UMTRR February, 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.
© 2004, George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

23300, $20.70
40 Foot Steel Boxcar, Double Door, New York Central.

Jade green sides, roof, and stirrups, black ends. One door is jade green and the other is boxcar red. White lettering including reporting marks on left. Large black, white and red "cigar band" herald on right.
Reporting Marks: NYC 77140.
Approximate Time Period: early 1970's, but see text.
NOTE: This item has been sold out and discontinued.

I did not have to do any serious research to find this car... I knew to go right to the Morning Sun Color Guide (MSCG) to New York Central Passenger and Freight Equipment, by Sweetland and Yanosey. Micro-Trains knew right where to go also, as their car copy is drawn directly from the caption of the photo of the real NYC 77140 that appears on page 79. Especially the part about the Penn Central's attempts to keep everything on the road without repainting. Just get a door that fits, boys! I'm not even sure that the green on the door that is green matches the green of the sides of the car! © 2004, George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

The photo date of February 1970 is after the Penn Central merger, in fact, suggesting that this "NYC" car wasn't really an "NYC" car at all in the form that MTL captured. Folks that want to model the box as it was from its rebuild in 1962 to the time of the PC merger may want to think about painting that brown door back into jade green. On the other hand, if you want to keep the car in its 1970 condition, you'll need a fair amount of weathering. The reporting marks look particularly faded, there are numerous dings and scrapes on the sides around the door, and there's an ACI label that has clearly seen better days as well. But yes, the roofwalk is intact and the ladders go all the way to the roof. © 2004, George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

Let's hope that the PC eventually saw fit to repaint the door and assume that we only need to check one edition of the Official Railway Equipment Register (ORER), namely, the April 1970 issue. The NYC series 77000 to 77499 could have held 500 cars, but there were only 72 in the group with AAR Classification "XM" and description "Box, Steel." The cars had an inside length of 40 feet 6 inches, inside height of 10 feet 6 inches, outside length of 44 feet 4 inches, extreme height of 15 feet 1 inch, capacity of 3898 cubic feet or 110,000 pounds, and door opening of 15 feet 1 inch. Wait, that's a "door thing" since the double eight foot doors on the MTL 23er body style yield 16 feet. Unfortunately, the differing door colors on the prototype really call this out; it's much more noticable with one larger brown and one smaller green door. Ooh, another reason to backdate! © 2004, George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

OK, just one more ORER, and a new owner. Under Conrail in April 1976, the NYC series was down to just a single car, the 77255. I can just imagine what that car looked like by then. There's no clear renumbering scheme into either Penn Central or Conrail of which I'm aware so I can't tell you whether any of these cars made it into PC or CR decoration. Somehow, though, I doubt it. © 2004, George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

31350, $16.20
50 Foot Steel Boxcar, Single Door, Seaboard Air Line.

Green with silver doors. Yellow lettering including reporting marks and "Cushion Underframe for Perfect Product Protection" legend on left. Small roadname and yellow and red "heart" herald on right.
Reporting Marks: SAL 16028.
Approximate Time Period: early 1960's (1962 build date) through the 1970's.
NOTE: This item has been sold out and discontinued. © 2004, George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

Here is a fine example of the "era of color" that I enjoy modeling. SAL 16028 is pictured in a three-quarter view in the MSCG to Pullman-Standard Freight Equipment, page 88. The book provides more information on the car's building than you'll probably want to know, but what's most interesting is that the fleet had three different doors and two different brake wheels across its 200 car size. Fortunately the doors include the Youngstown that MTL uses on these 31000 cars, and it's in silver; unfortunately they were 10 foot doors-- yes, a "door thing". The interior lining was half steel, half wood and the car had cushion underframes, nailable steel floors and DF-2 belt rails-- pretty much "the works" for 1962. These cars were not going to be hauling animal hides, that's for sure. © 2004, George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

The ORER for January 1964 shows the series 16000 to 16299, of 300 cars, but we know that there were 200 in the exact lot built by P-S so this combines several builds. No matter, the dimensions are the same: inside length 50 feet 6 inches, inside height 10 feet 6 inches, outside length 56 feet, extreme height 15 feet, door opening 10 feet, and capacity 4950 cubic feet or 140,000 pounds. Note "EE" says all the stuff that we told you in the previous paragraph. © 2004, George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

