UMTRR February, 2006 || Edited From Subscriber Edition
©2006 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.

031 00 170, $19.95
50 Foot Boxcar, Single Door, Missouri-Kansas-Texas ("The Katy").

Bright red with black ends. Yellow lettering including reporting marks on left and "Hydroframe 60 Keeps Load Safe From Shock" legend on right. Red, yellow and black "Katy" herald on left.
Reporting Marks: M-K-T 1422 (will be "MKT 1422" on website listings).
Approximate Time Period: 1964 (build date) through early 1970's as built, to the early 1980's without roofwalk.
NOTE: This item has been sold out and discontinued.

This car is "the bomb!" You'll see why in a moment... Oh, yeah, "the bomb" IS good, like "nifty," "groovy," "peachy keen," "phat"... your terms may vary. © 2006 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

Well, that slogan "Hydroframe 60 Keeps Load Safe From Shock" is not as catchy as the Santa Fe's "Super Shock Control," is it? But it does get the point across, as if that very extended draft gear doesn't. I don't think that MTL (or anyone else) makes a coupler that sticks out far from the frame! Another challenge to those of you that crave more prototype fidelity. © 2006 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

Pullman-Standard built fifty of these cars for the Katy in April 1964, numbered 1400 to 1499. The very 1422 that MTL depicts is the first in a line of five of these Hydroframe-60 cars pictured on Page 60 (how appropriate!) of the Morning Sun Color Guide (MSCG) to Pullman-Standard. All that's missing from the low three-quarter view is a good look at the roof, but I believe it is the same bright red as the car. Later in life, we get a view of four very worn out looking cars from the group via Bill Phillips' photos on George Elwood's Fallen Flags site. The 1433 as of April 1979 has had its door changed from the as-issued Superior type to the "classic" PS-1 version, and the 1409 from April 1980 is missing the door! The yellow lettering has faded badly, to almost a mere shadow of itself; the Katy herald is just an off-color shadow, and the reporting marks are practically invisible. The 1441 from September 1982 is actually a little better; at least one can see that it belongs to the Katy without a detailed inspection. On this one, you also get a great view of those extended draft gear... you could seat a couple of people on it, were it not for the "Keep Off" warning. Finally, the last car in the series, the 1499, is pictured as of October 1980; the slogan is, well, just about gone, and the number has been restenciled in what looks like a Helvetica Bold font, in what looks like white, not yellow. On all four of these cars, the roofwalk is long gone, although it was definitely in place as delivered by Pullman-Standard back in '64. © 2006 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

The Official Railway Equipment Register (ORER) from January 1964 is unfortunately just a bit too early for this group. So we need to hit the April 1970 which is the next one in the UMTRR Accumulation. The group 1400 to 1449 was described as just "Box, Steel" with an AAR Classification of "XL" but we'll catch a notation in a moment. The inside length of these cars was 50 feet 6 inches, inside height 10 feet 6 inches, outside length 60 feet 5 inches-- see, I said the extended draft gear was long!-- extreme height 15 feet 1 inch, door opening 9 feet (a slight "door thing") and capacity 4252 cubic feet or 140,000 pounds. The Katy was already down one of the group to 49 cars. The notation added that, and, gang, you're going to love this one, "Cars... are equipped with Evans DF-2 loader and steel protection rings for bomb casings loading except cars numbered 1401, 1404, 1409, 1417, 1422, 1427, 1434, 1439, 1441, 1443, and 1445 equipped with Evans DF-2 nine belt loader and cars numbered 1415, 1420 and 1436 equipped with Evans DF-2 one belt loader." © 2006 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

OK, so some of these cars really were "The Bomb" huh? Or at least that's what they carried-- bomb casings? Where to, I might ask? Perhaps "where from" might be the correct question; the McAlester Army Ammunition Plant (MCAAP), "a vast, somewhat dilapidated facility six miles south of the town of McAlester [Oklahoma, and yes, on a Katy line]. MCAAP is the source of nearly every nonnuclear bomb that the United States now uses," according to an article in the July 2002 edition of "Fast Company," appropriately titled "Boomtown USA." (And that piece is online.) Holy specialized service, Batman! You can have all the cushioned underframe you want if that's your cargo. Hmm, I think I just found my next N Scale Collector "UMTRR Spotlight Car." And hopefully I wasn't just found to be a Person of Interest by looking up "bomb casings" on Google. © 2006 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

Anyway, by April 1976, I suspect that these cars would have lost their roofwalks, and I also correctly guessed before opening the ORER that the single series with the one long notation would have been split up into three subsets based on their Damage Free equipment. That's exactly what happened, and in addition, all the cars are noted as carrying bomb casings. The total for the group was already down to 45 cars, only 12 years after Pullman-Standard delivered fifty to the Katy. Given the cargo, I wonder what happened to those five cars...? By the April 1981 guide, the group was down again, to 43 total cars, of which 34 were demoted to just "Box, Steel"-- perhaps not a bad fate this time. Even so, only six cars remained in October 1986, at which point I stopped looking. © 2006 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

065 00 500, $18.75
39 Foot Tank Car, Single Dome, A.E. Staley.

