UMTRR November, 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 00 726, $13.45
40 Foot PS-1 Boxcar, Single Youngstown Door, Spokane, Portland and Seattle (Burlington Northern Restencil).

Boxcar red sides, aluminum ends and roof. White lettering including large straight line "SP&S" initials (without periods) and reporting marks on left and "football" herald on right.
Reporting Marks: BN 950194.
Approximate Time Period: 1970's.
NOTE: This item has been sold out and discontinued.

Sometimes I really have to carefully mull over commentary on MTL cars that model company service equipment. That's especially true if the car is a restencil over a previous paint scheme. There would be this internal philosophical debate as to whether a car that's obviously been relettered would ever be as "clean" as the MTL models are, and wouldn't it be better to simulate the weathering of the car except where it had been restenciled. Or wouldn't it be better to do the car as a clean car, as MTL does, and let the modeler apply weathering to taste, since, after all, it is a very personal thing? Or wouldn't it be better still to not do a car like this at all? © 2005 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

As it turns out, none of the above questions apply. In its car copy, MTL notes that "BN 950194 is an ex SP&S box car that was painted to match a SP&S scheme by the Vancouver car shops in the 1980's" and I wondered whether that meant the entire car-- as a sort of fallen flag tribute-- or just the BN lettering over a tired looking SP&S car in its last days of service. © 2005 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

Well, guess what, it's the former. From the NorthWest Rail Pics site we have the exact car BN 950194 as it appeared in October 1987. It comes complete with aluminum roof and ends, boxcar red sides, and the SP&S lettering as shown on the MTL model. Yes, the real one had aluminum roof and ends, although I don't recall ever seeing or hearing of a revenue service SP&S boxcar with those attributes. There is one fixable nitpick: the running board, which is still in place, should be boxcar red instead of aluminum. (The boxcar red brake wheel, though it clashes almost audibly with the bright aluminum end, is correct.) And one not so fixable nitpick: the sides of the prototype are riveted, not welded as on the MTL 20er body style. Other than that, you're pretty good in terms of look and feel. © 2005 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

We know that the car was originally built in 1946 so for giggles, I checked the Morning Sun Color Guide (MSCG) for the SP&S that resides in the UMTRR Research Accumulation, and discerned that the car probably came out of the SP&S series 11000 to 11499, 500 cars built by Pullman-Standard that began arriving in 1946. Of these, the first 250 cars came with Superior doors and the second half of the order came with Camel doors. (Hmm, perhaps that's another nitpick.) According to the MSCG (page 36 if you're interested), the BN inherited 417 of the original 500 cars when it came into being on March 2, 1970, so there were plenty of choices among the fleet to press into Maintenance of Way service. © 2005 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

By the way, if you don't like aluminum, the MSCG (page 42) also has a photo of BN 950262 which is a restenciled SP&S car from the 13000 series and carries boxcar red roof and ends, but not a roofwalk.

025 00 440, $19.75
50 Foot Exterior Post Boxcar, Single Door, Maine Central/Guilford Rail System.

Dark blue/gray with mostly white lettering including large Guilford "G" logo and reporting marks on left and Maine Central roadname on right. Red stripes below "G" and roadname.
Reporting Marks: MEC 20081.
Approximate Time Period: Early to mid 2000's including the present.
NOTE: This item has been sold out and discontinued.

OK, here we go... this won't be any fun.

When this car was announced, it took only a few hours for UMTRR Gang Member Jon Landry to post a photo of the prototype MEC 20081. When I innocently asked what color the car was, several Railwire members answered, "It's Guilford Gray, which is almost black." © 2005 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

But the MTL release is not almost black. In fact, MTL describes the color as "dark blue." Now, when I think "dark blue" with respect to railroads, the image I come up with is CSX boxcars, and there's a lot of blue in the CSX dark blue, most likely a descendent of the old Chesapeake and Ohio "Enchantment Blue". There's not so much blue in the "dark blue" that MTL chose for this car. I've looked the two cars in question side by side. © 2005 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