These cars were only five years old when the Seaboard Coast Line was formed so naturally they kept right on going for their new owner. We know the renumbering scheme from past discussions: change the "SAL" to "SCL" and drop a "8" in front of the road number, yielding "816028". The ATP for the car would officially end at that point. However, many Seaboard cars were left alone, and others only restenciled at first, not repainted, and some of them stayed that way for quite a long time. So a little creative lettering should put you into the 1970s. Then you'll have to think about roofwalk removal. For the record, the April 1981 ORER shows SCL series 816000 to 816299 with 147 cars divided into three groups by the equipment they carried; some got fork lift pallets to go with all the other stuff. But the listing also shows some number of cars remaining with SAL reporting marks. We don't know how many because that's not provided, but we do know some of those had fork lift pallets as well. And they were all classified as being in assigned service and had the AAR Classification "XP" which probably meant that they were still Providing Perfect Protection (for Paper, says MTL), even without their Previously Perfect Paint. © 2004, George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

47350, $24.95
40 Foot Wood Sheathed Ice Refrigerator Car, Brookside Milk / Bellows Falls Co-Operative Creamery.

Maroon sides, black roof, ends and lower sills, orange upper sills. White lettering including "Bellow's Falls Co-Operative Creamery" across top of side and "First National Stores Inc." across bottom of side, and reporting marks on left. Orange, white and black legends "Brookside Fresh Milk" left of door and "Brookside Fresh Cream" right of door. Orange "4%" legend on door.
Reporting Marks: MTC 1833.
Approximate Time Period: 1930's and 1940's, a guess.
NOTE: This item has been sold out and discontinued. © 2004, George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

You may notice the reporting marks "MTC" and that stands for Mystic Terminal Company, a subsidiary of the Boston and Maine. The B&M had a bunch of milk cars in its employ for a number of years, but I think it's safe to say that this is the most colorful. If only there were a color photo reference on the 'net, but alas, the best we can do is images of other models, plus a black, white and fuzzy photo from the collection of H.A. Frye on the Highball Graphics decals website, look for "Prototype Photos" and then "Milk Cars". © 2004, George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

So the ATP of this car is going to be a bit difficult to pin down. The ORERs that I have for the 1950's either don't show any refrigerators on the B&M/MTC roster in the 1800's series, or don't show any refrigerator cars at all. The 1940 Register I have doesn't show any 1800 series cars either. But guess what... they are technically passenger cars, meaning that the elusive Official Railway Passenger Car Directory would have been the ticket. Scott Whitney posted to the Yahoogroup "BMRR" that in 1955 there were steel underframe cars numbered 1600 to 1689 and all steel cars numbered 1875 to 1880. So no luck there either. Other posts on "BMRR" seem to indicate that the cars ran in the 1930's and 1940's, so we may have to make do with that. Meanwhile, while the build date might not be a valid clue either, it's not visible on the MTL image, so I called down to my dad, who read the build date off the Train-Miniature HO Scale car: it's 1924. Which doesn't help, since neither the 1924 or 1928 ORER editions we have shows refrigerator cars with MTC registration either; and in that era the ORER did list passenger equipment including milk cars. © 2004, George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

Several places on the 'net note (with identical text mind you) that the Bellows Falls Co-operative Creamery shipped milk from its plant in Vermont to Boston by rail from its inception in 1918 to the mid-1950's. (From whence MTL got its car copy.) However, there's also a 1951 piece on the "Remembering the Rutland" website concerning the introduction of Thermo-King refrigeration equipped reefers to the BFCC milk run. That may or may not have affected the ATP. Also, a note on the Yahoogroup "BMRR" indicates that 1900 series steel cars were delivered to the B&M in 1957, apparently replacing these cars, and still other notes discuss Brookside-assigned milk reefers that had sheet metal signs applied, not the painted-on heraldry that made these cars so distinctive. © 2004, George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

The net of all of this is, pending some incremental information, we're going to speculate that the 1930's and 1940's are the ATP for these cars, and the 1930's being more likely. I've been told that the B&M Historical Society has more information, and there are citations to that effect in the RMC piece, but there's only so much time and so much space available in the UMTRR archives. Perhaps there's a big B&M fan who has more and would be willing to share for next month's bytes. I've already had help from a couple of correspondents which has helped me get this far. I also know from an article on the cars in the September 1987 issue of Railroad Model Craftsman that the real cars didn't have ice hatches. I think it's also reasonable to expect that there won't be a readily available regular run commercial N Scale model of a B&M milk car without ice hatches anytime soon, either. The RMC article, by the way, described how to modify the above mentioned T-M reefer to a more prototypical appearance; that effort won the "Dremel/RMC Kitbashing Award" for the month (remember that?) © 2004, George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

