UMTRR May, 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.

065 00 030, $18.15
39 Foot Tank Car, Single Dome, Mobilgas.

Red with white lettering including small reporting marks on left and large "Mobilgas" across car.
Reporting Marks: WSRX 228.
Approximate Time Period: late 1930's to late 1940's.
NOTE: This item has been sold out and discontinued.

So how is it that this car has such a low catalog number? You'd think it was the third tank car ever released. Well, in a way, it was! Yes, it's been done before-- but how come that doesn't make it a reprint? We'll come back to that. © 2006 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

You don't tend to think of private owner cars as representing "Fallen Flags" but in this case, it does. When Exxon and Mobil merged in late 1999, it brought to a corporate end the independence of what was once Socony, the Standard Oil Company of New York. (That flag may have fallen in name only, though: the two closest gas stations to UMTRR HQ are an Exxon and a Mobil across the street from each other!) I'm a fan of the mythical Pegasus, the symbol of poetic inspiration, including the version that was the onetime symbol of the Magnolia Oil Company that was adopted by what was to become Mobil, and still sits atop the Magnolia Hotel in downtown Dallas. © 2006 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

No such Pegasus on this tank car, just a great big "Mobilgas." The "WSRX" reporting marks that MTL references were in fact in use by the Socony-Vacuum Oil Company, but more technically, by one of its subsidiaries, the White Star Refining Company of Detroit-- the Ohio Division, to be exact. Other reporting marks of Socony-Vacuum extant in the January 1945 edition of the Official Railway Equipment Register (ORER) (Westerfield CD-ROM) were "WOCX" for the Chicago Division, formerly Wadham's; "LUBX" for the Lubrite Division, and "WEOX" for the White Eagle Division out of Kansas City. All of these were supplanted by "SVX" for Socony-Vacuum, and then "MOBX" in time for the other Mobil car that Micro-Trains has done, the 65120 in white released in October 1991 and May 1999 that fits the ATP of the late 1950's through mid-1960's. © 2006 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

But getting back to the WSRX Socony/White Star listing of January 1945, it is, well, fairly useless. There is a series 212 to 228 among the total 295 cars, but the only information we get is that the cars are of the MCB Designation "TM," Class ARA III, and are of 10,000 gallons or 100,000 pounds capacity. Oh, well. © 2006 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

Moving to a 1950 ORER, sure enough, the reporting marks SVX are being used for the "Central Division" of Socony-Vacuum, and while there is an SVX 238, it's unlikely that it's the same car as it's called out specifically as having two compartments, which would conceivably make it one of those rare two dome tankers. (Which would make a very interesting kitbashing project.) By the way, thanks to UMTRR Gang Member John Boren for bringing to my attention a post by Richard Hendrickson on the YahooGroup "Steam Era Freight Cars," that got this whole thread of research headed in the right direction. © 2006 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

Now to resolve the "it's all been done" tease. It isn't often that I use the magazine I also write for, namely, "The N Scale Collector", as a primary source, but this is an exception and it's a really good story. The reason why the "030" position hasn't been used up to this point in the 65er series is that it "was" already used. A small quantity of Mobilgas tank cars in this paint scheme was produced in February 1983 under the then-Kadee catalog number 65030, but the entire run was supposed to have been sold to Brooklyn Locomotive Works under their special run number BLW-66. At least one car got out of the factory with the standard Kadee label and price sticker, though, and it was sent to Doug Hickman who "de-mystified" the release with the help of Ronnie Dillon of MTL. BLW did do its own MTL three-pack "reprint" of the original 65030/BLW-66 run in 1990 with much improved printing and a "Return to BLW" non-prototypical addition as was Kadee policy at the time, and of course, that trio is long gone as well. Obviously someone had the good idea to bring back the paint scheme-- who says Micro-Trains is "pandering to collectors" on this one?-- and thus you have a "new release" that's actually more than 23 years old! © 2006 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

101 00 050, $29.75
40 Foot "Hy-Cube" Steel Box Car, Smooth Sides, Single Sliding Door, Santa Fe.

Red sides, black ends (except for "Excess Height" stripe at top), roof, side sills, ladders and tack boards. White lettering including large circle cross herald and reporting marks on left. Large white and yellow "Super Shock Control" slogan on right. Circled "DF" stencil in black at top right corner.
Reporting Marks: ATSF 14064.
Approximate Time Period: 1967 (build date given by MTL) to mid-1980s.
NOTE: This item has been sold out and discontinued.

I have three prototype photos from which to choose, oh, the cup runneth over...

