UMTRR August, 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.
N SCALE NEW RELEASES:
© 2004 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

20676, $14.40
40 Foot Steel Boxcar, Single Door (Youngstown or "Narrow Rib" Door), Rock Island (Chicago, Rock Island and Pacific).

Aluminum sides, black ladders, stirrups and grab irons; black lettering including reporting marks and "Route of the Rockets" slogan on left, and Rock Island herald on right.
Reporting Marks: RI 20060.
Approximate Time Period: mid-1940's (1945 build date given by MTL) to late 1960's.
NOTE: This item has been sold out and discontinued.

I doubt that I would have believed how far back the name "Rocket" that graces this model of an experimental is intertwined with the history of the Rock Island. You might not believe it either, unless you're already a member of or a visitor to the Rock Island Technical Society, or RITS. A couple of RITS members are counted among the readers of this column, so I'd better get this right. I think I will, since the citation is from their website ( www.simpson.edu/~RITS ). © 2004 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

A brief history of the Rock Island posted on the RITS site describes the first run over what eventually became part of the Chicago, Rock Island and Pacific, which took place on October 10, 1852. About forty miles of the line from Chicago to Joliet had been completed by that time, and the public was clamoring for a train. So a 4-4-0 American type steamer was coupled to six coaches, and off it went to the cheers of the populace. What was the name of that engine? Guess what? It was called "Rocket"! Exclamation point is mine- what a story! Who says you don't learn something new every day? © 2004 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

The Morning Sun Color Guide (MSCG) to Rock Island Freight and Passenger Equipment tells the story of these cars, and that story is largely picked up by MTL in its car copy. These cars were initially in express service on passenger trains, as were other cars in the RI's 20000 series including the pullman green and gold RI 20039 which MTL released in December 2001 as catalog number 20566. The cars later went to general freight service. Although the experiment with aluminum cars wasn't repeated, the ten cars survived quite well, being retired and scrapped between 1968 and 1972. The MSCG includes a photo of a dirty RI 20064 at Blue Island, Illinois in May 1967, twenty two years after its build date. The "Route of the Rockets" slogan remains, as well as the word "Express" left of the door which doesn't appear on the MTL version. Apparently the Rock Island considered these cars to be passenger equipment, as the 20000 series doesn't appear in any Official Railway Equipment Register (ORER) editions that I could get my hands on. But the MSCG gives an inside length of 40 feet 6 inches, outside length of 44 feet 4 inches, and capacity of 75,000 pounds when used in passenger service. These cars were also built with riveted 14 panel sides and three piece Dreadnaught ends, unlike the PS-1 that is the 20000 series MTL car. © 2004 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

One other note that the MSCG makes: "This series of cars was favored by model railroad manufacturers far out of proportion to their actual number." Yep, for sure, totally, with HO Scale versions offered by Athearn and others, and O Gauge from Lionel including a spot in their famous "6464 Series." And since it was done by Lionel as a 6464, it's also been done as an MTL Special Run for the Hobby Smith's own tribute to the 6464's. © 2004 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

25660, $16.20
50 Foot Exterior Post Boxcar, Single Door, Norfolk Southern

(Prior railroad, not the current NS.)
Boxcar red sides and ends, aluminum roof; yellow lettering including reporting marks and roadname on left and staggered initials "N S" on right.
Reporting Marks: NS 2210.
Approximate Time Period: decade of the 1970's (1971 build date given by MTL).
NOTE: This item has been sold out and discontinued.

No, not that Norfolk Southern. The other Norfolk Southern. This is the one that ran where it said it did, from Norfolk in a southerly direction, to Charlotte, North Carolina. Its main line was 383 miles or so between those two points, and branches to places like Aberdeen, New Bern, Durham and Virginia Beach brought the total mileage to the low 600's range. That wasn't going to be enough to survive as a presence in the railroad industry, and so the NS was merged into the Southern Railway in 1974. That was late enough, though, for the NS to have purchased some exterior post boxcars during the "box car boom," including the one that MTL presents this month. This is the first car for the "first" NS since the 33132 3-pack of gray and black plug and sliding door boxcars, which was arguably, and for me inexplicably, one of the worst sellers in MTL's post-1990 history. Maybe it was the "fishing tackle" box, who knows. Well, I liked it! © 2004 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

