UMTRR October, 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:

20701, $18.90
40 Foot Boxcar, Single Door (Youngstown or "Narrow Rib" Door), Chicago and Eastern Illinois "Dixie Limited".

Orange sides, black roof and ends, blue lettering including reporting marks on left. Blue and white C&EI oval herald on left with blue arrow across door to slogan "Route of the Dixie Limited".
Reporting Marks: C&EI 1.
Approximate Time Period: mid- to late 1940's at least.
NOTE: This item has been sold out and discontinued.

The "Chicago Line" gets treatment usually reserved for those big Class I railroads with the announcement of models of its five unique looking express boxcars from the 1940's. Although these cars shared the same general paint scheme-- and what a paint scheme at that!-- each one of road numbers 1 to 5 was unique, as a different aspect of the road was advertised on each of the cars. Among these cars were named three trains that all headed through "Dixie" to reach the winter paradise of Florida, certainly a welcome sight for Chicagoans weary of all that snow and cold. As this series progresses, we'll take each train in turn, or we'll figure out something else to say when the non-named train boxcars are released. We'll be making pretty extensive use of the November 1946 edition of the Official Guide of the Railways pretty extensively as we cover this quintet of cars. © 2004 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

Let's start with the schedule of this "Dixie Limited", a train which was actually shared by six railroads. C&EI train number 93 southbound left Dearborn Station in Chicago daily at 3:45 PM and reached Evansville's Union Station at 9:15 PM, where it left the C&EI for the Louisville and Nashville. The L&N took the train as far as Nashville for arrival at 1:20 AM the next morning and was transferred to the Nashville, Chattanooga and St. Louis. The NC&StL brought it into Atlanta, arriving at 9:45 AM, where it had a short run to Albany on the Central of Georgia and then onto the Atlantic Coast Line for arrival into Jacksonville, Florida at 9:00 PM. Sections of the Dixie Limited continued on to St. Petersburg, Sarasota and Fort Myers via the ACL and to Miami via the Florida East Coast. Coming back, you'd leave St. Petersburg at 9:00 PM, Fort Myers at 6:00 PM, Miami at 10:00PM or Sarasota at 7:45 PM and arive in Jacksonville at around 6:30 the next morning. You'd have about an hour in Jacksonville-- although I think the time was really to assemble all the cars into one train-- and be on your way again at 7:35AM. Arrival in Atlanta via Albany and the CofG was at 6:05 PM, arrival in Nashville was at 12:45AM the next day, and return to Chicago was at 10:55 AM the following day. The northbound train was Number 92 on the C&EI. Equipment included coaches to Atlanta and Jacksonville, and a dining car on the C&EI and NC&StL sections, plus sleeping cars to and from Atlanta, Fort Myers and Miami. © 2004 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

These express boxcars were built in 1945 by Pullman-Standard according to Ed Hawkins, who has builders' photos of all five of the cars across Volumes 6 and 8 of his Railway Prototype Cyclopedia (shameless plug, Ed added). They had steam and signal lines and carried the AAR Classification BX for express boxcars. As such, I didn't check the Official Railway Equipment Registers because I know I won't find cars classified as passenger equipment there. Ed Hawkins added that the cars had seven-panel Superior doors and 4/5 corrugated Pullman ends. Although these aren't true PS-1 boxcars, the C&EI did go back to Pullman-Standard for PS-1's later, eventually rostering several hundred-- though not in this colorful paint scheme. © 2004 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

A question that's been discussed on the Railwire forum is whether these cars were used in interchange service as painted. It was pointed out that since the cars have full dimensional data, they would be "interchange-ready," but that doesn't necessarily mean that they left the C&EI. On the other hand, perhaps the cars at least went through on the "Dixie" trains, meaning that they touched any of the other five railroads. More research is required. We'll see if we can learn anything for the next of the five releases. Anyone who has the recent Morning Sun volume on the C&EI might be able to help... hint? © 2004 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

37070, $18.90
50 Foot Steel Boxcar, Double Doors, Without Roofwalk, Rio Grande (Denver and Rio Grande Western).

Orange (OK, maybe gold) sides, black ends. Mostly black lettering including large reporting marks on left and speed lettering herald on right.
Reporting Marks: D&RGW 63773.
Approximate Time Period: late 1970's (1977 rework date given by MTL) to late 1980's.
NOTE: This item has been sold out and discontinued.