Well, let's use the one from the Morning Sun Color Guide to the Santa Fe, page 37, since it is of the exact car ATSF 14064 that MTL chose to model. The caption accompanying the photo is the source of some of MTL's car copy. There are a couple of differences between the Transco-built prototype and the Micro-Trains body style, but the biggest one-- literally-- is the placement of the large circle cross herald. The logo is moved up on the MTL car to clear the placement of the tack board. That tack board is on the door on the prototype car. The other noticable item is the straight sills on the prototype, a little knife action will make short work of that nitpick. The use of separate ladder castings allows for the small black and white circle crosses to be correctly placed under the side ladders, a nice touch. The lettering under the herald reads "When empty return reverse to agent, PRR, Columbus O [Ohio]." That's where photographer P.C. Winters found it, looking very clean indeed in April 1968; except that the railroad was the Penn Central, not the Pennsy. Hopefully the car tracking systems that the Pennsy and the New York Central slammed together didn't result in this car being lost somewhere on the PC. Good thing that the car was tall enough to stick out in a crowd, and that bright paint scheme would certainly be of assistance as well. But I digress... © 2006 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

The "Priest Book" (aka "Santa Fe Freight In Color, The Series Volume 1 - Boxcars" by Stephen Priest and Thomas Chenoweth) has a significantly less clean ATSF 14032 posed in Kansas City in 1972. That car was built in November 1966 and is stenciled for return to the New York Central in Marion, Ohio; so remember that if you want to do a renumber (or a reprint, folks in Talent). "Notice the black tack boards, side sills, roof and ends," the authors point out. They also mention that many of the cars in the series went to Maintenance of Way service in this as-delivered paint scheme. It probably would have made them among the standouts in the company service train, if their paint had held up at all. © 2006 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

So about when was that demotion to MOW service? Let's try to figure out. First, a stop at the April 1970 ORER for the reading of the usual vital statistics. The 68 cars (of a possible 69) are divided into two different series. The first is described as "Box, Load Divider, Roller Bearing, Shock Control, Hi-Cube, Appliance Loading" and covers the number 14000 to 14037. The second is written up as "Box, DF-2 Belts, Roller Bearing, Shock Control, Hi-Cube, Appliance Loading" and carries road numbers 14038 to 14068. Fortunately for my sanity (and perhaps yours) both cars share the same dimensional data with the exception of the cubic footage capacity: 4810 on the first group and 4990 on the second. Here's the rest: inside length 40 feet 6 inches, inside height 12 feet 11 inches, outside length 47 feet 9 inches, extreme height 16 feet 11 inches, door opening 9 feet wide by 12 feet tall. Is that a "door thing"? Uh, yeah; the MTL door is ten feet wide. Weight capacity is 107,000 pounds on both sets and there's a double dagger that translates at the bottom of the ORER page to "Large cars exceeding Plate C dimensions." In 1970 that was still a relatively rare occurance. © 2006 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

In the January 1985 ORER the cars were properly located in the "Plate F" size specifications, but there were just five left in the first group and four in the second. A single car, the 14067, hung on in the July 1987 book. I guess you'd have to be looking in Maintenance of Way storage tracks by then, and thus endeth the ATP. © 2006 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

Oh, and the third proto-photo? It's on Fallen Flags, of course; ATSF 14037 was caught in Secaucus, New Jersey in December 1978, with a "TS 2-75" (Topeka Shops) reweigh stencil, consolidated stencils just to the left of the right hand side ladder, and no specific return instructions. The car's red paint looks a bit long in the tooth, but it's the black roofline that is peeling pretty badly. And, in keeping with the series split, it doesn't have the circled "DF" either.

125 00 051 and 125 00 052, $18.15 each
Three Bay Ortner Rapid Discharge Hopper, Chesapeake & Ohio/Chessie System.

Black with mostly yellow lettering including reporting marks on left, large "Ches-C" herald in center and small roadname on right.
Reporting Marks: C&O 45050 (the 051) and C&O 45088 (the 052).
Approximate Time Period: 1976 (build date) to mid-1990s.
NOTE: This item (both numbers) has been sold out and discontinued.

