UMTRR July, 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 North Pole Express are available exclusively in the e-mail subscription edition of the UMTRR.

23290, $18.00
40 Foot Boxcar, Double Door, Santa Fe (AT&SF).

Boxcar red with mostly white lettering including reporting marks on left. Small black and white 1940's era circle cross herald on left. One side of car has large "The Grand Canyon Line" slogan on right and the other side of car has modified "reduced width map" on right.
Reporting Marks: ATSF 64279.
Approximate Time Period: mid-1940's (1945 build date) to late 1950's.
NOTE: This item has been sold out and discontinued.

Everybody, please join me in a rousing chorus of that Steve Allen standard, "This Could Be the Start of Something Big". Will this car be the first of five possible different "slogan" cars that MTL can produce from this prototype series? I think the odds may be pretty good, although I do note that the 20460 reprint of the "Grand Canyon Line" hasn't led to further slogan reruns on PS-1 single door boxcars. Perhaps there was a shift in direction to double door boxcars after that, and it took this long to make that change. © 2004 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

Our resident Santa Fe expert (and special run master) George Hollwedel checked into UMTRR HQ almost immediately with the information that "the MTL 23290 depicts an Fe-26 Santa Fe car. They were built in 1945 by Pullman but were pre PS-1. Roof should be Murphy panel, like the Intermountain 1937 AAR cars. The ends should be 3/4 dreadnaught and the side sill contour is off, but not too bad, except we know the roof should be black! See attached." George enclosed a scan of the prototype ATSF 64279. For those of you keeping score, these reporting marks don't have either the periods after the initials or the ampersand between "AT" and "SF", which places the timeframe at 1944 or later according to the RPI Website, so we're good there with a 1945 build date. © 2004 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

The "Fe" stands for Furniture, a designation that the Santa Fe liked to give its boxcars rather frequently. Later the designation was changed to stand for Automobile Car. With 500 cars in the series, Richard Hendrickson called the Fe-26 one of the most significant Santa Fe Freight Car Classes in the 1950's in a table reprinted on the Santa Fe Historical and Modeling Society website ( ). The January 1953 Official Railway Equipment Register (ORER) (NMRA Reprint) shows the series 64200 to 64699 listed with AAR Designation "XMR," which stands for a standard XM boxcar with automobile devices fitted inside. A notation for the listing adds just that; they had Evans Auto Loaders. The vital statistics: inside length 40 feet 6 inches, inside height 9 feet 8 inches (with loader up) or 10 feet 5 inches (with loader down and available), outside length 41 feet 3 inches, extreme height 15 feet 1 inch, door opening 14 feet-- that's a "door thing" since the doors on the 23000 series are two eight footers for sixteen feet. Capacity was 3712 cubic feet (with loader up) or 3972 feet (with loader down and available for use) or 100,000 pounds. There were 488 cars in the series in January '53. But there were just 12 in the January 1964 ORER. However, the ATSF H&MS shows that the Fe-26's were rebuilt into the series 5900 to 6385, and that group consisted of 449 cars at that date in two series with slightly differing dimensions. The RPI site notes that the Santa Fe Color Guide includes a photo of ATSF 6111 from that series taken circa 1973. © 2004 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

55490, $24.95
33 Foot Hopper, Offset Sides, Flat Ends, Reading.

Black with gray left panel. White lettering including reporting marks on left and large slant roadname across car. Simulated sand load included.
Reporting Marks: RDG 86585.
Approximate Time Period: decade of the 1970's.
NOTE: This item has been sold out and discontinued.

The MTL car copy is drawn from the Morning Sun Reading Color Guide to Freight and Passenger Equipment by Craig Bossler, the text of which was thoughtfully provided to UMTRR HQ by Joe Levitsky. On pages 40 and 41 of that book are two photos taken by Bossler, one of which illustrates the 86585. The MTL story aligns with the MSCG's caption, in that these cars were converted from open hoppers to gondolas by disabling the hoppers. In the case of the 86585, the hopper doors were removed and the hoppers were covered with the appropriate amount of steel. In the case of the other car pictured in the MSCG, the 89009, the hoppers were removed entirely-- certainly an interesting modification project to try! © 2004 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

Technically, the changes flipped the AAR Designation from HT (hopper) to GT (gondola) and the Reading didn't bother to restencil this on the cars. Let's see if they got it right in the ORER. The start of the ATP is "early 1970's per the MSCG and the MTL car copy, and the photos are from 1971. My closest ORER is April 1970, no good, so we have to go to the entry for Conrail in the April 1976 Register. And the short answer is, well, no. And perhaps the longer answer is a short ATP, but we might not know this from the listing for the Reading series 85000 to 86999, which shows as all hoppers with the AAR Designation of HM. That's not HT, not GT, but HM! The description is "Hopper, Coal, Steel". Hmm. If you're interested in the vital stats, they are: inside length 33 feet, inside width 10 feet 4 inches, outside length 36 feet 6 inches, extreme height 10 feet 9 inches, capacity 2145 cubic feet or 110,000 pounds. © 2004 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

