UMTRR March, 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.

21460, $18.25
40 Foot Steel Boxcar, Plug Door, Western Fruit Express.

Yellow sides, silver roof, freight car red ends. Black lettering including Great Northern roadname and reporting marks on left, and 1960's "outline goat" herald on right.
Reporting Marks: RBWX 60292.
Approximate Time Period: late 1960's into the 1970's.
NOTE: This item has been sold out and discontinued.

This new MTL release represents a Western Fruit Express refrigerator car although it is, in the MTL parlance, a plug door boxcar. That's OK though, as we'll see in a moment. The build date clearly predates the time period of the "final" Great Northern paint scheme with the circa 1967 "outline goat" herald (introduced as part of the GN's sky blue motif). It may seem odd, but the outline goat did grace the sides of both mechanical and ice cooled refrigerator cars, in fact, even some wood reefers. © 2004, George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

The March 1953 build date is late enough that these cars could have started their lives as plug door boxcars, although they'd have been among the first. Before going to the Official Railway Equipment Register (ORER) contemporaneous with the ATP, I looked backward to the January 1964 edition. The series in which RBWX 60292 would have been placed isn't shown; so much for this being the original road number on the prototype. So, over to the April 1970 Register we go. The series 60238 to 60332 is shown as an addition to the WFE roster in that listing, with AAR Class "RB" and the simple description "Refrigerator." The inside length was 40 feet even, inside height 9 feet 1 inch, outside length 44 feet 9 inches, extreme height 14 feet 10 inches, door opening 8 feet, and capacity 3376 cubic feet or 115,000 pounds. Importantly, there are no dimensions of ice bunkers given; had they been, it would have been a dead giveaway that MTL was cheating by issuing this car as a plug door boxcar instead of a true plug door reefer with hatches-- a body style that they don't have! But we're fine here. So it really is an insulated boxcar, which is still described as a "refrigerator" as we've noted before. Hmm, perhaps the "RB" in the reporting marks stood for "Refrigerator Boxcar"? Ah, maybe not. © 2004, George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

There were 93 cars in the roster in this series at the April 1970 date, and then 169 cars in the expanded series 60238 to 60423 in April 1976. It's possible that the paint stayed as depicted by MTL at that point, but as you go farther forward in time from there, it becomes more likely that the "Great Northern" would have been painted out, and perhaps the herald as well. By the April 1981 ORER the Western Fruit Express listing is deleted and the cars all moved to the Burlington Northern listing. I lose track of the cars at that point but suffice to say that the ATP is over with. Some WFE cars made an intermediate stop at the "WHIX" reporting marks before the "X" was removed, and some went right from "WFEX" to "WFE" as well. I believe that the "Western Fruit Express" name continues to be seen on some Burlington Northern Santa Fe cars with reporting marks "BNFE", but it's been a while since I've seen one. © 2004, George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

Although there are several different examples of the outline goat's appearance on WFE cars available on the 'net, I didn't find any that specifically matched this car or its prototype series. Ditto for the few hard copy photo references I have. No doubt MTL and some GN followers have something, though. © 2004, George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

59100, $20.25
40 Foot Steel Ice Refrigerator Car, URTX/Milwaukee Road.

Yellow sides, freight car red roof and ends. Black lettering including "Union Refrigerator Transit Company" on left.
Red and white "early" Milwaukee Road "tilted rectangle" herald on right.
Reporting Marks: URTX 81104.
Approximate Time Period: late 1930's (1936 build date given by MTL) through the 1940's at least.
NOTE: This item has been sold out and discontinued.

For this new release, let's begin with the paint scheme. Checks of both the RPI information on the Milwaukee and some freight cars in other scales confirm that the Milwaukee herald in use is circa 1945, as with the MTL caboose released in November 2002. The paint scheme on a Branchline Trains wood reefer is very close to what MTL put on this steel car. That scheme is placed firmly in the 1940's; there's a version from around 1927 with the "fancy" URTC lettering that preceded it and a spartan version with just URTX reporting marks and a small, later version of the "Milwaukee Road" herald that followed it starting in the late forties. The herald itself dates in the time period from about 1928 to about 1953. In the Really Precise Department, or the Overly Nitpicky Department depending on your point of view, it seems that there were actually two versions of this herald. One has the "St. Paul" in a straight line and the "Pacific" in a curved line, and the other has the opposite, the "St. Paul" in a curved line and the "Pacific" in a straight line. Get me rewrite? Well, no, probably not. © 2004, George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