Let's start with what will become obvious to the viewer of a prototype photograph: as Ortners go, this is a bit of a stand-in. Or more than a bit of one, depending on your personal attention to detail. © 2006 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

A check of sister car C&O 45192 as captured in an August 1995 photo by John McCluskey on Fallen Flags shows that the sides of the prototype have twelve ribs (counting the end ribs), not the eleven used in the model, and more noticably, there are diagonal ribs (or braces) between the end ribs and the next adjacent ones. It seems that there is more than just one extra rib in the center, because they're not equidistant from each other as on the MTL model with respect to the end ribs; in other words, the nine center ribs are more closely spaced. Ah, just have a look at the photo! By the way, if you're interested in modifying the car to look more like the real one, you should get some tips from a photo essay on reworking the Walthers' HO version; on the Chessie pages of Trainweb. On that site, there's a photo of sister car C&O 45048. By the way, the Walthers HO Ortner has eight panels, the MTL ten, and the Chessie H-061 class car eleven, in another way of counting. © 2006 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

I did find it unusual that CSX Transportation would still have cars looking as relatively clean as the 1995 version of the 45192 on Fallen Flags. I was ready to call the ATP earlier than that, but instead I checked the ORERs farther out. Well, the October 2004 edition still has the series listed under C&O, but with just three cars in it. I didn't come up with a close enough dimensional data match in the CSXT listings to be able to speculate to which series they could have been restenciled, if they were at all. © 2006 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

Speaking of dimensional data, here is what was noted in the April 1981 ORER: inside length 30 feet 4 inches, inside height 9 feet 10 inches, outside length 43 feet 10 inches, extreme height 12 feet, capacity 2100 cubic feet or 200,000 pounds. They were described as "Hopper, Aggregate Loading" and carried the AAR Designation "HTS". All 300 cars in the series 45000 to 45299 were in place then. Ten years later in 1991 there were 279 cars, in 1992 there were 277, but in 1996 there were just 15. So maybe that shot of the 45192 on Fallen Flags was a last hurrah. © 2006 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

113 00 720, $19.95
Disconnect Logging Trucks with Log Load.

No paint, no lettering.
Reporting Marks: None.
Approximate Time Period: Most of the 20th Century.

Please see the commentary in the February 2006 UMTRR. Other than the load, it's the same car (or not really a "car")...


023 00 170, $14.80
40 Foot Steel Boxcar, Double Door (Youngstown or "Narrow Rib" Door), Grand Trunk Western.

Boxcar red with white lettering including reporting marks on left. Green and white "tilted" roadname herald on right (without maple leaf).
Reporting Marks: GTW 585883.
Approximate Time Period: late 1940's (1948 rebuild date) to early 1970's.
Previous Release (as catalog 23170): Road Number 585881, June 1990.
NOTE: This item has been sold out and discontinued.

Ah, yes, here's a reprint of one of the first Micro-Trains cars I bought when I returned to accumulating them a bit as a graduate student (who, living off student loans and savings, really didn't have any business buying choo-choos); and purchased as a kit, no less! © 2006 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

Being that the majority of its trackage was in Michigan, the Grand Trunk Western was very much involved in the transportation of automobiles, and as such actually listed their automobile cars and boxcars in automobile service separately from the other boxcars they rostered. Except that this car, on which it is clearly stated "Automobile," is in with the regular boxcars in the July 1950 ORER... wait a minute! Ah, never mind. The "Box, All Steel" group was numbered from 585203 to 585885 and had these statistics: inside length 40 feet 6 inches, inside width 9 feet 2 inches, inside height 10 feet 6 inches, outside length 42 feet 1 inch, extreme height 15 feet. We have a "reverse door thing" in that the prototype's door opening was just 13 feet 6 inches versus the 16 feet of doors used on the MTL model. The capacity was 3898 cubic feet, and 80,000 pounds on 678 of the cars but 85,000 pounds on four exceptions, none of which are the 585883 or the original run's number 585881. The total series was down two cars by July 1953. © 2006 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

MTL notes in its car copy that the cars were gradually rebuilt to increase their capacity. Going from 80 to 85 thousand pounds, that could have meant simply changing the trucks, but by January 1964's ORER, whatever the method was, was having an impact. There were 528 cars in the main series and 127 with higher capacity, still not including either one of the cars in which we're most interested. Interestingly, even at this late date, the GTW was still running a handful of steel frame boxcars. In April 1970, the capacity of the entire series was up to 88,000 pounds, but the number of cars was down to 260. By that time, you'd have to be thinking about roofwalk removal, but for the record, there were just 16 cars left in April 1976. © 2006 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

And from within that last entry from April 1976 comes a fact, added to the description, that I somehow completely overlooked up to that point: these cars had end doors! Well, that's a "door thing" for sure although a different kind than usual. The folks in Oregon snuck that one by me... © 2006 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

025 00 580, $19.15
50 Foot Steel Exterior Post Boxcar, Single Door, Apalachicola Northern.

Yellow with aluminum roof. Dark blue lettering including reporting marks on left and roadname on right. Blue and white "Port St. Joe Route" herald on left.
Reporting Marks: AN 5508.
Approximate Time Period: late 1970's (1978 build date) to through 1990's.
Previous Release: Road Number 5589, December 1998.
NOTE: This item has been sold out and discontinued.