But, you might say, there shouldn't be any blue in the Guilford Gray, and based on the photos I've looked at, you'd be right. And, you might add, HO models of the car have the dark gray near black correct. That's not anything I can argue about either. I could argue that lighting on any photos MTL may have used may have shown the car in such a way that it looked more blue than gray, but this is a present day car and as such the paint shade could have been fairly easily been validated. This is despite the fact that when I look at the model under different lighting the color looks different, sometimes more blue than gray, sometimes more gray than blue. But Your Mileage May Vary, and for some, the result was order cancellations. I suppose I shouldn't bring up that the prototype roof may be unpainted galvanized steel? © 2005 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

As a final data point, I showed the MTL car to my wife and asked, "What color do you think this is?" She answered, without hesitation, "Navy Blue."

Well, enough of that, let's get to the check of the Official Railway Equipment Register (ORER) accumulation. My friends on The Railwire tell me that the Approximate Time Period should be around 2001 to present, maybe as late as 2003 based on when Guilford started repainting these cars. The October 2004 edition of the ORER shows 141 cars in the Maine Central series 20000 to 20149, with the AAR Classification XP and description "Box, Steel, 20 Inch Cushioning, Lading Band Anchors, Paper Loading." The inside length is 50 feet 6 inches, inside height 10 feet 11 inches, outside length 59 feet 1 inch, extreme height 15 feet 4 inches, and door opening 10 feet. The capacity is 5272 cubic feet and the Gross Rail Weight is 263,000 pounds. I know that the ATP is worded rather clumsily, but suffice to say that if you're modeling "Now" you can run this car "Now." © 2005 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

MTL says these cars have been around since 1980 so they could have been in at least two other paint schemes: the orange and green Maine Central as done as Catalog 25010 and the white Guilford version. Besides the photo that Jon provided, there are plenty of others in the series pictured at the Fallen Flags Website. © 2005 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

032 00 420, $22.15
50 Foot Steel Boxcar, Plug Door, Milwaukee Road.

Brown sides with dark yellow band, black ends, aluminum roof. Brown and yellow lettering including large roadname and reporting marks on left and herald on right.
Reporting Marks: MILW 2635.
Approximate Time Period: mid-1960's (1964 build date given by MTL) to 1970's or 1980's (latter without roofwalk).
NOTE: This item has been sold out and discontinued.

From just outside of my own model pike's Approximate Time Period-- pity!-- comes this attractive entry for the Milwaukee. In its car copy MTL hints at a significant amount of the information I usually communicate, so let's take the hints. © 2005 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

According to MTL the car was built in February 1964 but either the folks at the Milwaukee Road anticipated these cars arrival or they had something very similar in the same numbers, since there is a 2600 to 2659 group of AAR class RBL cars in the January 1964 ORER. The full car description was "Refrigerator, All Steel, Insulated, Roller Bearings" and the vital statistics were as follows: inside length 50 feet 1 inch, inside height 9 feet 6 inches, outside length 51 feet 10 inches, extreme height 15 feet 1 inch, door opening 8 feet 2 inches, capacity 4632 cubic feet or 140,000 pounds. All 55 cars were in service at the time... or maybe before their time, who knows? © 2005 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

By the April 1970 ORER the "Roller Bearings" were replaced with "Plug Doors" in the description and the outside length had increased to 54 feet 4 inches-- get out those medium extended draft gear trucks-- but the car count remained at 55. The note "Cars in this series have specially equipped interiors and are not suitable for general service" that MTL uses comes out of this issue of the Register, and other issues, I am sure. In the April 1976 ORER we get to find out what the special equipment is, as the description changed again, to "Refrigerator, Cushion Underframe, 9 Sparton Belt Rails, Plug Doors, 25K". Four cars in a subseries had pallets that were considered part of the car and four others weren't listed as having Cushion Underframes, but the outside length wasn't any different on those four and the 2635 was part of the main series of 44 cars. By this time, of course, you'd need to be thinking about roofwalk removal as well, so the "strictly speaking" ATP is at or near its close. How that "Sparton Belt Rails" translates to that large S and small E and L on the door, I really don't know. © 2005 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