The series 63700 to 63799 held several different jobs for the Rio Grande according to the Rio Grande Modeling and Historical Society. This group of 100 cars was AAR classified as either XM for general service or XP for special service, and either went into general or assigned service. One of these assignments was carriage of auto parts and the other was hauling of copper bullion as MTL mentions in its car copy. These cars were originally built in 1963 by American Car and Foundry, and had welded sides, 4/4 Improved Dreadnaught ends, Keystone Cushion Underframes, and Youngstown doors, though in the 8 + 7 foot variety, which sets up a "door thing". (No one yet makes the 15 foot door opening double door cars in N Scale.) The cars were all gone by 1993. © 2004 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

The specific version of the paint and lettering is called out by the RGM&HS as being used from 1962 to 1966, with optional black ends and the single line "flying lettering" herald. According to the RPI Website, the "stacked" lettering, with the "Rio" smaller and to up and to the left of the "Grande" in the herald, was introduced in 1967, as was the use of the slogan "The Action Road." This for me calls into question MTL's note that the car was repainted in 1977 when the roofwalk was pulled. Seems to me that the repaint would have occurred earlier. I don't doubt that the cars first appeared in the gold over silver scheme that preceded the all-orange motif. © 2004 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

The ORER for April 1976 starts off with some singly listed cars in the 63700 series, followed by a main group with Sparton (as the ORER spells it) Easy Loaders numbered 63712 to 63799, then one more just plain boxcar. The inside length of all of these cars was 50 feet 6 inches, inside height 10 feet 6 inches, and outside length 57 feet 5 inches. (So MTL's use of extended draft gear trucks is appropriate.) We've already mentioned the 15 foot door opening; the capacity was 4928 cubic feet or 140,000 pounds with a few exceptions on the weight. © 2004 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

The use of boxcars to haul copper made me a bit curious, so I checked a few websites on how copper is mined and produced. I will skip a lot of the detail-- let's not make this a science class-- but generally, copper ore is mined and then smelted, then refined to a purity that's darn close to 100 percent. The steps in this process may be adjacent or may be many miles apart; it's the latter case that resulted in those Rio Grande boxcars being loaded up with copper concentrate, perhaps in consistently sized slabs that were relatively easy to handle. © 2004 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

59590, $22.95
40 Foot Steel Ice Refrigerator Car with Preco Fan, Northern Pacific.

Yellow sides, brown ends, aluminum (or silver) roof. Mostly black lettering including arched style roadname and reporting marks on left and slogan "Scenic Route of the Vista-Dome North Coast Limited" on right. Three foot NP monad herald in red, white and black on right.
Reporting Marks: NP 91039.
Approximate Time Period: decade of the 1960's (1960 repaint).
NOTE: This item has been sold out and discontinued.

The Morning Sun Color Guide (MSCG) to the Northern Pacific by Todd Sullivan is the basis for the MTL car copy for this new release. As MTL notes, this is the final version of the NP's paint scheme for its ice cooled refrigerator cars. An easy tell is that the door hardware and such isn't painted black; when NP did paint it, it was by hand. (What, no masking available?) The Pacific Car and Foundry design is a little different than the MTL 59er body style. For example, the door on the prototype reaches farther to the top and bottom of the side. But the general idea is there when comparing to the September 1971 photo of NP 91039 in the MSCG. The photo helps with the ATP as well, as the car has been restenciled into company ice service even though it has kept its road number and paint scheme. The red in the monad herald has faded pretty badly but the rest of the car doesn't look too bad. © 2004 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

The ORER for January 1964 shows the NP series 91000 to 91249 consisting of 242 cars described as simply "Refrigerator, Steel." The inside length was 33 feet 2 inches with the bulkheads engaged or 39 feet with the bulkheads collapsed. I'm going to guess that these cars could therefore be used as insulated boxcars if ice wasn't required to keep cargo quite as cool, or maybe to keep it from freezing. Or maybe to carry ice only, remember the stencil? The outside length was 42 feet 3 inches, extreme height 15 feet and door opening 4 feet wide by 7 feet 6 inches high. The capacity was 2332 cubic feet or 80,000 pounds, but that included the weight of the chuck ice. Notations call this out as well as the Preco Fan and half-stage icing grates. The 242 cars in this group made up just over ten percent of the NP's fleet of 2310 reefers at that point. Only a few wood sided cars remained then. © 2004 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