While we're at it, though, we should also mention that in addition to the ATP, we have an "Approximate Service Area" which is, specifically, the route between Bellows Falls and Boston on B&M milk trains. Strictly speaking, there's no prototype reason to have this car if you don't model that ATP and that relatively small area of the country. But I'm quite certain that MTL is betting that people will pick this up because it's a sharp looking car. Certainly its standout decoration is the key reason why I and others have lobbied to get it into the production schedule. © 2004, George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

Getting back to the one and only photo, alas, there are non-ignorable differences with respect to the prototype. MTL did use their BX express medium extension trucks to more closely model the express trucks that are shown on the real car. You'll probably want to body mount the couplers though; I think the truck mounted extended draft gear is a bit too "far out", an attribute that has already been discussed on a couple of venues, and not favorably. Also, the prototype car had a vertical brake wheel, not a horizontal one so perhaps the 49000 body style would have been a better choice. Finally, and I just don't get this-- "Bellows" does not have an apostrophe in it. That one, I just don't get. I hope a little bit of Wisconsin Central Maroon paint (recommended as a close match by Highball Graphics) will serve to hide that although it won't completely correct the letter spacing. It's hard to say this, especially given the lobbying effort I and several other of the UMTRR Gang made for this car, but I'm a little disappointed in the results. Considering that the car sold out in the first week of release, my disappointment, as usual, meant absolutely nothing with respect to its popularity... © 2004, George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

93070, $28.55
Three Bay ACF Center Flow(R) Covered Hopper, Round Hatches, Cancarb.

Black with white lettering including reporting marks on left, and blue lettering including maple leaf device and company name and location (Medicine Hat, Alberta, Canada) across car.
Reporting Marks: ACFX 74073.
Approximate Time Period: late 1980's (1988 rebuild/repaint date) into the 1990's at least.
NOTE: This item has been sold out and discontinued. © 2004, George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

"Cancarb" is short for... actually, apparently it's just "Cancarb." Their website (can you guess the URL?) discusses just what their one product is: Thermal carbon black, of which they are the leading manufacturer. There is a fairly detailed discussion of just what "thermal carbon black" is. Here's a "fair use" quote: "Carbon black was first produced more than 2000 years ago by the ancient Chinese and Egyptians for use as a colorant. They manufactured what is now known as lamp black by burning purified organic materials such as resins, fats and oils under inverted pottery cones. The soot deposited on the pottery surface was removed and used to provide pigment in inks. Today, carbon black is still valued for its coloring attributes, but it is primarily used to provide reinforcement, and other properties, to rubber articles." If the paragraphs that follow aren't enough, there are technical papers available for download off their site as well. (I thought I could get along without those.) Cancarb uses natural gas to produce carbon black, employing a process that probably isn't replicable as Junior's school science project. They are a subsidiary of TransCanada, a natural gas transmission and marketing company, which probably helps Cancarb get its natural gas at really competitive prices. © 2004, George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

The subject of this MTL release can be found directly on George Elwood's Fallen Flags site in the ACFX - Shipper's Car Line section. It was lensed in Allentown, Pennsylvania by George Hunka, but unfortunately the photo isn't dated. The car doesn't have a "new" date either. We can go with the MTL car copy for the 1988 repaint, of course, but in general, teasing Approximate Time Periods out of leased cars isn't easy. Comparing the photo to the model, there are some differences; the real one looks a little shorter and it has a horizontal rib running along the side at about two-thirds of the way up the car. It does have six round hatches and follows the general design of the ACF Center Flow, though. I also note that the black around the "Cancarb" logo is a less weathered black than on the rest of the car, suggesting a partial repaint and maybe a change of lessor. How does black become weathered? With gray and white, of course! © 2004, George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

It doesn't give leasing information, but the ORER for July 1989 does show the series 74066 to 74118, with dimensions as follows: outside length 50 feet 9 inches, extreme height 15 feet 6 inches, capacity 4000 cubic feet or 199,000 pounds. There were only 32 cars in this group. The 4000 cubic foot capacity confirms my suspicion that the prototype is a little smaller than the MTL model, which is of a CF4650, capacity-- you guessed it-- 4,650 cubic feet. I think carbon black may be a little heavier than some of the other commodities that are carried in center flows, which would explain the need for a bit smaller car. There were 31 cars in the series in October 1996 and 19 in October 2002 under new owner GE Railcar Services, but we can't tell whether the blue Cancarb logo still graced the sides of the car. © 2004, George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

112020, $29.70
Open Tri-Level Auto Rack, Canadian National.

Black flat car with white lettering including reporting marks on left and roadname left of center. Black rack with "wet noodle" CN herald on placard on left.
Reporting Marks: CN 700721
Approximate Time Period: early 1970's (1972 build date) into the early 1990's at least.
NOTE: This item has been sold out and discontinued.

