UMTRR July, 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.

021 00 170, $19.85
40 Foot Steel Boxcar, Plug Door, Northern Pacific.

Green with thin yellow stripe across side. White lettering including semicircle roadname and reporting marks on left and slogan "Scenic Route of the North Coast Limited" on right. Red, white and black monad herald on right. Red and yellow "Compartmentizer" logo on door.
Reporting Marks: NP 98524.
Approximate Time Period: 1958 (build date) to mid-1970's.
NOTE: This item has been sold out and discontinued.

Careful, it's not a reprint! In the past, the difference between this car and the 21210 release from March 1996 and June 2001 would have put it in the realm of a "not a reprint," defined (by me) as a car that is not quite the same as its predecessors with the same catalog number. Not this time! © 2006 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

Anyway, the Morning Sun Color Guide (MSCG) to the Northern Pacific shows the 98524, very conveniently, right on the front cover. It's also on Page 57 with a caption that is largely repeated in MTL's car copy. Considering that the prototype is a home brewed build from the NP's own shops, the MTL model is a decent enough match to the real thing; differences can be noted on the ladders (8 versus 7 rung) and side sills. © 2006 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

Fifty of these cars in the series 98500 to 98549 were built as one of four groups of RBL cars that eventually totaled 250 pieces. The NP chose Pullman Standard Compartmentizer loaders for these cars, and said so right on the door with a pretty cool looking logo. That is the key source of the difference between this car and the previous catalog 21210, which has a DF2 legend on the door instead. © 2006 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

To find this car in the Official Railway Equipment Register (ORER) for January 1959, you need to go to the NP's "Refrigerator Cars" section. Just 32 cars are shown of a possible 50 in the series which is described as "Refrigerator, Steel." The insulation built into the car cuts the inside length to 39 feet 11 inches, inside width to 9 feet and the inside height to 9 feet 5 inches. The outside length was 42 feet 1 inch, the extreme height was 15 feet 1 inch. The capacity was 3410 cubic feet or 100,000 pounds. The door opening was 8 feet 3 inches, which, if it is a "Door Thing" at all, which is somewhat debatable with plug door depictions on models anyway, would be one that only a severe rivet counter-- or an especially mean spirited one-- would call MTL on the carpet for. The series is starred which "Denotes additions" in this issue of the ORER. © 2006 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

The Burlington Northern registration in the ORER for April 1970 shows a 25/24 split in the series between RB classification and RBL classification. The RBLs, which include the 98524, still had compartmentizers, while the others apparently did not. All 49 cars had ceiling hooks for application of portable heaters and harnesses. As you'd expect, these insulated cars, despite being dubbed "Refrigerator," were probably used to keep things unfrozen just as frequently as they were to keep things cool. By the April 1976 Register, 43 cars were still in service, but just 4 cars were still RBLs and the 98524 wasn't one of them. That would close out the "strictly speaking" Approximate Time Period, but you'd also have to be thinking roofwalk removal as well so I'm calling the ATP there anyway. For the record, the cars make it at least to July 1985 with six cars remaining, which is when I stopped looking. © 2006 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

By the way, I've been saying a bit more lately that my commentaries aren't necessarily restricted to Micro-Trains or to N Scale. This is a good example; Accurail has issued this same car in HO. Tell your "Horribly Oversized" friends! © 2006 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

092 00 220, $23.15
Two Bay ACF Center Flow® Covered Hopper, Detroit & Toledo Shore Line/Canadian National.

Mineral red with mostly white lettering including reporting marks on left and small CN herald and website address on right. Yellow vertical stripes near bottom of sides.
Reporting Marks: D&TS 2630.
Approximate Time Period: The present.
NOTE: This item has been sold out and discontinued.

How much more up to date can you get? The yellow visibility stripes on this new release are very much in "the present." In fact, quoting from a recent TrainOrders posting, "New FRA rules require that all active freight service locomotives built before May 31st of this year have the proper white or yellow striping applied by May 31, 2010... Freight cars built after May 31st of this year are required to have the yellow or white striping before being placed into service. Freight cars built prior to May 31st of this year must have the striping in place by May 31, 2015." Well, nine years from now, I suppose that will help with an Approximate Time Period. In addition to the first car on which MTL has put this particular style of reflective striping, it's also the first MTL depiction of the "website herald". Yes, it is , not dot com, as the CN is headquartered in Canada per legal requirement. © 2006 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