By April 1970 and the coming of the Burlington Northern, the NP's refrigerator fleet stood at a significantly higher 3372 but that's if you count all those RBL insulated boxcars. The 91000 to 91249 series was down to a still respectable 159 pieces. All cars in the group were off the BN's equipment roster by April 1976. © 2004 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

65590, $16.90
39 Foot Tank Car, Single Dome, Canadian Pacific.

Black with white lettering including roadname and reporting marks on left.
Reporting Marks: CP 389593.
Approximate Time Period: 1910's to 1960's.
NOTE: This item has been sold out and discontinued.

The MSCG to Canadian Pacific Freight and Passenger Equipment by John Riddell includes the exact car modeled, CP 389583, as it was lensed by Riddell in December 1972, awaiting scrapping in CP's Ogden Shops in Calgary. Riddell says that this belonged to the series 389471 to 389989, and "in January 1956 CP owned 117 such old tank cars in company service for oil and water. The Official Railway Equipment Register for January 1953 (NMRA Reprint) corroborates this and gives a total of 198 cars but no further details. © 2004 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

Comparing the MSCG photo to the MTL model, it's clear that there were some liberties taken. The first thing I noticed from the image was how Micro-Trains split the road number on the car. That's done on the prototype to clear a strap that helps hold the tank to the underframe, a strap which isn't present on the model. (I don't think I would have put in the space if I didn't have the strap.) The shape of the tank itself appears less long and more tall, the ladders don't go all the way to the side platforms, and the dome on the real one had a double pipe extending from it. In short, the prototype doesn't look all that much like the model, but then, it doesn't look like any other tank car produced in N Scale at the moment either. (There's an HO Scale Life-Like Proto 2000 model that starts to get close, but that's not much help.) © 2004 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

While the ATP may seem longish for any car, the plain block lettering utilized does more or less align with it. (While I'm nitpicking, I should mention that other than the roadname and number, the prototype's lettering was stenciled, not block type. I doubt that most will care about this.) What we don't know is whether the CP bought this car, which was built in 1912, second hand, or whether it was purchased by them new. That would be a better indication of the start of the ATP, but lacking that, I'll take my own liberties here as well. © 2004 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

112520, $28.95
89 Foot Tri Level Autorack, TTX/Penn Central.

Freight car red flat car with mostly white lettering including reporting marks on left. Penn Central "jade" green racking with white lettering including herald on black placard on left.
Reporting Marks: TTBX 962577.
Approximate Time Period: decade of the 1970's.
NOTE: This item has been sold out and discontinued.

The flat car portion of this release comes from the same prototype series as the first release in this body style, the 112510 for the B&O from May. To recap: these were BSH11s, built by Bethlehem Steel circa 1970, and numbered TTBX 961367 to 964743. These cars easily made it into the Conrail era since in the April 1976 ORER there were plenty listed, in, as I said in May, "a hopeless number of subseries"-- three pages worth! © 2004 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

But it's the rack that's more interesting anyway, particularly how its jade green paint clashes alomst audibly with the brown flat car! Guess what: that idea was inherited from predecessor New York Central. In fact, Accurail's HO model of the NYC bi-level carries a road number off by just one from what MTL did for the PC; the PC rack is atop TTBX 962577 while the NYC rack sits on TTBX 962578! Yes, it's certainly true that the Trailer Train cars were "all mixed up" as far as whose racks went on which cars, but I think that's a bit too much of a coincidence. © 2004 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

The April 2000 issue of Rail Model Journal includes a black and white photo of TTBX 961785, way more than one number away, as part of an article on prototypes for the Accurail HO racks, but it will certainly do for us as well. (There's also a shot of a B&O bi-level!) I didn't find any major differences between the photo and the model, other than the road number. Though a black and white photo, you can see the difference in shades between the rack and the flat. There's some extra lettering on the rack itself relating to the Merchants Despatch Transportation Company which was a subsidiary of the PC and the NYC before that. I'd wager that the MDT actually owned the racks, as they'd owned other racks and flatcars on behalf of the NYC starting in the early 1960's. © 2004 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