I was pleased to located in the MSCG Volume 2 for the CN (page 81) the car CN 700746 from the same series as the MTL model. Here's something I didn't know, from that page of the Morning Sun book: The Canadian National developed an eight car enclosed auto transporter in 1956! Their initial delivery of tri-level auto racks appears to have been at the end of 1962, as shown on Ian Cranstone's "Canadian Frieght Cars" site and the line ended up with several hundred of them delivered through the early seventies. © 2004, George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

The ORER for April 1976 shows all 125 cars in the series 700650 to 700774 with AAR Classification "FA" and description "Flat, Tri-Level Trailers". There's not as much dimensional data as usual: inside length 89 feet 4 inches, outside length 93 feet 10 inches (!), extreme height 14 feet 2 inches, and capacity just 86,000 pounds. I'd wager that the weight of the auto racks themselves took away from the hauling capability. Cranstone has these cars lasting until around January 2000 and that's good enough for me, though it looks like they may have been combined with other series and fitted with hydraulic draft gear before being retired. What I did not see was a change to enclosed racking, though. Other CN auto racks have that feature explicity called out in the ORER listings. © 2004, George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

Getting back to the MSCG photo, it was taken in June, 1990, so it looks like the CN ran open racks until at least then. The look and feel of the model versus the prototype is mostly there; the flat car is a little different design than the flat car that MTL used. The principal item is a recess in the center of the side of the flat car, punctuated by vertical brackets which hold the racks in place. It's a little hard to describe with just words. You can see what I mean by checking the CN autoracks on the Fallen Flags site; they are enclosed but the underlying flat car looks the same as the one beneath the open rack car modeled. I would expect some distinctions given that the flat was built by National Steel Car. © 2004, George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

113030, $15.95
Skeleton Log Car with Single Log Load (Redwood Log).

Cast in black, no paint, no lettering.
Reporting Marks: None.
Approximate Time Period: Most of the 20th Century.
NOTE: This item has been sold out and discontinued. © 2004, George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

We dispense with the whole "Load 1" and "Load 'B'" designations from previous releases for this third run of the popular skeleton log car. And what a log this particular run has! MTL says it's typically a redwood, so let's look at that degree of tree for a few bytes. © 2004, George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

I still remember standing in Cathedral Grove which is a stop on the Roaring Camp and Big Trees tourist line in Felton, near Santa Cruz, California. This is, as you'd expect, a grove of redwoods and it forms a circle that is inspiring enough to regularly serve as a wedding site but is also awe-inspiring in terms of sheer size. Coastal redwoods typically reach 200 feet (about 60 meters) in height but can grow as tall as 300 feet (about 90 meters)! The diameter of the two general subclasses, Redwood (Sequoia sempervirons) and the Giant Sequoias (Sequoiadendron giganteum) can get to 40 feet with branches from five to eight feet thick, so, believe it or not, that log model on the MTL car is a little on the puny side! Redwoods along the Pacific Coast are generally protected from extensive logging now, especially the "old growth" forests which have trees dating back to the B.C.s-- yes, two thousand years old plus. (Sequoias, which grow in the Sierras, can be over 3,200 years old.) Perhaps the most famous protected area is Muir Woods, just north of San Francisco in Marin County. It is the last uncut area of old-growth redwood in the Bay Area, and was designated a national monument in 1908 by President Theodore Roosevelt and named after conservationist John Muir. Redwood does remain an important forest product for exterior use, patio furniture, and hot tubs. © 2004, George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

There are any number of railroad lines in the West that would have used these cars to haul out huge logs such as the one on this car, although many of them would probably have been narrow gauge for most or all of their lives. One such line was the South Pacific Coast, which came right down into Santa Cruz from Alameda, straight through the forestland that tourists enjoy on the Roaring Camp and Big Trees. Since this car, like the previous two releases, doesn't have any paint or lettering, it's easy to "customize" it for your pike, or just leave it as is. © 2004, George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

MTL continues on a winning streak with this line of cars, as this is three for three in terms of quick sellouts. It probably doesn't hurt that most folks need multiples of the car to run in a realistic consist.


27220, $18.00
50 Foot Exterior Post Boxcar, Plug Door, Grand Trunk Western.