And MTL further notes that "more than twenty years later, cars in this series were still operating with MILW reporting marks in the same paint scheme." That brings us to the October 1986 ORER and the Soo Line listing, where this is confirmed: eighteen cars in the 2600 to 2653 group, with yet another description change: "Refrigerator, 9 Sparton Belt Rails, Plug Doors, 25K." Ten remained in July 1989 and one, the 2633, made it all the way to July 1992. If I recall correctly, the Soo Line didn't make it a habit of restenciling the freight cars it acquired when it took over what was left of the Milwaukee in 1986. However....!!! While trying to find an online image of the MILW 2635 (which did not turn up anything), I did come across a Gary Zuters photo from 1994 of MILW 4508, a double plug door hi-cube boxcar, with a CP Rail roadname! UMTRR Gang Member Joe Shaw has a 60 foot boxcar, MILW 4281, in CP Rail paint as well. I can't say that I've ever seen one of these cars in person, but I'm sure that when I do, it won't be in camera range. © 2005 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

092 00 190, $21.55
2 Bay Center Flow Covered Hopper, Burlington Northern Santa Fe.

Mineral red with white lettering including reporting marks on left and BNSF circle cross herald on right.
Reporting Marks: BNSF 406031.
Approximate Time Period: 1997 (repaint date given by MTL) to present.
NOTE: This item has been sold out and discontinued.

Only the third car ever for the Burlington Northern Santa Fe is also the third Center Flow covered hopper for the BNSF; the first two were Catalog 94110 in BN Green from January 1998 and Catalog 94180 in Mineral Red from September 2000. This one is pretty much overdue, considering how many BNSF covered hoppers there are on today's rails.

We go right to the October 2004 edition of the ORER, my current proxy for "Present" and find one of several series of AAR Class LO "Covered Hoppers" with the same general dimensions. Our particular interest is the group 406000 to 406133, of 62 total cars with outside dimensions of 39 feet 11 inch length, 10 feet 8 inch width and 15 feet 1 inch height. The capacity is 2970 cubic feet and the Gross Rail Weight (car plus lading) is 263,000 pounds. These cars appear to be numbered down to 406142 for a total of 67 cars, and there's another group with 38 feet 11 inch length but still 2970 cubic foot capacity that starts with 406202 and ends with 406559, yielding another 259 cars. Well, maybe those 2 bay hoppers aren't that common on today's rails, even if BNSF's overall hopper fleet is! © 2005 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

MTL says that the cars were built in 1973 which means that they came from either the BN or SF; I can't be sure of their heritage but one guess based on the same ORER is the Burlington Northern series 435700 to 435849 which has the same dimensions. © 2005 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

A "decorated" BNSF 409041, which is a larger 3425 cubic foot car, appears on the Fallen Flags site; by "decorated" I mean with graffiti. At least they didn't touch the circle cross or the reporting marks. Though it's not a car to car comparison, I'd say the look and feel of the prototype is there, down to the rather awkward looking space between the "BN" and "SF". © 2005 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

Finally, a literary reference for you this time: The October 3 and October 10 issues of "The New Yorker" magazine contain a long-form two-part article called "Coal Train" which, though it concentrates mostly on the Powder River Coal Line, does present a relatively balanced picutre of the modern railroads which jointly own it-- that being the UP and the BNSF. (Author John McFee did tend a bit toward the extreme cases in his portrayal of railfans, but that's not unusual for journalists.) Take a ride-- a very slow ride-- on a "Beaner" BNSF unit train as it awaits loading in the Powder River Basin. © 2005 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

452 00 080, $15.65
48 Foot Trailer, Canadian National "Supertherm."

White with black and white lettering and blue stripes. "Supertherm" device at back of trailer. Black CN logo and reporting marks on nose and tail.
Reporting Marks: CNPZ 715087.
Approximate Time Period: 1980's and 1990's.
NOTE: This item has been sold out and discontinued.