Now for the car, and we will go with the June 1936 build date at least for the moment and check out the January 1940 ORER (Westerfield CD-ROM). The series URTX 81100 to 81350 had inside length of 33 feet 2 3/4 inches, inside height of 7 feet 9 inches, outside length of 40 feet 8 1/4 inches, extreme height of 13 feet 4 inches, and a door opening of 4 foot wide by 6 feet 6 inches high. The ice bunkers held 150 cubic feet which enabled 11,800 pounds of crushed ice or 10,200 pounds of chunk ice capacity. The lading capacity was 2154 cubic feet or 70,000 pounds. The URTX listing does not give individual series totals, just a grand total of 7481 cars on the roster, which isn't very helpful here. What's perhaps even less helpful is the description of the car, it's just "URTX, Refrigerator." It would have been very helpful if there were more data; like, for example, "Refrigerator, Steel". Steel reefers in 1936? It would have been quite a rare sight. © 2004, George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

Next I have to skip to the January 1955 edition. There are 188 cars listed in the series with the only change being an increase in capacity to 75,000 pounds. Still no mention of construction type although the address for keeping track of these cars is stated as "General American Transportation Corporation, Wood Car Division." That might be a clue, but steel reefers might have been an exception. The MTL car copy suggests to me that URTX 81104 was a bit of an experiment. It's possible; Oddballs Decals lists decals for ART steel reefers with a date of December 1936 or October 1939, and a URTX car lettered for the Minneapolis and St. Louis with a date of July 1929. And let's not forget that the recent Chicago Great Western three-pack included a steel ice reefer with a build date of January 1937, a date that was verified in the Morning Sun Color Guide (MSCG) for the CGW. Yes, a weird way to triangulate a date, but hey, I'll try just about anything sometimes. © 2004, George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

105580.1 and 105580.2, $15.95 each
15 Panel PS-2 Gondola, Fixed Ends, Pittsburgh and Lake Erie.

Black with white lettering including reporting marks on left and New York Central System herald on right. Simulated loads included, "Load #1" of steel wheels in the .1 and "Load #2" of scrap steel for the .2.
Reporting Marks: P&LE 9000 (the .1) and P&LE 9001 (the .2).
Approximate Time Period: early 1950's (1950 build date) into the 1960's based on paint scheme, but see text. NOTE: These items (both numbers) have been sold out and discontinued.

George Elwood's Fallen Flags site has what might be the last word on the painting of the P&LE gondolas in the 1950's. It's a large lettering diagram dated November 13, 1951 with details of every stencil utilized. For example, the "New York Central System" oval herald was 2 feet 4 3/4 inches by 19 1/4 inches. The stencil required for the nine inch high ampersand was number V-13264. There's more, if you drill down into the P&LE page on Elwood's site; you'll need to hit "Freight Equipment" and then look just before the roster table. MTL appears to have used this diagram, or something really close. The series called out for use with this diagram actually started at the next one, namely, 10000 to 10499, but that may be because the building of the series MTL modeled pre-dates the diagram by about a year. © 2004, George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

What is not shown in the diagram is what color the cars should be painted. From 1941 until 1956, parent New York Central painted their open top cars oxide red, and the P&LE's as well. In 1956 they switched back to black. All of the photos of P&LE gondolas in the MSCG for the New York Central show black cars, although none of them have the same stenciling. Whether they were meant to be oxide red or black, there's no doubt about the lettering; a note on the lettering diagram states unequivocally, "All stenciling to be done with white stencil paste." Whatever that is. © 2004, George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

In fact, the January 1955 ORER (Westerfield CD-ROM) shows the series going from 9000 to 10499, for a total of 1499 cars described as "Gondola, Steel Sides, Steel Floor, Flat Bottom, Drop Ends." Drop ends? Oh, no, you say? Hang on for a moment and we'll address this. The inside length was 52 feet 6 inches, inside height 3 feet 9 inches, outside length 55 feet 1 inch and capacity 1896 cubic feet or 140,000 pounds. The P&LE had a lot of these gons built to these specs; ranging in road number from 8000 to 12999, there were just shy of 4000 total. © 2004, George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