There are any number of reasons why the '76 listing doesn't include any of these cars, and nothing similar appears in any former Reading number series, in fact. First, the Reading never got around to changing the listing. Second, the cars were already out of service. Third, somehow they were pulled out of common carrier service in some way and therefore it wasn't necessary to list them. I really doubt this third theory since I know that there are former Lehigh and New England covered hoppers that were in more or less captive service going back and forth between North and South Jersey during the same time period, and they're in the same listing. I'm going with theory one here-- they never got around to listing the changes, although the aforemention ex-LNE hoppers could have been deployed in place of the former Reading hoppers, supporting theory two. By the April 1981 ORER, everything in the 85000s is gone regardless of classification, so it's all a bit moot. © 2004 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

In comparing the photos to the MTL model, Joe noted that the spacing between the letters of the roadname appear to be a bit wider on the prototype, especially between the "I" and the "N". Actually, it kind of looks like someone had a bad day when doing the real 86585. The MTL lettering job is more regularly spaced. One feature of the lettering did intrigue Joe, though. "If you look closely, you will note that, next to the road number on both cars, is stenciled the instructions 'When empty return to Millville, N.J. - PRSL', he wrote. "Perhaps, George, in the course of your investigation, you can do some digging (sorry) and unearth (sorry, again) what might be special about sand from the Millville area. I did some brief searching myself and found that there must still some particular worth to that material since trackage in the area (either ex-PRSL or ex-CNJ) is currently operated by the Winchester & Western, which is owned by the minerals company Unimin." © 2004 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

Hey, it's from Joisey? Well, I'm on it! Actually, I didn't have to go too far for this. The sand out of Millville and the environs is special silica sand that is in heavy demand by the glass industry. The Jersey Central (CNJ) had a number of cars in special service for this as well, and I believe that their ex-LNE covered hoppers were placed in this service as well after the cement hauling business went away. I remember solid trains of CNJ and LNE hoppers coming north up the CNJ trackage that ran a couple of blocks from my house, and the cars looked, well, pretty sandy. A citation on (I'm not making that up!) describes the process as it has existed over time, and notes that "The high quality silica is then dried, re-screened and stored to await shipment to glass producers up and down the East Coast. Since the 1920s millions of tons of silica sand have been mined, processed, and shipped from the company’s plant. In exchange for the valuable silica sands, the operation has left behind a series of serene lakes bounded by forest, and stocked with fresh water fish." Sand still isn't that easy to ship in trucks, and you may have seen the occassional Winchester and Western covered hopper in a train in the east. The W&W's original Virginia trackage also serves the sand business, so it makes sense that the line would be owned by a minerals company. Unimin started in 1970 as a small glass sand mining company. You've gotta love their slogan: "Where others see rocks, we see solutions." Well, I hope they come and see my front lawn soon because I'd like to see some solutions! © 2004 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

93090, $25.85
3 Bay ACF Centerflow® Covered Hopper, Round Hatches, Solvay Minerals.

Gray with black lettering and large blue "T" device across center.
Reporting Marks: SMNX 472.
Approximate Time Period: mid-1990s to present.
NOTE: This item has been sold out and discontinued.

Solvay Minerals is a subsidiary of Solvay S.A. a corporation founded in Belgium in 1863 by Ernest Solvay. Solvay and his brother developed a new process for the industrial production of sodium carbonate, also known as soda ash; a commodity that could very well be carried by the covered hopper modeled this month by MTL. Demand for soda ash grew rapidly in industrializing Europe, and so within 20 years Solvay had grown significantly. Solvay expanded into other derivative chemicals, first sodium bicarbonate and caustic soda, then chlorine and hydrogen peroxide. The company also expanded geographically, for example there was a United States plant in Syracuse starting in the 1880's. From chemicals came plastics, including the now ubiquitous PVC, or polyvinyl chloride, and polyethylenes. Solvay has also expanded into life sciences with a series of pharmeceutical aquisitions. As of its 2003 Annual Report Solvay had a presence in 50 countries with 400 production facilities, employing over 30,000 people and bringing in revenues of $9.5 billion US Dollars (7.5 million Euros). © 2004 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

