches, inside width 8 feet 10 1/2 inches and inside height 7 feet 3 1/2 inches, all netted out from the space required for the ice bunkers and insulation-- probably just thick wood in this case. The outside length was 42 feet 2 3/4 inches and extreme height 13 feet 3 inches. Capacity was up to 12,000 pounds of ice and 70,000 pounds total lading and ice. There were 998 cars in this group in April 1928, then 969 cars in the July 1935 Register and 957 cars in 1940 (both Westerfield CD-ROMs). But with the advent of steel ice reefers the wood cars came off the roster quickly and in the July 1950 Register just 100 cars remain, although they've had Preco fans added. © 2004, George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

One of the aspects of MTL releases that does annoy some folks is the single car number runs, and I'll admit that a block of these hauling apples or cherries is going to look a bit more realistic than a single reefer in some trains. Renumbering can be accomplished, of course, and it looks like Micro-Scale decal set number 60-488 will be of assistance here. It's interesting to note that two of the "canned" numbers in the set match the two road numbers released by MTL, 93614 and 93428, and that the instruction sheet uses the 93614 as an illustration. Coincidence? Uh, probably not. © 2004, George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

65320, $21.05
39 Foot Tank Car, Single Dome, Chicago Great Western.

Maroon tank, black frame and details; yellow lettering including reporting marks on left. Red, black and white "Lucky Strike" herald on left.
Reporting Marks: CGW 266.
Approximate Time Period: mid 1950's (1955 build date) to mid-1970's.
Previous Release: Road Number 267, September 1992.
NOTE: This item has been sold out and discontinued.

I had briefly considered, as part of the adjustments to the UMTRR, of introducing a "rivet count" which would be my summary appraisal of the relative fidelity of the model to the prototype. Let's just say that this car wouldn't have scored a five out of five on the rivet scale. Then again, neither would anybody else's attempt at modeling this tanker in 1:160. © 2004, George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

The real thing was captured in a number of photos in the Morning Sun Color Guide for the CGW, and graphically illustrates the issues at hand. First, the "inside length" of the car series 254 to 268 was 45 feet 8 inches, and the capacity was a large (for the time) 19,000 gallons. Second, the car had an unusual arrangement for the handrails; at the corners, which were nearly square, they were anchored to posts that fit into the walkway frame instead of being directly attached to the tank. There are other differences as well but I think you get the idea. I can't come up with any other model that seems close, in any scale. And that raises an obvious question-- should MTL have done the car when the 65000 body style is clearly not a fit? The choice would be, have a stand in or not have a car at all without a lot of work. (Not to take away from the CGW fans that like to do this work, more power to them!) © 2004, George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

As you might already know, the series of fifteen cars were painted in five different colors to denote the service to which they were assigned. The bright green was applied to only one (which was done as MTL 65310 in February 1992) and the most popular color was maroon which was for diesel fuel. After the CGW was merged into the Chicago and North Western in 1968, the tankers all stayed on the roster in their original numbers, and original paint, for some time afterwards. According to the MSCG, most were eventually repainted black and given a CNW herald, usually on the right side of the car, but kept their CGW reporting marks and road number. © 2004, George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.



N SCALE SPECIAL EDITION RELEASES:

21374, $19.85
40 Foot Steel Boxcar, Plug Door, Texas State Car.

Aluminum sides, black roof, ends, sills and door hardware; Red and black primary lettering including reporting marks, state name and outline map on left. Four color process graphics including state flag, state flower (Blue Bonnet) and state bird (Mockingbird) on right.
Reporting Marks: TX 1845.
Tenth release in the States of the Union series.
NOTE: This item has been sold out and discontinued.