Blue with mostly white lettering including reporting marks on left and large "GT" plus "The Good Track Road" on right.
Reporting Marks: GTW 598103.
Approximate Time Period: 1980's (1979 build date given by MTL) to present.
Previous Releases: Road Number 598093, July 1994.
NOTE: This item has been sold out and discontinued. © 2004, George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

We've mentioned before how the slogan "The Good Track Road," besides being a play on the GT's initials, was also a bit of a shot at the competition. Circa 1970, one rival in the GTW's service area of lower Michigan was the Penn Central, which had become notorious for deferred maintenance-- and freight cars derailing while standing still! The insinuation was pretty clear; if you want your shipment to arrive in one piece, better specify "the Good Track Road." © 2004, George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

The April 1981 ORER is the closest I have to the 1979 build date given by MTL. It shows the series 598000 to 598199, of 200 cars, described "Box, Steel, Plug Doors, Cushion Underframe, Lading Strap Anchors (Processed Food Products), 50K" and within Plate C dimensions. The AAR Classification is "XF" meaning these were cars in food service. Although the GTW is perhaps best known for its connection to the automobile industry, let's not forget that Battle Creek, home of Kellogg's which is the largest cereal producer in the world, is also along the Grand Trunk's trackage. The cars' vital stats were: inside length 50 feet 6 inches, inside height, 11 feet, outside length, 58 feet 3 inches, extreme height, 14 feet 9 inches, door opening, 10 feet, and capacity 5182 cubic feet or 158,000 pounds. In the October 1996 Register, there are a total of 192 cars, of which 67 have been "demoted" to the "XP" classification. Both the 598103 and MTL's previous number, the 598093, appear to remain in the main series of "XF" cars. The January 2002 ORER shows 183 cars that are all "XP" class. © 2004, George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

George Elwood's Fallen Flags site has several examples from the prototype series dating from the late 1990's to as recent as December 2003, so I think the "to present" ATP will work here. Some examples look a little more battle-worn than others, but remarkably, there is not a lot of "additional decoration"-- i.e. graffiti-- on these cars. (Even when it's sprayed all over adjacent cars in the shots.) There are some differences between the model and the real thing. Most notable of these for me is a diagonal rib either side of the door in place of the first adjacent vertical rib on the 27000 body style. The original deep blue color has faded out quite a bit, so add one or more washes of white to simulate that on your model if you're a weatherer. © 2004, George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

45100, $10.30
50 Foot Flat Car, Fishbelly Sides, Chesapeake and Ohio.

Black paint with white lettering, including small reporting marks on left and roadname across side.
Reporting Marks: C&O 80400.
Approximate Time Period: mid-1930's (1935 build date given by MTL) probably through the 1950's.
Previous Releases: Road Number 80420, February 1980; Road Number 80402, August 1990.
NOTE: This item has been sold out and discontinued. © 2004, George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

This third iteration of this flat car represents what really is a fifty foot flatcar! At least according to the January 1940 ORER (Westerfield CD-ROM) which pegs the "inside length" at 50 feet even and the "outside length" at 50 feet 9 inches. These 50 ton flat cars were in the series 80400 to 80474; all 75 cars were present in that issue of the Register. You'd hope so given that they were built only five years before. The C&O wasn't big on flats at the time as there were only 275 of them total on the roster. By 1955 the collection was down to 30 cars; and in 1959 and 1964 stood at 29 pieces. © 2004, George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

Now, we have a real treat for historians from our C&O Special Correspondent James Pugh. While on a business trip James picked up a copy of "Freight Car Equipment of the Chesapeake and Ohio Railway, August 1, 1937" as reprinted by the C&O Historical Society. "I couldn't pass that one up," James reported. "The book is interesting because it is a reprint of a pamphlet that the railroad used to give out to potential customers to describe all the equipment available." 'The purpose of this pamphlet is to acquaint our patrons with the various types of freight car equipment owned by the Chesapeake and Ohio Railway Company.' They describe the AAR classifications with this car being an FM, general service flat car. The series 80400 to 80474 included 75 cars with a capacity of 50 tons. Built by Bethlehem Steel Corp, 1935. All 75 cars were still in use at the time (only two years later). The diagram shows the cars are 50 feet 0 inches over the end sills. 39 feet 9 inches at truck centers. 53 feet 3 inches over couplers. 9 foot 4 inch wide deck. 10 feet 2 1/2 inch extreme width. 3 feet 7 inches above the rails with an extreme height of 5 feet 2 inches. They do have a vertical brake wheel on the end rather than the side wheel of the model. I believe the black color of the model is correct." © 2004, George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

James included some additional notes: "Twenty cars from this series were converted to crosstie cars (the first one, CT7, was converted in November, 1963; the remainder, numbers CT8 through CT26, were rebuilt in February through April, 1964. The crosstie cars were equipped with end bulkheads over eight feet tall, side frames, five lifting gates per side, and parallel rails running the length of the car to accommodate the tie-unloading machine. Each car can transport 500 ties. © 2004, George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