Orange and black with black lettering including reporting marks on left, company name in center and Staley's trademark on right.
Reporting Marks: AESX 195.
Approximate Time Period: 1940's and 1950's.
NOTE: This item has been sold out and discontinued.

Scripophily,net, a site devoted to the sale of stock certificates, describes the company depicted on this release thusly: "The A.E. Staley Manufacturing Company was the first major company existing today to begin crushing soybeans to yield oil and meal; they started in 1922. Indeed Staley was one of the first Americans to see the great potential of the soybean as a source of oil, meal, and flour. He was a true pioneer in the days when the soybean was so little known that national production and acreage records were not yet kept. He is generally regarded as the father of the soybean crushing industry." © 2006 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

The firm was founded in 1898 by Augustus Eugene (Gene) Staley in Baltimore, Maryland as a packager of corn starch under the "Cream" brand (still marketed by the Dial Corporation). Staley relocated to Decatur, Illinois and opened his own corn processing facility. But then he realized that the Midwest was being "corned out" and that led to soybeans. © 2006 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

First, Staley recruited early adopters to plant soybeans instead of corn. Initially, that just resulted in a very underused plant, but growing picked up after that and Staley bought all the soybeans he was offered. He then turned to expanding the market, and that involved, guess what, railroads. According to The Soy Daily Club website, quoting an unpublished paper on the subject, "[Staley] decided to conduct a massive education program throughout central Illinois by hiring a train! He announced that 'the newest thing on rails will be the Soybean Special.' Working together with the Illinois Central Railroad Company, the University of Illinois College of Agriculture, and Southern Illinois Normal University, Staley put together a promotional marvel. When the Soybean Special rolled out for inspection on March 28, 1927 in Decatur, it was 'whistle-tooting proof that Gene Staley was a salesman, an operator, an entrepreneurial innovator, and an evangelistic crusader for the lowly bean.' The six-car train contained exhibits and displays on soybean planting, cultivation, processing, and utilization, prepared with the help of Professor J.C. Hackleman of the University of Illinois. It also had two cars converted into motion picture theaters and a lecture car. Between March 28 and April 17, a total of 33,939 people passed through the train as it traveled 2,478 miles and made 105 scheduled stops. Prizes were awarded and Gene Staley even went aboard for some parts of the trip. When a reporter asked Staley if he had any hobbies, the latter replied, 'Soybeans--just soybeans.'" © 2006 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

Soybeans went and came back for Staley, but what kept them on the map was, in fact, corn. In the 1970's when that now-ubiquitous "high fructose corn syrup" started to appear in products such as Coca-Cola, the firm really hit the jackpot. Soy flour, soy protein concentrates, and other products certainly had their place in the Staley lineup, though. In 1981 the company commissioned for its 75th Anniversary a corporate history titled "The Kernel and the Bean." Seven years later the company was purchased by British multinational Tate and Lyle, a name now seen on numerous tank cars in America. © 2006 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

And here's something you might not know: In 1919, a company football team was fielded by the firm, initially out of Decatur and called "The Staleys", but later, "da Bears"! Yes, the National Football League's Chicago Bears were originated by A.E. Staley, who hired George Halas and Edward "Dutch" Sternaman in 1920 to run the team and turned control of the team over to them in 1921. © 2006 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

Now, for the tank car. Both the July 1935 and the January 1940 ORERs (Westerfield CD-ROMs) have a listing for Staley, but each has only tank cars numbered 20 to 107. I didn't go back any farther than that. MTL tells me that the build and service dates for the car are March 1940... so guess what, that January 1940 Register just misses. © 2006 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

After that, the AESX reporting marks are registered to North American Car Company (and much later, past the ATP, went to General Electric Railcar Services), so it's safe to assume that these tankers were leased. And it appears that more and more cars were leased once that arrangement was established. In January 1945, there's 20 to 182, which, hmm, wouldn't include the 195. These are 144 tank cars of 8000 gallon or 100,000 pounds capacity, AAR Classification "TM." And as is typical with tank cars, that's all we get in terms of dimensional data. © 2006 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

In July 1950, there's AESX 20 to 400, a split between 141 cars with 80,000 pounds capacity and 195 cars with 100,000 pounds capacity. In January 1953 we have AESX series 15 to 464, of 221 cars with 100,000 pounds capacity and 154 cars with 80,000 pounds capacity of which the 195 was one. In January 1964, there's AESX series 15 to 890 with a mixture of AAR Classification "TM" and "TL" cars and a mix of capacity as well. The 195 is shown as a "TL" ("Tank car lined with container lined with any material other than glass) with 80,000 pounds capacity. In the April 1970 Register, this series inches up a bit more, to 15 to 899, but it looks like the 195 is no longer among the group. © 2006 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