I didn't find any 'net only citations to the PC autorack, but on the Freightcars List archive I did see a note mentioning the combination of Paragon racks with the BSH11 flats as being used by the PC. In the same note, it was disclosed that in-service photos of these cars are hard to come by and that many Paragon racks were paneled over. It's either going to be that change or the change from Penn Central to Conrail that's going to govern the ATP; in either case, I think "decade of the 1970's" is a reasonable estimate. And you've gotta appreciate George Elwood's summary of the road, which accompanies his extensive photo archive on the Fallen Flags site: "The Penn Central was formed by the merger of the Pennsylania and New York Central systems. While this was to create a better, stronger company, it failed due to low traffic and poor maintenance." Yep, that about sums it up! © 2004 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.



N SCALE REPRINTS:

45110, $10.30
50 Foot Flat Car, Fishbelly Sides, Soo Line.

Freight car red with white lettering including roadname and road number on left.
Road Number: 5275 (will be SOO 5275 in website listing).
Approximate Time Period: early 1960's to early 1980's.
Previous Release: Road Number 5287, August 1980.
NOTE: This item has been sold out and discontinued.

Even though these cars date to 1939 per the MTL car copy, the driver of the ATP is the "modern" style of roadname that appears on the car. The Venus Bold Extended font for the name "SOO LINE" was adopted by the road following the 1960 merger of the "old" Soo Line with the Duluth, South Shore and Atlantic. It's more likely that you'll think of the red and white locomotives with the big bold "SOO" in black before you think of a flat car, although some Soo flats were painted in white with black lettering. I can just imagine how long that white paint stayed fresh looking... not. © 2004 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

It's been a while since the phrase "odd numbers only" has been necessary for a commentary. No, it's not a statement about the model railroad community, but the fact that the Soo, like some other midwestern roads, skipped every other number on some series of cars. Why this was done, I have no idea, but it was, and this group is an example. The series 5201 to 5399, from which this and the predecessor number was drawn, was of the odd numbers only, thus yielding only 100 possible cars. They were all there in a sample listing from the January 1953 ORER (NMRA Reprint) and here are the stats: "inside length" 53 feet 6 inches, "outside length" 54 feet 2 inches, "extreme height" 6 feet (that's probably to the top of the deck), capacity 100,000 pounds. As is typical with the MTL flats, the deck is shorter than the "inside length" but overall the model is a bit longer than the prototype car. © 2004 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

These cars lasted for a while after the paint change. In April 1970, there remained 57 cars with 100,000 pounds capacity, plus another 36 that had been bumped up to 110,000 pounds capacity. The two road numbers MTL has done stayed at 50 tons at that time, though. By April 1976 the proportions had flipped and 76 cars were at 55 tons with only 11 staying at the original capacity. This change was probably made by substituting heavier capacity trucks, which may or may not mean the end of your "strictly speaking" ATP. The not so strictly speaking ATP ends by 1985 when the ORER no longer shows any of these cars on the Soo's roster. © 2004 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

49120, $19.90
40 Foot Ice Refrigerator Car, Double Sheathed, Vertical Brake Wheel, King Packing Company.

Yellow sides, freight car red roof, ends, and side sills; black door hardware. Red and black lettering including large company name on left and reporting marks on right.
Reporting Marks: KPCX 205.
Approximate Time Period: 1920's and 1930's (a guess, see text).
Previous Release: Road Number 207, December 1982, as part of the 49082 "Refrigerator Express Line Six Pack" multi-pack, also known as the "Meat Packers Multi-Pack". (And as such the previous release is pretty rare.)
NOTE: This item has been sold out and discontinued.