Founder Ernest Solvay channeled his energies into other interests besides business. According to a webpage on the official Solvay website (you can guess the URL), "Ernest Solvay was also a man of progressive social ideals, which he implemented within his factories. He established before legal obligations a social security system, pensions for the workers in 1878, an 8-hour workday in 1897, and paid vacations in 1913. After becoming wealthy, he looked to society at large, and founded several scientific, philanthropic, and charitable foundations, including the Institutes of Physiology (1895) and of Sociology (1901), as well as the prestigious School of Business (1903) which still bears his name... His overriding passion for science was again expressed in 1911 when he organized a meeting in Brussels of most of the famous physicists and chemists of the time. Participants included Marie Curie, Albert Einstein, Max Planck, Ernest Rutherford, Raymond Poincaré and the Duke Louis de Broglie. This was the birth of the Solvay international physics council, which has met 20 times between 1911 and 1991, assembling some of the most brilliant scientists in the world." © 2004 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

One of those 400 production facilities is a soda ash plant in Green River, Wyoming, which MTL notes was purchased as part of the 1992 acquisition of some of the operations of Tenneco. (There is still a Tenneco Automotive and the former Tenneco Packaging unit is now Pactiv.) I'd always wondered about that "T" logo and I'd like to tell you more, but it seems that as soon as a corporation goes away, so do most Internet references, and this is no exception. Meanwhile, according to a report quoted on the Wyoming State Geological Survey website, "Domestically, 49% of soda ash is used in making glass, 26% is used in other chemicals including sodium silicate, sodium phosphate, and sodium cyanide, 11% in cleaning agents like detergents, 2% in the pulp and paper industry, 1% in water treatment, and 9% in various other uses." © 2004 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

The ORER from January 2002 shows the series SMNX 466 to 555 with description "Covered Hopper" and just the outside dimensions: length 54 feet 7 inches, extreme width 10 feet 8 inches, extreme height 15 feet 6 inches. The capacity is 4650 cubic feet and the gross rail weight is 286,000 pounds. There were all 90 possible cars in place in the series and overall Solvay Minerals had 1127 cars in service, all of the CF4650 type but some at the 54 feet 5 inch length and others at the 54 feet 7 inch length. The MTL model is in fact of the ACF CF4650 so we should be good there with respect to fidelity. And there are plenty of renumbering possibilies; I think some ACF type fonts from several different Micro-Scale sets should be able to help you there although I haven't validated this. © 2004 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

Joe Shaw has a photo of SMNX 485 from 2003 on his website and there are other photos out there as well. I found one from 1998; and several from 2003 and 2004, plus there was a text report of a sighting in 2004, all of which for me confirms the use of the "to present" on the ATP. © 2004 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

116030.1 and 116030.2, $19.95 each
Troop Sleeper Car, Chesapeake and Ohio.

Pullman green with yellow details and yellow lettering including (only) C&O reporting marks at bottom left and road number at bottom right.
Road Numbers: C&O X859 (the .1) and X955 (.2)
Approximate Time Period: late 1950's (1958 repaint date given by MTL) to 1974 (for the X849) or 1982 (for the X955).
NOTE: These items have been sold out and discontinued.

Since this is Maintenance of Way equipment, you can pretty much forget about any Official Railway Equipment Register listings, and I must admit I didn't bother to look. No worries, though. Our C&O Special Correspondent James Pugh sends along the citation from the Morning Sun C&O Color Guide to Passenger and Freight Equipment (MSCG) by David H. Hickocx. It gives almost the complete story, but I'll try not to completely violate the copyright here. When first purchased, the former 8073 and 8077 were painted in gray with black lettering, but as MTL notes in its car copy, they were repainted in the pullman green and gold in September 1958. The MSCG gives an Exact Time Period for the X859: retired in 1974 and sold. And the X955 became road number 911127 in 1982 under the Chessie System. One interesting item: The troop sleepers and troop kitchens were bought upon retirement from Army service by the Chessie at what were bargain basement prices even then: $2500 each or less. [Come to think of it, how many "bargain basements" are really left in America? A show of hands of those who aren't old enough to understand the origin of the term?] © 2004 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

There is a distinctive detail part that you might consider adding if you want to more precisely model the C&O cars. Brake air hoses are attached to each end of each car at the roofline. Yes, the roofline. That is distinctive alright! There is also some unreadable data to the left of each road number which MTL chose to leave off, probably because it's unreadable. © 2004 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

Besides being a nice addition for C&O modelers, who can purchase and renumber more of these (for starters, the photo of X859 and X955 shows sister cars X950 and X1132), this is a nearly perfect release for other modelers who want to have their own roads "own" a couple of these. How much closer to "painted/unlettered" do you think you could get than this pair of cars? I can see my own Wilmington and New York coming into possession of one or two of these, for the same use as "camp cars" as on the C&O. The Chessie also redeployed these U.S. Army surplus rolling stock; one was used as a depot! I'm sure sure I'll go that far, though. © 2004 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

Lest I forget: Congratulations to Micro-Trains for their troop sleepers being voted "N Scale Rolling Stock of the Year" in the 2003 Model Railroader Reader's Choice Awards. The competition seems to get a little tougher every year and this acclaim shows that MTL can still meet the challenge with the buying public. © 2004 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.


