UMTRR October, 2005 || Edited From Subscriber Edition
©2005 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting Prohibited. Trademarks are the property of their respective owners. Legal Stuff

NOTE: This archive edition covers most single car releases only. Reviews of and commentary on Micro-Trains locomotives (including the FTs), most Special Editions such as the U.S. Army Sets and the "Twelve Days of Christmas" cars are available exclusively in the e-mail subscription edition of the UMTRR.

020 00 730, $14.85
40 Foot PS-1 Boxcar, Single Youngstown Door, National Railways of Mexico "Conasupo".

Cream (off-white) with black lettering including reporting marks on left, large "Ferro Tienda" on left, and small NdeM "Eagle" herald right of door. Red and black "Conasupo" logos left of door and top right of side.
Reporting Marks: NdeM 63317.
Approximate Time Period: late 1960's (1969 service date given by MTL) to early 1980's.
NOTE: This item has been sold out and discontinued.

So, how much lettering CAN you fit on a forty foot boxcar anyway? This car looks more like a rolling billboard than many other cars I've seen. But it's actually a rolling store. Yes, perhaps the correct question is "how much can you fit IN a forty foot boxcar?" © 2005 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

To get a sense of the story of this car, we need to understand what "CONASUPO" was. It's an acronym, for one thing. From the web version of "Mexican Labor News and Analysis" of November 16, 1998, part of the website of the United Electrical, Radio and Machine Workers of America, we get a thumbnail history of that enterprise, start quote:

CONASUPO had its origins back in the years of the Great Depression during the presidency of Lazaro Cardenas, the principal architect of Mexico's modern state and its ruling Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI). On September 1, 1937, Cardenas's government created the Mexican Export and Import Company (Compania Exportadora e Importadora Mexicana, S.A.) which bought and sold agricultural commodities. One might think of it as something similar to Franklin D. Roosevelt's Agricultural Adjustment Administration (AAA) in the United States created in 1938. The state-companies in both countries helped farmers by shielding them from the vagaries of the market, and provided food for the poor.

But while in the United States the AAA promoted the expansion of large farms and agribusiness at the expense of the family farms, tenants and sharecroppers, in Mexico the state-company was based on the ejidos, state-owned farm land which had been expropriated from private haciendas and nationalized. The state-owned land became the basis for a complex of state-owned food companies.

On April 1, 1965 the Mexican Export and Import Company became the People's Company of the People's Basic Diet (Compania Popular de Subsistencias Populares) better known by its acronym CONASUPO. CONASUPO became the center of a complex of state-owned enterprises: DICONSA, the CONASUPO Distributor; MINSA (Maiz Industrializado), the company's corn processor; TRICONSA, the wheat processor; LICONSA, the dairy products manufacturer; FICOPROCONSA, the rural development arm; CECONCA, the peasant education extension branch; INCONSA, or CONASUPO Industries, which oversaw supplies and prices of both animal feed and human food; and, finally, FAI, the Fund for the Associated Industry, a financing agency. Based on the ejidos, these state-owned companies administered a vast system of food processing plants, warehousing and distribution facilities, and commercial retail outlets which served Mexico's workers and the poor.

End quote. In addition to the above article, several white papers I found on the net deal with the dismantling of CONASUPO, as part of the overall liberalization of trade brought on by NAFTA-- the same policy that took the Mexican railroads into the private sector. Results, at best, seem mixed; but a political commentary is outside the bounds of this review. © 2005 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

So CONASUPO was basically a distributor, and one means of distribution was rail. But not necessarily the way we think of it! The "Ferro Tienda" WAS the distribution point-- a rolling store, from which rural Mexicans with few if any good roads available could directly purchase food staples. In fact, "tienda" is store in Spanish and "ferro" is, apparently, short for "ferrocarril" which is "railroad". ("Distribuidora" at the lower right of the car should be self-explanatory.) See, I knew that high school Spanish would be useful someday! © 2005 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

The book "Classic Freight Cars Volume 7" shows the very car NdeM 63317 as it appeared in Chihuahua, Mexico, in 1975. MTL did a nice job of depicting the somewhat "homemade looking" "Ferro Tienda" and "conasupo" lettering-- on the prototype it looks as if it was hand painted, not stenciled. Despite being well past the mandated roofwalk removal date, the running board and full ladders remain intact. It's clearly not a PS-1 like the MTL model, but slice off the protruding lower sill and you'll be on your way to more accuracy. © 2005 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