The reprint of this car with the railroad name that's fun to say led me back to a pleasant review of "A Brief History of the Apalachicola Area" by George L. Chapel of the Apalachicola Historical Society. But note that Chapel blames the decline of Apalachicola on the railroads: "As railroads re-routed trade east and west, the north and south river traffic declined. As Savannah grew, Apalachicola declined." Among other information imparted: The town of Port St. Joseph was wiped out by yellow fever and storms in the 1840's and wasn't really rebuilt until the 1900's; Apalachicola was once outranked only by Mobile and New Orleans in the cotton trade on the Gulf Coast; the AN used to run "oyster trains." © 2006 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

Cypress lumber was a key product of the area at one time; in fact, the roster of the AN in the April 1928 Official Railway Equipment Register (ORER) listed 133 flat cars of several types. A map from that book shows three connections at "River Junction", later known as Chattahoochee. The Louisville and Nashville came in from the west, the Atlantic Coast Line from the north, and the Seaboard Air Line from the east. But only the AN went south from there to the coast, around 100 miles or so to Appalachicola and Port St. Joe. Also listed as connections back in '28 were two steamship lines out of Apalachicola. © 2006 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

Moving to the car reprinted this month, though, the series 5400 to 5599 were FMC 5347 cubic foot sized 50 foot exterior post boxcars built by the thousands for SSI/Itel, the leasing company behind many of the Incentive Per Diem boxcars of the late 1970's and early 1980's. That makes the MTL model a match for the builder but not the size: the 25er body style is of an FMC 5077 cubic foot car which is less tall than the 5347. (I'm saying "less tall" rather than "shorter" to indicate that I mean the height here, not the length.) The October 1991 edition of the ORER shows the group with the description "Box, Steel, Nailable Steel Floor, Cushion Underframe" with AAR Classification "XM". The inside length was 50 feet 6 inches, inside height 11 feet 1 inch, outside length 57 feet 3 inches, extreme height 15 feet 6 inches, and capacity the already noted 5347 cubic feet or 154,000 pounds. All 200 cars were in place in that Register; 193 were listed in October 1991 and 119 in January 2000. Over this span the AAR Classification shifted to "XP." © 2006 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

There are several photos on Fallen Flags showing how the lettering and especially the herald faded away over time. I thought I'd seen plain brown boxcars with typical GE Railcar Services minimal lettering for AN cars, and as it turns out, I was right; a former AN official told me that this is how the series from which the MTL model was taken was repainted in the 1990s. There is at least one from the group, the 5402, in a plain yellow with black stencil shown on Fallen Flags. And there's the blue and bright red scheme that MTL has also done for the AN as well. There are cars pictured on Fallen Flags in what at least used to be this scheme from as late as mid-2004, though not from this particular series. The "leased from Itel Rail" wording is still present on some of them even though Itel has been gone for a number of years, succeeded by GE. © 2006 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

For many years, the St. Joe Paper Company owned the line and was the key reason for its existence. But the paper mill eventually closed and traffic dropped considerably, but fortunately not to zero. In February 2004, James House made a photo record of a day on the renamed "AN Railway LLC" (which is not nearly as much fun to say) and posted it on the 'net. At this writing the line is operated by Rail Link, Inc. which is a unit of Genesee & Wyoming Industries; G&W got the AN when it purchased Rail Management Corporation in June 2005 along with other Southern shortlines with which you may be familiar, like the Bay Line, Chattahoochee Industrial and the Atlantic and Western. © 2006 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

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

021 00 401, $19.85
40 Foot Steel Boxcar, Plug Door, Mississippi 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 (mockingbird) and state flower (magnolia) on right.
Reporting Marks: MS 1817.
Thirty-seventh release in the States of the Union series.
NOTE: This item has been sold out and discontinued.