"Beginning in 1952, the C&O received a large quantity of longer, 53 1/2 feet, higher capacity (70 Ton) flat cars, at which time 50 ton cars such as these were virtually rendered obsolete for revenue service. Conversions of these cars to non-revenue service began at about that time; over thirty cars were removed from the revenue service roster by mid-1953"

From the MSCG for the C&O by David Hickcox, James quotes: "In the mid 60's, the C&O had almost 200 flats numbered in the 80000, 81000 and 216000 (ex Pere Marquette) equipped for auto frame service." He adds that the lettering on the example photograph is Railroad Roman without the C&O donut logo that was introduced in the 1950's. There are several photos of what look like these flat cars in MOW service, painted green.

Finally, James notes one additional mention in the book "Rails to the Border Volume 2" by Kevin Holland showing another use for these cars; an idler as spacer to keep the switching engine's weight off of the ferry. In this case it was the ferry between Detroit and Windsor.

65140, $21.05
39 Foot Tank Car, Single Dome, Sinclair.

Black tank frame and details; white lettering including reporting marks on left. Large "SINCLAIR" across car.
Reporting Marks: SDRX 12161.
Approximate Time Period: 1940's through 1960's.
Previous Release: Road Number 12168, January 1980. NOTE: This item has been sold out and discontinued. © 2004, George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

MTL correctly notes in its car copy that "Sinclair" is one of the oldest continuous names in the oil business. But it's not all with the same Sinclair Oil Company, as I found out during my research. When Harry Ford Sinclair stiched together eleven companies on May 1, 1916 to form the original Sinclair, he was already an "old hand" in the oil business, having been a broker of both petroleum and the power that came with it. His market timing was superb several different times during his long career, and the company grew to sit among the top ten in the business, not easy when many of those slots were already filled with "Baby Standards" broken up from the Standard Oil Trust. For its fiftieth anniversary, the company commissioned a history, which is reprinted on the company's website. © 2004, George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

Except it's not the original Sinclair Oil. That company was bought out and merged into Atlantic-Richfield, later ARCO, in 1969. The "new" Sinclair was spun back out of ARCO following a little anti-trust action and consists of the Sinclair and former ARCO stations in twenty-two states in the Midwest and Intermountain West, along with three refineries. The privately held corporation also owns the "Little America" hotel and truck stop in Wyoming, several hotels in Salt Lake, and the Sun Valley and Snowbasin ski resorts. While the original Sinclair was headquartered on Fifth Avenue in New York City, the current incarnation calls Salt Lake its home. © 2004, George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

And then, there's the dinosaur. First introduced in 1930, it was first termed a brontosaurus, but later the animal was more properly called an apatosaurus. As for me, I call it a Sinclair-o-suarus, which does not sit well with my son Kieran, who knows more about dinos than I ever did. I was introduced to Sinclair's "Dino the Dino" at an early age, perhaps as early as the 1964 World's Fair where Sinclair sponsored a dinosaur exhibit. I once had a green transistor radio on which the Sinclair trademark was printed. And to honor that memory, whether correct or not, I've got a Sinclair service station on my N Scale pike. (It seems that they didn't quite make it into the Adirondack region of New York, so there's no historical basis for its inclusion on the Wilmington and New York. To which I say, so what?) © 2004, George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

I was surprised at how many tank cars the company had; it took two entire pages of the January 1940 ORER to list them. Part of the total 6,497 car fleet was the series SDRX 12000 to 12199 of 98 cars, but data is scant: only the capacity in pounds, 100,000, and gallons, 10,000, is listed. In 1955 there were 94 cars remaining, but the entire Sinclair entry is gone from the January 1959 Register. Could you say it had become extinct? (Sorry.) No, actually it looks like the fleet was sent over to the Union Tank Car Company with the SDRX reporting marks intact. Only a handful of cars remained with that designation by the January 1964 ORER, but that did include two from the series in which we're interested, namely, the 12118 and the 12163. The ORERs tell us nothing about the paint scheme, of course, but a January 1997 article on oil depots in Rail Model Journal states that the bold company name was probably in use from the 1930's into the 1960's. In addition, the corporate history on Sinclair website includes a photo of a car in the billboard lettering in the World War II section of the timeline. We'll take it. Previous to the billboard sized lettering was the legend "Sinclair Oils" across the car in smaller but still easily readable lettering. © 2004, George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.