What I'm more concerned about is the paint scheme and so the ATP for the car is a bit of a guess. My library and the vast internet came up with no images, only a tease that Life-Like did the same car with the same reporting marks on its Proto 2000 model of an 8000 gallon tanker, HO Scale of course. Courtesy of Dan Johannsson, I have images of that car which show a 1920 build date and a 1953 service date, and we have the MTL model with 1940 on both. (Yes, conflicting information on the build date?) And Dan also posted a link to the Canadian Freight Railcar Gallery-- why didn't I think of looking there?!?-- that has an image of sister car 576, in very beat up orange paint, from 1966! Now a car built in 1920 would be too old for interchange service in 1966, but one built in 1940 wouldn't be. The Andrews trucks, though, were used through the 1950's according to the data that I have in the archives. © 2006 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

There have been black with white and silver with black versions of Staley cars offered in N Scale as well. The same website has a pretty beat up black and white Staley tank car too. At first I'd thought that the orange preceded the black and the silver versions, but maybe they were overlapped. Anyway, the ATP I've indicated should definitely be good but if you stretch it forward, it might be tough to quibble with that. © 2006 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

069 00 180, $17.25
51 Foot Mechanical Refrigerator Car, Riveted Sides, Canadian National.

Yellow sides, black ends, roof and details. Black lettering including roadname and reporting marks on left and large "wet noodle" herald on right.
Reporting Marks: CN 231031.
Approximate Time Period: mid 1960's to late 1980's.
NOTE: This item has been sold out and discontinued.

This car represents the "after" phase of its life on the CN. The "before" was the lease of 75 cars by the CN from North American Car Company and lettered into the NIRX series 16500 to 16579. CN later renumbered these to CN 231000 to 231074. Photos of both appear in the MSCG to the Canadian National, Volume 2. According to the captions that accompany the photos, these cars were built in late 1962 by Pacific Car and Foundry and were initially used to ship perishable food products to the Atlantic provinces. The "before" photo with NIRX reporting marks was taken in January 1963 and the "after" with CN reporting marks in September 1978. Since they were built by PC&F, they are United States prototypes and therefore not one of the more unusual cars that the CN rostered from its usual Canadian sources. © 2006 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

With a little help from Ian Cranstone's Canadian Freight Cars site, we have the date for the transition from "before" to "after" at approximately October 1965. In fact, we have the entire Approximate Time Period since he has the series gone from the roster about October 1989. Let's grab the April 1970 ORER: There were 72 cars in the series described as simply "Mechanical Refrigerator" with AAR Classification "RP" and these vital statistics: inside length 45 feet 7 inches and outside length 54 feet 10 inches, inside height 8 feet 5 inches, extreme height 15 feet 1 inch. The difference in the heights and lengths is accounted for by insulation and mechanical refrigerator equipment (which could keep the temperature between 0 and 70 degrees Fahrenheit according to the MSCG). The door opening was 8 feet wide by 8 feet 8 inches tall, and the capacity was 3305 cubic feet or 140,000 pounds. Despite the flip to CN reporting marks these were apparently still leased cars; there's a notation instructing that repair bills should be sent to North American Car Company. That note isn't present in the April 1976 Register's listing though. © 2006 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

101 00 040, $29.60
40 Foot "Hy-Cube" Steel Box Car, Smooth Sides, Single Sliding Door, Union Pacific.

Yellow sides, aluminum roof, ends, lower side sill, and trucks. Mostly black lettering including reporting marks on left. Large red, white and blue "shield" herald on left. Multicolor "Automated Railway" logo on right. Red and white "Appliance" sideboard on left.
Reporting Marks: UP 518250.
Approximate Time Period: late 1960's (1967 build date on car) to mid-1980's.
NOTE: This item has been sold out and discontinued.

These almost certainly had to be the most colorful of the assigned boxcar pool at the Whirlpool plant in Evansville, Indiana. There's no doubt about what these cars are carrying; the bright red and white "Appliances" sideboard says so. And there's no shortage of color on the rest of the car either, which, as I have noted before, is a key contributor to that up-there MSRP. © 2006 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

The April 1970 ORER shows the short series 518250 to 518263 described as "Box, Steel, Cushion Underframe" with a couple of notes indicating the 19 Belt DF-2 loaders and that the cars "are excess height and have no running boards"-- still unusual features in 1970. The stats: inside length 40 feet 6 inches, inside height 13 feet, outside length 47 feet 5 inches (indicating that perhaps medium extension trucks would work also), extreme height 17 feet, door opening 10 feet, capacity 5028 cubic feet or 110,000 pounds. There were 14 cars in this group, but the sets 518270 to 518287 and 518300 to 518304 have identical dimensions, for a total of 37 cars-- still just .06% of the total Union Pacific fleet. I might add that there were plug door versions of this car rostered by the UP, and if MTL does that body style at some point, that's gotta be a prime candidate for depiction. © 2006 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