Okay, so how many of you out there still spell Mississippi by kind of singing it? I know I do... fortunately, the "Three Mississippi" song by Terri Clark is a lot better. Remember using the counting of a number and "Mississippi" (or the shorter "Miss-ippi" if you were cheating) to serve as a proxy for one second? © 2006 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

Something rather unhappy that I did not know is reported on the SHG Resources timeline of the state: the Natchez tribe was a early victim of hostilities between Native Americans and Europeans. The French attempted to establish a fort near Natchez in the early 1700's; the Natchez slaughtered them, and the French slaughtered back, ending that tribe right there and then. I also didn't know that the Ojibwe moved to the area from the Great Lakes and Canada. I did know that the Choctaw and the Chickasaw called the region home. © 2006 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

What became Mississippi was under a number of flags-- French, Spanish and English-- before becoming part of the United States in several major pieces in the late 1700's and early 1800's. The Mississippi Territory was organized in 1798 and the Natchez Trace was developed as an early road not long after. The territory became the twentieth state in 1817. Jackson became the capital in 1822 and was one of the first planned cities in the country-- and was named for then Major General Andrew Jackson. Not bad, even before you're president, you get a state capital. The first state supported institution for the disabled was the Mississippi School for the Blind in 1844. The state seceded in 1861; two key control points were Ship Island on the Gulf Coast and the railroad center of Corinth. (The same one that's in the railroad name Corinth and Counce.) The state was readmitted in 1870. © 2006 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

Twentieth Century "firsts" for the Magnolia State include the forerunner of the 4-H Clubs in 1907, industrial revenue bond in 1936 and the landmark Brown vs. Board of Education desegregation decision of 1954. Engineer Casey Jones rode into legend in Vaughn and his home and a museum are in Jackson. "Mississippi Now!" has an excellent compendium of articles about the state and its inhabitants. © 2006 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

Mississippi has a rich literary tradition; Eudora Welty, Tennesse Williams and William Faulkner from are there, for starters. In fact, Faulkner sticks in my mind as the "freelancer" of his own reality-based county as the setting for his works; not unlike what many of us do in model railroading. And John Grisham is from Oxford which was part the basis for Faulkner's Yoknapatawpha County. © 2006 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

The Mississippi musical tradition is amazing, with blues, rock and country all having roots there. Perhaps Elvis Presley is the first artist that comes to mind, but there's also B.B. King, Robert Johnson, Howlin' Wolf, Muddy Waters, Bo Diddley, Leontyne Price, Sam Cooke, Jerry Lee Lewis, Mary Wilson, Cassandra Wilson, Charley Pride, Jimmie Rodgers, Marty Stewart, Conway Twitty, Tammy Wynette, Leann Rimes, Faith Hill, Jimmy Buffett, Brandy, Britney Spears, boy grouper Lance Bass, the Staples Singers, and of course the Blind Boys of Mississippi. Football fans probably already know that Brett Farve is a native, but add Walter Payton and Jerry Rice. Critic Craig Clayborne and legendary sports announcer Red Barber were from there, as were civil rights leaders Charles and Medgar Evers. The deep voice of James Earl Jones was first heard in Arkabutla; others in the acting field include Morgan Freeman and Sela Ward. And talk show tycoon Oprah Winfrey is from there, as was the force behind Kermit, Big Bird, and the other Muppets, Jim Henson. © 2006 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

The Magnolia State has gotten short shrift in my travels-- not as bad as South Dakota, but not much more. My official setting foot event was a sneak-in from Memphis during a late 1990's business trip. (I got Arkansas the same way, so don't feel too badly, Mississippians.) Memphis is just about on the border of Tennessee and Mississippi, and the area is settled enough that you wouldn't really be able to tell the transition without the welcome sign. I did hit a hobby shop there. My second and so far only other visit was a second sneak-in during my overnighter in December 2000 to New Orleans, using Interstate 10. © 2006 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.


Reprint: 800 00 140, $14.05
30 Foot Wood Boxcar, Austin and Northwestern.

Boxcar red with white lettering including road initials on left and road number on right (I guess I can't call them reporting marks").
Road Number: 7047 (will be preceded by "A&NW" in website listing).
Approximate Time Period: 1880s to about 1892.
Previous Release (as catalog 15114): Road Number 7049, May 2000.
NOTE: This item has been sold out and discontinued.

When a car for this road, also known as the "Awful Northwestern," was first announced back six years ago, I figured I was in trouble. Fortunately, the 'net saved me, as it does again. The Handbook of Texas Online has heard of the line, and offers a brief summary of the A&NW's history. I'll make it even more brief: The road was chartered in 1881 to run all the way from Austin to Abliene. It didn't make it; the first sixty miles of line opened as a narrow gauge route from Austin to Burnet in 1882. Narrow gauge? Didn't they know "everything's big in Texas?" © 2006 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

Anyway, by 1883 it was under water and in receivership, but did manage to haul nearly all of the pink granite used for construction of the Texas State Capitol out of Granite Mountain. It did turn a profit from mineral products haulage for a while in the 1880's and 1890's. The Houston and Texas Central acquired the line in 1891, standard gauged it and merged it in 1901. The Southern Pacific officially consolidated the H&TC into its Texas and New Orleans, which itself went into the SP in 1961. © 2006 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