Here's the second of the six rare meat packer cars to be reprinted by MTL, giving accumulators a chance to have this reefer without shelling out a huge amount of aftermarket appreciation. It's also a chance for MTL to stump this byte-slinger as to historical data. Well, almost. You're going to love the 'net citation I found for this company. It goes way over the top... no, wait, it just goes right to the top, of the American judiciary. © 2004 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

Specifically, it's the 1956 Supreme Court decision in the case "Mitchell v. King Packing Company." Chief Justice Warren (that would be Earl Warren), responded for the Court and reversed and remanded a decision of a lower court. The case centered around whether King Packing could require workers to sharpen the knives they used in the butchering and trimming of meat outside the normal eight hour work day and without compensation. The Court held that since this was a "'principal, not a 'preliminary' or 'postliminary' activity," it was compensable under the portal to portal provisions of the Fair Labor Standards Act, as amended by the Portal-to-Portal Act. Therefore, King was required to compensate and the decision of the lower court was reversed. OK, so it's not exactly "Law and Order." (And what's a "postliminary activity" anyway?) But in truth, it's a fairly important case because of its implications with respect to "off the clock" work. And because of this case, which is cited numerous times, we know that the company was still in business in the mid-1950's, even if its refrigerator cars weren't. © 2004 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

There is very little to go on otherwise. The original run of the car had zero date information and there is no listing of the reporting marks or the company in any of the logical ORERs in which I would look (from 1919 to 1954). Several sources for decals don't include it either. But there are enough scale models of the car in various scales to conclude that it's either: (1) a legitimate prototype, with perhaps the usual compromises or (2) a suspect source from which all the models were produced over time. The ATP I've guessed at is typical of meat packer reefers on which we do have some information. © 2004 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

Meanwhile, looking up "King Packing" on the 'net in an attempt to find any other historical information mostly yields accounts of monarchs being deposed, e.g. "they sent the king packing." (Which reminds me of Allan Sherman's novelty hit "You Went the Wrong Way, Ol' King Louie"... never mind.) Does King Packing Company still exist today? Well, it's hard to say. There was a King Packing Company sold from Imperial Sugar to Hormel Foods in December 2001, but that was described as a condiment packer, not a meat packer. And in 2003 there was a King Packing Company in Mississippi, Tom King, owner, that made "sausages and other prepared meats." That's a long way from the Omaha and Chicago that are listed on the car. © 2004 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

55200, $15.90
33 Foot Two Bay Steel Hopper, Offset Sides, Flat Ends, Monon.

Freight car red with white lettering including reporting marks on left, large roadname across car, and circle-M "Hoosier Line" herald on right.
Reporting Marks: MON 4002.
Approximate Time Period: mid-1950's to mid-1970's.
Previous Release: Road Number 4090, October 1984.
NOTE: This item has been sold out and discontinued.

It's twenty years to the month since the first run of this car. And this hopper is a standout even with just the white lettering. Displaying the roadname and herald created by industrial designer Raymond Loewy (who also gave the Pennsy GG1 electric its timeless look), this car also sports the MON reporting marks that were adopted after the line officially changed its name from the Chicago, Indianapolis and Louisvile to the Monon in 1956. Note that the reporting mark change from "CIL" to "MON" was gradual and the two markings certainly co-existed. These particular cars aren't in the January 1953 ORER, but they are in the January 1955 ORER (Westerfield CD-ROM) so they were most almost assuredly delivered with "CIL" reporting marks. We're going to start the ATP at mid-1950s and assume that there was a quick restencil, which is OK since the "Monon" name and herald were in use before the reporting marks were officially changed. © 2004 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

This number 4002 and the previous road number 4090 came from the Monon series 4001 to 4150, which we'll pick up in the January 1964 ORER: inside length 33 feet, inside height not given, outside length 34 feet, extreme height 10 feet 8 inches, capacity 2145 cubic feet or 110,000 pounds. There were 144 cars of a possible 150 shown in that issue, and 141 in the April 1970 Register shortly before the road was merged into the Louisville and Nashville (1971). The L&N's listing as of April 1976 includes 109 of these cars with reporting marks still "CIL or MON." The big dropoff occurred between then and the April 1981 book where just 12 cars remained. © 2004 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

For more information, Mont Switzer authored the article "Monon's Two Bay Offset Hoppers" which appears in the November 1990 issue of "Mainline Modelers", and there's a compendium of two bay hoppers including Monon's in "Railway Prototype Cyclopedia Volume 1" by Ed Hawkins. Neither is in the UMTRR Library at the moment. © 2004 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.



N SCALE SPECIAL EDITION RELEASES:

21383, $19.85
40 Foot Steel Boxcar, Plug Door, Arkansas State Car.