By April 1981 there were 12 of the 14 cars in service in the group (and 31 overall) and they'd been given 22 Belt DF-2 loaders and classified into the "Plate F" dimension set. Eleven (and 26 total) remained in October 1986; it looks like the series was gone by July 1987, a quick exit. © 2006 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

Fallen Flags doesn't have one of these cars but does offer an example of the plug-door version of the Hy-Cube in the form of UP 518156 as of February 1985. It looks as though this car had a sideboard with instructions as well, but it's been blacked out. For the weathering fans, the paint's held up reasonably well but there's enough dirt anyway, more at the bottom than on top as you might expect. © 2006 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

113 00 710, $19.95
Disconnect Logging Trucks with Log Load.

No paint, no lettering.
Reporting Marks: None.
Approximate Time Period: Most of the 20th Century.
NOTE: This item has been sold out and discontinued.

So you go from not much of a body to no body at all for this third variation on the theme of the logging car-- if you can call it that-- and go about as minimalist as one can. In fact, if there's a more minimal "car" out there than a pair of trucks, couplered at both ends, upon which logs are set for transport, I'd sure like to know what it is! © 2006 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

These cars were a bit more versatile than the skeleton log cars in the sense that they could handle log loads of variable length. I would imagine that they might have been a bit of a challenge to load. The workers would have to get both ends of the logs in the right place, so that they would stay balanced along trackage that was usually not built to mainline standards. © 2006 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

So, you might be asking, why are there couplers at both ends of each truck? Well, once the logs were delivered, the trucks had to be hauled back to collect more logs. The easiest way to do that was to simply couple all of the trucks back together and pull the string right along. I suppose this would give new meaning to "loads in empties out"! © 2006 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

This should be another quick sellout, as most of the previous log car releases from MTL have been. I'm not thinking so much that the "first of the body style" is going to be that impressive for the true collectors as I am the idea that runners will want multiple copies of this release. I'm waiting to see the first image of an unloaded set of trucks being hauled "back up the mountain" by a suitable steamer. My guess is that it won't be long before we see one. © 2006 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.


039 00 030, $13.15
40 Foot Box Car, Wood Double Sheathed Sides, Single Door, Northern Pacific.

Box car red with white lettering including arched roadname and reporting marks on left. Red, white and black "monad" herald on right.
Reporting Marks: NP 39030.
Approximate Time Period: early 1940's (1942 service date on previous runs) to early 1950's.
Previous Releases (as catalog 39030): Road Number 38527, May 1985; Road Number 38827, July 1991.
NOTE: This item has been sold out and discontinued.

Hey, the road number matches the catalog number, at least the old one! How about that! This third run of this basic double sheathed boxcar lands in a different number series from the first two runs, though. © 2006 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

The January 1940 ORER (Westerfield CD-ROM) shows 299 cars in the series 39000 to 39299, with description "Box, Steel Center Sills" and these dimensions: inside length 40 feet 3 inches, inside height 8 feet 8 inches, extreme height 14 feet 2 inches, side door opening 5 feet 6 inches, capacity 2990 cubic feet or 80,000 pounds. There is a slight "door thing" on the side door, just six inches though, but there's also an end door shown of 2 feet by 8 inches in size. That would most likely be a lumber door. All in all, it's a pretty small car, but not as small as the previous road number 38827 based on this particular Register listing; that was a 36 foot interior length boxcar. Perhaps that's the reason for the change in the number series; a bit of a correction, this. Interestingly, the July 1935 puts the 39030 in a short series of 36 foot boxcars, so be careful with that ATP! Speaking of which, you'll need to be careful at the other end as well, or get some decals to extend it: by January 1953, the cars had apparently been renumbered into the series 39504 to 40995, where 282 remained. By January 1964, "NP 39030" was used on a double door steel boxcar, not a single door double sheathed one, and very few "center sill" boxcars remained. © 2006 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

Although not a part of the particular prototype series, there is a match to the paint scheme on NP 200343, formerly part of the group 10000 to 13999, on Page 36 of the MSCG to the Northern Pacific. The 1942 to 1948 paint scheme had the arched roadname, reporting marks and the three foot monad herald, but no slogan. After 1948 the "Main Street of the Northwest" wording was added and the herald was increased to 4 feet in diameter. The NP kept its wood sheathed boxcars longer than many roads in deference to the large number of lumber shippers on the line. © 2006 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

046 00 100, $16.95
50 Foot Gondola, Fishbelly Sides, Drop Ends, Lehigh Valley.

Oxide red with mostly white lettering including reporting marks on left and roadname in center and black and white diamond herald on right. Simulated telephone pole load included.
Reporting Marks: LV 33350.
Approximate Time Period: early 1950's through 1960's.
Previous Release (as catalog 46100/46510): Road Number 33327, October 1975.
NOTE: This item has been sold out and discontinued.