Then... surprise! The A&NW was reborn in 1986, when the Espee sold off the route to the City of Austin and Capitol Metro, the local transit agency. In 2000 a proposal to run light rail into Austin was narrowly defeated. Most of the 'net citations for "Austin Light Rail" date to that year so it doesn't look like things have progressed much since then. Another light rail initiative was derailed in 2004. © 2006 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

RailTex handled freight service under a lease arrangement for a while. Railtex was sold to Railamerica which does not have any mention of the A&NW on its website. I found a Railroad Retirement Board citation from September 2004 giving ownership of the line to "Permian Basin Railways"-- yeah, I've never heard of them either. That rolled into Iowa Pacific Holdings, LLC, and I never heard of them either. I was able to find a shot of a couple of A&NW diesels circa 1996 on the site. © 2006 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

Patrick H. Stakem notes in his on-line biography of T.H. Paul, Master Locomotive, that the Number 5 unit of five steamers probably did the bulk of the work hauling all of that pink granite down to Austin. In later years, it hauled sugar cane in Cuba! Steamers were employed much later on the A&NW line as well, according to UMTRR Gang Member Gary Woodard who reported this back in 2000. There is an "Austin and Northwestern Railroad Historic District" which was added in 1997 by the state. More significantly, the Austin Steam Train (also known as the Hill Country Flyer) operates Southern Pacific 786, a 2-8-2 steam loco (though it's down for repairs at this writing), and a former Santa Fe Alco RSD-15 "Alligator" diesel, ahead of its passenger excursion trains that traverse former A&NW trackage. Also check the Hill Country Railroad Association for a more extensive timeline of the railroad. © 2006 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.


New Release:
850 00 021, $37.15 [July release: 850 00 022, $37.15]
30 Foot Wood Sheathed Refrigerator Car, Rio Grande Southern.

Yellow sides, freight car red ends and roof. Black lettering including reporting marks (only) on left and "Refrigerator" on right.
Reporting Marks: RGS 2101. [July release: RGS 2102.]
Approximate Time Period: 1938 (sale date) to no later than 1952 (RGS abandonment date).
NOTE: This item (both numbers) has been sold out and discontinued.

Hey, I was right last month when I predicted that the next release for this car would be the destination for the cars of the same type that were sold by the Colorado and Southern. Well, that makes once. © 2006 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

The Rio Grande Southern was just covered in the January UMTRR in conjunction with the release of an Nn3 boxcar in an even less elaborate paint scheme than this reefer has. I know from that commentary that the ORER information is not useful: "Freight Cars Owned Are Not Employed In Commercial Service." In fact, there aren't even reporting marks listed in the index. We know from MTL's car copy, though, that there were three refrigerator cars purchased from the Colorado and Southern and numbered 2101, 2102 and 2103. (Which means Micro-Trains will be two-thirds done with this group of cars when the second number arrives next month.) © 2006 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

How the RGS survived after the Denver and Rio Grande Western, which had control of the line, let it slip into receivership in 1929 was a matter of National Security, according to the account in George W. Hilton's book "American Narrow Gauge Railroads". Court-appointed Trustee Victor Miller did quite the job of keeping the line afloat, including the introduction of the famous Galloping Geese and moves to become less dependent on nominal parent Rio Grande for rolling stock-- perhaps including purchase of the three reefers from the Colorado and Southern. When Cass Herrington replaced Victor Miller as Trustee in late 1938, a government loan from the Reconstruction Finance Company was denied and it looked like the end. World War II changed that and the RGS was able to get some financing by selling its facilities to the Defense Supplies Corporation and leasing it back. "It was revealed after the war," Hilton wrote, "that the government's interest in keeping the RGS operating stemmed in part from the uranium-bearing ores produced along the line. Even tailings from the mines from previous years were shipped out to the plants that were fabricating American nuclear weapons." Stephen S. Hart goes farther into the narrative in his on-line entry "Atomic Age Narrow Gauge: Uranium and the Rio Grande Southern Railroad" that was actually written as a college term paper! But after the end of the war, and despite a second government load, shippers deserted for trucks; and the RGS was torn up in 1952. © 2006 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

There are exactly three references to the C&S/RGS refrigerator cars in print media according to the Model Train Magazine Index: two are in "Slim Gauge News" of Fall 1971 and the third is in the July/August 1982 issue of "Narrow Gauge and Short Line Gazette." © 2006 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.


525 00 110, Magne-Matic Coupler, $15.10, 500 00 111, Marklin Coupler, $13.30.
40 Foot Flat Car, Chesapeake and Ohio/Chessie System.