A quick look at the accumulation of Official Railway Equipment Registers (ORERs) shows the series 62910 to 64506 of basic 40 foot 6 inch interior length boxcars numbering 1317 cars in April 1970, near the service date of June 1969. That series was down to 793 in April 1981 and 257 in January 1985 and was gone by 1986. Special thanks to Railwire members "3rdrail" and "South of the Border" for pointing me in the right research direction for this car; both of them note that given its special service, it's unlikely that the car would have left the lines of the National Railways of Mexico. © 2005 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

049 00 530, $16.60
40 Foot Wood Double Sheathed Ice Refrigerator Car, Vertical Brake Staff, Canadian Pacific (Express Service).

Maroon sides, black roof, ends and side ladders. Delux gold lettering including reporting marks on left and roadname across top.
Reporting Marks: CP 5609.
Approximate Time Period: mid-1950's (1955 service/repaint date given by MTL) to mid-1960's.
NOTE: This item has been sold out and discontinued.

The Morning Sun Color Guide to the Canadian Pacific shows sister car CP 5618 in Toronto circa 1956, resplendent in new paint applied just the year before. The car is one of 100 in the series 5600 to 5699 that were built back in 1922 by Canadian Car and Foundry. © 2005 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

And that's where the bad news starts, accuracy-wise. The roadname is on the upper sill, not the car side (MTL's sill isn't wide enough). The real car looks less tall and more long than the model, has a roof that appears to be more rounded and is metal according to the photo caption, and rides on express trucks which almost appear chained to the body. Express trucks would be warranted for passenger service. I can understand why MTL went with Bettendorfs here; the BX express trucks Micro-Trains does have include medium extended draft gear and the folks from Talent were roundly blasted when they put those BX's under the Bellows Falls Co-operative Creamery 40 foot reefer back in February 2004. So unfortunately, the MTL model is what you call your basic "stand-in." However, other than the release of a resin kit from a small specialty shop-- which as far as I know isn't happening, I don't know where CPR modelers would get a better model. © 2005 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

Let's go to the ORER for January 1953 (NMRA Reprint) for a look; conveniently, it's in there even though it's classified as a passenger refrigerator car. The AAR Classification was "BR" for Refrigerator Express and the description was "[Refrigerator] Steel Underframe, Basket Bunkers, Ventilator." The inside length of all but four of the cars was 38 feet 8 inches (four had different ice tanks), inside height was 7 feet 3 inches, and outside length was 45 feet 10 inches. That's versus the 40 foot nominal length of the 49er body style--42 feet and change with the couplers. The doors were 5 feet wide by 6 feet 4 inches high, and capacity was 76,000 pounds of lading and up to 8100 pounds of ice. There were 99 total cars in the group in 1953 and 74 in January 1964. It looks like between then and April 1970, the series numbering was flipped to the 280500s, since the dimensions of that group are the same. Ian Cranstone's "Canadian Freight Cars" site makes the same assumption, putting a question mark after the notation "Renumbered 280500 to 280571" with dates of 1965 and 1966 for this. © 2005 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

075 00 140, $20.55
50 Foot Boxcar, Double Plug Door, No Roofwalk, Evans Products.

White and dark blue sides, dark blue ends, white roof. Blue and white lettering including reporting marks on left, company name and "the action line" slogan on right.
Reporting Marks: USLX 180.
Approximate Time Period: late 1960's (1968 build date given by MTL) through 1970's at least.
NOTE: This item has been sold out and discontinued.