Now, for the drop end thing. The January 1959 ORER calls out a subset of these gons with fixed ends, and guess what? Both the 9000 and 9001 are shown under these "exceptions"! Now, we don't know whether the ends were actually changed out or whether the drop ends were simply welded shut; the answer to that question would determine how close the appearance of the MTL ends is versus the real thing. This also could give us an out with respect to the black paint if it's not correct "as-built"; when the ends were made fixed, the cars were repainted. This might get them under the wire of the change in the herald from the oval "New York Central System" to the cigar band version that debuted when the Central went to Century Green in 1957. Does that work? It does for me, at least until some incremental information comes along. OK, maybe it's a stretch. But if you're going to represent these cars faithfully, they should be so weathered that you can't tell what the original paint color was anyhow... © 2004, George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

Let's continue through the ORERs: In the January 1964 Register there were 1234 cars with drop ends and 256 with fixed ends. When the New York Central and Pennsylvania merged to form Penn Central, the P&LE stayed out but was still owned by the PC at least for a while. Our last Register lookup is April 1970 where there remained 1425 cars in the series, all of which had drop ends. The fixed end cars may have been moved to a different series, or just dropped off the roster. Although there were plenty of cars left in 1970 I'm choosing to stop here since I think the paint job would have been changed, or it would have been hopelessly unreadable by that time. © 2004, George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

Given the loads that they were carrying, for example the ones supplied by MTL, I would think that after twenty years-- or less-- these cars would be pretty banged up indeed. And a word about this new feature-- cool. The addition of the sheet steel and wheel loads, respectively, add more variety to the fleet of gons, in a race where MTL is far ahead in terms of total body styles already. The price of $15.95 seems roughly in line with what you'd pay for an MTL gon plus a load, or similar to a Micro-Trains covered gondola too. I expect e-mails being sent into Talent requesting that these be offered as a separate item, which would be nice, but unfortunately, this hasn't happened as of yet for the flat car loads. We're keeping our fingers crossed here at UMTRR HQ. © 2004, George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

108140, $18.90
3 Bay 100 Ton Steel Hopper, Penn Central.

Black with white lettering including reporting marks on left and large herald on right.
Reporting Marks: PC 479437.
Approximate Time Period: late 1960's (1968 repaint date given by MTL) and 1970's. NOTE: This item has been sold out and discontinued.

I must confess that my initial thought upon seeing this car was, "NO! NO! The herald's all wrong!!" But, no, no, I'm wrong. I'd forgotten about the "large" PC herald with the road name. Well, it's not surprising considering that I didn't take kindly to that plain "black dip" paint wiping out the elegant broad stripe on "my" GG1 electric locomotives; I didn't care How Big the "friendly worms" herald was on those motors. © 2004, George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

With red ink flowing freely on the PC, the incredible shrinking herald quickly found its way onto hoppers. Unlike the one which graces the MTL model and spans two entire sections of the car while crossing a rib, the later insignia easily fit into one panel, comfortably between two ribs, with room to spare. And they didn't bother with the roadname either-- maybe they didn't want anyone to know. I found plenty of examples of that later paint job on the 'net, and I'll leave that exercise to the reader, but did not come up with a cyber-reference to the exact scheme that Micro-Trains depicted. My guess is that it came from the MSCG for the Penn Central. [As we went to "press," Joe Shaw noted that the MSCG has sister car PC 479735 in the same paint.] © 2004, George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

So we'll go to the ORERs: First, the April 1970 edition shows these H43c class hoppers in the series 478451 to 479450, with inside length 44 feet 11 inches, inside width 9 feet 9 inches, outside length 48 feet 9 inches, extreme height 12 feet 3 inches, and capacity 3418 cubic feet or 200,000 pounds. But there are only 14 cars in this group out of a possible one thousand! Not so fast, though, the PC was still renumbering and relettering, such as it was. By the way, it appears that this number series did not come directly over from either the Pennsylvania or the New York Central, PC's main component roads. The H43c's for the Pennsy were numbered in the 220000s. © 2004, George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