20136, $11.70
40 Foot Steel Boxcar, Single Door (Youngstown or "Narrow Rib" Door), Canadian Pacific / International of Maine.

Boxcar red with white lettering including roadname with "International of Maine Division" subheading and reporting marks on left.
Reporting Marks: CP 269969.
Approximate Time Period: 1950's (July 1949 build date given by MTL) and 1960's.
Previous Release: Road Number 269960, December 1993.
NOTE: This item has been sold out and discontinued.

The Canadian Pacific circa 1953 had over 52,000 boxcars, the highest numbered of which fell into the series 268800 to 269999. These 698 boxcars were simply described as "Box, Steel," with interior length and height of 40 feet 6 inches and 10 feet 6 inches, respectively, outside length of 41 feet 10 inches, and a 6 foot door opening. There's probably nothing all that remarkable about these cars, but there is something distinctive. That "International of Maine Division" stenciling. © 2004 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

The I of M was the CP's route to the province of New Brunswick, and thence via ferry to its Dominion Atlantic operation in Nova Scotia. It was only a geopolitical detail that the line traversed the United States to connect these eastern provinces to its main lines in Quebec and westward, since that was a more direct route. I don't think it was for major population centers; the only town I recognized as I looked at a CP system map from the May 1954 Official Guide of the Railways was Brownville. There was still passenger service through Maine from Saint John, New Brunswick to Boston and from Halifax, Nova Scotia and Saint John to Montreal. The distance across the state was somewhere in the range of 200 miles. © 2004 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

The I of M designation lasted quite a while according to the CDS Lettering Railway Equipment Diagrams book. In fact, they've got four different CP schemes that include the subtitle: this one, the stepped roadname in block lettering, the script roadname and finally the CP Rail version. I doubt that the cars had roofwalks and the CP Rail action red concurrently, though. The ORERs don't give lettering information of course but let's view a couple more: in the January 1964 ORER the group of cars was actually up to 1167 and in April 1970 it was off just a bit to 1112 plus a subgroup of 25 that were converted to woodchip service via roof removal and door openings sealed. Now that sounds like something that would be done for the pulp and paper industry that was served by that line. Ian Cranstone's Canadian Freight Cars site notes that some cars in the series actually survived into the year 2000. But based on the paint scheme, I'm going to call the ATP at the 50's and 60's and be a little conservative on that. © 2004 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

In the 1990's, the CP opted to rid itself of all of its trackage east of Montreal and that included the International of Maine division. This decision was followed by a short succession of shortline operators, perhaps most notably the Canadian American Railway which operated the western section of the former I of M line. The Can-Am was owned by Iron Road which also owned the Bangor and Aroostook. Insolvency was the fate of Iron Road, and in January 2003 its lines were reborn as the Montreal, Maine and Atlantic Railway which is owned by Chicago-based Rail World, Inc. The Brownville to Vanceboro section of the old I of M is operated as the Eastern Maine Railway which is part of the Irving Group of lines. The Eastern Maine is a sister company to Irving's New Brunswick Southern over in that province. It's certainly a more confusing picture than it was under the single ownership of the CP (in fact, up to the moment data is hard to come by on the 'net), but at least it's nice to know that the line is still in operation. © 2004 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

20140, $13.50
40 Foot Steel Boxcar, Single Door (Superior or "Wide Rib" Door), Boston and Maine.

Blue sides, black door. Mostly white lettering including reporting marks on left. Large black and white "B over M" herald on right.
Reporting Marks: B&M 74409.
Approximate Time Period: mid-1950's (approximate repaint date) to no later than 1962, but see text.
Previous Releases: Road Number 74400, March 1974 (also as catalog number 20300 under the original cataloging method); Road Number 74406, December 1994.
NOTE: This item has been sold out and discontinued.