If you want variety in your freight cars and locomotives in a manageable size railroad, there's probably no better choice than the Lehigh Valley. In one five hundred car series, we have black, brown, gray, green and white gondolas, although not all at the same time. Well, maybe not... © 2006 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

Based on the timeline I can follow between the MSCG to the Jersey Central and Lehigh Valley (a two for one Color Guide), the first paint scheme for the 1950-built cars was all black with white lettering and no diamond herald. The scheme chosen by MTL for this car was introduced in the mid 1950's; there's a shot of a car from a different gondola group in the MSCG. From there it apparently was to another "red" scheme with a larger roadname and the diamond herald splitting the roadname, similar to the 46380 that MTL produced back in December 2001. Except that MTL model was jade green, as was another version of the prototype paint scheme. And finally, or maybe before the green, I don't know, was gray with black lettering in the same style and placement. Help! © 2006 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

The ORER for January 1953 shows two series of gondolas with identical dimensions. The first group was numbered 32850 to 33349 and numbered 500 cars; that's the source of the first Micro-Trains run. The second group was numbered 33350 to 33699, and it's easy to see that the reprint number came from that group. The first group was listed in the MSCG as being built in 1950. It looks like the second group was built by 1952; in fact that's the build date on the initial Micro-Trains run. The description for both groups was "Gondola, Steel Sides, Steel Drop Ends, Flat Bottom, Wood Floor" with an inside length of 52 feet 6 inches, inside width of 9 feet 6 inches, inside height of 3 feet 6 inches, outside length of 54 feet 7 inches, and capacity of 1745 cubic feet or 140,000 pounds. © 2006 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

An unofficial roster of Steamtown equipment, among which is an LV gondola from this group, states that around 1958 these cars were sold to Marshall Railway Equipment Corporation. That could be; as the LV reeled from traffic losses toward the "point of no return," it sold off equipment and leased it back. MTL has already provided several examples of this. But they very much remained on the roster; in fact, of the original 750 cars, 571 made it all the way to Conrail as of April 1976. The MSCG credits the excellent construction techniques of builder Bethlehem Steel for that track record. © 2006 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

As much as I like to see another Railroad of New Jersey honored with an MTL item, the real talking point is the load. Early reports out of Springfield are quite favorable, and based on the website imagery, I must agree. Although the first run of this car was not really a best seller, I see a much quicker trip to the bye-bye board thanks to those telephone poles. You've been cautioned. © 2006 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

094 00 150, $26.65
Three Bay Center Flow Covered Hopper, Trough (Long) Hatches, Soo Line "Colormark".

Gray with mostly black lettering including reporting marks on left. Large dark green roadname across side. Green and yellow "Colormark" logo on left. Yellow "wheat stalk" device on right.
Reporting Marks: SOO 73469.
Approximate Time Period: 1972 (build date) through 1990's.
Previous Release (as catalog 94150): Road Number 73465, March 1999.
NOTE: This item has been sold out and discontinued.

In March 1999 when the first release of this car was issued, I'd just spent two weeks in Chicagoland, where the weather was decidedly winter-like, but the reception from my readers was very warm indeed. I spent a fair amount of the review discussing the Soo in Chicago, and not much about the car. Let's reverse that this time if we can. And let's also correct what is essentially an Oops that is nearly seven years old! © 2006 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

Looking back at my copy of the March 1999 UMTRR, I see that I use bytes describing the series 73351 to 73449. Which would be great, except that the original run road number 73465 is not part of that series! In a word, "oops." (And another illustration of why this treatise is Free And Worth At Least That Much.) © 2006 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

So let's go back to the April 1976 ORER, which remains the closest I have to the build date of 1972. In true Soo fashion, only the odd numbers of the series 73451 to 73949 are used. The description was "Covered Hopper, Triple Hopper, Interior Linings, Trough Hatches, Three Gravity Discharge Outlets" with AAR Classification "LO". The inside length was 49 feet 9 inches, outside length 53 feet 11 inches, extreme height 15 feet 6 inches, and capacity 4650 cubic feet or 198,000 pounds. There were 247 cars in the series, which is three short of the most you can have when you only use the odd numbers. By the way, that adjacent series, 73351 to 73449, differs only in the AAR Car Type Code, L353 versus L153 on the right group of cars. © 2006 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

In the April 1981 ORER, there are 239 cars in the group, and in the January 1985, 238 cars. Eleven years later there were still 214 in the series, and October 1996 was as late as I could get back then. We can advance from that point, but the group doesn't quite make it into "the present" as there were just two cars left in the October 2004 Register and in the October 2002 book to boot. I've called the ATP a bit before that, otherwise I'd have to use the somewhat awkward "early 2000's." © 2006 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

The MTL model is of an ACF 4650 cubic foot Center Flow hopper, so we should be OK in the prototype fidelity department, generally speaking. A look on the Fallen Flags site for both the "right" and "wrong" series shows that not all of the Soo Line cars had the "Colormark" designation or the wheat stalk. A photo of the 73395 from 1998 has the green roadname but no wheat stalk and a shot of 73767 from 1990 has what looks like a black roadname, but it's hard to tell. I did find the correct paint scheme on a different Center Flow series over at the "Boxcars and Freight Cars of North America" site. © 2006 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

Note: Releases not listed are covered exclusively in the subscriber edition of the UMTRR.