It's been a while since we were able to boast that a UMTRR Gang Member was the person who submitted a car-- or in this case, a trailer, to MTL for a release, but we're able to do that this month. Jeff Jacobsen writes: "I have some interesting news on the MT November 2005 release "CN SuperTherm trailer". I was the one who submitted the pictures of the CN trailer 2 years ago on that trailer and today received word from Ben at MT that it was indeed me." Jeff sent UMTRR HQ a couple of photos that "were taken in Brockville, Ontario across from the VIA Rail (CN) station in the summer of 2003. The trailer was 'retired' (you can see that spray painted on the end) but I took photos as MT had released the CN SuperTherm 50 foot boxcar a few months before. I was at the same site this year and no trailer was to be found...probably scrapped. Thought it may make for some interest at MT but never thought it would be manufactured." © 2005 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

Well, as it turns out, MTL was interested, and there you have it; in fact, it's the first new trailer in a while and the first in a long while that wasn't a Burlington Northern "Cityview." There were some compromises made to place this onto an MTL body style; first, the MTL trailer is smooth sided and the prototype isn't; it has horizontally corrugated sides. Second, there's a third axle on the prototype trailer which I assume enables extra weight. Overall, though, the effect is certainly good enough. © 2005 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

I've cut the ATP back a bit to just the 1980's and 1990's to account for the "Retired" state of the trailer as captured in 2003. Thanks for sharing, Jeff!


045 00 040, $10.85
50 Foot Flat Car, Fishbelly Sides, New York Central.

Freight car red with white lettering including reporting marks in center and small oval herald on right.
Reporting Marks: NYC 499845.
Approximate Time Period: 1950's (1950 build date) through 1960's.
Previous Releases: as catalog 45044/45040, Road Number 499804, May 1975 and Road Number 499824, November 1975; as catalog 45040, Road Number 499853, July 1996.
NOTE: This item has been sold out and discontinued.

The workaday flat car for the Central returns for a fourth number, even as I have a couple extra of the 1996 release stockpiled on which to change the roadnumber! (Anyone interested in a swap of one of these new numbers for one of my '96 numbers, let me know.) The car was part of the Central's Lot 727-F which was built in 1950. The ORER for July 1950 (Westerfield CD-ROM) shows that there are plenty of roadnumbers from which to choose for more releases: the series 499800 to 500299 had 490 cars, and the previous two series which shared the same dimensional data run from 499300 to 499799 for another 500 choices. Speaking of those dimensions, they were: "inside length" 53 feet 6 inches, "inside width" 10 feet 4 inches, outside length 54 feet 3 inches, height to top of platform 3 feet 5 inches. The "extreme height" of 7 feet 3 inches probably means to the top of the brake wheel in this case! © 2005 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

The group of flats lasted into the Penn Central era-- there were a total of 134 cars in the series as of the April 1970 ORER-- but I doubt that the paint scheme as depicted by MTL did. Yes, even for the NYC. There was still redecorating money in the budget in the 1955 when the changeover was made from the Railroad Roman font to the "Stretched Sans-Serif" font for both the reporting marks and the herald. The Morning Sun Color Guide Volume 1 doesn't show any flatcars-- or many other cars, for that matter-- in the Railroad Roman. In addition, black replaced red on "open-top cars" which may or may not include flats. I'm being a bit liberal at calling the ATP into the 1960's but there's probably no one who can prove the absence of any stragglers with the as-delivered paint. © 2005 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

049 00 390, $18.95
40 Foot Double Sheathed Wood Ice Refrigerator Car, Vertical Brake Staff, Union Refigerator Car Company/Bananas Fruit Dispatch Company.

Yellow sides, freight car red ends, roof and sills; black door hardware and ladders. On left: legend with company name and list of cities; on right: black and green bananas, black URTC name and roadnumber, and red and white Mobile and Ohio herald.
Road Number: 24058 (will be URTC 24058 in website listing).
Approximate Time Period: mid-1920's to mid-1930's.
Previous Release: As catalog 49390, Road Number 24013, June 1992.
NOTE: This item has been sold out and discontinued.