As I expected, there were more PC hoppers in the group in April 1976, the start of Conrail, than there were in April 1970; 117 cars versus the 14. And the next two series down, of H43d's, counted over 3900 pieces. But by that point, the large-ish PC and the roadname were not being applied to those cars. How long you want to extend the ATP depends on how long you think the car went without another repaint. Given the condition of the PC, I think it's safe to go well into the 1970s. © 2004, George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

As silly as it may seem to some of us that were around for the birth, decline and demise of the Penn Central, the only railroad known for cars coming off the track while standing still!-- there is, in fact, an active Penn Central Railroad Historical Society. It's been around since October 1999 and was founded as its successor, Conrail, was itself about to become a fallen flag. Next month, April 2004, marks the 28th anniversary of the PC's absorbtion into Conrail, and yes, doesn't that make me feel a bit old! Check out the PCRHS and perhaps join their 2004 convention in September in Altoona for the 150th anniversary of the Horseshoe Curve.


20890, $15.30
40 Foot Steel Box Car, PS-1 Type, Single Door (Youngstown or "Narrow Rib" Door), Canadian Pacific.

Aluminum with freight car red ends. Red lettering including roadname and reporting marks on left.
Reporting Marks: CP 221010.
Approximate Time Period: mid 1940s (1945 shop date) perhaps into the 1950s (a guess).
Previous Release: Road Number 221009, August 1988.
NOTE: This item has been sold out and discontinued.

UMTRR gang member Anthony Hunter was the first to point out-- before me, even!-- that this is a "not a reprint." The initial release has aluminum sides, but that's about where the similarity ends. The first 20890 had black ends, red lettering and a beaver plus shield herald. This second 20890 has freight cars red ends and bottom sills of the sides, a richer red for the lettering, a more correct font for the roadname and reporting marks, and no herald. Yeah, that'll get you a "not a reprint"!

The MTL car copy as well as the dimensional data printed on the first release tag the build year as 1945 and the location as the Angus Shops in Montreal. Ian Cranstone's Canadian Freight Cars site shows the series 221000 to 221999 of 1000 cars as being built in the latter part of 1938 by Canadian Car and Foundry. This checks with the listing in the January 1940 ORER (Westerfield CD-ROM) which shows a larger series, 221000 to 222949 with 1948 cars. Let's get the vital statistics out of the way: inside length 40 feet 6 inches, inside height 10 feet, outside length 41 feet 9 inches, extreme height 14 feet 7 inches, door opening 6 feet and capacity 3715 cubic feet or 91,000 pounds. So how come the 1945 build date? Well, maybe it was a rebuild date. It's possible that there was something about the few cars that the CP painted aluminum that wasn't true of the other cars in the group, which may explain why they were painted aluminum at all. Or it could have simply been an experiment, as MTL describes in its car copy. Anyway, skipping all the way to the January 1959 ORER we find the same large series with an even larger number of cars, 2877. Cranstone has the series lasting until 1991 but I doubt that the paint scheme did. In fact, I'm going to be conservative here and project that this paint scheme may have made it into the 1950's but that's it. Longer is possible, but somehow I don't think it's likely.

And speaking of the paint scheme, Anthony Hunter also checked his archives and found that for photos, we go zero-for-the Richard Yaremko Canadian Rail Car Pictorial series. I struck out on the MSCG for the Canadian Pacific as well, and came up with zilch on the 'net too. I'll hope that our friends "north of the border" can help out with this for next time.

49110, $21.70
40 Foot Double Sheathed Wood Refrigerator Car, Vertical Brake Wheel, Kohrs Meat Packing Company.

Yellow sides, freight car red roof and ends. Black lettering including large company name and reporting marks on left.
Multicolor company logo on right.
Reporting Marks: KOHX 2605.
Approximate Time Period: decade of the 1930's.
Previous Release: Road Number 2601, December 1982, as part of the 49082 "Meat Packers Six-Pack" (also known as the "Refrigerator Express Six-Pack").
NOTE: This item has been sold out and discontinued.

There goes the neighborhood...