The book "Classic Freight Cars Volume 9" by Henry Maywald, Page 55, includes a shot of this very car, USLX 180, in the attractive blue and white Evans Products scheme. There were several different paint jobs on Evans-leased cars including a deep red shown on the next page in the "Classic" book-- a future release, perhaps? © 2005 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

The United States Railway Leasing Company's USLX series numbered 50 to 549 was leased to a number of private owners including Canfor, which has already been depicted on MTL releases. As listed in the April 1970 ORER, the 425 cars were listed at 50 feet 1 inch inside length, but I suspect the actual carbody was longer and the insulation cut down the available interior space. That solves a bit of a puzzle for me-- the MTL 75er model has been consistently criticized for being too short, but the ORER-given inside length seemed to line up with the MTL carbody length. Yep-- I forgot about the insulation. The inside height was 9 feet 10 inches, outside length was 57 feet 11 inches, and with the extended draft gear trucks the prototype versus the model is OK. The door opening was either 8 feet or 14 feet wide depending on whether one or both of the plug doors were open. © 2005 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

Based on ORER checks, this series was around through the 1980's although it was down to just 73 cars under the Evans Railcar Leasing registration in January 1985 and 70 cars under the Itel Rail registration in July 1989. The USLX reporting marks eventually went to the mammoth General Electric Railcar Services. That's not saying that this car existed in that paint scheme for the entire time, however. I'm going to give it at least through the 1970's; your ATP may vary and it would be hard for anyone to quibble either way. © 2005 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

Evans Products was an interesting company; as stated on this car, it covered "Building Products, Railcars, Transportation Equipment". You might recall that they teamed up with General American to fit boxcars with "damage free" equipment; and they were an early entrant into cushion underframe and "air pak" devices as well. Apparently it did something really "interesting" with respect to the sale of "finish it yourself houses"-- I'm not making this up! The Federal Trade Commission filed a "deceptive trade practices" complaint on January 11, 1985; three days later Evans Products went into Chapter 11 bankruptcy. Most of the company was then put in trust and then liquidated; I would have guessed this based on the number of web citations of lawyers that worked on the Evans bankruptcy and liquidation cases. (And it also explains how Itel Rail got the USLX fleet.) A site I've newly discovered, (cookie alert) simply lists the firm as "out of business." Some of the company re-emerged as Grossman's, a home improvement chain that was steamrolled by Lowe's and Home Depot, then morphed into "Mr 2nd's" which sells deeply discounted building materials in, among other places, the UMTRR HQ vicinity. Hey, at least MTL shouldn't have to worry about royalties for using the Evans trademark! © 2005 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

120 00 720, $21.45
40 Foot Box Car, Single Door, ARA Style, Plate Ends, Overlapping Flat Panel Roof, Vertical Brake Staff, Pennsylvania "Merchandise Service".

Freight car red with white stripe across car (including door). White lettering including reporting marks at left. Reversed out "Merchandise Service" in freight car red inside white stripe. Pennsylvania circle keystone herald at right.
Road Number: 92420 (will be "PRR 92420" in website listing).
Approximate Time Period: early 1950's to early 1960's.
New Release, but issued with road number 92419 as part of the N Scale Collector Convention 3-Pack in 2001 (NSC ID 01-10).
NOTE: This item has been sold out and discontinued.

Merchandise Service was the "P" Company's attempt to get less than carload business back from trucks. LCL was carried in ordinary cars as well, not just specially painted boxcars, and the entire effort did not stop the torrent of freight headed to the highways. By the 1960's the PRR had discontinued LCL service altogether. This was just another blow to railroads in general, and in the Pennsy's case, it was one of the trends which led to the creation and then quick demise of the Penn Central. © 2005 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

The October 2004 issue of "The Keystone Modeler"-- available at this writing as a free (!) PDF download on the site of the PRR Technical and Historical Society, includes a feature by Ben Hom on the history of the PRR Merchandise Service boxcars. There were three different schemes utilized between 1947 and 1957, and MTL has selected the most common of these, the "MS2" from 1950. This version is a simplification of the MS1 scheme in that there's a plain white band across the car with no shadows and no silver trim, and the Pennsy keystone herald is on the "freight car color" (Pennsy's term) body, not a bright red circle. The MS2 is the most likely to have appeared on the X29; according to Ben Hom in the above named article, MS1 was never on a true X29 boxcar, and very few cars of any kind ever got the MS3 decoration. That didn't stop the N Scale Collector from commissioning the first of the 120700 body styles in all three schemes as part of its fundraisers for the 2001 Convention in Lancaster which was of course in Pennsylvania Railroad territory. © 2005 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