21375, $19.85
40 Foot Steel Boxcar, Plug Door, Kentucky 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 (goldenrod) and state bird (cardinal) on right.
Reporting Marks: KY 1792.
Eleventh release in the States of the Union series.
NOTE: This item has been sold out and discontinued. © 2004, George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

The "Kentuckiana Digital Library" provides information on the timeline of the Bluegrass State, beginning circa 12,000 B.C. when Paleoindians begin to settle in the area. Making pottery and growing plants began by 1,000 B.C. and corn was one of those plants by 900 A.D. Around this same time there were two groups in the region, the Mississippian peoples in the west and the Fort Ancient people in the east (this culture was centered around the Ohio River Valley). The first Europeans explored the area in the 1500s and 1600s; unfortunately bringing European disease which wiped out up to three quarters of the Native American residents. © 2004, George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

The ruggedness of Kentuckians may have come from the fact that they were originally "outlaws" when, in 1763, King George III prohibited settlements west of the crest of the Appalachians. Daniel Boone and others went it across the Cumberland Gap anyway, and into the territory. By 1776 Boonesborough was founded, and Louisville was established two years later. Virginia initially claimed the area for itself, declaring it a judicial district in 1783, but laid plans for a separation in 1789, coincidentally the same year that the process for making bourbon whiskey was developed. The territory became the fifteenth state on June 1, 1792, with "United We Stand, Divided We Fall" the state motto and Frankfort the capital. A less important fact: If you think that the Lotto is a modern conception, think again; in 1810 the Kentucky General Assembly authorized a $5,000 lottery for road improvements. A macadamized road actually predated the beginning of the railroad between Lexington and Frankfort by one year, 1830 versus 1831. The Louisville and Nashville was chartered in 1850, and linked its two namesake cities nine years later. Meanwhile, Stephen Foster wrote "My Old Kentucky Home" in 1853. John Roebling's bridge connecting Covington and Cincinnati was opened in 1867, and yes, it looks very much like the Brooklyn Bridge. The first Kentucky Derby was held in 1875 at what is now Churchill Downs, where "The World's Greatest Two Minutes in Sports" is still held today, although horse racing in the state dates back to the late 1780's. The 130th running will take place on May 1, 2004 and the "Kentucky Derby Festival" that precedes it is your basic two week long party with a million and a half of your closest friends and "Thunder Over Louisville," the country's largest fireworks display. © 2004, George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

Famous Kentuckians have included Abraham Lincoln, who was born there but didn't get the popular vote either time he ran (!), Confederate President Jefferson Davis, "Great Compromiser" Henry Clay, explorer "Kit" Carson, writers Robert Penn Warren, Hunter S. Thompson and Sue Grafton; lots and lots of country music artists such as Loretta Lynn, Ricky Scaggs, the Judds, "Grandpa" Jones, and Bill Monroe-- oh, and two of the Backstreet Boys as well; Muhammad Ali, jockey Steve Cauthen as well as many Derby winning horses (Man O War and Citation among them), the famous locomotive engineer Casey Jones, Rose Will Monroe, who became "Rosie the Riveter." And how can I leave out Colonel Harlan Sanders, the creator of Kentucky Fried Chicken? Well, actually, he wasn't born in Kentucky... © 2004, George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

My "unofficial" first visit to Kentucky was in 1987, landing at the Greater Cincinnati International Airport, which is actually located on the Kentucky side of the Ohio River from the Queen City. That was the takeoff point for the shortest commercial flight I've ever experienced, all of 85 miles from there to Louisville, on the old Piedmont Airlines. I think that took ten minutes-- needless to say, the pilot announced that refreshments would not be served. I stayed at the grand dame of downtown hotels, the Seelbach, and I still remember the cherry wood cabinets and the lush formal-looking lobby. In terms of tourism, I did not get a chance to do much more than prowl around downtown a little bit one evening after the sidewalks had been folded up. It wasn't much more than that on my second and only other visit, on 8/8/88, to Covington-- and yes, that's the exact date, how could I forget that? So I've still got to spend a spell in the Bluegrass State, and as a former colleague once told me, "You gotta do one Derby before they plant ya." © 2004, George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

Nn3 SCALE (NARROW GAUGE): No releases this month.


13616, Marklin Coupler, $21.10, 13616-2, Micro-Trains Coupler, $22.90
50 Foot Boxcar, Plug Door, New York Central.