What I am less clear on is when the Approximate Time Period on this car began, although I suppose that it's not too far in the past. (And so I am sticking to my "The Present" ATP.) But what's with those reporting marks anyway? Ah, the D&TS, or the Detroit and Toledo Shore Line. Incorporated in March 16, 1899, and merged into the Grand Trunk Western in June, 1981-- which is how the CN got it-- the "Expressway For Industry" was all business, linking Detroit and Toledo with 59 miles of railroad, more or less close to the shore of the Detroit River and Lake Erie. Hey, how's that for truth in advertising. The D&TSL was owned jointly by the Grand Trunk Western, which needed it to get to Toledo, and the Nickel Plate Road, which needed it to get to Detroit. The GTW ended up with the NKP's portion after the Norfolk and Western took over the Nickel Plate and the Wabash, which got it into Detroit without need for the D&TS. And picking up on the firsts for this car, it's the first MTL release with these D&TS markings. © 2006 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

It appears to be unusual that the CN would have kept these reporting marks, since, if online photos are any indication, "GTW" seems to have replaced "D&TS" on rolling stock long before that wiggly CN noodle was plastered all over the subsidiary everything. In fact, the Grand Trunk Western listing in the ORER for January 2004 shows just one-sey two-sey listings remaining in D&TS markings, except for a group of five coil steel cars. And 32 covered hoppers numbered 2600 to 2648. Well, what do you know. These cars have a 41 foot 9 inch outside length, an extreme height of 15 feet 1 inch, gross rail weight of 263,000 pounds, and capacity of 2700 cubic feet. (There's not a whole lot more in the vital statistics area this time.) Note that capacity: it makes this an ACF CF2700 car, a bit smaller in size than the CF2980 model that is what MTL actually modeled as its 92er body style. The actual difference is the length of the hopper body; it's 2 feet 8 inches shorter than the CF2980, although it's built on the same frame. This results in a gap between the end ladders and the body. The CF2700's were pretty few and far between in real life, though. Other than the D&TS, only the Baltimore and Ohio and the Chesapeake and Ohio bought them according to a piece in the August 1995 issue of Rail Model Journal. The RMJ piece also notes that "these cars carry sand and roofing granules" and were built in June 1976. Photos in the article show the difference. I wouldn't hold my breath for a widely available CF2700, so "good enough" it is. (And this didn't stop other manufacturers from putting CF2700 paint schemes on their CF2970s, either.) © 2006 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

There are a number of photos in the "D-Miscellaneous" page on the Fallen Flags website of these cars in their old, and rather old-looking, D&TS paint, complete with slogan and tilted rectangle herald-- which, come to think of it, is a bit reminiscent of the old tilted rectangle Grand Trunk Western herald!-- but no prototype shots of the current paint scheme could be found among the usual photo websites I visit. I checked with MTL and confirmed that it was a customer's photo submission that led to the release of this car. I see a thank you letter and a freebie in somebody's future! Maybe one of our own UMTRR Gang Members? That's always nice! (I have a few of those myself.) © 2006 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

105 00 130, $16.05
50 Foot 14 Panel Steel Gondola, Fixed Ends, Golden West Service.

Dark blue with mostly yellow lettering including reporting marks on left. "Golden West Service" roadname with red and yellow blocks on right.
Reporting Marks: GVSR 327013 (Galveston Railroad).
Approximate Time Period: mid 1990's to present.
NOTE: This item has been sold out and discontinued.

Hitting Google for "Golden West Service"-- after you chuckle at the advertisement, "Looking for Golden West Service? Find it on eBay!" that is-- you come across a GWS Freight Cars Page looked after as part of the extensive web presence of Lee Gautreaux on It looks like MTL found it too, since a slice of the car copy is a quote: "These bright-blue cars were former SP, Cotton Belt and Rio Grande freight cars that were re-built and sold to various shortlines and then leased back by the railroad." But they left out perhaps a more interesting editorial comment from Mr. Gautreaux: "Bottom line, this was an example of accountants trying to run a railroad. In any case, this was a futile attempt to breathe life into an ailing SP." © 2006 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

What Lee also has is the first attempt I've seen to explain, generally, how these cars were numbered. "The first digit of the road number represents the type of car... The next two digits indicate the SP's class designation for the cars. The last three digits were the numerical sequence of the cars in the series." Gautreaux cautions that this is a general rule; and he puts the word "general" in all caps! © 2006 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