According to a Jim Eager article in the January 2000 issue of Rail Model Journal, these cars were built by American Car and Foundry in 1971 to the specs of the Penn Central's X71 class, and were numbered 2100 to 2249. A photo of NS 2140 accompanying the piece shows a brown door, not a yellow one, so we can conclude that not every car sported a yellow door all the time. If there was a special service designation for yellow doored cars, as MTL states in its car copy, it's gone by the January 1976 ORER entry for the Southern Railway. NS series 2100 to 2249 still has 143 cars with the simple description "Box, Steel" and standard AAR Classification "XM". The dimensions were nothing out of the ordinary for the time: inside length 50 feet 6 inches, inside height 10 feet 6 inches, outside length 43 feet 10 inches, extreme height 15 feet, door opening 10 feet, capacity 5077 cubic feet or 154,000 pounds. Jim Eager noted that the former NS cars were to be renumbered into the Southern series SOU 527700 to 527849 but not many were repainted. "In the late eighties," Eager reported, "they were returned to their lessors and now are scattered among several shortlines." © 2004 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

As these are AC&F cars, not FMC boxcars as is the MTL 25000 body style, there are going to be differences. And since this was an early build for AC&F on a Penn Central spec, there are differences between this and the later AC&F cars, most notably (for me) on the ends which pre-date the "box corrugated non-terminating" type that became the AC&F standard. This same difference is on the MTL model; the "box corrugated non-terminating" end is also what MTL modeled. Useless trivia? Well, your mileage may vary of course. (And yes, another manufacturer has done this car series on an ACF body.) © 2004 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

George Elwood's "Fallen Flags" site has a surprisingly extensive photo collection from the NS, including a vintage November 1976 shot of the very NS 2210 offered by MTL and similar cars 2332 (with a green door), 2532 (with a yellow door) and 2556 (with a quite messed up door). He even has a shot of NS 1209 painted in the gray, red and black of the ill-fated MTL 33132 trio. © 2004 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

So with the Southern already owning a railroad called the Norfolk Southern, how was it that the 1982 merger of the Southern with the Norfolk and Western managed to be dubbed "Norfolk Southern"? Well, the "first" Norfolk Southern reverted to the name Carolina and Northwestern according to a Trains Magazine chronology (its November 1990 issue). Does that mean that the NS was once the C&NW? Maybe so, but that's not exactly how it worked. When the NS was bought by the Southern in 1974, it was merged into a Southern subsidiary called the Carolina and Northwestern (I guess no one noticed that Norfolk is in a northeastern direction from Carolina?), which then took the name Norfolk Southern. Reverting to the original subsidiary name allowed the "new" Norfolk Southern to be called that. In fact, there was Southern equipment marked for tax purposes for the Carolina and Northwestern with initials "CRN" or even "C&NW," which I'm sure the car accountants must have loved. OK, so maybe this is useless trivia... but I liked it! © 2004 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

54140, $24.95
62 Foot Bulkhead Flat Car, Canadian/Canadien National.

Brown with mostly white lettering including reporting marks on left and roadname left center (English "Canadian National" on one side and French "Canadien National" on the other side). Brown trucks (but black wheels) and brown couplers. Includes simulated lumber load.
Reporting Marks: CN 622278.
Approximate Time Period: mid 1980's to present.
NOTE: This item has been sold out and discontinued.

As interesting as this car might be per se to Canadian National fans, and MTL followers who know that this is one of those rare non-boxcar offerings for the CN, I have a feeling that this car is going to be significantly upstaged by what it's carrying. The simulated lumber load certainly looks interesting from the images, though I (obviously) haven't seen it in person as of yet. © 2004 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

Once again Ian Cranstone does a lot of the heavy lifting for us in terms of prototype research. His "Canadian Freight Cars" site tags the series 622264 to 622299 as being a rebuild from the original series 620000 to 620499, which was built by National Steel Car during the time period January to August 1976. The rebuild dates to April 1985 and Ian has these cars as still in service, although the original series was gone by 1996. © 2004 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