The ORER for January 1953 (NMRA Reprint) shows the X29 series 90633 to 92500 with an impressive 1346 cars. The inside height is listed as just 8 feet 7 inches; I guess these were pretty small. The rest of the vital statistics: inside length, 40 feet 6 inches, outside length, 42 feet 3 inches, extreme height, 14 feet, door opening 6 feet wide by 7 feet 11 inches high, capacity 3034 cubic feet or 100,000 pounds. Some X29's in this series made it into the 1960's and a scant few actually survived to see the Penn Central, but the paint scheme quickly became pretty ratty looking. Note that not all of this series of cars would have been painted in MS2; no one will ever know exactly which ones were done up for Merchandise Service. © 2005 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

The Morning Sun Color Guide to the Pennsylvania, Volume 1, has a shot of PRR 567427 in the MS2 scheme and already looking rather worn out. Fidelity-wise, the model looks OK from photo range with respect to the sides and ends, but I can't get a look at the roof from the angle of the photo. © 2005 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

125 00 040, $20.90
Three Bay Ortner Rapid Discharge Hopper, Gifford-Hill and Company.

Orange with orange details. Mostly black lettering including reporting marks on left and company name across side. Small black and white company logo at center.
Reporting Marks: GIHX 2023.
Approximate Time Period: 1979 (build date given by MTL) to present.
NOTE: This item has been sold out and discontinued.

"The future flows best through concrete." So sayeth the website of Hanson Pipe and Products, the corporate descendant of the Gifford-Hill Pipe Company which is the subject of this Ortner release. The hyphen is correct, by the way. Hanson PLC has been the parent of Gifford-Hill since 1991 and the company name changed to Hanson in January 1999. G-H was founded in 1923 and operated in Texas, Louisiana, Oklahoma and Arizona; the pipe company came along in 1931. © 2005 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

The ORER for April 1981 shows the series 2000 to 2054 with AAR Classification "HTS" and description "Hopper, Open Top, Axle Spacing 5 feet 10 inches, Truck Centers 31 feet 3 1/2 inches," an inside length of 30 feet 4 inches, outside length of 43 feet 10 inches, extreme height of 11 feet 10 inches, and capacity of 2200 cubic feet or 200,000 pounds. In the October 1991 Register, 53 of the cars remained but under the registration of "Beazer West, Inc." which, according to a 'net search, acquired G-H in 1986. (Gee, Hanson left this little item out of their website!) In the October 2004 Register, our proxy for "to present", there are still 53 cars with GIHX reporting marks, but this time the registration is "Cornerstone C&M, dba Gifford Hill and Company." I suspect that some of these cars may be a bit the worse for wear, given that they're now 25 years old. © 2005 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

On his site, Don Ross has a few pictures of plant switchers that worked G-H facilities in Texas, including a neat looking 44-tonner and some very diminuitive "critters" (a five tonner?) that would be a challenge to model in any scale except maybe G. Fallen Flags doesn't have any cars in Gifford-Hill paint but does have a vintage image of a 2-6-0 steamer! Look there under "Miscellaneous G". There are shots of GHIX cars in the 1900 series-- these are two bay open hoppers that are more "standard" looking but taller and perhaps were also made by Ortner-- painted similarly to MTL's Ortner model. Apparently the car shops didn't get the memo about the name change because the series of seven car portraits were all done in August 2003. © 2005 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.


034 00 090, $22.25
50 Foot Steel Boxcar, Double Door, Union Pacific "Automated Railway."

Yellow sides, aluminum roof, ends and side sills. Black lettering including reporting marks on left. Large red, white and blue UP shield herald on left. Multicolor "Automated Railway" device on right.
Reporting Marks: UP 300265.
Approximate Time Period: mid-1960's (1964 build date given by MTL) to mid-1970s.
Previous Releases: Road Number 160274, February 1980; Road Number 160253, September 1993.
NOTE: This item has been sold out and discontinued.