Black with brown floor (simulated wood). Yellow lettering including reporting marks on left and Chessie System roadname (with "Ches-C" as the C) in center.
Reporting Marks: C&O 216082.
Approximate Time Period: 1973 (repaint date given by MTL) through the rest of the 1970's.
NOTE: Both coupler versions of this item have been sold out and discontinued.

"The Chessie System cat painted on a forty foot flat car?" I thought. Come on, Micro-Trains, you're pulling my paw.

Not so: it's true that the series 216000 to 216099 is in fact listed with an inside length of 42 feet 11 inches in the April 1976 ORER. OK, so that's not exactly forty feet, but it's definitely not fifty feet either. While we're here, let's finish up the short set of vital statistics: inside width 9 feet 4 inches, outside length 45 feet 5 inches, height above rails 3 feet 9 inches, and capacity 100,000 pounds (cubic footage not meaning much with respect to a flat car). There were 32 cars in the main series and 2 exceptions that were given the AAR Classification "FMS" and called out for auto frames. There were still two cars left as of the April 1981 Register, so most of the decade of the 1970's is in as far as the ATP. © 2006 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

The specific C&O numbering rang a bell with me, however, and it turns out that the previous history of this car may be even more interesting than the use of the Chessie cat on the 1970's paint scheme. We get a clue with the MTL car copy that the flat was built in 1930. But I don't think it was for the Chesapeake and Ohio although they certainly had an influence. How about the long-gone Pere Marquette?!? © 2006 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

The tipoff is that the method for blending the former Pere Marquette cars into the C&O roster was pretty simple: drop a "2" in front of the five digit number and change the reporting marks. Well, repaint the car too. So if the car came from the PM, it would have been 16082. And this seems to check out based on what I see in the January 1953 ORER. There is a Pere Marquette series 16000 to 16099 and a C&O series 216000 to 216099, and both have dimensions equal to each other and to the Chessie-era series as well with the exception of the outside length. All of this was validated for me before "press time" by our UMTRR Special Correspondent for the C&O and the PM, James Pugh. Thanks, James! He added that the C&O didn't officially absorb the PM's equipment, and add the "2" to the roadnumbers, until 1947, and passed along a citation to Pages 42 and 43 of the book Pere Marquette Revenue Freight Cars by Arthur B. Million and John C. Paton. © 2006 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

The C&O version has been done in N Scale (by, uh, another firm) but it and the Pere Marquette version should be gimmes for MTL to offer to Z Scalers, as they should already have N Scale roadname artwork (at least) from their N Scale fifty foot cars. © 2006 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

530 00 120, Magne-Matic Coupler, $17.10, 530 00 121, Marklin Coupler, $15.30.
40 Foot Single Dome Tank Car, Milwaukee Road.

Oxide red with mostly white lettering including reporting marks on left.
Reporting Marks: MILW 908318.
Approximate Time Period: late 1970's (per 1977 service date given by MTL) to at least early 1990's.
NOTE: Both coupler versions of this item have been sold out and discontinued.

The source that seems to work best is the Milwaukee Road Photo Archives of Rick Beaber, which I referenced back in April 2003 when this car was reprinted in N Scale (the first number, 908310, was done in January 1991). There you'll find a photo of water tank cars X908309 and X908307, very different from each other in terms of the hardware around the dome at the very least. The photo was by Scott Nelson at the Bensenville Yard, taken out the front window of a car! The automatic dating of the picture gives "11/8/93" which is most likely November 1993. © 2006 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

Both are painted in a rusty looking brown with white lettering, but something I hadn't noticed before I observed this time around. The "MILW" reporting marks and the road number are in different sizes and probably different fonts also. This strongly suggests to me that these cars were renumbered, perhaps at the time of reweighing. I think it's safe to say that the car wasn't built in 1977, but try as I might, I could not read the build date in the consolidated stencil on the N Scale version of the car. The ORER Accumulation was of no assistance which is usually true in the case of company service equipment. The July 1982 Register simply shows 645 cars described as "Miscellaneous Equipment" at the very end of the Soo Line listing which by that time of course included the equipment formerly in the employ of the Milwaukee Road. (The Soo took over what was left of the Milwaukee Road in 1985.) I did have a couple of 78000 series tank cars in Milwaukee listings in the 1960's, but I can't say whether these cars were the ones MTL modeled in a later number. © 2006 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

981 01 060 and 981 01 062, Magne-Matic Coupler, $185.95, 981 01 061 and 981 01 063, Marklin Coupler, $184.15.
GP-35 Locomotive, Burlington Northern.