Aluminum sides, black roof, ends, sills and door hardware; blue and and black primary lettering including reporting marks, state name and outline map on left. Four color process graphics including state flag, state flower (apple blossom) and state bird (mockingbird) on right.
Reporting Marks: AR 1836.
Nineteenth release in the States of the Union series.
NOTE: This item has been sold out and discontinued.

I've often thought of how I've given South Dakota short shrift in the visiting department, but perhaps Arkansas should be the real "leader" in that category. I've not done more than crossed over from Memphis to set foot there, although that was twice, versus once for S.D. and I did eat a meal in Arkansas versus nothing in South Dakota. Even so, I have not had a chance to see any of the real attractions of The Natural State, like Ozark National Forest, Hot Springs or the Ouachita Mountains. Arkansas Scenic 7 Byway was ranked among the top ten scenic drives in the entire country, and that's the kind of road I like to travel. © 2004 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

Native Americans in the area included the Quapaw, who called the area "Arkansea". Hernando de Soto was probably the first Western explorer to see the area but the French were the first of the "old world" to become resident there. Arkansas Post, near the confluence of the Arkansas and Mississippi Rivers, was the first European settlement in the state, founded 1686; although it was nearly abandoned several times it grew back enough to become the capital of the territory prior to Little Rock. The area went from France to Spain and back to France before it was part of the Louisiana Purchase. © 2004 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

The Arkansas Territory was carved out of the Missouri Territory in 1819 and in 1836, the area became the 25th state. Although the state seceded to the Confederacy during the Civil War, thousands of residents fought on the Union side as well. Politics were difficult during Reconstruction with no less than three different state constitutions adopted. In 1887, bauxite was discovered and Arkansas was the key source of the aluminum ore for some time. The only diamond mine in the United States was located near Mufreesboro after discovery of the gems in 1906. The Depression hit the state hard as did flooding, including one occurrance in 1927 that put one-fifth of the state under water. The 1940's and 1950's were turbulent as desegration was slowly adapted by the state, not before a number of violent incidents. In 1962, Sam Walton opened the first Wal-Mart store and started the chain that changed retail, its key distinction being a very efficient inbound supply chain. That same year, the state moved into number one for rice production-- not something that would have immediately occurred to me. Thirty years later, Arkansas native Bill Clinton was elected President. © 2004 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

Speaking of Arkansas natives, here are a few others: General Douglas MacArthur, poet Maya Angelou, golfer John Daly, baseball speedster Lou Brock, pitcher "Dizzy" Dean and catcher Bill Dickey, football coach "Bear" Bryant, trucker J.B. Hunt, department store mogul William Dillard, political figures Martha Mitchell, Brooks Hays, Wilbur Mills, and J. William Fulbright, women's advocate and publisher Helen Gurley Brown, pop pianist Floyd Cramer, country artists Glen Campbell, Charlie Rich, Colin Raye and Conway Twitty, and the "Man in Black," Johnny Cash, whose music spanned much more than just country songs. © 2004 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

21501, $19.15
40 Foot Steel Boxcar, Plug Door, First Day of Christmas "Partridge in a Pear Tree."

Maroon with yellow lettering and four color process printing "First Day" banner with a partridge in a pear tree on right.
Reporting Marks: TOOC 1.
First release in the Twelve Days of Christmas series.
NOTE: This item has been sold out and discontinued.

We kick off another Special Edition series with this first Day of Christmas. I thought it wouldn't be that easy to scrape up commentary on a group of a dozen cars (plus expected locomotive and caboose) based on one traditional holiday song, but as it turns out, there's plenty of material out there, at least for this month. And that's not counting the "Micro-Seasons" tree ornament, which we'll just mention in passing here (catalog 960 60 001, MSRP $9.95). © 2004 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

I had wondered about the origin of "The Twelve Days of Christmas" and so I did what I usually do from the comfort of my office at UMTRR HQ-- I hit the 'net. And I ran smack into one of those famous "Urban Legends." A significant percentage of hits made on a web search point to the same story: that the song is a "secret code" catechism of Catholic teaching, developed in England as a response to the outlawing of the Catholic Church. Well, quoth other sites like truthorfiction.com, it's not so, and in fact, it wouldn't make any sense because the supposedly coded tenets of faith are common across Catholics and Protestants, for example the Holy Trinity (which would be the "three French Hens" in the song). © 2004 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