Well, that may be what you're saying if you're in the neighborhood of very high aftermarket prices for the original release. The initial run of this car was only available in the "Meat Packers Six-Pack" and as a single regularly fetches in the triple digits, regardless of the venue. It's one of the few cars of which I'm aware where even a "runner" can catch a $100 plus price. Will all of that change now? Well, among the collector circuit, probably not, but at the margin where someone wants one to spot in front of a meat packing plant, yeah, I think so. I certainly hope that this will be the start of the eventual reissuance of all six of the Meat Packers cars, and a plug for same has already been forwarded to Talent, Oregon. Even though it mean mean five nightmares in terms of research for your faithful byte slinger.

Fortunately, it looks like we avoid the bad dream of "no data" this time, much to my surprise. There's a "History of Davenport and Scott County" from 1910 (!) that's been at least partially transcribed to the net on the site The biography of one Henry Kohrs is included. He was originally from Germany, was trained as a butcher, and relocated to Davenport in 1854. He plied his stock in trade as a sole proprietor until he had saved enough to "embark on the pork packing business" in which he saw a great deal of potential. By 1898 he had taken in a partner in what became known as the Kohrs Packing Company. In 1910 Kohrs was "in his eightieth year" and had handed over much of the responsibilities to W.H. Gehrmann.

Fast forward to 1946 where another name in packing stepped in - Oscar Mayer. The prepared meats concern bought the Kohrs operation in Davenport in that year, and since then it's been expanded and extended several times, most recently with a finished product distribution warehouse. It's still in operation as part of the immense Kraft Foods empire, producing Oscar Mayer and Louis Rich branded items.

Now for the reefers: The Burlington Route Historical Society website references KOHX 2601, a "Kohrs Packing billboard reefer" with a photo in issue number 28 of the "Burlington Bulletin," pages 52 and 53. This photo index references several other cars which have been other past Micro-Trains releases. Meanwhile, Ian Cranstone observed in his reporting marks listing that the January 1938 ORER showed a series KOHX 2601 to 2621 of National Car Company refrigerators and a series of Mather Stock Car Company cars in the 3100 to 3150 series. The model in question would be from the first group; and good thing, as Mather reefers look nothing like anything available in N Scale. I don't have a January 1938 Register but I'm close with a July 1935 edition (Westerfield CD-ROM) which fits into the ATP of 1932 to 1938 that MTL discusses in its car copy. There's a text listing of the series: "2601 to 2610 inclusive, inside dimensions: length 30 feet 6 inches, width 8 feet 3 3/8 inches, height 7 feet 3 1/4 inches, capacity 1836 cubic feet, 75,000 pounds (ice bunker capacity 6006 pounds crushed ice." Reporting for these cars were to be handled by the National Car Company in Washington, DC, which was the owner.

MTL mentions that this car was subject to the "billboard reefer" ban, but the ban wasn't an all or nothing affair. The issue was that smaller concerns were being forced to ship their products in cars that advertised their large competitors. If the cars were repainted then it's probably true that the meat packing industry was involved in this circumstance, although with 25 total cars in 1935 versus, for example, the hundreds of cars that were rolling with Swift, Hormel, Armour or Morrell logos, chances are that Kohrs was a victim of the billboard not a perpetrator. For the record, the January 1940 ORER shows 15 cars left with KOHX reporting marks and road numbers 2601 to 2621, that time under the general listing for National Car Company.

51100, $17.90
34 Foot Wood Sheathed Caboose, Straight Cupola, Santa Fe (AT&SF).

Mineral red with white lettering including reporting marks in center. Simulated windows included.
Reporting Marks: AT&SF 1209.
Approximate Time Period: 1920's to 1940's.
Previous Releases: Road Number 1201, March 1991; Road Number 1203, June 1993; Road Number 1207, September 1995.
NOTE: This item has been sold out and discontinued.

Okay, so we know (and ATSF Special Correspondent George Hollwedel reminds us) that the 51100 body style is, in fact, modeled after the Southern Pacific's C-30-1 caboose. But how close can we get for the Santa Fe anyway? Let's see.