The January 2002 ORER entry shows the group 622200 to 622299 mostly of AAR Classification "FB" and description "Flat, Steel, Bulkhead, Stake Pockets and Lading Anchors". The inside length, which does mean something with respect to a flatcar with bulkheads, is noticeably longer than the MTL model at 66 feet 8 inches, and the outside length is moreso at 75 feet 8 inches. The extreme height is 15 feet 5 inches, and I assume that's from the bulkheads. The gross rail weight is 263,000 pounds. There were 56 cars in the main series, plus another 35 cars that are described as simply "Flat" but with the same dimensions and the same FB designation. What's up with that? Maybe they don't have the stake pockets and lading anchors? © 2004 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

Anyway, I couldn't find anything specifically matching this series in my look around cyberspace, but I did find matching paint schemes on other CN bulkhead flats in the MSCG Volume 2 for the CN. (Good thing, as I don't own Volume 1.) Well, maybe I'm not giving myself enough credit: Ian Cranstone himself contributed a 1993 photo of CN 622370 from the original series. But it's not carrying lumber! In the caption it's noted that starting around the 1990s, "considerable wood traffic had been captured by longer, larger volume bulkhead flats and centerbeam flats. As a result many of these cars are often used to carry higher density commodities." The photo illustrates the point, as the flat is loaded with steel bar. Hmm, a future N Scale load possibility? Or a present one, if you check specialty sources. © 2004 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

81720, $26.65
48 Foot Container, Burlington Northern "Cityview" Omaha.

White with multicolor lettering including large four-color process cityview mural across side. Red and blue BN herald on ends.
Reporting Marks: BNAU 686003.
Approximate Time Period: mid-1990's (1996 paint date given by MTL) at least.
Container manufactured by Deluxe Innovations, painted by Micro-Trains.
NOTE: This item has been sold out and discontinued.

Looking anew at the list of city names with which the Burlington Northern elected to decorate a few containers, it occurred to me that the folks at BN HQ were being a little cheeky going with the places where other railroads had their headquarters! This insight didn't come to me until I considered this month's Omaha entry; I don't think that location was picked because it gave its name to a version of poker. © 2004 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

Well, acknowledging the fact that it was the eastern terminus and still is the headquarters of a certain other Class I railroad (the one with the red, white, blue and heavily licensed shield), I'm sure that we can find a few other things to say about the city. It was originally laid out in 1854 as the other side of a ferry across the Missouri River from Iowa. People in search of homes help begin the city's growth; livestock, meat packing, agriculture, and the Western Union Telegraph Company helped continue its expansion. And let's not forget Mutual of Omaha, long time sponsor of the granddaddy of all animal shows, "Wild Kingdom"; and Boys Town, long time sponsor of America's less fortunate young men. Omaha celebrates its 150th Birthday this year and there is a website with more information and "fun facts," like the first postmaster who, lacking any infrastructure at all, carried the mail in his hat. Check www.omahabirthday.com . © 2004 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

I checked QStation's BN Cityview Trailer resource and hit the exact BNAU 686003 as mounted on a chassis in a three quarter view lensed by Matt Hannes. I don't know for sure, but I suspect that unlike the trailers, these containers may have been one of a kind. Perhaps I'll have a chance to check before the next release; it does seem rather certain now that Montreal and Toronto will follow Atlanta and Omaha. If only to remind how the BN, at the time, perhaps annoyed the CN and CP! © 2004 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.



N SCALE REPRINTS:

20240, $20.70
40 Foot Steel Boxcar, Single Door (Superior or "Wide Rib" Door), New York Central "Pacemaker".

Top half red, bottom half gray sides and ends, red roof. Red door and sill below door. Black lettering including reporting marks on left. White "Pacemaker Freight Service" legend on left. Black and white New York Central System oval herald on right.
Reporting Marks: NYC 174728.
Approximate Time Period: mid- to late-1950's (per paint scheme).
Previous Releases: A six-pack (using Catalog Number 20242) of road numbers 174479, 174482, 174483, 174493, 174504, and 174511, January 1981; these have white lettering, white only herald, Youngstown door, and dimensional data. Road Number 174710, January 1995 with Youngstown door; a three pack of road numbers 174712, 174717, and 174724 with Superior doors. These last four have black lettering, no dimensional data, and the black and white herald.
NOTE: This item has been sold out and discontinued.