UMTRR gang member Rich Roberg is a pretty big Boston and Maine fan, and he collected for us a series of e-mails from a couple of discussion groups about this car. The verdict? Well, uh... perhaps we should start with the notion that all blue B&M forty foot boxcars have been produced for quite a while by model railroad manufacturers in multiple scales. Although, as we'll see, that doesn't make it right. © 2004 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

The fifty foot PS-1 versions of the car are in fact all blue with a black door. But there's no evidence that the forty foot boxcars were ever done up this way. Instead, when they were repainted from the boxcar red and white "Minuteman" scheme (as produced by MTL as catalog 20326 with B&M reporting marks and 20426 with MTC reporting marks in 1998 as a two pack), they received a blue left side and door, and a black right side. That means the side with the large "B over M" herald should be black, not blue. This was the as-delivered scheme for the group of B&M boxcars that Pullman-Standard delivered to the line in 1957. When older "Minuteman" PS-1 boxcars came up for repainting, that's what they got as well. © 2004 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

The 74000 to 74499 series was built in 1947 and was of the PS-1 design, so it would have been one of the earlier examples. But per Tim Gilbert on the BM_RR@yahoogroups list, these cars were all gone by 1962, having been sold to United States Railway Equipment. Some but not all of the cars were refurbished and leased back to the B&M, but they were numbered in the 1000 to 1174 series. Gilbert is a little more blunt about the MTL car's paint scheme than that: "Ersatz!" he declared. In all caps, actually. © 2004 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

A sample ORER entry from January 1953 shows the series with inside length of 40 feet 6 inches, inside height of 10 feet 6 inches, outside length of 41 feet 10 inches, extreme height of 15 feet 1 inch, and a 7 foot door opening-- hmm, a "door thing" to boot. These were 100,000 pound capacity boxcars through their entire life. © 2004 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

31010, $13.50
50 Foot Steel Boxcar, Single Door, Illinois Terminal.

Yellow sides, mostly green lettering including reporting marks on left and slogan "The Road of Personalized Service" on right. Large roadname in green with red inset initials on left.
Reporting Marks: ITC 9444.
Approximate Time Period: early 1970's to early 1980's.
Previous Releases: Road Number 9449, March 1977; Road Number 9440, December 1990.
NOTE: This item has been sold out and discontinued.

The Illinois Terminal Railroad was certainly a unique enterprise. The road grew out of an amalgamation of street railroad lines and was actually the largest interurban system in the United States in terms of area served. Its more than 500 miles of track connected St. Louis with a number of large cities in central Illinois, including Danville, Peoria (second largest city after Chicago), the capital Springfield, and the two pair of "twin cities" Champaign-Urbana and Bloomington-Normal. Its shops at Decatur played host to trolleys, electric streamliners, and later, diesels including the rather unusual SD-39 (not -40!). The St. Louis end was important as a terminal switching line, and the road actually owned one of the Mississippi River bridges, the McKinley, which was named after the line's president (not the United States President). Passengers could ride straight from downtown St. Louis to a long list of destinations in Illinois, at least until the 1950's when the automobile caught up to the interurban and the ITC gave up on that service. Eleven freight railroads purchased the ITC for its St. Louis terminal services, though I'm sure it was also interesting watching local freights being escorted by six-axle locomotives down interurban-style light rail. Eventually the Norfolk and Western ended up with all of the ITC and officially absorbed it in 1981. Based on my quick look at the Norfolk Southern's system map, it looks as though there isn't too much of the Illinois Terminal that's still in operation. © 2004 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

The ITC's eye catching yellow, red and green paint scheme remained for some time on much of the equipment that came along with the merger, since as we know, the Norfolk and Western was not the fastest railroad on record to repaint acquired rolling stock. The ITC also liked green and yellow for its diesels, and sometimes for its cabooses as well. Before the green, there was orange for its electric freight motors-- if they weren't green. And the electric streamliner experiment which the ITC tried in the 1940's was aluminum with turquoise highlights! (This experiment proved rather futile, as described in the magazine "Dream Trains" issued by Kalmbach in 2002.) © 2004 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

The second run of this boxcar released in 1990 shows a build date of 1971, which I find a bit curious, but the ORER for January 1970 does not, in fact, show this car. It could be that this is a rebuild, not a new build, the MTL car copy comment that the cars were built in Atlanta in 1941 notwithstanding. (They almost certainly wouldn't have looked quite like this originally if they were indeed built in '41.) So we go to the April 1976 Register, where we find the group 9300 to 9499 which is the highest numbered series in the line's roster. The 197 cars had an inside length of 50 feet 6 inches, inside height of 10 feet 6 inches, outside length of 51 feet 9 inches, extreme height of 14 feet 7 inches, and a door opening of 8 feet. The capacity was 4600 cubic feet or 100,000 pounds. © 2004 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