OK, I can't resist the line that Micro-Trains is "going bananas" with this release. Ha, ha, very funny. Ha ha, it is to laugh. Anyway, the website (I'm not kidding!) offers a few fun facts about the fruit: They start green and ripen to yellow. The ripening process is slowed down by refrigeration (which explains why they're shipped in refrigerator cars, no? Well, actually, no, they're often just insulated from heat) and accelerated in warmer temperatures (which explains why grocery warehouses have "banana rooms" that are not as cold). Bananas can be stored in the refrigerator until reaching the desired ripeness. Although the skin may turn dark, the fruit inside will be fresh and ripe. And bananas qualify for eight of the eleven "health claims" that the US Food and Drug Administration has approved. © 2005 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

Long before there were approved health claims, though, the Bananas Fruit Dispatch Company was one of many shippers of the fruit, which generally grew in warmer, wetter climates than that found in North America. The United Fruit Company was probably the most famous company engaged in this exercise, and was responsible for developing a number of Central American countries-- into what was commonly known as "banana republics" that more or less existed to the benefit of the governments and to United Fruit Company. Note that the small railroads in Guatemala, Costa Rica and elsewhere in the region were built to carry bananas out. Today, Banana Republic is a clothing store, not a term given to a government largely controlled by a corporation. I'll quietly sidestep past the question of whether banana republics still exist, though. © 2005 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

The build date on the original run of this car is 1926 and the reweigh date is 1931, so let's hit the ORER for April 1928. We won't get any closer than the Union Refrigerator Transit Company series 24000 to 24299, which, like the rest of the cars that URTC owned and leased, don't stray too far from the typical dimensions of inside length of 32 feet 10 inches, inside height of 7 feet 5 inches (allowing for the ice tanks and insulation), outside length of 40 feet 2 inches, extreme height of 14 feet 6 inches, and capacity of 70,000 pounds. All of the cars in the URTC listing at the time were MCB Designation "RS" and had permanent floor racks. The ORER listing says nothing about who leased the cars from the URTC so we don't know whether there were a few or hundreds of "Banana" cars out of the 4700-plus that were in the fleet in 1928. © 2005 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

What we do know is that the car was assigned to the Mobile and Ohio Railroad, and that line merged with the Gulf, Mobile and Northern in 1940 to form the Gulf, Mobile and Ohio. So the Approximate Time Period shouldn't go much beyond that date. However, I'm wondering whether the anti-billboard freight car policy adopted by the ICC would have led to plainer paint before then. I'm calling the ATP to include all of the Thirties anyway. © 2005 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

With the number of manufacturers in most scales releasing versions of this car in both the URTC and the Northern Refrigerator Line variations, no doubt with varying degrees of fidelity, you'd think there would have to be some prototype information somewhere. Or not. The best I can do is Russ Clover's drawing in the Clover House catalog, which the MTL model matches. He gives a circa 1927 date for the car which I think gives me some credibility on the Approximate Time Period. © 2005 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

065 00 200, $18.50
39 Foot Tank Car, Single Dome, Southern Pacific.

Aluminum and black with black lettering including roadname and reporting marks on left and caption "Diesel Fuel Oil Service" on right.
Reporting Marks: SPMW 6066.
Approximate Time Period: 1950's (based on service date on car) through 1970's (a guess).
Previous Release: As catalog 65200, Road Number 61300, September 1987.
NOTE: This item has been sold out and discontinued.

I thought I was in BIG trouble with respect to the commentary on this car until "Coalporter" on The Railwire posted a citation of SPMW 6068 as lensed in 1975 in Oxnard, California. The Charles Lange photo appears on Based on a close look at that photo, I'd say that it actually shows a restencil over the paint job that MTL represents in its model. For example, the roadname appears to be "blacked out" but it would have been in the same place that MTL put it. I know what happens when you assume, but I'm going to assume that the 6068 was in fact a sister car of the 6066 and that these cars were pulled from groups of revenue cars that for many years were listed on the SP's roster. The Southern Pacific is in fact one of the few railroads that owned and operated a significant number of tankers in revenue service, almost 1700 in 1953 for example. © 2005 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

I'm calling this at least a nominal "not a reprint" given the change in road number from the initial release as well as an alteration in those impossible to read "Shipper Instructions" on the right hand side of the car. And if you count trucks, which I don't, this is definitely a "not a reprint" because it includes Dalman trucks, which definitely weren't available back in 1987. Said Dalmans are medium extension type which stick out a bit from the tanker body. © 2005 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