A photo on Lee's page is just one tiny digit off, GVSR 327013, as lensed by Mike Sebesta, place and date unknown. It is a 14 panel fishbelly side gondola, and at first glance it looks pretty close to the length of the MTL model. And it is. The October 1996 ORER shows one fully occupied series 327000 to 327049 and one not completed group 327055 to 327114, totaling 65 cars with identical dimensions. Speaking of which: Inside length 52 feet 6 inches, inside width 9 feet 6 inches, inside height 4 feet 6 inches, outside length 56 feet 11 inches, extreme height 8 feet 4 inches, capacity 2244 cubic feet or 190,000 pounds. The MTL model's length is a little less than the prototype's inside and outside dimensions, but not horribly so. © 2006 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

My proxy for "to present" is the October 2004 ORER (at least until next month when I'll have a January 2006 in the Research Accumulation), and I was a bit surprised to see that the two groups of cars were still mostly intact; in fact, there is just one car fewer, in the first of the two series. What's apparently not intact is the Ventura County Railroad, since its VCY reporting mark has been reassigned to the Galveston Railroad, LP. The Greenbrier Companies, a partner in the Golden West venture, "owns or manages a fleet of approximately 129,000 railcars" as part of its North American Freight Car Leasing and Services operation. There's a neat photo essay on the Gunderson Company, which is part of Greenbrier and did the Golden West refurb work, at their website. © 2006 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

108 00 170, $15.35
3 Bay 100 Ton Open Hopper, Frisco (St. Louis-San Francisco).

Black with white lettering including reporting marks on left and large "stencil style" Frisco roadname in center.
Reporting Marks: SLSF 88470.
Approximate Time Period: 1977 (build date) to early 1990's.
NOTE: This item has been sold out and discontinued.

Hey, it's the Disco Frisco! Alright, the lettering style on this car is more like a funky stencil font than anything you might see in a disco, but that's what it reminds me of. Certainly I can't come up with any other SL-SF rolling stock that sported that, uh, unique, way of depicting the roadname. I believe it was the standard block lettering that preceded this version of the name's familiar nickname. © 2006 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

In the early and mid 1990's on Conrail's Charlotte Running Track, which ran alongside the former UMTRR HQ, I saw a number Frisco hoppers unceremoniously restenciled "HLMX" for Helm Leasing, sometimes without benefit of a decent paintout of the Frisco roadname, or any attempt at all in fact. A much better view of a similar cars is on the Fallen Flags site of SL-SF 88019 in North Little Rock, Arkansas, circa March 1977, SLSF 89070 in February 1991. Way below the "O" in "FRISCO" is a very small "coonskin" outline that I think references that the car was built in the Springfield Shops. That device is captured on the MTL model as well. Overall, the MTL model looks pretty faithful to the original; for example, there are 14 panels which are not evenly spaced on both the model and the prototype. If you're counting rivets, there are some; the door locks, for example. One thing I did notice is different lettering styles for the reporting marks across the photos I saw. The 88019 has a Railroad Roman font and the 89070 a bold sans-serif version, almost like, ahem, the Union Pacific. The MTL model has what I'd call an intermediate version, sans-serif but smaller. © 2006 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

Yikes, the first ORER I have past that September 1977 build date given by MTL is April 1981, and by that time the Burlington Northern has already purchased the Frisco. (BN merged it in November 1980.) Apparently that "similar car" pictured on Fallen Flags is really similar; it does belong to the same SLSF series, 87800 to 89179 which numbered 1374 cars at that time. Apparently lots built at different times were combined into this single series. The inside length was 45 feet 1 inch, inside height not given, outside length 48 feet 9 inches, extreme height 15 feet 3 inches, and capacity 3433 cubic feet or 200,000 pounds. The series is down to 1284 cars in October 1986, but just 70 in October 1991. I think my observations of the Charlotte Running Track provide one reason for this. © 2006 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.


020 00 530, $15.35
40 Foot Steel Boxcar, Single Youngstown Door, Southern Railway.

Boxcar red with white lettering including large roadname and road number on left and circle "The Southern Serves The South" herald on right. Simulated load included inside car.
Road Number: 10043 (will be listed as "SOU 10043" on website tables).
Approximate Time Period: 1938 (build date) through the 1960's.
Previous Release: Road Number 10060, November 1985.
NOTE: This item has been sold out and discontinued.