Although I would suspect that the roofwalk would have been gone by these cars by this time, I checked the April 1981 ORER and found 185 cars still extant, plus a surprise: the very road number 9444 reprinted by MTL this month called out on its own line with AAR Designation "XP" and the description "Box, Steel (Tankage)." Hmm, that doesn't sound good. What exactly is tankage? Let's be discreet and call it "cattle by-products." You might not want to know any more detail than that. © 2004 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

For the record, the listing for the N&W showed 184 cars in the main ITC series in January 1985 with the lone 9444 still used for-- yecch-- tankage; and the final place I checked, the July 1992 entry for the Norfolk Southern, showed just one car remaining of the original 200 in the ITC series. © 2004 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

105040, $17.25
50 Foot Gondola, 14 Panel Steel Sides, Fixed Ends, Seaboard Coast Line.

Black with yellow lettering including reporting marks on left and "SCL" stylized initials in center.
Reporting Marks: SCL 130535.
Approximate Time Period: early 1970's (1971 build date) to mid-1980's.
Previous Release: Road Number 130531, March 1998.
NOTE: This item has been sold out and discontinued.

This is a pretty basic release... basic black, basic workaday car, and basic prototype information. In fact, I can quote myself from the March 1988 ORER: The model is a nit-picky length short across the truck centers, at just over 40 feet versus the 43 feet 6 inches of the prototype series, but the length over the couplers is pretty darn close to the 56 feet 11 inches called out in the ORER of April 1976. There were 199 cars listed in the series of 130350 to 130549 in that issue, and 155 remained in October 1986, but the group was wiped out, or, more likely, renumbered into a CSXT series, by the time the July 1989 ORER was issued. © 2004 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

Anyone who needs any evidence of how bad gondolas can appear over time need look no farther than the Fallen Flags page for the SCL. There's nothing from this particular series but there is SCL 132956 caught in the year 2000. The original "SCL" is visible at the bottom of the car, peering from beneath the black paint that doesn't really cover the rust. The reporting marks have been restenciled. But overall the car looks, well, quite well used. Our own Joe Shaw has another example from 2003 in the form of SCL 130580; that car from the adjacent series of 130550 to 130749 which was different by one inch on one dimension, width. And it looks even worse! Meanwhile, although no gons were included, I did like the selection of SCL photos on which included some of those funky BQ23-7 diesels. See for yourself via a search if you don't remember these, or the Bachmann HO model. © 2004 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited. © 2004 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.


21380, $19.85
40 Foot Steel Boxcar, Plug Door, Iowa 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 (Wild Prairie Rose) and state bird (Eastern Goldfinch) on right.
Reporting Marks: IA 1846.
Sixteenth release in the States of the Union series.
NOTE: This item has been sold out and discontinued.

It may be called the Hawkeye State but it's the M*A*S*H character Radar O'Reilly who hailed from Iowa, Ottumwa, to be specific, not Hawkeye Pierce. But I digress...

Although I've never been to Ottumwa, I have been to Iowa several different times over the past three decades. The first visit was part of what I call "The Whirlwind Tour" of 1988, and I traversed the state from the southeast to north central on the way up to Minnesota. The most relevant visit for this column was a stop in West Burlington, once home to a major shop of the Burlington Route (CB&Q). It was the year 2000 and I got a good look around at the activities that were still taking place under the auspices of the Burlington Northern Santa Fe. I also got a taste of Sterzing's Potato Chips which were still packed in paper bags at the time and were only available in a limited area around "West B." Overall, I've gotten a pretty good look at our 29th state, even stopping at a couple of the "Bridges of Madison County" and at the birthplace of John Wayne. © 2004 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

Iowa is named for one of the Native American tribes that once lived there; others included the Miami, Ottawa, and Sioux along the Mississippi River, and the Missouri, Omaha and Oto in what is now the western part of the state. The first Europeans to explore the area were Marquette and Joliet, but perhaps the most famous explorers to visit were Louis and Clark in 1804. In between, the area belonged to Spain and France, and then to the United States as part of the vast Louisiana Purchase. After Louisiana became a state, the area was part of the Missouri Territory, then attached to Michigan before the Iowa Territory was created in 1838, but counted in the Wisconsin area for Census purposes. The first bill making Iowa a state failed the popular vote because the area's boundaries didn't align with those approved by the territory's Constitutional Convention. Once that was all straightened out, the state became official in December 1846. Ten years later, land grants for four railroads beginning in Dubuque, Lyons (Clinton), Davenport and Burlington were made, but the first line didn't get all the way across the state until 1867. © 2004 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