I don't think that the road number 61300 on the original run is prototypical. This is based on information in the SP Freight Cars Website, part of , an excellent site looked after by Lee Gautreaux. Looking at the dimensional data on the original release, it looks as though the model should be an SP Class O-50, the "50" referring to a 50 ton capacity (100,000 pounds). These cars were all built in the early part of the century by various companies including American Car and Foundry and General American. Some are what I'd call "roughly right" to the 65er body style although I didn't look hard enough to nitpick. It does appear that when all of these cars were renumbered into the 60000's by the Espee, there was no 61300; that actually was part of a short series of 45 foot tank cars that were built in 1963 for sulphuric acid service, not diesel fuel carriage. The only photo I saw of any O-50 tanker in the silver and black scheme, though, was of road number 62446, a class O-50-11, as caught in 1971, which was built in 1927 by General American Tank Car. The silver paint is so badly worn that I can't tell whether the reporting marks are SP or SPMW. This reprint has a built date of August 1928 by General American, as does the original run-- I think. © 2005 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

So what does all this do for our ATP? Well... this is one of those "throw up your hands" times. It's pretty pointless to come up with one for the initial release, and I'll still have to guess at one for the reprint as well. But given that many of the SP's tank cars were still in revenue service in the 1960's, and the one photo we do have available at the moment is from 1975, the 1960's and 1970's seems to be a reasonable bet. But here's another bit of confusion, though: MTL kept the October 1950 service date on the car from the original release, but specifies the "era" on the car box label to be 1968. Oh, well, can't win 'em all. © 2005 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.


021 00 395, $19.85
40 Foot Steel Boxcar, Plug Door, Michigan 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 () and state bird () on right.
Reporting Marks: MI 1837.
Thirty-first release in the States of the Union series.
NOTE: This item has been sold out and discontinued.

If you've wondered why there's been a car called a Cadillac, take a quick look into the Key Points in Michigan History, on the official state website. In 1701, Antoine de Lamothe Cadillac, with his lieutenant Alphonse de Tonty, established a trading post on the Detroit River which they named Fort Pontchartrain; that's the present site of Detroit. Long before this, Native American tribes including the Kickapoo, Miami, Chippewa, Ottawa and Potawatomi inhabited the area. "Michigan" is in fact an Algonquin word for "big lake"-- Lake Michigan, to be exact. Oh, and "le detroit" is French for "the Straits" referring to the Detroit and St. Clair Rivers. And here's a fun fact: When you're in Downtown Detroit, geography plays a trick on you: Windsor, Ontario, Canada is to the South! It's the bend in the Detroit River that makes this happen. Look it up! © 2005 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

The French ruled until 1760 when the British took over, not for long, of course. Michigan became part of the Northwest Territory in 1787-- hey, it's all a matter of perspective, calling it "the Northwest," right? The British briefly got Michigan Territory back in 1805. And Holy Toledo! Toledo would have been part of Michigan had the "Toledo War" between Michigan and Ohio not been settled with a compromise, and the threat that Michigan wouldn't be admitted to the Union. Ohio got Toledo and Michigan got into the USA in 1837. Detroit was the capital until 1847 when it moved to Lansing. Railroads criss-crossed the state and connected Chicago to Detroit and Port Huron, up to the Straits of Mackinac and over to ferry terminals on Lake Michigan. © 2005 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

Michigan has been synonymous with heavy industry, specifically the auto industry. The Ford Model T (any color you want as long as it's black) was first manufactured in 1908, just 12 years after the first automobile was driven in Detroit. But it took until 1935 for the United Auto Workers to be formed, something I didn't know. For World War II the auto plants became the "Arsenal of Democracy." I'm into bridges and the Mackinac (pronounced "Mackinaw") Straits Bridge between Upper and Lower Michigan which is one of the longest suspension types in the world, opened this month in 1957. In 1974 Gerald Ford, native of Grand Rapids, became the 38th President of the United States. © 2005 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