You would imagine that given my affection for the New York Central, I'd have made an effort to accumulate this entire series of Pacemaker cars, and you'd be right. (Although I still need the 174482 so if you have a runner copy available, let's talk!) Thus far MTL has done a nice job of offering several legitimate variations of the Pacemaker series, although purists will note that the cars' construction predates the introduction of the PS-1 body style, as the real cars were built in 1945 by Despatch Shops, Incorporated, the site of which is just down the road from UMTRR HQ. According to the Morning Sun Color Guide to NYC Freight and Passenger Equipment, the cars numbered 174000 to 174249 had Youngstown doors and the 174250 to 174999 had Superior doors-- that would be "narrow rib" and "wide rib" in the various collector guides. No "door thing" here by the way, the real doors were six feet wide. As MTL reports, the lettering started out in all white but the reporting marks and other data went to black when the white was shown to not wear well. That's the reason for the later start of the ATP than the 1945 build date. © 2004 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

Here is a sample stat review from the ORER from January 1953: inside length 40 feet 6 inches, inside height 10 feet, outside length 41 feet 10 inches, extreme height 14 feet 6 inches, and capacity a lowish 50,000 pounds. Recall, though, that these cars were meant for expedited freight service. By January 1964 there were just two cars left in the original number series. © 2004 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

A book I can't normally cite is "New York Central Color Photography of Ed Nowak" by that noted NYC company photographer. Volume One of his three volume set, while also including the Pacemaker boxcars at various points around the system, also has a section on "The Pacemaker" passenger train of the late 1940s, which ran "all-coach" between New York and Chicago. This train carried numbers 1 and 2, not the much more famous Twentieth Century Limited! The "Pacemaker Freight Service" also boasted its own trains, and another Ed Nowak photo from 1946 of a solid train of these cars behind NYC Mohawk steamer number 3100 is the cover photo of the softcover "The Water Level Route". The freight service operated from New York or Boston to Buffalo. © 2004 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

Believe it or not, the not so strictly speaking ATP for this paint scheme does stretch into the 1960's, although with some modifications. First, full dimensional data was eventually added to the cars as their Pacemaker dedicated service ended and the cars became available for general service including forays off-line. This may have included renumbering into the 175000 series; the January 1964 suggests this by way of identical dimensions for that except for the capacity which was raised to a more typical 110,000 pounds. Second, the paint wore pretty badly. The MSCG shows a 1971 view of one of these cars renumbered to 175058 that looks more like three-quarters red and one-quarter gray, with the "Pacemaker" legend nearly gone, and the black and white oval herald going that way. I much prefer the as-delivered version of these cars; which were a major departure of the usually dominant shades of box car red of Eastern railroads-- at least until the Central's "Century Green" of 1957. © 2004 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

51110, $28.70
34 Foot Wood Sheathed Caboose, End Straight Sided Cupola, Great Northern.

Red (vermillion) sides, black roof and platforms. Yellow lettering including roadname top center and road number bottom center. Black, white and yellow "forward facing goat" herald below cupola. Includes installed plastic simulated windows.
Road Number: X619 (will be "GN X619" in website listing).
Approximate Time Period: 1920's through 1940's (generally based on herald).
Previous Releases: Road Number X614, February 1991; Road Number X617, August 1994.
NOTE: This item has been sold out and discontinued.