There's a scan of a drawing from "Folio 211" of Santa Fe Freight Car Diagrams, which is found on Russell Crump's Santa Fe website. It's of ATSF Class C-5, a series of cars numbered 1186 to 1232 which were built during the period 1926 through 1929. These prototype cars had 20 foot truck centers, a wheelbase of 25 feet 2 inches, a length of 27 feet 2 inches over the end sills and 36 feet over the running boards, and a height of 15 feet 1 inch to the top of the cupola. They also had three windows per side, well at least one side, the drawing doesn't show both, and a small tool box mounted below the center of the car. So far, so reasonably good, but the prototype also had truss rods. The builder was listed on this drawing as "K.C.M." which stood for... what? The C-5 series was bracketed, number-wise, by two groups of the C-4 type waycar, which were numbered 1122 to 1171 (built 1922) and 1300 to 1449 (built 1923) according to the data on Crump's site. The C-4s seem to better fit the description in the MTL car copy, having been built by American Car and Foundry, but of course the road numbers of the 51100 releases don't match up with C-4s. There is a laserkit forthcoming from The Marshall Shops of the C-5, by the way. I think intermediate to advanced level kits are far away enough from MTL's ready to run offerings that I won't count that as "competition."

Wayne Underwood queried the Santa Fe Listserv and we got two responses from Rick Burkle and Andy Sperandeo (yes, the Executive Editor of Model Railroader!) both citing the book "Caboose Cars of the Santa Fe Railway". (This book is quite rare and quite expensive, by the way.) The C-4s were originally from the Kansas City, Mexico and Orient Railway-- could that be the "K.C.M."? "There's no way to know for sure which cars were renumbered to what," Sperandeo noted, "but the cars were originally numbered 550 to 584." He added that a photo of ATSF 1190 circa 1947 shows that at least one car survived that long. The first steel waycars came to the Santa Fe in 1949. Burkle states that the MTL model "may be a not so outrageous match" for these cabeese, "which look so un-Santa Fe." I guess that's sort of an endorsement, maybe. Many thanks to Wayne for doing the "legwork" on this for us.

MTL states that these wood sheathed cars lasted into the 1960's, and that appears to be true, given the rebuild program that the Santa Fe did during that decade. But strictly speaking the lettering would have changed. The "A.T. & S. F." initials lasted until 1938 when the ampersand was dropped. In 1944 the periods were eliminated yielding just "ATSF." That's the way Division Point painted their C-4s so it's reasonable to assume that the wood waycars made it that far. A little relettering will enable you to extend the ATP; and perhaps MTL could be talked into doing a non-ampersand and/or non-periods version in the future as a reprint- or a "not a reprint."

53040, $25.50
60 Foot Center Beam Flatcar, Centex.

Gray with mostly black lettering including reporting marks on left. Black and red company logo top center.
Reporting Marks: TCAX 700038.
Approximate Time Period: late 1980's (1989 built date) to mid-1990's, or perhaps to present, as painted, see text.
Previous Release: Road Number 700006, August 1995.
NOTE: This item has been sold out and discontinued.

I'd have to think a while before I could come up with any other MTL representation of a "roadname" that consists of three flatcars painted gray. Well, OK, there probably isn't any other one besides this one. This is the second go-round for this car, and there was also the 53710 from September 2001 which was the first and only body style variation (so far) of the Thrall "I-Beam" Centerbeam flat car. Centex is a diversified home builder and financial services concern, and appears at this writing to have de-emphasized the construction supply business for which it needed these cars.

In the coverage of the 53710, I related that the reporting marks refer to Chrysler Rail Transportation Corporation, and were fairly short lived. I've got incremental information on this; before going to Chrysler they were registered to the Transportation Corporation of America. And that's where we find the series TCAX 700025 to 700049 in the July 1987 ORER. The inside length of these cars-- applicable on these flatcars since there are end bulkheads-- was 60 feet 8 inches, and the outside length was 68 feet even. The extreme height was 15 feet 6 inches. The capacity was 197,000 pounds. All 25 possible cars were present and accounted for.

The July 1992 Register listing for Chrysler Rail Transportation included a line for TCAX 700000 to 700049, of 49 cars, but as I've noted before, between there and the October 1996 Register, the reporting marks and the cars transferred to General Electric Railcar Services. That doesn't mean that the Centex use of the cars ended; they were just stenciled something other than TCAX. I may have tripped over that replacement set of reporting marks: GAPX. There's a series 700000 to 700049 of "Flat, Bulkhead (Center Beam)" that matches the dimensional data and sticks out like a sore thumb among all the other cars with those intials that have just five digits in their road numbers. However, your "strictly speaking" Approximate Time Period is over at this point.