My first trip to Michigan came during the Whirlwind Tour of 1988, and was unusual among the 50 States in that I entered from the west, near Chicago, and headed east, back towards Port Huron, with an overnight along the way in a town I can't recall at the moment. Since then, I've been there on business a number of times, mostly around Detroit. If you counted flyovers between Rochester and Chicago I've certainly seen the state many more times, but what I really want to do is head back and visit the "U.P."-- and I don't mean the Union Pacific. No, the Upper Pensinsula and its Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore is a destination on the want list. © 2005 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

Famous Michiganders include both Henry Ford and Walter P. Chrysler-- you may have heard of their cars-- as well as inventor Thomas Edison although he's called the "Wizard of Menlo Park." As a boy, Edison published and sold a newspaper on a Grand Trunk Western passenger train, by the way. Recording artists Madonna, Ted Nugent and Eminem are from Michigan also, and can you think of three figures farther apart in the popular recording spectrum? Of course, Detroit is Motown and Diana Ross and Smokey Robinson are from there. And Aretha Franklin. And Della Reese. And Bob Seger. And Anita Baker. And Casey Kasem, who counted them all down on the "American Top 40" radio show for many years, and is also the voice of "Shaggy" in the Scooby-Doo cartoons. Stevie Wonder is from Saginaw "Home Improvement" star Tim Allen is from Michigan, as is director and producer Francis Ford Coppola, writer Edna Ferber, and aviator Charles Lindbergh. And Hi, Yo Silver! The Lone Ranger is "from" Michigan as his radio program debuted on WWJ Radio out of Detroit. © 2005 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

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


507 00 230, Magne-Matic Coupler, $23.70, 507 00 231, Marklin Coupler, $21.90.
50 Foot Steel Boxcar, Plug Door, Chesapeake and Ohio / Chessie System.

Yellow sides and roof, dark blue ends. Mostly dark blue lettering including Chessie System roadname and reporting marks on left, and "Ches-C" cat outline herald on right.
Reporting Marks: C&O 23026.
Approximate Time Period: 1980's.
NOTE: This item (both versions) has been sold out and discontinued.

The April 1981 ORER shows several subsets within the group 23000 to 23324. The main series, of 117 cars, has the AAR Classification "RBL" and the description "Refrigerator, Steel, Insulated, Cushion Underframe, Plug Doors, 50K". The key dimensions were inside length, 50 feet 1 inch, inside height 9 feet 10 inches (remember that insulation!), outside length 60 feet 5 inches, extreme height 15 feet 1 inch, door opening 10 feet 6 inches and capacity 4609 cubic feet or 140,000 pounds. The major subseries has another 102 cars and adds "Pallets" to the description. A second subseries also has pallets but has a shorter outside length, 58 feet 9 inches. And a short subseries of just plain "Refrigerator, Steel" has just three cars, but one of them is the 23026 that MTL selected for this model. The 23326, unlike many of its counterparts, got as far as the July 1989 Register in the CSX Transportation registration, but it's gone by the January 1981 ORER. It is possible that the cars were restenciled into CSXT reporting marks. © 2005 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

This 23000 to 23324 group was part of 1963 order for 400 cars from Pullman-Standard; the other 75 cars went to the Baltimore and Ohio which was under the C&O's wing by that time. An example of how the car was originally painted-- and thus a potential follow on release-- is on Page 37 of the Morning Sun Color Guide to the C&O. That scheme is yellow sides with blue ends and door and an aluminum roof. The Fallen Flags website includes a photo of similarly painted C&O 23302 from the same prototype series as the MTL model. Immediately one notices the shortened ladders and the lack of roofwalk; it seems to me that a boxcar wouldn't have a running board if it was painted for the Chessie System. Despite that, we're calling the ATP at the 1980's given that MTL offered a service date of September 1980 in its car copy. © 2005 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

981 01 030, Magne-Matic Coupler, $175.95, 981 01 031, Marklin Coupler, $174.15.
GP-35 Diesel Locomotive, Powered, CP Rail.

Action red with black lower frame and top of short hood (nose). White lettering including roadname on long hood and Multimark at rear end of long hood. Road number on lower cab and zebra striping on nose.
Road Number: 5016 (will be "CP 5016" in website listing).
Approximate Time Period: late 1960's (1968 repaint date given by MTL) through 1980's at least.
NOTE: This item (both coupler versions) has been sold out and discontinued.