MTL states that the "forward facing goat" herald was used by the Great Northern from 1920 to 1940, and as is often the case with prototype research, that date may not be as, well, definitive as we'd like. The RPI website gives the date of the changeover from the "forward facing" to the "sideways facing" goat as either 1939 or 1936, for example. And then there is the question of how long it took the GN to repaint all of its cabeese in this series to the later scheme. For example, if the stenciling on this reprint is the same as it was on the previous number X614, it reads "St. Cloud 7-28-35" which would result in a "strictly speaking" ATP of a pretty short duration, perhaps only a year if you take the 1936 herald flip date. All in all, this is yet another illustration of how it's darn near impossible to get an Exact Time Period, although I certainly don't fault folks for trying. © 2004 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

The presence of the windows alone would probably be enough to tag this iteration as a "Not a Reprint" by UMTRR standards, but I don't even have to go there. In fact, the three numbers of the 51110 are noticeably different from each other, which I suppose makes this third run a not-a-not-a-reprint-- or perhaps not. (Sorry.) Anyway, the X614 was all red with all white lettering and black and white herald. The X617 was all red again, but with all yellow lettering and a yellow, white and black herald. This run has a black roof and the same yellow lettering, plus the addition of caboose trucks which weren't available for the previous two runs. All this, plus the intervening inflation over the ten years since the last release, adds up to a price point that is close to double the MSRP of the second run, $28.70 versus $15.35, and will probably lead to some grousing not seen since the Western Pacific caboose of June 2002. This 51110 is in second place among MSRPs of regular runs behind that WP run. © 2004 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

Note that thus far I haven't commented on the relative prototype fidelity of the MTL model. Well, Great Northern fans probably already know the answer to this one; according to the "Great Northern Empire" website, the real GN series X602 to X626-- and, in fact, other wood cabeese in other series-- were of a 25 foot length, which is a good bit shorter than the MTL wood 'beese available. The usual comment about the infeasibility of mass-marketing single prototype-specific cars in N Scale applies, although I must hasten to add that the niche of laser-cut kits is encroaching on the market that won't sit still for something too far off the mark. © 2004 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

103040, $19.80
60 Foot Excess Height Boxcar, Double Doors, Waffle Sides, Milwaukee Road.

Yellow with mostly black lettering including reporting marks on left and large roadname on right.
Reporting Marks: MILW 4292.
Approximate Time Period: late-1970's (December 1978 build date) to early 2000's.
Previous Release: Road Number 4295, June 1999.
NOTE: This item has been sold out and discontinued.

When this car debuted back in 1999 I was quite surprised to find that the cars were in service with their original paint scheme and reporting marks, and as we'll see, that may yet be true. Captive service will have a way of doing that, and these excess height boxcars tended to gravitate in that direction. The ORER from April 1981 gives us the usual non-short description for the short series 4292 to 4297: "Box, End of Car Cushioning, Plug Doors, Nailable Steel Floor, Rub Rails, 50K (Auto Parts). Note 1 declared that the cars had specially equipped interiors and were not suitable for general service. The rest of the stats: Inside length 60 feet 9 inches, inside height 13 feet 2 inches, outside length 67 feet 9 inches, extreme height 16 feet 10 inches, door opening 16 feet, and capacity 7167 cubic feet or 136,000 pounds. There were only seven cars in this series. We already know from previous research that the model is an overall good match to its prototype from Berwick Forge and Fabricating. © 2004 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

Joe Shaw has this exact car as lensed in 2002 on his website. MILW 4294 wasn't looking all that bad for a yellow car that was over 25 years old, and even if in captive service, it's pretty remarkable that the car would still carry the initials and roadname of its original owner, which expired in 1985 after being purchased by the Soo Line (read: Canadian Pacific). For you weathering fans, from Joe's image, the worst of it was rust along the very top of the car and on the door hardware, the latter of which looked like the paint had rusted off completely. An bit of graffiti appears left of the door as well. © 2004 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.



N SCALE SPECIAL EDITION RELEASES:

21381, $19.85
40 Foot Steel Boxcar, Plug Door, Arizona 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 (Saguro Cactus Flower) and state bird (Cactus Wren) on right.
Reporting Marks: AZ 1912.
Seventeenth release in the States of the Union series.
NOTE: This item has been sold out and discontinued.

Sorry, folks, but the first thing that comes to mind when the State of Arizona is mentioned is the notorious sentence-- notorious to me, anyway: "But it's a DRY heat." The exchange usually goes somewhat like this:

Me: "Boy, it's really hot in Arizona."
Arizonan: "Yeah, but it's a dry heat. Not like back east."
Me: "So what? I'm in a toaster instead of a crockpot."