Or is it? The April 1999 Register has a TCAX series once again, with the same road numbers, description and dimensions! And they are still listed in the January 2002 Register, our current proxy for "to present." This is getting a bit out of hand! Well, we can't say for certain whether they were painted for Centex, although when I checked the Centex Construction Products website back in September 2001, it did have a photo of a gray centerbeam being unloaded. I didn't have any luck finding any proto photos currently out on the 'net; most references I turned up while searching were to either this car or its longer 73 foot cousin that's been offered in both N and HO scales by others.


21376, $19.85
40 Foot Steel Boxcar, Plug Door, New Mexico 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: NM 1912.
Twelfth release in the States of the Union series.
NOTE: This item has been sold out and discontinued.

"Roadrunner, the coyote's after you! Roadrunner, if he catches you, you're through!" Oh, sorry, we mean the real Roadrunner, not the one in the cartoons. Or the one in the cartoons plugging the cable broadband internet service. Well, what can I say, it's been a little Looney Tunes around here since we got that Warner Brothers cartoon box set on DVD.

Anyway, the real roadrunner is in fact the official bird of a state that holds a special place for me as the final state in my fifty state journey. Yes, I've set foot in all fifty as of about two years ago. I will leave the details to a future "Irwin's Journal Online" installment, but suffice to say that I've never been as happy to see a "welcome center" as the one I set foot in late in 2002. What took me so long? Inability to gerrymander business trips in that direction until that point, I suppose!

The "Land of Enchantment" was first populated by Native Americans circa 25000 BC, called the Sandia, followed by the Clovis hunters around 10000 BC and the Folsom Paleo-Indians about 9000 BC, the end of the last Ice Age. More familiar to us are the Pueblo from the 1100s AD, followed by the Navajo and Apache. The Spanish arrived on horseback, claiming the territory and setting up a royal province, and began the mixture of cultures for which the state is still known today. The current capital of Santa Fe was first founded in 1610, the same year a book was published about the founding of New Mexico, the first book about any area in the modern USA. In 1824 the area became a territory of Mexico, but that didn't last long, with the USA taking possession by force in 1846. The Gasden Purchase of 1854 set the final southern boundary of the area. New Mexico was on the Union side during the Civil War and played host to its first railroad lines about 20 years after that in 1878. Billy the Kid was shot by Pat Garrett in 1881-- well, at least by one account, given all the alleged controversy about that event that has come to light recently.

New Mexico became the 47th State on January 6, 1912. The sun shines on New Mexico's flag, adopted in 1920, in the form of the ancient Zia symbol. The Navajo provided an invaluable service as "code talkers" during World War II, the subject of the recent movie "Windtalkers." Some of the arid and beautiful landscape has been transformed into farmland thanks to damming and irrigation, but much of the area remains as it once was, sparsely populated, wild, and incredibly picturesque. And you've gotta love the matter of fact way in which the following statement is made as part of a state timeline: "1947 - UFO allegedly crashes between Roswell and Corona, believers claim U.S. government institutes massive coverup of the incident." Well, they're certainly not covering it up in Roswell today; it's a major tourist draw!

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


New Release:
14607, Marklin Coupler, $13.10, 14607-2, Micro-Trains Coupler, $14.90.
40 Foot Bulkhead Flatcar, Burlington Northern.

Cascade green with white lettering including reporting marks on left and roadname in center.
Reporting Marks: BN 616049.
Approximate Time Period: early 1970's (1971 build date given by MTL) to early 1990's (but see text).
NOTE: This item (both coupler versions) has been sold out and discontinued.

MTL says that this car was part of a fifteen car series, and it was, specifically from road numbers 616035 to 616049. But these weren't forty foot cars, they were 48 feet 11 inches inside length, and 56 feet 11 inches outside length. Even in 1:220, the model comes up a bit short, and so you have the "see text" disclaimer next to the ATP. The 15 cars described as "Flat, Tie Downs, 25K" appear to complement a group of 35 more just above that in the listing in the April 1976 ORER which don't have tie downs but are dimensionally identical otherwise. Interestingly, the presence of the tie downs changes the AAR Designation from "FB" to "FBS"; that got my curiousity piqued so it was off to the back of the ORER for an explanation. "Where cars are equipped with permanent racks for stowing parts, or are specifically modified or equipped to provide for the loading of a particular commodity, the letter 'S' should be affixed to the applicable designating letters." Oh, I see, so that's why the "S" and why the explicit listing of the tie downs. Now, what did they tie down? I suppose we'll have to let that question go by.