021 00 398, $19.85
40 Foot Steel Boxcar, Plug Door, Idaho 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 bird (Mountain Bluebird) and state flower (Mock Orange Blossom) on right.
Reporting Marks: ID 1890.
Thirty-fourth release in the States of the Union series.
NOTE: This item has been sold out and discontinued.

Yeah, it's the land of the potato, I know. The first of these were grown circa 1836 by one Henry Spalding, who also started the Gem State's first school, printed its first book, and set up its first irrigation system. That all got going just two years after the first forts, at Laramie, Boise and Hall, were established. Prior to that, the area was left mostly to fur trappers and traders, although Louis and Clark included what is now Idaho in their famous exploration of the Louisiana Purchase. Prior to that, Native American tribes such as the Shoshone, the Nez Perce, the Palouse and the Kalispel inhabited the area. Evidence of Paleo-indian big game hunters goes back about 14,000 years. © 2006 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

But it wasn't until 1860 that Franklin, the first town in Idaho was established. (Look just north of the Utah border.) This is despite the traveling of many settlers and fortune seekers through the area; they didn't stop. Even a gold discovery on the Pend Oreille River in 1852 didn't encourage permanent settlement. Finally, Idaho Territory was created in 1863 with its first capital at Lewiston, moved to Boise the next year. Franklin was the site of the first railroad service in the territory, circa 1874; at the time the non-native population was not much above 17,000. Indian wars marred the time period: the Snake, the Nez Perce, the Bannock, the Sheepeater; and the largest slaughter in the West, the Bear River Massacre. By 1880 the population was up past 32,000 and a Historical Society was established. Yes, that's ten years before Idaho became the 43rd State, on July 3, 1890, the same year that the Great Northern Railway completed its route across the "panhandle". At the turn of the century the population was over 160,000. It reached one million in 1990. Current industries include high tech, agriculture, mining, and tourism-- did you know that the Union Pacific founded the Sun Valley ski resort? © 2006 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

Famous Idahoans include baseball players Harmon Killebrew and Walter Johnson; developer of television Philo T. Farnsworth, supermarketer Joe Albertson, downhill skier Picabo Street, industrialist J.R. Simplot, actress Lana Turner, poet Ezra Pound, and Lewis and Clark's famous guide Sacagawea. © 2006 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

My first visit to Idaho was part of the single longest one day drive I've ever taken; it started in Salt Lake City (also the first time in Utah) and followed Interstate 80 into Wyoming (also the first time there), then angled up to US 30 and thence into Montpelier, Idaho, where Butch Cassidy robbed a bank in 1896, by the way. From there it was around the west side of Bear Lake on US 89 and back into Utah. But that stop in the Gem State was only a warmup. The second trip was about a month later and began out of Spokane on US 2. That highway follows the former Northern Pacific into Sandpoint, which is the home of "The Funnel" where the Burlington Northern's former Great Northern and Northern Pacific lines come together, met by the Montana Rail Link and the Union Pacific's former Spokane International line. All that, and the "mother ship" of the clothing chain Coldwater Creek too (it's very popular with Rosemary and back then sold childrens' and men's clothes with a western and Native American theme). I observed and shot video of a couple of trains at Sandpoint, and got a real lesson on how silent they can be on welded rail! From there it was down the very scenic Idaho 200 along the Clark Fork and into Montana. On the way back, I took Interstate 90, which enters the state from the east through Lookout Pass, quite the view. I-90 also begins in Idaho with "Exit 0"-- that's Exit Zero-- which I always find an amusing designation. © 2006 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.


New Release:
800 00 130, $13.60
30 Foot Box Car, Double Sheathed, Single Door, Rio Grande Southern.

Boxcar red with white lettering including reporting marks on left.
Reporting Marks: RGS 8506
Approximate Time Period: 1938 to 1942 (per MTL car copy).
NOTE: This item has been sold out and discontinued.