Jade green sides, black roof, ends and sills. White lettering including reporting marks on left. Large white, black and red "cigar band" herald on right.
Reporting Marks: NYC 78926.
Approximate Time Period: mid-1960s (1964 build date) to early 1980's (but no roofwalk after about 1970).
Previous Release: Road Number 78807, July 1993.
NOTE: Both coupler versions of this item have been sold out and discontinued. © 2004, George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

Most of the life of this NYC car wasn't spent under the ownership of the NYC. It was just five years old when the Penn Central took over, and some of the cars were still around when Conrail superceded it. Note that MTL says 140 of 200, but I only see 20 in the series still lettered NYC in the April 1981 ORER. Could be that they're counting PC and/or CR restencils here. In April 1976 at the dawn of Conrail, there were 116 cars in the series 78800 to 78949. © 2004, George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

The full description of the car was somewhat more than "boxcar" in the ORER: "Refrigerator, Cushion Underframe, Plug Doors, 2 Evans Adjustable Load Dividers Arranged for Locking Positions along Full Length of Car with Incremental Adjustments of 1 inch, 6 Position Side Fillers that Move Out from Diagonally Opposite BL and AR Sides 13 inches Reducing Inside Width to 8 feet 11 inches or 8 feet 8 inches or 8 feet 6 six inches or 8 feet 4 inches or 8 feet 2 inches." Some of this series 78800 to 78949 also had "Fork Lift Truck Pallets or Platforms or Skids" were considered part of the car. Uh, OK. The rest of the stats: Inside length 50 feet 2 inches, inside height 10 feet, outside length 57 feet 8 inches (extended draft gear needed), extreme height 15 feet 1 inch, door opening 10 feet 6 inches. Yes, there would be a "door thing" I suppose but in Z Scale on a plug door it would be a true nitpick. Capacity was 4678 cubic feet or 140,000 pounds. © 2004, George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

There are black and white photos of NYC 78814 and NYC 78910 from the series in "Freight Equipment of the New York Central Volume One" by Liljestrand and Sweetland, a 2001 Railroad Press softcover magazine style book. The authors add that the NYC lot number was 935B and they were built in East Rochester at Despatch Shops, not far from UMTRR HQ as I've noted before. As of the 1969 photo dates these cars still had their roofwalks. Also, the Fallen Flags site has a car from the same series circa 1976, still in NYC paint but a different version than that modeled by MTL. Hey, another option, guys! © 2004, George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

New Release:
13912, Marklin Coupler, $14.05, 13912-2, Micro-Trains Coupler, $15.85
40 Foot Double Sheathed Wood Boxcar, Single Door, Atlantic Coast Line.

Dark oxide red with white lettering including reporting marks with inset roadname on left.
Reporting Marks: ACL 46683.
Approximate Time Period: Decade of the 1920's (1919 build date).
NOTE: This item (both versions) has been sold out and discontinued. © 2004, George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

We last met this particular car as a "not a reprint" in N Scale in October 1997. At the time, I had speculated that the build date on the car was 1919, and since I now own a copy, I can confirm that it's February of that year. The lettering on the N Scale car indicates the prototype was built by American Car and Foundry as the ACL's class O-14. Hmm, I don't think we'll find many pictures of this car on the 'net. © 2004, George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

But I do have a Westerfield CD-ROM of the ORER for October 1919, a recent addition to the UMTRR Research Accumulation. In the ACL's listing is the series 46000 to 46949, of 950 cars. They are described as "Box, Solid, Steel Underframe"-- what's this about calling out the boxcar as "solid?" Well, at the time the Coast Line's ventilated boxcars, including the somewhat notable "watermelon" boxcar, outnumbered the "plain" boxcars by more than twenty to one, and the "solid" is to denote that this is more of an exception! The cars had an inside length of 40 feet 6 inches, inside height of 9 feet, outside length of just over 42 feet 1 inch, a 6 foot door opening, and capacity of 3098 cubic feet or 80,000 pounds. At the time the ACL had on its roster an impressive 30,780 pieces of freight equipment, plus 728 passenger cars in a somewhat unusual full listing of those as well. © 2004, George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

The April 1928 ORER shows 948 cars in the series, and the July 1935 (Westerfield CD-ROM) shows 940 cars. But in the January 1940 ORER (also Westerfield CD-ROM), there's a big change in the description, to "Box, Solid, All Steel." So there must have been a major rebuilding of the cars, and there's the end of the ATP as well. © 2004, George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

No, wait! Al Westerfield himself shortens this ATP for us with his description of his HO kit catalog 3802 on his website: "Classed O-14, series 46000, the cars received the spare extended lettering style of the period." (That's the one depicted by MTL.) "In the late 1920's the cars received the large circular herald and normal Roman lettering. In the late 1930's all cars were steel sheathed." Westerfield notes that the car was built to a USRA design. The image of his car shows some differences between his model and the MTL model in either N or Z; for example there are individual grab irons instead of a ladder on the right side of the car. Overall, though, the "look and feel" is there. © 2004, George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.