According to the CPR Loco Roster and Photo Archives, the Canadian Pacific's unit number 5016 was built in 1965 and started out painted in the attractive maroon and gray scheme with the script roadname. (Which of course would make a nice follow on release.) One thing that CP modelers will need to deal with, or not, is the placement of a bell between the numberboards at the top front of the cab. The MTL doesn't have this feature. I don't know of any aftermarket parts but I also may be a bit nitpicky about this too. © 2005 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

The CP's 35's were numbered 5002 to 5025; the first twelve of these were delivered as 8202 to 8213 in 1964 and renumbered into the 5000's a year later. The CPR roster cited above simply states that the 5016 was "retired" with no specific disposition. Other of the CP's GP-35s were rebuilt to control cabs or sold off to other companies, often via Helm Leasing, this fits with MTL's noting that the 5016 went to the David J. Joseph company via Helm. The dates on the known dispositions are in the mid-1990's so that also concurs with MTL's statement. It's possible that Helm kept the unit for a while before selling to DJJ. Also, at least one of the class, the 5002, was redone into the non-multimark scheme. © 2005 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

There's a photo of the 5016 in the original CPR paint and several sister units in CP Rail paint on the CP Roster website, at the URL . And one other note: If the "new image" CP Rail of 1968 had gone with its original plan, its locos would have been black, not Action Red. See the photo of the model trains on Page 78 of the Winter 2005 edition of the magazine Classic Trains. © 2005 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.


501 00 160, Magne-Matic Coupler, $19.40, 501 00 161, Marklin Coupler, $17.60.
40 Foot Steel Boxcar, Double Door, Missouri-Kansas-Texas "The Katy".

Pullman green with gold lettering including large reporting marks on left and "The Katy Serves the Southwest" herald and slogan on right, plus legend "Railway Express Agency / Mail Storage".
Reporting Marks: MKT 45056.
Approximate Time Period: mid-1940's through 1950's.
Previous Release: As catalog 14816, Road Number 45054, August 1991.
NOTE: This item (both versions) has been sold out and discontinued.

This is not only a two for one special in the form of catching this and the previous road number in Z Scale, but a three for one as the only N Scale release (catalog 23150 from October 1987) has the same road number as the first Z Scale entry. So, if you're an N Scaler and you're reading this far... bonus! © 2005 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

The original N Scale release carries a built date of October 1946, so the first stop is the next closest ORER, which for me is July 1950 (Westerfield CD-ROM). The main series was numbered from 45001 to 45385 and included 364 cars with the AAR Classification "XMR" and the description "Automobile, Box, Steel, Staggered Doors". However, see that little tiny print on the right side of the car, under the herald? It reads, "Railway Express Agency Storage Mail". And that means a look at the subseries of 18 cars pulled from the main series, that had an AAR Classification of "BX" for Express Boxcar. The dimensions of both groups were the same except for the inside height, which varied on the main series due to autoloaders taking up some of the interior space. Here we go: inside length 40 feet 6 inches, inside height 10 feet 6 inches, outside length 41 feet 10 inches, extreme height 15 feet 1 inch, door opening 15 feet. This probably meant a eight plus seven foot door arrangement which sets up a bit of a "door thing," hard to notice in 1:220 of course. The capacity of the cars were 3978 cubic feet or 80,000 pounds. © 2005 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

Now for "Note B" which gives the scoop on these 18 exceptions: "Individual numbers of steel automobile boxcars... equipped for passenger train service, having steel wheels, steam and signal train lines..." and include the 45056 and the previous 45054. (Want to add a few to your "Texas Special"? Here are the other 16: 45051, 45052, 45053, and 45058 to 45070 inclusive.) © 2005 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

The January 1955 ORER (Westerfield CD-ROM) has the same 18 cars in the same subset, the January 1959 Register (Westerfield again) has one less with the 45062 gone. But by the January 1964 ORER the subset is gone completely, ending the ATP, as is much of the main series. All but one of the entire group is off the roster by April 1970, by the way.

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