This is a rather plain boxcar lettered for a very famous railroad. Chances are, you know someone who has a "Rico Station" on their layout somewhere-- or perhaps you do. It was on the RGS. Or maybe you've been eyeing a model of a Galloping Goose, a railcar that was native to the line. © 2006 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

Prominent miner Otto Mears was the developer of this line, which author George Hilton called "the final successful effort to build a narrow gauge into the San Juan mining area of Southwestern Colorado." Started in 1889, completed in 1892, and abandoned in 1952, the 162 mile line wound from Ridgway to Durango. The principal purpose of the line was the carriage of mine products, especially silver at first, and as the mines fared, so did the RGS. For example, when the Sherman Silver Purchase Act was in force, boom times ensued. When it was repealed a year after the RGS opened, bust. Otto Mears lost control of the line to the Denver and Rio Grande, but the D&RG never owned all of it, so it was run independently, and allowed to more or less squeak by. © 2006 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

The changeover of many of the Colorado lines from standard to narrow gauge resulted in equipment going over to the RGS, this boxcar being just one example. That ATP given by Micro-Trains is pretty durn short; fortunately I have a January 1940 ORER which is smack in the middle of that 1938 to 1942 timeframe! Unfortunately, we hit the old bugaboo, "Freight Cars Owned Are Not Employed in Commercial Service," which means that they are not listed! Information on a decal set from the San Juan Decal Company validates MTL's car copy and even includes a Colorado and Southern to RGS renumbering table, which I can't quite read. © 2006 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.


500 00 360, Magne-Matic Coupler, $26.10, 500 00 361, Marklin Coupler, $24.30.
40 Foot Boxcar, Single Door (Superior Door), Great Northern.

Orange and pullman green sides; pullman green ends and roof. White lettering including reporting marks on left and simulated reflective squares along bottom of side. Green roadname in "Empire Builder" font on left. Black and white side facing goat herald on right.
Reporting Marks: GN 2533.
Approximate Time Period: mid-1950's through 1960's.
NOTE: This item (both coupler versions) has been sold out and discontinued.

On the RPI Website, John Nehrich notes that the "loader" scheme mentioned by MTL in its car copy was introduced in 1953 but apparently not used until 1955 on plywood express boxcars. Well, perhaps I'm getting ahead of myself. © 2006 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

The July 1953 ORER shows two groups of cars, numbered 2500 to 2524 and 2525 to 2549. They are of the same general dimensions, which we'll get to in a moment, and they have the same notation: "Cars in series 2500 to 2549 are equipped with passenger type trucks, steel wheels, marker lamp brackets, steam and signal train lines and can be used in baggage and express service. Capacity of these cars is 60,000 pounds when used in passenger service and 92,500 pounds when used in freight service." However, there is a difference in the construction of these cars. The first group, 2500 to 2524, is listed as "Box, Steel Frame" and these are the plywood sided cars. The second group, 2525 to 2549 including the modeled 2533, is listed as "Box, All Steel." Aha! © 2006 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

Here's what I think is very interesting about these two groups of cars. The key dimensions are exactly the same: inside length 40 feet 6 inches, inside width 9 feet 2 inches, inside height 10 feet, outside length 41 feet 9 inches, extreme height 14 feet 8 inches, door opening 6 feet wide. Yet the cubic foot capacity is different, and it's less for the steel cars: 3712 versus 3727 for the plywood sheathed cars. If the interior dimensions are the same, would not the cubic foot capacity be as well? But I digress... © 2006 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

Not much has changed by the January 1959 ORER, with a drop down to 23 cars in the 2525 to 2549 series. But in the January 1964 ORER, the cars (and the 2500 to 2524 group) have been moved into the "Passenger Equipment" sublisting under the Great Northern's registration, and reclassified as AAR "BH" with the description "Baggage-Express, All Steel". There's also been another deletion, with the series down to 2527 to 2549 with 23 cars. But the dimensions remain the same. In April 1970 under the Burlington Northern, 22 cars remain with GN reporting marks and the "Baggage-Express" description. Finally, in the April 1976 Register, there are 17 cars that are listed as just "Box, Steel" in the group 2527 to 2549, but amazingly, there are ten survivors with the "Baggage-Express" description in the other series, 2503 to 2521. This, five years after the Burlington Northern gave way to Amtrak and got out of the long-distance passenger business. © 2006 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

Of course, none of these facts tell us anything about the "loader" paint scheme, or how long it may have lasted. For a clue on that, we turn to the September 2003 issue of Rail Model Journal, which profiles the "Top 10 Express Boxcars". This piece actually including a ranking, as of January 1953, of the largest fleets of these cars by railroad; the GN placed fifth with 98 cars. (Number one: far and away, the Pennsylvania, with 931, more than the rest of the list combined!) Under the information for the GN's cars, we learn that the as delivered paint scheme for 2525 to 2549 was mineral red with white lettering, then pullman green with yellow lettering starting in 1950 or 1951. "These cars were repainted into the orange and green 'loader' scheme beginning in the mid-1950's," says RMJ, and of course MTL in its car copy as well. Since the RMJ article does not mention any successor paint scheme, and they're usually very good about this, I think it's probably safe to say that these cars remained in the decoration as depicted by MTL until they were retired. At the very least, you should be good for the ATP that I've called out. By the way, the "loader paint scheme" apparently refers to that painted on GN boxcars that had DF or other types of loader equipment. I've got a shot of another GN boxcar with that designation in that scheme in "Classic Freight Cars Volume 1". Fallen Flags has a shot of GN 39431 as an example to which you can surf as well. © 2006 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

501 00 090, Magne-Matic Coupler, $20.45, 501 00 091, Marklin Coupler, $18.65
40 Foot Boxcar, Double Door (Superior Doors), Canadian National.