For the record, MTL's assertion that the cars ran well into the 1990's looks accurate; there are six cars remaining in the July 1992 Register although the series is gone from the October 1996 book.

13619, Marklin Coupler, $17.90, 13619-2, Micro-Trains Coupler, $19.70
50 Foot Boxcar, Plug Door, Boston and Maine "Milk".

Black with mostly white lettering including reporting marks on left. Large blue and white "McGuiness" herald on right (interlocked letters "B and M").
Reporting Marks: BM 1917.
Approximate Time Period: late 1950's (1957 build date) into the 1960's.
Previous Release: Road Number 1919, October 1995.
NOTE: This item (both coupler versions) has been sold out and discontinued.

Although it's somewhat anachronistic with respect to the Approximate Time Period of this particular car, there is a piece from the October 1947 edition of the Boston and Maine Railroad Magazine called "From Cow to Consumer" which discusses the milk traffic of the B&M. It was quite an important source of revenue for the line, with two-thirds of all milk and cream coming into Boston using the road back then. You can find this piece online as part of the "Remembering the Rutland" site.

Meanwhile, the very last entry of the "Freight Equipment" list on the Boston and Maine page on the Fallen Flags website is one of the "milk" cars from this series, unfortunately with an unreadable number. Well, we'll take it. The shot was taken in 1980 in East Deefield, Massachusetts. The car definitely doesn't look like your typical fifty footer-- it appears to be too short in height and too long in length for that. There's another shot of a car in Fitchburg that's been converted to an office/storage area, and it's parked next to a standard size B&M blue boxcar. The milk car is clearly shorter in height, probably a foot or more. This shot, a few others, and an image of a much more nicely preserved example of the series are found at the NE Rail Photo Archive; search on "milk" to most easily locate these images.

Good thing the photos are out there. As I had already learned during my research on the Bellows Falls N Scale refrigerator car last month, the B&M's milk cars are classified as passenger equipment-- even these new ones-- and as such weren't listed in the ORERs for either January 1959 or January 1964, the range in which you'd be likely to find them listed. So we probably need to acknowledge that this or any other 50 foot plug door body style currently available in Z Scale (or N, HO or any other scale for that matter) is going to be a "stand-in" for the prototype, and content ourselves with MTL's car copy stating that the cars were in their intended service only from their built 1957 to 1960. After that they were used in company service but kept their appearance. In fact, one of the NE Archive photos shows a car as originally painted and with consolidated stencils!

14007, Marklin Coupler, $108.15, 14007-2, Micro-Trains Coupler, $109.75
F7-A Diesel Locomotive, Powered, Santa Fe (AT&SF).

"Warbonnet" scheme; Silver with red nose and front of roof. Yellow striping. Enlongated "Santa Fe" herald with stripes on nose. Black lettering including roadname on side.
Road Number: 342 (will be "ATSF 342" in website listing).
Approximate Time Period: early 1950's (1953 build date) to late 1970's (1977 rebuild date).
Previous Releases: Road Number 330, February 1994; Road Number 336, August 1995; Road Number 331, June 1996.
NOTE: This item (both coupler versions) has been sold out and discontinued.

The 341 was part of the 325 class of Santa Fe F-7 units that were numbered from 325 to 344, in various combinations of A and A-B units. The Santa Fe Historical and Modeling Society website ( ) calls out the 341 as an A unit only, specifically, "341LA". It was built in 1953, making it a "Phase II" subtype and was one of the last if not the last of the "First Generation" locomotives painted in the famous Santa Fe "Warbonnet". I won't even attempt to go into all of the detail that is posted about these units on various websites I located-- I'll just dig myself a deep hole! But I can tell you that the 341 was rebuilt into an angled-cab CF7 number 2468 by the Santa Fe at its Cleburne, Texas shops in March 1977, whence it received another kind of warbonnet paint, this time the blue and yellow version. It went on to the Red River Valley and Western as its number 308 in 1987. And that's the Red River of the North, in Minnesota, that they mean, not the Red River of Texas-- I checked.