The marked change in the road number of this release versus the previous two is a sure sign of a "not a reprint." And indeed, this release serves as an example of continuous improvement with respect to Micro-Trains releases. The first run of this car in February 1980 was, well, not all that great; the yellow was way too bright and both the UP shield and the "Automated Railway" looked too small for the car-- although, to be fair, the "Auto Railway" was in the proper number of colors, unlike previous attempts from other manufacturers. The second run in September 1993 fixed the shield's size and also the main color at the UP's Armour Yellow, but the Auto Railway still looked a bit small, and the trucks weren't the extended draft gear variety which would depict the cushion underframe cars that the real UP treated to this scheme. There is also the "generic" sans serif font-- pretty much what we'd call "Arial"-- for the reporting marks and dimensional data, which probably doesn't annoy most people, but for some reason really bothers me. © 2005 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

And that brings us to this release, which has numerous improvements. First, the trucks are not only extended draft gear but they're in the correct aluminum paint with brown wheels and couplers. Second, the Auto Railway logo has been made the right size, and third, the UP reporting marks have been made much closer to the prototype. (I can't really see the dimensional data from the images but I think that's been righted as well.) And the car's been moved to a new series, that of the UP class A-90-2. Probably the only downside for me is that the car was built in 1964, just outside of my model railroad's Approximate Time Period. Rats. © 2005 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

The January 1964 ORER provides a "coming soon" listing: The series 300200 to 300299 is listed with an inside length of 50 feet 6 inches, inside height of 10 feet 6 inches, outside length of 55 feet 4 inches, extreme height of 15 feet 1 inch, door opening of 16 feet and capacity of 180,000 pounds-- 90 tons-- or 4955 cubic feet. The description is "Box, Steel, Staggered Doors, Cushion Underframe" and the only thing missing is the number of cars. The listing is identical to that of the previous series, 300100 to 300199, with the exception of a door opening that is three inches less tall-- 9 feet 9 inches versus 10 feet even. The April 1970 Register shows 96 cars in the group; the April 1976, 90 cars; and the April 1981, 78 cars, but by that time you'd have to be thinking roofwalk removal. A quite beaten up UP 300125 without running board, shot in 1991 from the adjacent series is on the Fallen Flags site, as is an example of how these cars were painted later in their lives-- think "boxcar red dip job". © 2005 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

Oh, and what about the 160274 and 160253 that were the previous runs? Well, I looked at the January 1964 Register for those and it turns out that they're 50 foot 6 inch interior length double door boxcars as well, of similar dimensions but with just 140,000 pounds capacity. There's a photo of UP 160407 from the next adjacent series in "Classic Freight Cars Volume 5" in the same paint scheme as the MTL car has-- with the improvements of this run. © 2005 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

055 00 420, $14.95
33 Foot Two Bay Open Hopper, Offset Sides, Flat Ends, Great Northern.

Freight car red with white lettering including roadname on left and road number on right. Black and white herald with side facing "goat" and slogan "See America First - Glacier National Park" in center.
Road Number: 73657 (will be "GN 73657" in website listing).
Approximate Time Period: late 1930's or mid-1940's (latter based on reweigh date) through 1950's.
Previous Release: Road Number 73579, March 1998, as part of 22102 "Fallen Flags Four Pack".
NOTE: This item has been sold out and discontinued.

The build date on the first run of this car was October 1931, and I'm assuming that the build date on the reprint will be the same. Not that it matters all that much, for the herald with the side facing "goat" (antelope! antelope!) and the Glacier Park slogan dates to the later 1930's (RPI has 1936 but maybe 1939 for this). The slogan in the herald flipped to "Great Northern Railway" in 1948 which, when coupled to the service date of May 1945 would make for a short ATP, except that the GN was not exactly quick to repaint cars. I'd figure the ATP to last at least into the 1950's. The Kadee Micro-Trains release of April 1979, reprinted September 1998, catalog 55060, depicts the next GN scheme with the roadname 'round the goat. I think there's probably room for another go at that scheme as well, how about it, MTL? © 2005 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

The January 1945 edition of the ORER (Westerfield CD-ROM through kind courtesy of Malcolm Cleaveland) shows the series 73200 to 73699, of 492 cars with inside length of 34 feet 9 inches, inside height of 7 feet 5 inches, outside length of 36 feet 6 inches, extreme height of 10 feet 9 inches, and capacity of 2160 cubic feet or 100,000 pounds. This group stayed pretty well together all the way into the January 1964 ORER with 490 cars and was even 465 cars in April 1970 after the Burlington Northern merger, well after this particular "goat" would have disappeared. © 2005 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.


021 00 394, $19.85
40 Foot Steel Boxcar, Plug Door, Maine State Car.