No, the "real origin" of the tune is French, state others who quote "scholarly references" like the New Oxford Book of Carols. The melody originated in France and the song is nothing more than a chilrden's memory game played on Twelfth Night. The first child starts with the first day and just the Partridge in a Pear Tree, and the second in turn has to get the first and second nights right, the third child adds the third, and so on. If you don't get the days right, you're out of the game. The first published version of the song goes back to about 1780, in the book "Mirth Without Mischief". But it's also noted that on the catechism point, there could have been confusion with the older hymn "In These Twelve Days" which does offer lessons in song about the Catholic (and Christian) faith. © 2004 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

This all illustrates the point that you need to be careful about what you find in cyberspace. Or perhaps as my mother used to say, "Don't believe anything you hear and only half of what you read." (Of course you can believe everything you read here. Is that why I have an "Oops Patrol?") © 2004 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

Meanwhile, PNC Bank's 2003 analysis of the cost of each of the Twelve Gifts (its 19th annual review!) pegs the Partridge in a Pear Tree at $102.50 (US Dollars). So the MTL car plus the ornament will set you back considerably less, and also leave less of a mess around the house as well. © 2004 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

Finally, given my slight penchant for offbeat humor, I can't let this go until mentioning that there are various parodies of the classic "Twelve Days" song. Allan Sherman's is among my favorites. In his version, the first gift is "A Japanese Transistor Radio" -- with an earplug that you put one in your ear, and you can't put the other end anywhere because it's bent. Plus, a case with holes in it so you can listen right through the case. I had one of those! As part of their "Great White North" routine, Bob and Doug MacKenzie had trouble figuring out what the twelve days were-- they eventually stop at nine and declare that there must be "three mystery days". Oh, and their first gift was simply "beer." © 2004 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.



Nn3 SCALE (NARROW GAUGE):

Reprint:
15101, $15.65
30 Foot Boxcar, Single Door, Double Sheathed Wood, Rio Grande (Denver and Rio Grande Western).

Boxcar red with white lettering including reporting marks on left and 1936 "Moffat Route" herald on right.
Reporting Marks: D&RGW 3052.
Approximate Time Period: mid-1930's to mid-1950s.
Previous Releases: Road Number 3074, May 1988; Road Number 3066, July 1989; Road Number 3187, March 1991; Road Number 3194, March 1992; Road Number 3375, July 1999.
NOTE: This item has been sold out and discontinued.

So, what's the slim gauge MTL car with the largest number of releases? This one, with six; strictly speaking, no other release has more than four entries. (If you combine the one window and two window versions of the Rio Grande "speed lettering" caboose, that's a total of five.) © 2004 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

But there are plenty more prototype numbers from which to choose for more models of this boxcar. The ORER for April 1928, while a bit early for this paint scheme, shows 719 boxcars in the series 3000 to 3749. While we're there, let's get the dimensions: inside length 29 feet 5 inches, inside height just 6 feet 1 3/4 inches, outside length 30 feet, extreme height 12 feet and 11/16 inch, door opening 5 feet, and capacity 1267 cubic feet or 50,000 pounds. Advancing to July 1935, there are just two fewer counted at 717, and in January 1953 there are 480. © 2004 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

While the cars date to the turn of the century according to the CDS Lettering Guide, the paint scheme depicted by MTL, featuring the Moffat Tunnel herald, has the ATP of 1935 to 1941. After that was the "speed lettering" and before that the "Royal Gorge" herald. Both, and the really early initials only scheme, are all available from CDS for a little variety in the rolling stock-- assuming that MTL doesn't get to these first. I'm just being arbitrary on the end of the ATP in the mid-1950's, it's more that this was when the Rio Grande's three foot lines began to be pulled back than any specific car data I have. As such I doubt that repainting slim gauge boxcars was top of the D&RGW's list so it's possible that the ATP could be longer. © 2004 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

According to at least one source on the 'net, a number of the prototype boxcars survive to the present in varying conditions and paint schemes including the Royal Gorge version. The Durango and Silverton Narrow Gauge owns a few of them and still uses them. © 2004 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.