The second time I was in Arizona, Phoenix, to be specific, I had the most intense illustration of my point that I think I will ever experience. It was August, it was a business trip, and it had been 114 degrees three days straight. I couldn't sleep on the night before leaving for home (and the correctly described 90 degrees and 400 percent humidity), had the television on and the report came that it was 99 degrees. At five minutes to twelve at night! I got up and went downstairs. The hotel I was staying in had those automatic sliding exit doors, and when they opened, a blast of hot air just about knocked me over. 99 degrees at Midnight. Yikes. © 2004 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

But it's not always that way, and when it's 80 degrees at Christmastime, when you've already been through too long of a winter with too much snow already, and it's not even officially winter yet, well, that's a welcome change for this pigmentally challenged author. And that was my experience of my first visit to the state. It was sufficiently long ago that one could leave the secured area of the airport when there was a layover of several hours. I got myself to downtown Phoenix, had a look around, and enjoyed the warmth. I've also seen the desert at night, far away from the lights, which is something that everyone should experience. And of course the northern part of the state, where the Grand Canyon lies and both the Santa Fe and Route 66 once called, has nothing like the climate of the Valley of the Sun. It's high enough to have the seasons, and it does snow there quite a bit. As nice as the Canyon is, it's still a bit touristy; there are scary sized gorges that don't have guardrails as well, if you know where to look. Don't look too closely, though. Watch that first step. © 2004 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

The Western-centric history of Arizona begins about 14,000 years ago when the first Native Americans settled there. The Hohokam were in Southern Arizona about 300 BC and for the next 1700 years, the Native American cultures dominated. The Spanish set foot in the 1500s, led by Father Marcos de Niza. One purpose for the visit was religious conversion, but another was gold; Coronado claimed the Southwest for Spain in 1540, one year after de Niza's visit. Spain and then Mexico held the territory until the Mexican War, when most of what is now Arizona became United States territory. (The Gasden Purchase filled in the last piece of the current area of the state.) Dry heat or not, Phoenix became the territorial capital in 1889, 26 years after the territory was established. On February 14, 1912-- yep, Valentine's Day-- the territory became the 48th State. Women gained the right to vote in Arizona in the same year. The Grand Canyon National Park was founded seven years later. © 2004 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

There were probably two major events which led to the explosive growth of the state: first, Hoover Dam, completed in 1936 to tame the Colorado River and provide irrigation to thirsty desert lands; and second, the development of air conditioning. I'm not really kidding about this; I've talked to people who were "there before" and note somewhat ruefully that it's a lot more crowded now. No kidding; the state was up to 4.7 million people by 1998 and most of them lived in and around Phoenix. The 2003 estimate was a whopping 5.6 million, making the state the second fastest population gainer among the fifty. © 2004 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

21480, $22.75
40 Foot Steel Boxcar, Plug Door, Smokey Bear(R) 60th Anniversary.

Tan sides, black roof and ends. Black primary lettering including reporting marks on left. Smokey Bear logo "Sixty Years of Vigiliance 1944-2004" and slogan "Only you can prevent wildfires" on left. Four color process Smokey Bear poster art on right.
Reporting Marks: SBX 1944.
NOTE: This item has been sold out and discontinued.

I'm sure that there are some folks who are not thrilled with the news of this latest Smokey Bear release, and a few of those folks are already quite vocal about it on various Internet venues. On the other hand, I think there are some folks out there who are looking forward to adding this ninth car to their Smokey Bear train. © 2004 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

Those of you who are members of the N Scale Collector's Society probably already know that there was an extensive article on Smokey Bear's 60th Birthday compiled by Alex Postpischl. Alex's piece includes a great deal of information on the one prototype equipment item that did feature "Smokey Bear," namely, the CP Rail SD40-2 unit 5902 which carried the image of the forest fire prevention icon for a year in celebration of his 50th Birthday; and also a review of all the MTL Smokey items produced to this point. (Full disclosure department: I contributed to Alex's article, saying, among other things, that the series' introduction "was somewhat polarizing." Fair enough?) I won't try to duplicate Alex's effort, but there is one thing I did want to know about this car. Why is the slogan including "Wildfires" instead of the traditional "Forest Fires"? © 2004 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