Although Iowans make more money from manufacturing than anything else, first and foremost the state is known for its agriculture. It ranks first in the production of soybeans, eggs, corn and hogs and it boasts nearly 100,000 farms. As you might expect, there is plenty of attention paid to the weather and the climate, not just meteorologically, but economically speaking. The Great Depression was just one affliction that small town farmers have faced. And I wonder how many of those nearly 100,000 farms are still owned by individuals as opposed to multi-national corporations. © 2004 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

An Iowa Timeline I reviewed specifically pointed out milestones on the subject of reducing the isolation of Iowans from each other. The advent of Rural Free Delivery (1896), the Extension Department of Iowa State College (1902), automobiles (circa 1905), radio (1919) and television (1950) are all noted. Hey, what about the Internet? © 2004 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

Besides the aforementioned John Wayne and Radar O'Reilly (actor Gary Burghoff, who played Radar in both the film and television versions of M*A*S*H is actually from Connecticut, by the way), famous Iowans have included Herbert Hoover, Amelia Bloomer, "Buffalo Bill" Cody, talk show host Johnny Carson, band leader Glenn Miller, "Music Man" composer Meredith Wilson, actor William Frawley (Fred Mertz in "I Love Lucy"), singer Andy Williams, writer of "Little House on the Prairie" Laura Ingalls Wilder, contemporary author (and personal favorite) Bill Bryson, pollster George Gallup, labor leader John L. Lewis, and Jerry Mathers as "the Beaver." The Des Moines Register website (you can guess the URL) has an extensive feature called "Famous Iowans" but beware, we're not talking just natives here. I could probably qualify just via the number of times I've visited. © 2004 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.


15106, $15.65
30 Foot Boxcar, Wood Sides, Single Door, Colorado and Southern.

Boxcar red with white lettering including reporting marks on left. Black and white circle herald on right.
Reporting Marks: C&S 8202.
Approximate Time Period: late 1920's to late 1930's (1928 to 1938 based on MTL-provided data).
Previous Releases: Road Number 8226, August 1994; Road Number 8222, August 1998.
NOTE: This item has been sold out and discontinued.

The Colorado and Southern was chartered in 1898 and operated the former Colorado Central, a line which included the famous Georgetown Loop, as well as the South Park line-- that's the former Denver, South Park and Pacific, not the cartoon series. Traffic on the C&S declined "essentially from the formation of the railroad" wrote George Hilton in the book "American Narrow Gauge Railroads," and one by one, the lines of the C&S went away through the 1920's and 1930's. The last run of the C&S was on May 4, 1941 and US 6 was constructed on much of the right of way. © 2004 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

Hilton reported that the cars in the series 8100 to 8417 were constructed in the same manner as the Rio Grande's boxcars from the same era, except that they were 3 1/2 shorter to yield 48 fewer cubic feet of capacity. If I've done the math right, the C&S cars had interior dimensions of 29 feet 5 inches long by 7 feet wide by 5 feet 11 and 1/4 inches high. But the October 1928 ORER shows the height as three inches taller than the D&RG's cars at 6 feet 4 1/4 inches, and capacity at 1324 cubic feet, which illustrates either a reworking program sometime during the life of the cars or another example of how equally credible data sources don't always agree. The weight capacity was 50,000 pounds, and Hilton concurs there, adding that the light or tare weight was 20,800 pounds for wood underframed cars and 21,000 pounds for steel underframed ones. In the '28 ORER there were 302 cars in the boxcar series which represented the largest group of cars among the total 895 in service on the three foot part of the C&S (the next biggest was a series of coal cars at 179. © 2004 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

Hilton's book contains some remarkable photos of C&S boxcars like the one modeled by MTL loaded on standard gauge Rio Grande flat cars for transport to their new owner, the Rio Grande Southern, after the C&S gave up on the South Park line. Among these is the 8222 which was the previously released number for this car! And if you'd like a challenge, try modeling the C&S 8242 which was fitted with end doors for automobile service, the only one known to be modified in that manner. If you're surfing the net, try Donald Burger's C&S pages, including a chronology. © 2004 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.


New Release:
13740, Marklin Coupler, $20.15, 13740-2, Micro-Trains Coupler, $21.95.
50 Foot Boxcar, Double Door, Santa Fe (AT&SF).

Pullman green with delux gold lettering including reporting marks on left. Black and gold 1940's style "circle cross" herald on left. One side of car has large "El Capitan - Coach Streamliner West" slogan on right. Other side of car has large straight line map with "ship Santa Fe all the way" on right.
Reporting Marks: ATSF 10089.
Approximate Time Period: 1941 to 1944 (December 1941 build date).
NOTE: This item (both versions) has been sold out and discontinued.