While railroads are frequently the subject of songs, it's not all that often that a specific railroad's slogan makes into a lyric. Such is the case, though, with this line's long time identifier. Mary Chapin Carpenter's "I Am A Town" from the CD "Come On Come On" (better known for "I Feel Lucky," "He Thinks He'll Keep Her" and "Down at the Twist and Shout") contains a series of items that could be associated with a small town, including "Southern Serves The South." Pretty cool. © 2006 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

The puzzler for me with respect to this reprint has been, what is the difference between the Southern Railway "Class of '72" release with catalog 20062 and this release with this catalog number? Well, even after a careful look at the two releases, it's still tough to tell. There is a slight difference in the placement of the dimensional data and the build dates are different; but essentially it's the same paint scheme. This is complicated by the fact that MTL updated the most recent release of the 20062 and this reprint almost completely duplicates this update, with the exception of the dimensional data. It's directly under the herald on this car, allowing for a draft gear explanation to the right, whereas it is to the right of the herald on the 20062. The other difference is the car series; this car is numbered in the 10000s and the 20062 cars are numbered in the 23000s. Needless to say, the original release of the 20530 has not made my top ten want list. (It's a little pricey in the aftermarket besides.) For an N Scaler that is in the mainstream of modeling, I'd say the subtle differences are more or less a "don't care condition" to use the phrase from my college Switching Circuits class. © 2006 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

Be that as it may, or may not, let's go hit the ORERs. We know straight away that the PS-1 boxcar on which the 20er body style is based didn't debut until the forties, so there will be some quibbles on the proto to model comparison. The first hint is the inside height, which was at 10 feet versus the typical 10 feet 6 inches on the usual PS-1. The inside length was 40 feet 6 inches, outside length 41 feet 9 inches, extreme height 14 feet 6 inches, door opening 6 feet and capacity 3712 cubic feet or 80,000 pounds. Oh, let's not leave out the number series: 10000 to 14395 for an impressive count of 4393 cars! Still easily bested, by the way, by the more than thirteen thousand 36 foot interior length boxcars that were still on the Southern's roster at the time. With a pile of cars like that, I'd expect them to be around a while, so I fast-forwarded all the way to January 1964, where the series stretched to 10000 to 15895 and included even more cars, 4861 plus six that had themselves been stretched to a 10 foot 6 inch interior height. However, by the April 1970 ORER, the entire group was almost completely wiped out, reduced to a mere 110 cars. Yikes. I suspect either a massive rebuild project-- not atypical for the Southern-- or perhaps a chance for some of us freelancers to have picked up some cars for our home roads, invoking revisionist history! © 2006 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

032 00 190, $19.95
50 Foot Steel Boxcar, Plug Door, New Haven.

Red with black door, side sills, ladders and grab irons. White lettering including roadname and reporting marks on left and large "N over H" herald on right.
Reporting Marks: NH 40600.
Approximate Time Period: 1965 (build date) through the decade of the 1970's.
Previous Releases: Road Number 40603, May 1988 (did not have details in black); Road Number 40602, November 1999.
NOTE: This item has been sold out and discontinued.

Here's the third run of a prototype that had a short run and a short life on the prototype. The series of just six cars, 40600 to 40605, was delivered to the New Haven in 1965 and, according to Morning Sun's NH Color Guide, were the last new box cars ever acquired by the road. The ink was redder than the car color at that point, and I wouldn't be surprised to find that this was a leasing arrangement of some sort and not an outright purchase by the line. © 2006 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

Pullman Standard built the cars, and that's their "Hydroframe 60" logo to the left of the door. The outside length of this car was a big 60 foot 5 inches over the cushion underframe, suggesting to me that the "60" in "Hydroframe 60" wasn't just pulled out of a hat. Penn Central kept these cars when its forced marriage to the NH took place in February 1968, and in fact I have to go to the April 1970 ORER listing for the PC for the vital statistics, although the NH equipment was listed separately. The cars were described as "Box, Steel, Cushioned Underframe" with an inside length of 50 feet 6 inches, inside height of 10 feet 6 inches, outside length of 60 feet 5 inches as noted, door opening of 9 feet and capacity of 4952 cubic feet or 148,000 pounds. © 2006 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

Conrail got five of the six when it took over the remains of the Wreck of the Penn Central in April 1976. Only the 40600 and 40603 remained of the initial six pack in April 1981. © 2006 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