Aluminum sides, black roof, ends, sills and door hardware; blue and black primary lettering including reporting marks, state name and outline map on left. Four color process graphics including state flag, state flower (White Pine cone and tassel) and state bird (Chicakadee) on right.
Reporting Marks: ME 1820.
Thirtieth release in the States of the Union series.
NOTE: This item has been sold out and discontinued.

It's bigger than you think.

In fact, the entire rest of New England fits inside Maine, which is 320 miles long and 210 miles wide, encompasses 33,215 square miles and has 3500 miles of coastline. My two trips to Maine so far have only picked off the very bottom edge of the Pine Tree State, but one of them included a visit to the Kennebunk Trolley Museum, one of the best I've ever been to. There's also an amusing family story about a seagull and some shrimp, but perhaps that's best kept in the family. Speaking of best kept secrets: sure, the state's known for potatoes, but it's now only 6th among the 50 states in that crop. They're first in low bush blueberries with about 98% of the nation's harvest. © 2005 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

Credit the Ice Age for carving that 3500 miles of coastline. The earliest inhabitants of the area are believed to have lived just after that, and two key Native American tribes were the Micmacs and the Abnakis, also called the Wabanakis. Did Leif Erickson and his Viking crew visit the region well before Columbus? It's not known for sure, but Verrazano is officially given credit as the first European to see the Maine coast. The person who first called Maine "Maine" was Sir Ferdinando Gorges, circa 1622. That didn't last long; Massachusetts annexed it. For the next hundred or so years, the territory was one of many that was a battleground for the French and Indian Wars, a subset of the Hundred Years' War between France and England. England eventually prevailed, but that didn't last long either. Off Maine's coast was the first naval battle of the American Revolution. Maine stayed a part of Massachusetts until it became obvious that Boston wasn't going to be able to defend the region in the War of 1812. The Missouri Compromise gave Maine its statehood as a free state balancing Missouri's entrance as a slave state, and Maine became the 23rd state on March 15, 1820. © 2005 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

Those Mainers sure are tough; a dispute over the boundary between Maine and Canada's New Brunswick resulted in the governor declaring war on Great Britain in 1839! It was the first and only time a state declared war on a foreign country. The dispute was settled without bloodshed in 1842. But a catalyst of the Civil War, the book "Uncle Tom's Cabin," was written by Maine native Harriet Beecher Stowe. Another native, Joshua Chamberlain, helped turn the tide of the Battle of Gettysburg. Oh, and they're still quite independent "Down East," as the first two popularly elected independent governors were chosen in the State of Maine. © 2005 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

"Famous Mainers" doesn't quite work so let's just call these folks "Famous People from Maine": First woman US Senator Margaret Chase Smith, former Senators George Mitchell and Edmund Muskie, poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (chair of the Bowdoin College Language Department at 19 years of age!), "scary" author Steven King, "Brat Pack" actor Judd Nelson, game developer and child educator Milton Bradley, marathoner Joan Benoit Samuelson, producer David E. Kelley, and entrepreneur L.L. Bean-- whose flagship store in Freeport is always open and doesn't have locks on the doors, so I am told. © 2005 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

NOTE: Other N Scale Special Edition releases are covered exclusively in the Subscriber Edition of the UMTRR.


New Release: 800 00 170, $14.05
30 Foot Wood Double Sheathed Boxcar, Denver, South Park and Pacific.

Light boxcar red with white lettering including initials on left and road number on right.
Road Number: 889 (will be "DSP&P 889" on website listing).
Approximate Time Period: 1880's (1882 or 1883 build date given by MTL) into at least 1900.
NOTE: This item has been sold out and discontinued.

This car is so old that it won't appear in the Official Railway Equipment Register, or at least the ORER as we know it. But there is the predecessor of the ORER, and it was called Secrist's Hand-Book and Railway Equipment and Mileage Guide. Al Westerfield has made the June 1885 edition available on CD-ROM and thanks to some anonymous help, UMTRR HQ now has a copy. The South Park was under the control of the Union Pacific at that point, as MTL notes in its car copy, and there's a supplemental listing for the "Denver and South Park Division" which includes "Box, Consecutive Numbers," from 560 to 1049. There's no dimensional data to be found, but other listings I've perused thus far have little or no vital statistics either. © 2005 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