Well, here's one reason why I shouldn't be so eager to put archives of the UMTRR up on the web. When the N Scale version of this car was released as part of a five pack as the Chicago Show Special in September 2001 (the "official" release was October 2001 and that's where you will find it), the information we and MTL separately had at the time stated that this paint scheme was good until the mid-1950's. © 2004 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

Not so, according to Steve Sandifer, who reviewed the various ATSF Express boxcar paint schemes done by Athearn in HO Scale. Sandifer states that this elaborate map and slogan motif is good for only 1941 to 1944, after which all the former 10000 to 10199 series cars wore a much simpler scheme with circle cross and reporting marks on the left and only the word "Express" on the right, although still in pullman green and delux gold. I have a feeling that the information that Sandifer provided on this page was also made known to MTL, since their car copy states "These 200 cars were renumbered to the 4100-4299 series in 1944." The web page is dated May 2001, and I only wish my net searching skills would have been better then because I would have caught this for the original release. My face is a bright shade of... well, it's neither Pullman Green nor Delux Gold, let's put it that way. Excuse me while I revise the website. OK, that's done. © 2004 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

When this car group came out in N, George Hollwedel offered a citation in the Santa Fe Historical and Modeling Society's book "Furniture and Automobile Boxcars" which describes a series as 200 cars built in 1941 and assigned to coast to coast express service. George notes in terms of this release, however, that the MTL double door box car isn't the most optimal match for this car, as its PS-1 roots are too new for a 1941 built date. (But Sandifer seems to imply that the Athearn double door boxcar in HO is in fact an Fe-24!) He cites noted ATSF expert Richard Hendrickson as saying that there is no perfect N Scale match for the Fe-24 so there probably wouldn't be a perfect Z Scale match either. © 2004 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

14908, Marklin Coupler, $17.15, 14908-2, Micro-Trains Coupler, $18.95.
40 Foot Boxcar, Plug Door, Canadian National.

Mineral brown with mostly white lettering including roadname and reporting marks on left. White and green "Serves All Canada" maple leaf herald on right. Note that roadname is English, "Canadian National" on both sides per MTL.
Reporting Marks: CN 290159.
Approximate Time Period: 1960's (1959 build date given by MTL) to as late as 1995.
Previous Release: Road Number 290105, May 1989.
NOTE: This item (both versions) has been sold out and discontinued.

Well, here's a switch of sorts that makes sense considering the climate in which these cars operated. The ORER for January 1964 shows this Canadian National series describes these cars as "Box, Steel, Heated"! And I guess that means those famous underslung heaters that are just crying to be made as aftermarket detail parts... OK, maybe I push too far there. But let's read "Note 32" for the entire larger group of these CN cars: "Cars in series 290001 to 291000 are fully insulated, having sliding plug doors and are equipped with liquidometer temperature indicating apparatus. Cars numbered 290001 to 290190 are equipped with two underslung charcoal heaters cars numbered 290191 to 290499 and 290501 to 290100 are equipped with one underslung alcohol heater. Car 290500 is equipped with one underslung propane heater. © 2004 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

Although Note 32 treats the 290000s all as one large group, dimensionally the various subsets do differ. Coming back to the 290001 to 290300 group in which the MTL Z Scale and N Scale releases fit (the latter as MTL catalog number 21120), here are the specifics: inside length 39 feet 7 inches, inside width 8 feet 9 inches, inside height 9 feet 6 inches, outside length 41 feet 10 inches, extreme height 15 feet 1 inch, door opening 8 feet, and capacity 3300 cubic feet or 115,000 pounds. © 2004 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

Ian Cranstone's "Canadian Freight Cars" site has the 290001 to 290200 series as in place from October 1959 to October 1995. (According to Ian, the 290300s came in 1960 and built by Canadian Car and Foundry, not Eastern Car Works. That doesn't stop the combination in the ORER though.) I'd be careful using that as the strict ATP however; I don't think either the roofwalk or the maple leaf paint scheme would have survived until the end. In fact, the "Railway Equipment Diagrams" book issued by CDS Lettering Ltd. states that only the first 35 cars in the series ever received the maple leaf scheme, and that road numbers 290035 to 290300 started out with a reversed wet noodle scheme, the CN herald to the left of the door, not the right. Ian has the cars with two underslung alcohol heaters, not charcoal heaters. I see my review in May 1999 of the N Scale version of this car has charcoal heaters too. Obviously the heating method could have changed over time. For you Z slim gauge fans (what?!?), sixty-five cars in several groups were retrucked and renumbered into the CNF series 6300 to 6364 for service on the CN's narrow gauge lines in Newfoundland, beginning in 1967; they lasted until 1983. I'd like to see one of these done in 1:220! © 2004 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.