Besides two photos in the aforementioned NH Color Guide, the book "Classic Freight Cars Volume 8" carries a three-quarter view photo of the 40602 which was the previous run. The black on the sills and such is right there, but the plug door is not a match to the model. The snapshot shows that the 40602 survived long enough to receive a consolidated service stencil, placed just below the dimensional data on the extreme bottom right of the car. © 2006 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

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

021 00 403, $19.85
40 Foot Steel Boxcar, Plug Door, Indiana 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 (cardinal) and state flower (peony) on right.
Reporting Marks: IN 1816.
Thirty-ninth release in the States of the Union series.
NOTE: This item has been sold out and discontinued.

The license plate used to say "Wander Indiana" if I recall correctly, and wander it I have, more than most states I've set foot in. However, I don't recall when I first set foot there. I suspect it might have been the Whirlwind Tour of 1988, where I entered the Hoosier State from the southeast corner, near Cincinnati. That would have been on 8/8/88; yes, I do remember that date, who wouldn't? I had a great time that day, first driving northwestward toward Indianapolis, then going to the Hoosier Dome (don't give me this "RCA Dome" stuff!) and taking the tour which included setting foot on the field. Also while there, I visited the Scottish Rite Cathedral and heard their famous carillon and saw their enormous ballroom. (Scottish Rite is part of the Masons; I learned that too.) And of course there was Indianapolis Union Station, nicely restored and in a new service as a popular shopping and dining destination. Then it was off to Speedway, home of, of course, the Indy 500. All this before six o'clock, but oops, I still had to make it the rest of the way across the state, and I was tired... Well, if it wasn't the first trip to Indiana, it was definitely the most memorable. Since then I've snuck in from Chicago, crossed on the Indiana Toll Road a couple of times, and been on a plane diverted to Fort Wayne instead of landing at O'Hare. My kids each have a t-shirt from that last adventure. © 2006 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

There is a fascinating web account of how the Ice Age affected Indiana that caused more than a brief distraction for me. Following that, what is now known as the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore was created. (Oh, yeah, that reminds me, I've been there too.) Prehistoric Native Americans may have been in Indiana as long ago as 11,000 BC. The Woodland Indians built the mounds such as those at Anderson and were around from approximately 1000 BC to 1000 AD. The Mississippian period, but mysteriously disappeared by around 1650, about the same time that Spanish explorer DeSoto reportedly entered what is now Vincennes. (I wonder if he brought smallpox with him-- deadly to native tribes.) Samuel de Champlain (we met him in Vermont, last month) was among the first Frenchmen to survey the area. By the 1680's what is now Fort Wayne was established as "Keikonga" or "Kisakon" and later "Miamitown" after the tribe that were its first inhabitants. The British came in as well, establishing other settlements including Vincennes and placed the land area into Quebec (!). They also tried to keep Americans east of the Applalchians, which didn't work; as part of the Peace of Paris in 1783, the United States took over what became the Northwest Territory, having briefly glued it to Virginia. Indiana Territory was carved out, and then Illinois and Michigan out of Indiana. Vincennes was the capital for the entire Louisiana Purchase for much of 1804, even though Indiana wasn't part of that area. © 2006 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

Indiana became a state in 1816 with Corydon as the capital. (As in, the Louisville, New Albany and Corydon shortline? Apparently so!) When Canal Fever hit, the Maumee and Wabash Rivers were connected, allowing navigation from the Great Lakes to the Mississippi River system. Indianapolis became the capital in 1825; translated, it's "Indiana City" and is pretty well smack in the middle of the state-- unlike most state capitals. The University of Notre Dame was founded in 1842 in South Bend (as in the Chicago, South Shore and South Bend). By 1860, railroads were firmly established including seven routes radiating out of Indianapolis. © 2006 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

Heavy industry and farming co-existed in Indiana from after the Civil War forward. In 1897, the Indiana General Assembly passed comprehensive law prohibiting children under the age of 14 from working in manufacturing establishments. United States Steel built its massive plant and the city of Gary starting in 1906. That northwest area of the state would be the setting and the basis for many of the stories of my all time favorite author, Jean Shepherd, who is best known for the film "A Christmas Story." (Shepherd was born in Hammond.) It only took until the 1920 Census for the urban population of the state to pass the rural population. But there were still plenty of "Small Towns," some, I am sure, with "Pink Houses" as Indiana native singer, songwriter and painter John "Cougar" Mellencamp would tell you. © 2006 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