The DSP&P was, according to George W. Hilton in the book "American Narrow Gauge Railroads," the second largest slim gauger in Colorado. The Rio Grande was first and it definitely kept the South Park down, even in the case where both lines reached Leadville, a key mining town. The DSP&P was a shorter run by more than 100 miles between Denver and Leadville but the Rio Grande still got most of the business. Built starting in 1873, the South Park was unprofitable by 1883, and struggled on, first as part of the Union Pacific, then part of the Colorado and Southern, until its last slim gauge run in 1943. (The C&S converted a couple of short sections, most notably Climax to Leadville, to standard gauge.) The conclusion of Hinton's four page treatise on the line reads, "Remarkably, the railroad had survived as a narrow gauge for 70 years, even though it would be difficult to justify its existence after 1883." © 2005 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

All the corporate fun and games that the South Park was put through make it difficult to pin down even an Approximate Time Period. I could be persuaded that the takeover of operation of the line by the C&S which took place in January 1899 would be a good ending point for lettering in "DSP&P" initials. Then again, the C&S was much more interested in its standard gauge operations and treated both the South Park and the Colorado Central as unprofitable stepchildren, and therefore repainting certainly wouldn't have been a priority. © 2005 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.


500 00 210, Magne-Matic Coupler, $18.90, 500 00 211, Marklin Coupler, $17.10.
40 Foot PS-1 Type Boxcar, Single Superior Door, Northern Pacific.

Dark boxcar red with white lettering including reporting marks and semicircle roadname on left. Small red, black and white monad herald on right.
Reporting Marks: NP 27588.
Approximate Time Period: early 1940's through 1950's.
NOTE: This item (both coupler versions) has been sold out and discontinued.

For those of you who, like me, are perhaps a bit too interested in catalog numbers, this on is a "fill-in" with the last three digits being 210; under the new numbering scheme, 200 and 220 were taken, but 210 wasn't. I am sure you'd rather read something else about this car, though. © 2005 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

The Morning Sun Color Guide to the NP shows this scheme, and tags it as existing from 1942 to 1948, but not on a steel sided boxcar! Instead, there are shots of the arched roadname and small herald on double sheathed wood sided boxcars that ran for the NP into the sixties and even the seventies... although not in the same paint scheme; they got as far as the later "Route of the North Coast Limited" scheme with four foot herald that was used starting in 1955. As a data checkpoint, the CDS Lettering Guide gives an ATP of 1942 through mid-1950s for this scheme, and even shows NP 27588 as its example car. However... there is a question as to the small herald having the "Northern Pacific Railway" inside the circle as opposed to just "Northern Pacific." © 2005 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

The ORER for January 1945 shows the series 27500 to 27999 of 499 cars with inside length 40 feet 9 inches, inside height 10 feet 6 inches, outside length 41 feet 9 inches, extreme height 15 feet, door opening 6 feet, and capacity 3925 cubic feet or 100,000 pounds. No, they're not PS-1s, they're too early for that. In January 1953 there were 492 cars along with a mark that "denotes reduction". And in January 1964 there were 478 cars. In fact, the April 1970 Register shows that 329 of the cars made it into the Burlington Northern merger, although probably not in this paint scheme. © 2005 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

981 01 020, Magne-Matic Coupler, $195.95, 981 01 011, Marklin Coupler, $194.15.
GP-35 Diesel Locomotive, Powered, Union Pacific.

Yellow and gray hood with red striping and green short hood top. Red lettering including roadname and road number across side, roadnumber repeated on lower cab and roadname on nose. Red, white and blue shield herald on cab just below window.
Road Number: 753 (will be "UP 753" in website listing).
Approximate Time Period: 1964 (build date) or mid-1970's (guess at paint scheme date) to 1983.
NOTE: This item (both coupler versions) has been sold out and discontinued.