Boxcar red with green doors. White lettering including roadname and roadnumber on left and large "wet noodle" herald on right.
Reporting Marks: CN 583794.
Approximate Time Period: late 1960's through mid 1970's.
NOTE: This item (both coupler versions) has been sold out and discontinued.

We begin with a word on those green doors: "Sometimes." That's the word from "CDS Railway Equipment Diagrams," specifically: "Some of these cars had green doors indicating lumber service." That implies that others don't, so for some additional variety, practice your number restenciling and get out that boxcar red paint for a go at those doors! © 2006 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

We'll start at the April 1970 ORER; I'll explain why in a moment. The series 583000 to 583997 has 769 cars with AAR Classification "XM" and description "Box, Steel, Staggered Doors." The inside length is 40 feet 6 inches, inside height 10 feet 1 inch, outside length 44 feet 3 inches, extreme height 14 feet 8 inches, door opening 12 feet 1 inch, and capacity 3770 cubic feet or 95,000 pounds. That's a bit on the low side, and the cars are a bit smaller than what was being constructed then. © 2006 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

Ah, but they weren't constructed then. According to Ian Cranstone's Canadian Freight Cars site (URL ), these were rebuilds, which came from a number of series of CN boxcars originally built during the years 1938 to 1944. Examples were the 480715 to 487764 group. In addition to the CN, some of these rebuilds were assigned to subsidiary Duluth, Winnipeg and Pacific with "DWC" reporting marks. Ian has the 583's that are in one group in the ORER subdivided into four separate groups, two of which came online about mid-1968 and two in mid-1969. He has them all gone by January 1995, but I suspect that the roofwalks would have been gone before that, so my ATP is shorter. © 2006 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

The "door thing" that I often cite on MTL releases is not a factor on this car. The doors on Z Scale double door cars, unlike their N Scale counterparts, are six scale feet wide, yielding the 12 foot door opening that is correct for the car. (Alright, it's an inch off. Anyone really care about this at a 1:220 proportion? I hope not!) Some of the prototype's rebuilding programs, quite possibly including this one, used pre-owned six foot doors according to the MSCG to the Canadian National Volume 2: "[C]ars were rebuilt with double doors for a 12 foot 1 inch opening utilizing surplus 6 foot doors from cars converted to 9 foot doors." © 2006 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

540 00 050, Magne-Matic Coupler, $32.10, 540 00 051, Marklin Coupler, $30.30.
Gunderson Husky Stack Car with Containers, Florida East Coast.

Yellow with silver details and mostly black lettering including reporting marks on left and "hurricane" herald and roadname on right. Orange 40 foot container, red 20 foot container and white 20 foot container included.
Reporting Marks: FEC 70048.
Approximate Time Period: 2001 to present.
NOTE: Both versions of this item have been sold out and discontinued.

Don't worry too much about this being a "regional" railroad in terms of running this car. Along the "Chicago Line" of CSX, former Conrail, Penn Central, New York Central, I see FEC well cars all the time as part of those "interesting double-stack trains" (OK, I have my biases too). I had a feeling that an FEC entry would appear before too long; as MTL hints, a large percentage of the Florida East Coast roster is comprised of these cars. © 2006 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

I went right to my most recent ORER for this one, the October 2004 edition. (Time to start checking eBay for newer copies, I guess.) There are a whopping 893 cars in this one series from 70000 to 70899, almost 17 percent of the total FEC fleet, and those are not the only well cars that the line owns. The inside length is 53 feet 1 inch, inside width 8 feet 9 inches, outside length 76 feet 10 inches, extreme height 4 feet 1 inch (obviously unloaded!) and gross rail weight 220,000 pounds. The FEC doesn't show any multi-unit cars in this set, which is good news for those folks that would rather not forsake MTL couplers for drawbars. © 2006 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

Pictures? Well, there had better be pictures! How about more than two dozen of various cars in the series, on the Fallen Flags site alone? One of those is of a brand new FEC 70048, taken in October 2001 in Hershey, Pennsylvania. See, I told you these cars didn't stay in Florida! There is also one of FEC 70293 on the other side of the continent, in Hesperia, California, as of July 2004. Finally, let me offer FEC 70852 to you and to MTL as an example painted in freight car red with white lettering in a very similar scheme, as an idea for, let's say sometime soon. Meanwhile, I must say that the FEC's own official site is pretty cool, with a Flash-driven system map and plenty of information on where they load up all those "interesting double stack trains." © 2006 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

Z SCALE REPRINTS: No releases this month.

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