They say "Everything's Big In Texas" and one area on which I certainly agree is the driving. If it takes the sun an hour to cross Texas, you can imagine how long it takes a conservative motorist like me. I've done not one but two marathon drives in the Lone Star State. The first came on my first visit to the state, from Houston to Laredo and back-- in less than 24 hours, and that's enough said about that. The second was from Roswell, New Mexico, back to Dallas in one day, which was a little more sane. I've been to a number of places in Texas, including the high plains of the panhandle, the Dallas/Fort Worth Metroplex, and the gulf coast of Galveston, but I don't think I can say that I've seen even a good cross section yet. I could have taken a little bit of Texas home with me though, or sent it; seeds for the state flower, blue bonnet, are available in convenient mailing envelopes at most airports. © 2004, George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

Before the Western influx into what is now Texas, Native American tribes such as the Apache, Comanche, Caddo and Tonkawa were the area's inhabitants. These tribes were diverse in culture and means of survival, ranging from accomplished farmers to seasoned nomadic hunters. Spain began opening missions beginning in the 1700s, having done some exploration earlier-- mostly in search of gold. Another figure very interested in gold was the pirate Jean Laffite, who hid out on Galveston Island from 1817 to 1820. Mexico broke away from Spain with the Consitution of 1824, but following a somewhat similar course to the American Revolution, the people of Texas weren't happy with the way the central government treated them. So, showing the independent spirit that they're still known for, the inhabitants rebelled and threw out the Mexican government, but not before the famous stand at the Alamo. The Republic of Texas was born in March 1836 and the Republic became the State of Texas in December 1845, the 29th state of the Union. The first Lone Star State Fair was held in 1852 in Corpus Christi and included a prize for "finest sugar". Texas took the Confederate side in the Civil War and the last land battle took place there a month after Lee's surrender-- another argument for the value of more instantaneous communication. Cattle drives that became the stuff of legend, as did its "cowboys", began in 1860's; railroads quickly obviated the need for these drives. And in 1901 there was "Spindletop," the beginning of the gigantic oil industry in the Lone Star State. © 2004, George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

Speaking of Everything's Big in Texas, the Handbook of Texas Online has got to be one of the largest 'net based compliations of historical data I've ever seen. I've even utilized for specific railroad research for these bytes. So get yourself a nice big pitcher of iced tea--sweet, of course-- and check it out. As Lyle Lovett sings, "That's right, you're not from Texas, but Texas wants you anyway." (And yes, Lovett is a native Texan.) © 2004, George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.



Nn3 SCALE (NARROW GAUGE):

Reprint: 15111, $14.05
30 Foot Wood Boxcar, Single Door, White Pass and Yukon Railway.

Freight car red paint, brown trucks; yellow lettering, including large "White Pass" on left and "Gateway to the Yukon" and road number on right.
Road Number: 740 (will list as "WP&Y 740" on the website).
Approximate Time Period: 1940's to as late as 1980.
Previous Release: Road Number 500, December 1998.
NOTE: This item has been sold out and discontinued.

The White Pass and Yukon was quite the remarkable narrow gauge line for several reasons. First, it was international, running from Skagway, Alaska into British Columbia and the Yukon Territory to reach Whitehorse 110 rail miles away, the head of navigation on the northward flowing Yukon River. Second, it was one of the very few slim gauge operations to dieselize, and in fact even went to second generation units. Third, it was in operation into the early 1980's as a common carrier, although it's not unremarkable that highways and a mine closure combined to cause its shutdown in 1982. Fourth, it was basically an intermodal route from the beginning, serving as a land bridge from the ocean to the interior of Canada. The company which operated the railroad also had steamship interests and even an air carrier north of Whitehorse. When the lakes and rivers froze over, which was much of the year, the company used sleds and stages instead of steamboats. The White Pass was a relative late comer to the narrow gauge scene, as it was begun in 1898 and completed with a golden spike ceremony on July 29, 1900. © 2004, George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

The boxcar fleet which MTL represents this month came to the line as part of an influx of equipment during the Second World War. According to George Hilton's account in the book "American Narrow Gauge Railways," the line was commandeered by the United States Army from 1942 to 1946 for use as a supply route, and engines came from several different lines for redeployment on the WP&Y. Although MTL reports that the cars were used up until the line's closure, the WP&Y moved to containerization in about 1950. Hey, maybe that's a fifth reason why this was a remarkable line. © 2004, George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

Well, actually, I am using the wrong tense when I say "was". The first forty miles of the line out of Skagway still operates as a tourist attraction and carried a record 348,183 revenue passengers during the 2003 summer season. In fact, the company is expanding its rolling stock and is in preparation to restore its circa-1907 Baldwin steam locomotive. More about the current White Pass is available at its website. © 2004, George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

You'll be quick to notice that I haven't included any ORER data. It's not listed in any of the editions I have although it does appear in the Official Guide of the Railways for November 1946 which is certainly contemporaneous with the use of these boxcars. I didn't have any luck finding any freight car images on the 'net for you either. There are several books on the subject, none of which are in the UMTRR Accumulation of Research Material. © 2004, George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.