Green with black roof and upper long hood. Black underframe and trucks. White lettering including herald and roadname on cab and large roadnumber at rear of long hood. White diagonal stripes on front of nose. Green stanchions and handrails.
Road Numbers: 2504 (the 060/062) and 2507 (the 061/063) (will be prefaced by "BN" in website listings).
Approximate Time Period: early 1970's to late 1980's.
NOTE: Both coupler versions of Road Number 2504 (catalog 060 and 061) and the Marklin coupler version of Road Number 2507 (catalog 063) have been sold out and discontinued.

The Fallen Flags site has a whopping ten pages (!) of Burlington Northern locomotive photos, and among those are shots of the BN's roster of GP-35s, which came variously from the Great Northern, Burlington and Frisco. They were numbered in the 2500's and consumed most of the 100 possible slots. © 2006 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

MTL stated that the units they modeled came from the Great Northern, and from the roster on the BN Photo Archives site we see that GN units 3017 to 3040 became BN units 2500 to 2523. These were originally built in March 1964 (GN 3017 to 3025, BN 2500 to 2508) and April 1965 (GN 3026 to 3040, BN 2509 to 2523). Fourteen of these units were rebuilt to GP39Es or GP39Ms during the period 1989 to 1991; those that weren't were retired, mostly in the mid-1980s with the last leaving the roster in December 1988. Zeroing in on the two road numbers that MTL produced, the 2504 was originally GN 3021 built in March 1964 and was rebuilt in November 1989 to GP39E 2933, and the 2507 was originally GN 3024 with the same build and rebuild dates, although it was "retired" in December 1988 first. Fallen Flags has a shot of the 2504 from which I can note detail differences, one of which is the placement of the horn; your level of nitpicking may vary. Oh, and be sure to the paint the edge of the steps white as well... get out that 10/0 brush! © 2006 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

This wasn't the full complement of the BN's GP35's. Their number 2524 to 2545 came from the Chicago, Burlington and Quincy-- and wouldn't that be a great paint scheme to do!-- and were numbered 978 to 999 on the "Q". When the Frisco was brought into the BN fold in November 1980, their '35s numbered 700 to 732 came along and were renumbered 2550 to 2582 on the BN. I don't think I'm going out on a limb to suggest that we'll see at least the GN before too long from MTL and probably the CB&Q and the Frisco schemes as well. © 2006 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.


507 00 030, Magne-Matic Coupler, $21.10, 507 00 030, Marklin Coupler, $19.30.
50 Foot Steel Boxcar, Plug Door, Western Pacific.

Brown with orange lettering including roadname and reporting marks on left. Large feather and "Rides Like A Feather" slogan on right.
Reporting Marks: WP 55933.
Approximate Time Period: 1959 (build date) to
Previous Release (as catalog 13603 and 13603-2), Road Number 55943, March 1988.
NOTE: Both coupler versions of this item have been sold out and discontinued.

[The following is reprinted from the commentary on the N Scale version of this car in the December 2004 UMTRR.]

The ORER for January 1964 shows the series 55926 to 55950 with all 25 possible cars. They were listed as "Box, All Steel, Insulated," with inside length of 50 feet 1 inch, inside height of 9 feet 4 inches (less than usual given the insulation), outside length of 51 feet 10 inches, extreme height of 15 feet, door opening of 8 feet 7 inches, and capacity of 4290 cubic feet (again the insulation lowers this) or 100,000 pounds. Notations indicate that the cars had roller bearing trucks, relatively unusual for the time, and compartmentizers. In the April 1970 Register, 24 of the 25 cars remained but by the April 1976 book they were all gone. © 2006 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

Chuck Ciacco provides to us a quote from the Morning Sun Color Guide on the WP by Jim Eager: "In August 1955 Pullman-Standard built the WP's first 20 insulated PS-1 box cars, equipped with Compartmentizer bulkheads and were numbered 55901-55920. A second group of fifty more followed soon after and then an additional 100. The two later groups, were however, built by Pacific Car & Foundry. 55951-56000 were completed in April 1956 and 56001-57000 in December 1957." Chuck notes that the picture in the MSCG as well as one on the Fallen Flags site (road number 56027) have the Evans DF logo on the door which is missing from the MTL car. Chuck also called out that this was a "grocery car" for the WP, not a "standard box car" as MTL states. That's more of a nomenclature, uh, standard for MTL, though; they tend to call cars based on the PS-1 their "standard" cars. Actually, it's debatable as to whether there is or ever was a "standard" boxcar at all, but that's another story entirely. © 2006 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

Z SCALE SPECIAL EDITIONS: No releases this month. These releases are covered exclusively in the Subscriber Edition of the UMTRR.