I could imagine the answer, but a little web research at the site www.smokeybear.com (and that's .com, not .net) revealed the official answer from the United States Forest Service: "Smokey's forest fire prevention message remained unchanged for 50 years until April 2001, when the Ad Council updated his message to address the increasing number of wildfires in the nation's wildlands." The history of the Smokey Bear campaign as chronicled on the website has some information I hadn't seen before. For example, did you know that the association between Smokey Bear and fire prevention actually goes back to an enemy shelling near the Los Padres National Forest in California? Forest fires were seen as a threat to national security, and posters were prepared by the War Advertising Council. The original spokesanimal, however, was Bambi! That's right, the Walt Disney animated fawn. (I wouldn't expect a pending Bambi SE car though.) But permission for the use of Bambi was given for one year only, and the replacement was Smokey. The first poster featuring him was prepared on August 9, 1944. So we are really at sixty years to the day this month. The symbol, which originated in the public domain, was actually recaptured and given to the Secretary of Agriculture, to allow-- yes, you guessed it-- licensing and royalties-- to be paid to fund "continued education on forest fire prevention." So now you know where some of that MSRP is going. The smokeybear.com site has been substantially updated since the last time we paid a visit, and now includes, among other niceties, a selection of archived television commercials. I'll be back for that! © 2004 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.



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

Z SCALE:

New Release:
13002, Marklin Coupler, $32.80, 13002-2, Micro-Trains Coupler, $34.60.
Gunderson Husky-Stack® Car with Containers, Burlington Northern.

Red with mostly white lettering including reporting marks on left. Red, white and blue BN herald on right. White 40 foot container and one red and one blue 20 foot containers included.
Reporting Marks: BN 64094.
Approximate Time Period: early 1990's (1993 build date given by MTL) to as late as the present.
NOTE: This item (both versions) has been sold out and discontinued.

Go right to the beginning of the Burlington Northern listing in the ORER, the October 1996 issue to be specific, to find the double stack cars. They owned the 60000 series of the BN's equipment, and there were more than 1200 cars in single, three unit and five unit configurations. This particular one was part of the series of 177 cars BN 64050 to 64227, and therein lies a little problem. These cars were five unit articulated sets, not single cars. MTL mentions this in its car copy, so no big surprise there, but I asked myself: "Self, does not 'articulated' mean that the middle units share trucks, whereas it's the 'drawbar connected' stack cars which do not?" © 2004 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

Therefore, a quick detour to the Gunderson site, they, the manufacturers of said Husky-Stack® cars. Well, it seems that articulated cars do share common trucks across the center units, but Gunderson manufactures both articulated and drawbar connected cars. The best I could do was match the dimensions that Gunderson gives to the dimensions listed in the ORER. Using that as a guide, it appears that the real BN 64094 would be a Husky-Stack III, which was articulated and did share trucks. Unless I am all wet on this conclusion, which is possible, you might want to look at the BN series of cars in the 63000s for three unit drawbar connected cars, which are also Gunderson Husky Stack cars that carry the same paint scheme; there's an example on the Northwest Rail Pics site with multiple images since you'd need a Really Wide Angle to get the whole thing in one composition. © 2004 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

The January 2002 ORER listing for the Burlington Northern Santa Fe reveals that 54 of the Husky-Stack sets remained in the BN series, and with the changeover of capacity listing from lading to Gross Rail Weight, you've got to love that number: 799,000 pounds! Based on the dimensions again, it appears that the former BN series crossed over to BNSF road numbers 240000 to 240177, with 123 cars in that group at that time. Two and a half years after that ORER was published, it's possible that all 177 in the BN group from the October 1996 ORER could be wearing BNSF reporting marks. © 2004 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

Reprint:
13611, Marklin Coupler, $18.70, 13611-2, Micro-Trains Coupler, $20.50.
50 Foot Boxcar, Plug Door, Seaboard Coast Line.

Black with yellow lettering including reporting marks and "Smooth Cushioned Load" on left and SCL herald on right.
Reporting Marks: SCL 635291.
Approximate Time Period: decade of the 1970's, mostly.
Previous Release: Road Number 635296, December 1988.
NOTE: This item (both versions) has been sold out and discontinued.