Z SCALE:

New Release: 13626, Marklin Coupler, $21.90, 13626-2, Micro-Trains Coupler, $23.70
50 Foot Boxcar, Plug Door, Wisconsin and Southern "Model Railroader 70 Years."

Maroon paint; mostly white lettering including reporting marks on left and roadname and small herald on right. Blue and Model Railroader logo and "Celebrating 70 Years" device at top left.
Reporting Marks: WSOR 503149.
Approximate Time Period: 2003 (i.e. the present).
NOTE: This release (both versions) has been sold out and discontinued. This is a near duplicate of the N Scale release, except that since there's no double plug door boxcar in 1:220, the MTLers needed to "cheat" a bit and use their single plug door body style.

New Release: 17012, Marklin Coupler, $54.80, 17012-2, Micro-Trains Coupler, $56.60
F-7B Diesel, Unpowered, Canadian Pacific.

Maroon and gray paint; yellow striping and lettering including roadname across side.
Roadnumber: 4459 (will be "CP 4459" on the website).
Approximate Time Period: 1953 (build date) to approximately 1959 as painted.
NOTE: This item (both coupler versions) has been sold out and discontinued.

We go back to the "View From Galt Station" website which provided the bulk of the material for the August 2003 release of the F7-A unit that MTL did. That prototype unit, number 4069, was actually a slightly longer FP-7, not an F-7. But not to worry, 4459 was actually an F7B, part of a group of four that was built by EMD in 1953 for the CP. These included steam generators for use in passenger trains. The original roadname lettering style would have been supplanted by the script lettering circa 1959 or so, so that ends the strictly speaking Approximate Time Period. © 2004, George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

As with the 4069, the 4459 is preserved by the West Coast Railway Association. It acquired the unit from the Alberta Railway Museum, which in turn obtained it from the CP when it was taken out of service. Before leaving the roster, the 4459 pulled special duty, accompanying the CPR's Royal Hudson on its 1978 tour. The unit was painted maroon with a small CP Rail herald at the bottom in gold. Not bad for a B unit! © 2004, George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

Reprint: 13706, Marklin Coupler, $19.35, 13706-2, Micro-Trains Coupler, $21.15
50 Foot Steel Boxcar, Double Door, Baltimore and Ohio/Chessie System.

Dark blue paint; yellow lettering including "Chessie System" roadname and reporting marks on left and "Cat in C" herald on right.
Reporting Marks: B&O 288041
Approximate Time Period: early 1970's to early 1980's.
Previous Release: Road Number 288651, September 1989.
NOTE: This release (both versions) has been sold out and discontinued.

Although the Chessie cat continues to be one of the most recognized symbols in railroading, in the form depicted on this reprint, it actually had a life shorter than many real cats-- just seven years, from 1973 to 1980, when Chessie became part of CSX. (Chessie was redubbed an "official mascot" after that, and of course the cat remained on the rails until repainting, which has taken a while.) These cars predated the introduction of Chessie, probably starting in a version of the B&O's "Sentinel Service" scheme in boxcar red and white before being repainted in blue and yellow. © 2004, George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

The ORER for April 1976 shows the group numbered 288000 to 288698 with 278 cars in the main series and 98 more cars scattered across five subseries, mostly with differing capacities (110,000 pounds versus 100,000) or some special equipment or designated service. The key dimensions were: inside length 50 feet 6 inches, outside length 54 feet 4 inches, door opening 15 feet, and capacity 4952 cubic feet. In 1981 there were 330 cars remaining but by 1985 that had slipped all the way to 35 pieces. Sometime along the way the roofwalks would probably have been removed so the "strictly speaking" ATP is moat likely shorter than I've called out. George Elwood's Fallen Flags site has an illustration of this with sister car 288135, caught in an undated photo as part of a train in motion. © 2004, George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.