Speaking of native and famous Indianans-- well, I'd be better off saying "Hoosiers" although the origin of that term is apparently lost-- among them are have World War II correspondent Ernie Pyle, composer Cole Porter, poet James Whitcomb Riley, actress Carole Lombard, former Vice President Dan Quayle, socialist leader Eugene V. Debs, and astronaut Gus Grissom. Humorist George Ade is largely forgotten now, but he was an inspiration for Jean Shepherd and a master of the use of capital letters to emphasize Important Points. (And now you know from where I have Borrowed That Idea.) And I can't leave out the Jacksons-- Michael, Janet, et. al., and I'd better not leave out Knute Rockne, inseparable from Notre Dame and from American football. Sticking to sports, the Indiana University "Hoosiers" have had a number of famous basketball stars including Larry Bird, but perhaps coach Bobby Knight overshadows them all. Basketball is big in Indiana, and if you don't believe me, check out the film titled-- of course-- "Hoosiers." © 2006 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

No releases this month.


New Release: 850 00 031 and 850 00 032, $38.95 each.
30 Foot Wood Sheathed Refrigerator Car, White Pass and Yukon.

Yellow sides, freight car red ends, roof and sill below door. Black door hinges. Black lettering including "White Pass" on left and "Gateway to the Yukon" and road number on right.
Road Numbers: 400 (the 031) and 406 (the 032).
Approximate Time Period: 1940's and 1950's, mostly; see text.
NOTE: This item (both numbers) has been sold out and discontinued.

The White Pass and Yukon was quite the remarkable narrow gauge line for several reasons, well before its status as "North America's busiest tourist railroad", an honor noted by Trains Magazine in its May 2006 cover story. (Number two is Pennsylvania's Strasburg.) First, it was international, running from Skagway, Alaska into British Columbia and the Yukon Territory to reach Whitehorse 110 rail miles away, the head of navigation on the northward flowing Yukon River. Second, it was one of the very few slim gauge operations to dieselize, and in fact even went to second generation units. Third, it was in operation into the early 1980's as a common carrier, although it's not unremarkable that highways and a mine closure combined to cause its shutdown as a freight line in 1982. Fourth, it was basically an intermodal route from the beginning, serving as a land bridge from the ocean to the interior of Canada. The company which operated the railroad also had steamship interests and even an air carrier north of Whitehorse. When the lakes and rivers froze over, which was much of the year, the company used sleds and stages instead of steamboats. The White Pass was a relative late comer to the narrow gauge scene, as it was begun in 1898 and completed with a golden spike ceremony on July 29, 1900. © 2006 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

The refrigerator cars which MTL represents this month probably came to the line as part of an influx of equipment during the Second World War. According to George Hilton's account in the book "American Narrow Gauge Railways," the line was commandeered by the United States Army from 1942 to 1946 for use as a supply route, and engines came from several different lines for redeployment on the WP&Y. Although MTL reports that the cars were used up until the line's closure, the WP&Y moved to containerization in about 1950. Hey, maybe that's a fifth reason why this was a remarkable line. © 2006 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

And yes, I am using the wrong tense when I say "was". The first forty miles of the line out of Skagway still operates as a tourist attraction and carried a record 430,037 revenue passengers during the 2005 summer season. Much of this success is directly attributable to cruise ships making Skagway a stop. "The White Pass operates more like a commuter line than the mountain railway and International Civil Engineering Landmark that it is," reported Karl Zimmerman in the Trains piece. Although GE diesels which in themselves are unusual historic locomotives bear most of the trainloads of tourists, a 2-8-0 and a 2-8-2 steamer are used for special excursions and charters. There is much more about the current White Pass is available at its website. © 2006 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

You'll be quick to notice that I haven't included any ORER data. Even though it was considered to be a common carrier, it's not listed in any of the ORER editions I have. Perhaps because it didn't "interchange"? It does appear in the Official Guide of the Railways for November 1946 which is certainly contemporaneous with the use of these refrigerator cars. © 2006 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.


506 00 090, Magne-Matic Coupler, $19.55, 506 00 191, Marklin Coupler, $17.75.
50 Foot Steel Box Car, Double Youngstown Doors, Baltimore and Ohio "Sentinel Service."