The website provides a roster of Union Pacific diesels that is so extensive that it's subdivided into three time periods. The one of interest to us this time is the "classic era" from 1934 to 1982. And the group of interest to us is the 24 GP35's that were purchased in 1962 and numbered 740 to 763. Two of these two dozen diesels were originally EMD demonstrators. As second generation Union Pacific Geeps go, the '35s were among the smaller fleets; for example the UP had 30 GP20s, 75 GP30's and even 40 GP30B's. But even 24 numbers ought to keep MTL in GP35s for a while. The general class of GP35s lasted until 1985 although MTL's copy tags the end of the 753's run for the UP a bit earlier at 1983; Utahrails is more specific about that retirement: "Sold to Chrome Crankshaft Co., Chicago, Ill., in October 1983; sold to National Railway Equipment, 8 January 1988; sold to BN, rebuilt by EMD to BN GP39E 2930, completed on 17 October 1989." Hmm, I think MTL's been looking at Utahrails too... © 2005 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

MTL calls this the 753's "second paint scheme", which could be a reference to the lack of black edging around the roadname lettering, or the use of a UP medallion under the cab, or both. The armour yellow and harbor mist gray decoration has been around since it was used in 1940 on E6's. Ignoring the variations, is there any one general paint scheme that's lasted as long as Uncle Pete's? The Fallen Flags site has two images of the 753, one from 1968 and one from 1978, as well as other shots of other '35s. The 1968 view has the unit in the "Dependable Transportation" livery with a smaller roadname and without the shield emblem. And that makes the ATP start for the scheme that MTL did sometime between 1968 and 1978...??? Well, perhaps 1972 based on more information on Utahrails. © 2005 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

That second paint scheme is also a clue as to why the MSRP takes a hefty $20 jump from last month's Pennsylvania release, which is, after all, about as plain as one can get beyond "undecorated." That royalty to Union Pacific (aka the "UP Fee") doesn't help either. © 2005 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.


501 00 040, Magne-Matic Coupler, $19.40, 501 00 041, Marklin Coupler, $17.60.
40 Foot PS-1 Type Boxcar, Double Superior Doors, St. Louis Southwestern (Cotton Belt).

Boxcar red with white lettering including reporting marks and roadname on left. White and blue "Blue Streak Fast Freight" herald on right.
Reporting Marks: SSW 46435.
Approximate Time Period: late 1940's to late 1950's.
Previous Releases: Road Number 46478, Marklin Coupler, February 1987 and Magne-Matic Coupler, March 1987.
NOTE: This item (both coupler versions) has been sold out and discontinued.

What is that herald supposed to be anyway? I don't mean the lightning bolt part of the "Blue Streak" herald, I mean whatever it is that the "Cotton Belt Route" appears in. According to the RPI website, it's a stylized cotton boll. Other sources call it a "gin saw". The lightning bolt was added in 1941 and was white at first (please, no "white lightning" jokes!) and then blue, probably to coincide with the introduction of the Blue Streak Fast Freight Service. The Southern Pacific controlled the SSW from 1932 until it and the SP were merged into the Union Pacific in 1996, and for some of that time, the jointly operated "Blue Streak Merchandise" train actually had rights over the SP's premier passenger train, the Sunset Limited. But if the Surface Transportation Board had seen things differently, the Cotton Belt would have become part of Conrail as a condition of the UP-SP merger to ensure competition along the Texas "Chemical Coast," and wouldn't that have resulted in a different scenario! But meanwhile, the ATP for this car is significantly more limited by the swap of the "St. Louis Southwestern" roadname for "Cotton Belt" which occurred circa 1955. © 2005 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

This release's road number matches the one on the N Scale reprint from June 2001 and the build date on the car is February 1947. The closest I get is the July 1950 Register which shows the series 46400 to 46449 of all 50 possible cars, described as "Box, Steel, Staggered Doors" in AAR Class XM. The inside length is 40 feet 6 inches, inside height 10 feet 6 inches, and outside length 41 feet 10 inches, a pretty standard issue box car for the time period. The capacity is 100,000 pounds or 3982 cubic feet and the door opening of 15 feet sets up a minor "door thing" since the double 8 foot doors on the MTL model add to 16 feet. Not a biggie there. In January 1953's ORER the series is intact and in January 1964, past my call on the ATP, there were 48 cars of which 22 were equipped with DF loaders including the 46435. That car managed to remain on the roster until at least April 1976, the last remaining of the original group. © 2005 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

By the way, what is perhaps the longest stretch yet between the discovery of an "oops" and its correction takes place here. When I first checked the ORER for July 1950, for the N Scale version of the car, I gave it the series 46400 to 46499, not 46449, erroneously doubling the size of the group. Well, better late than never. © 2005 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

Z SCALE SPECIAL EDITIONS: These releases are covered exclusively in the Subscriber Edition of the UMTRR.