Z SCALE NEW RELEASES:

14151, Marklin Coupler, $15.50, 14151-2, Micro-Trains Coupler, $17.30.
40 Foot Boxcar, Single Door (Superior or "Wide Rib" Door), Chesapeake and Ohio.

Boxcar red with white lettering including roadname and reporting marks on right and "C&O For Progress" herald on right.
Reporting Marks: C&O 18499.
Approximate Time Period: early 1950's (1952 build date given by MTL) to mid-1960's.
NOTE: This item (both coupler versions) has been sold out and discontinued.

The N Scale version of this car was reprinted in May 2003 and that's close enough to allow a "reprint" of our own of sorts with respect to the commentary. (Between this and the two combo N and Z releases I'm getting off easy this month!) © 2004 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

The C&O herald, introduced circa 1948 and slightly modified in 1954, is occassionally referred to as the "double donuts." The version on this car is the later one, with a straight "smoke trail" above the word "Progress" which is itself below the large letter "O" of the "C and O". It's kind of interesting to think that the "For Progress" with the straight line above it suggests a steam locomotive, which usually wasn't associated with Progress in the 1950's; but let's not forget that the C&O had been trying to modernize its steam fleet long after other roads had given up in favor of the diesel. As the C&O gave up the roadname on its boxcars starting in 1956, the "strictly speaking" Approximate Time Period is pretty narrow. However, we can open it up with the understanding that repainting into the simpler C&O scheme consisting of just reporting marks and herald could have happened anytime after '56. © 2004 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

Our C&O Special Correspondent James Pugh passed along a bunch of information on the C&O's PS-1s (for the N Scale version), starting with a couple of citations from the Morning Sun C&O Color Guide by David H. Hickcox. In that volume there's a photo of C&O 18302, just three off the MTL road number of 18299, with a caption that was drawn from for MTL's car copy. Hickcox cites the Chessie as one of the driving forces behind Pullman-Standard's decision to develop the PS-1 boxcar, and the line eventually bought over four thousand of the cars. Hickcox also references a more detailed article by Carl Shaver in the May 1979 issue of the "C&O Historical Newsletter." But he also notes that only the first series of C&O PS-1s, numbered 15000 to 15999, used six foot doors, while the later built groups had eight foot doors. So, yes, we've set up a "door thing" here. In Z Scale this is not such a big deal, of course. © 2004 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

Let's do the numbers from the January 1959 ORER (Westerfield CD-ROM): The series was numbered from 16000 to 18499, of 2316 cars with AAR Classification "XM" and description "Box, Steel." The inside length was 40 feet 6 inches, inside height 10 feet 5 inches, outside length 41 feet 10 inches, extreme height 15 feet, door opening 8 feet (as noted above), and capacity 3888 cubic feet or 100,000 pounds. There were another 150 cars in the group with classification "XME" and DF loaders. © 2004 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

We'll check the January 1964 Register next. There were 2060 cars in the main series, plus another 367 cars in six subseries of various exceptions including the previously cited DF loaders, cars equipped for sand loading, cars with "quick loaders" (whatever those are!), and cars assigned to laminated glass sheet loading, rough glass blanks loading, and even biscuit products. (Biscuit products?!?) In April 1970, although beyond what I'd call a reasonable end to the ATP given the paint scheme, there were still over than 2300 cars in service from the original 2500 in the series. © 2004 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

14420, Marklin Coupler, $16.90, 14420-2, Micro-Trains Coupler, $18.70.
Single Dome Tank Car, Canadian Pacific.

Black with white lettering including roadname and reporting marks on left.
Reporting Marks: CP 389593.
Approximate Time Period: 1910's to 1960's.

Please see the review of the N Scale release above. © 2004 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.



Z SCALE REPRINTS: No releases this month.

Z SCALE SPECIAL EDITIONS:

14931, Marklin Coupler, $21.95, 14931-2, Micro-Trains Coupler, $23.75.
40 Foot Steel Boxcar, Plug Door, First Day of Christmas "Partridge in a Pear Tree."
Maroon with yellow lettering and four color process printing "First Day" banner with a partridge in a pear tree on right.
Reporting Marks: TOOC 1.
First release in the Twelve Days of Christmas series.
NOTE: This item (both coupler versions) has been sold out and discontinued.

Please see the review of the N Scale release above.