The N Scale release of this car (Catalog 32120, September 1981, road number 635296 like the first Z Scale run) shows a build date of May 1972, so let's go with that with the ORER for April 1976 which shows a whole lot of subset data... goodie. The main series, 635100 to 635713, had AAR Classification "XL" and was described as "Box, Cushion Underframe, Partial DF-2 Loaders Adjacent to Doorways, 50K." The vital stats: Inside length 50 feet 6 inches, inside height 10 feet 5 inches, outside length 60 feet 5 inches, extreme height 15 feet 1 inch, and door opening 9 feet-- this, a slight "door thing" since the MTL model has an 8 foot door, and yeah, I know that's not much in 1:220 proportions. There were 482 cars in this main series, and then there were six subsets to which various other equipment was added. The largest of these was 52 cars with pallets that were in assigned service. The smallest was just one car, the 635256, which had adjustable side wall fillers and pallets and was in assigned service. Other groups had side fillers, side fillers and pallets, temporary side wall fillers and pallets, or tote bins. And one other group of 28 cars, which included the 635291 modeled this month, was in assigned service had special fiberglass coated doorway members, and no, I have no idea why this was important. Note that all of this paraphernalia is completely invisible unless you're either inside the car or you have X-Ray vision, of course, so it shouldn't be a cause for an alarm to sound at the Prototype Police Department. © 2004 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

Given that this car has a roofwalk, and probably wouldn't too far into its lifespan, I've called the ATP at the decade of the 1970's, but just for giggles, I checked the July 1989 edition of the ORER under CSX Transportation (the successor to the successor to the successor of the SCL, that being SCL to Family Lines to Seaboard System to CSX) and there were still 127 cars in the main SCL series and 10 others that had been demoted to regular non-DF service. It's not probable that these cars went from SCL to SBD or to CSX without a renumbering, by the way, as there were no SBD or CSXT cars with these road numbers and road numbers in the general vicinity for those two sets of marks were phosphate hoppers or gondolas. © 2004 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

The Morning Sun "Pullman-Standard Color Guide to Freight Equipment" shows SCL orders from P-S dating to 1967, 1968 and 1969, all of boxcars in black with yellow lettering and the "Smooth Cushioned Load" legend. It's really not that far from the lettering schemes used by predecessor Atlantic Coast Line. The ACL favored different colors for differently equipped cars and the SCL kept that practice, at least for a while. In the MSCG, author James Kincaid notes that these cars were painted with Glidden or PPG paint, and that the yellow lettering was often reflective. I guess you're on your own for that detail! Meanwhile, I would wager that the new CSX licensing agreements have something to do with the pricing on this release; it seems a bit high for a two color car even in Z and even with the relatively complex lettering. © 2004 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

New Release:
14149, Marklin Coupler, $23.50, 14149-2, Micro-Trains Coupler, $25.30.
40 Foot Steel Boxcar, Single Door (Superior or "Wide Rib" Door), New York Central "Pacemaker".

Top half red, bottom half gray sides and ends, red roof. Red door and sill below door. Black lettering including reporting marks on left. White "Pacemaker Freight Service" legend on left. Black and white New York Central System oval herald on right.
Reporting Marks: NYC 174728.
Approximate Time Period: mid- to late-1950's (per paint scheme).
NOTE: This item (both versions) has been sold out and discontinued.

Please see the review of the N Scale release above. Note that this is a new release in Z Scale, not a reprint as stated by MTL.

New Release:
14922, Marklin Coupler, $25.15, 14922-2, Micro-Trains Coupler, $26.95.
40 Foot Steel Boxcar, Plug Door, Smokey Bear(R) 60th Anniversary.

Tan sides, black roof and ends. Black primary lettering including reporting marks on left. Smokey Bear logo "Sixty Years of Vigiliance 1944-2004" and slogan "Only you can prevent wildfires" on left. Four color process Smokey Bear poster art on right.
Reporting Marks: SBX 1944.
NOTE: This item (both versions) has been sold out and discontinued.

Please see the review of the N Scale release above. Note that this is a new release in Z Scale, not a reprint as stated by MTL.