Boxcar red with white lettering including large "B&O" and reporting marks on left and roadname and "Sentinel Service" logo on right.
Reporting Marks: B&O 471415.
Approximate Time Period: 1959 (build date) through the 1970's.
NOTE: This item (both versions) has been sold out and discontinued.

The practice of just stenciling a "Time Saver Service" or in this case "Sentinel Service" device on the car began around 1956. Prior to that, you had your attractive, and expensive to paint, special paint schemes for a few select cars in the B&O's roster. © 2006 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

The January 1964 ORER shows the series 471300 to 471579, of 276 cars, as AAR Class XML with steel construction. The group looks pretty basic, with a 50 foot 6 inside length, 10 foot 6 inch inside height, 51 foot 10 inch outside length, 15 feet 1 inch extreme height, and capacity of 4,880 feet or 100,000 pounds. These cars had 19 belt DF loaders according to an end note. And, oh yes, a 15 foot door opening. Not two eight foot doors as on the model, but an eight plus a seven. Not something to be terribly concerned about with respect to 1:220 proportions. © 2006 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

The series was 230 cars in April of 1970, 205 total cars in April 1976, and 198 cars in multiple subseries with different equipment in April 1981. By that time, you've got to be thinking roofwalk removal and possibly repainting into Chessie colors? Or perhaps a downgrade to a plain B&O with small herald but keeping the boxcar red paint, which would have been contemporaneous with the "Sentinel Service" version of the paint scheme depicted here. However, the CDS Railway Equipment Diagrams reference does provide an ATP of 1957 to the mid-1970s for a similar series of cars, with the "Sentinel Service" logo. © 2006 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

531 00 010 and 531 00 012, Magne-Matic Coupler, $17.95, 531 00 011 and 531 00 013, Marklin Coupler, $16.15.
Two Bay PS-2 Steel Covered Hopper, Santa Fe (AT&SF).

Mineral red with white lettering including reporting marks on left. Black and white "circle cross" herald inside black square above reporting marks on left. Mineral red trucks and Magne-Matic couplers.
Reporting Marks: ATSF 82141 (the 010 and 011) and ATSF 82297 (the 012 and 013).
Approximate Time Period: 1955 (build date) to mid-1990s.
NOTE: This item (all numbers) has been sold out and discontinued.

The photo used in MTL's web and print advertising for this brand new body style comes directly from the Morning Sun Color Guide to the ATSF by Lloyd Stagner. Page 85 has Emery Gulash's photo of ATSF 82297, a Ga-105 class two bay covered hopper. That white on the roof isn't paint, it's cement powder, as that was a principal commodity carried in these cars. © 2006 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

I just miss with my January 1955 ORER, so it's off to the January 1959 Register for a look at the series 82000 to 82499. All 500 possible cars were on the roster with the basic description of "Covered Hopper" and the AAR Designation "LO". These cars had an inside length of just 29 feet 2 inches and an inside width of 9 feet 5 inches, with the inside height not given. The outside length was 35 feet 3 inches and extreme height 13 feet 2 inches, with capacity of 2003 cubic feet or 140,000 pounds. In January 1964 there were 495 cars in the series; in April 1970, 487 with two exceptions that were equipped for pneumatic unloading (the 82250 and 82409, if you're curious). In the April 1976 Register, 309 cars had been changed to 154,000 pounds capacity, another 152 remained at the 140,000 pounds level, and three were equipped with pneumatic outlets (change the list to the 82154, 82205 and 82405). Moving to April 1981, there's quite the drop: just 174 in the main series, all 154,000 pounds capacity, plus the three pneumatics (same numbers as above). Cut that more than half again in April 1985, with 80 cars in the main series and two exceptions. It looks like the Approximate Time Period is more or less over by the mid 1990's, with a mere 13 cars remaining in the October 1996 Guide, but not before five of the series are listed as "Hopper, Steel"-- yikes!-- in the July 1992 ORER (82105, 82284, 82386, 82463, 82484). © 2006 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

I was concerned about a possible shortener of the Approximate Time Period that is also found on Page 85 of the MSCG: "Starting in 1959 certain classes of the LO Mechanical Designation were repainted gray." The photo of ATSF 82297 in mineral red is dated August 1958 so I know we're still good there. A 1984 photo of sister car ATSF 82295 on Fallen Flags is in black and white, but clearly shows the original paint scheme, so I think we're OK. © 2006 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

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