UMTRR August, 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.

045 00 290, $24.95
50 Foot Steel Flat Cars, Fishbelly Sides, Kansas City Southern.

Freight car red with white lettering including road name and road number in center. Simulated large steel beam load atop pivot mounts spanning both cars. Note: Cars and load are packaged together in a single large box.
Road Numbers: 575 and 583 (will be preceded by "KCS" in web listings).
Approximate Time Period: early 1960's to early 2000's.
NOTE: This item has been sold out and discontinued.

A large steel beam load spanning two flat cars: "an interesting experiment" is what the folks at MTL told me this was, and indeed it is. You can't say that they're not trying new ideas after viewing this! Speaking of trying, I'm told that MTL did try out this release on a test track and did not have any running issues with it. On smaller radius curves, watch out for those side mounted brake wheels though. When I last checked with MTL, sales of this item were going pretty well. I'm encouraged by that; experiments ought to be supported. Yes, I'm well aware that to be truly realistic, one needs to do more than just put a steel beam across two flat cars; there should be tie downs and the like. But what a challenge that could be! You have the raw material, so should you choose to, go for it! © 2006 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

I guess I have to go back to the hard way of figuring out the Approximate Time Period, since there is no way I can possibly read anything off the image of the cars and the MTL car copy doesn't give any hints either. That "hard way" is the systematic checking of one Official Railway Equipment Register (ORER) after another... © 2006 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

Ah, here we are. The January 1964 ORER is the first place I pick up the series, numbered 500 to 599 and consisting of all 100 possible cars. The description is the simple "Flat" and the AAR Classification is the basic "FM". The first of the dimensions shows an immediate problem, though, as the prototype was 60 feet in "inside length" which is about ten feet more than the length of the deck on the MTL car. The outside length was 60 feet 9 inches so overall the MTL car isn't quite ten feet too short when counting the couplers. The extreme height was 3 feet 8 inches and capacity 140,000 pounds. There were 99 cars listed in the July 1974 ORER (a new acquisition!), still 99 in January 1985, and a total of 79 across two subgroups differing in capacity in October 1996, by which time the outside length had gone to 63 feet 3 inches. © 2006 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

And how about this: KCS 575 still existed as of November 2005 and was lensed by Tom Stolte (of Oddballs Decals fame) in Kansas City, Missouri and placed on the site. I've been told that MTL doesn't have the brake wheel in the right place versus the prototype, but with apologies to Tom, I don't see a brake wheel at all on the car. It is a fishbelly side car, to be sure, and it definitely has stake pockets as well. Sister car KCS 555 was available for photography in October 2005 also in "KCMO," and boy, I can't see a brake wheel on that one either. And hey, KCS 522 was out there too. Ah, here we go, another shot of KCS 575 from 2004 in Neosho, Missouri, this one on Fallen Flags and I can see the brake wheel on the end of the car, not the side. I found it, hurray, I guess. Since the 575 was traveling in 2004, and it appeared to have just been carrying something based on the wood frame that is still on the car. But the "forty year rule" means we can't really squeeze a "to present" out for this listing, at least in terms of interchange service. © 2006 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

Oh, may I mention that in that last photo, the wood frame extends past one end of the car, as if it were, perhaps, coupled to another car for carrying something really long? © 2006 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

111 00 081 and 111 00 082, $37.80 each
89 Foot Tri-Level Enclosed Auto Rack, Southern Pacific.

Yellow flat car with black and white lettering including reporting marks on left and TTX logo on right. Brown and aluminum rack with white lettering including roadname on placard on racking.
Reporting Marks: ETTX 854290 (the 081) and ETTX 854254 (the 082).
Approximate Time Period: 1994 (rebuild date given by MTL) to early 2000's.
NOTE: This item (both numbers) has been sold out and discontinued.

I must admit that I am pretty partial to the Speed Lettering version of the Southern Pacific roadname that was introduced to the SP in 1988 after the Rio Grande purchased it-- well, after Philip Anschutz purchased it. So to be honest, I was a little disappointed when these cars instead came with the basic block lettering roadname that preceded it. [Note to MTL: The speed lettering version goes in the same place on the rack. You don't even have to change that position. Maybe you already know this. Possible road numbers? OK, ETTX 854154 and 854155. I'll check to see if they are tri-levels, please stand by... yes, they are.] © 2006 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

The Trailer Train listing in the ORER has never been particularly helpful, so I didn't expect much when checking the October 1996 edition, the closest to the 1994 rebuild year that MTL provides. And my expectations were met. The series 854162 to 854300 is listed as just "Flat" but the AAR Type Code is "V411" which does correspond to a tri-level rack (thanks to Joe Shaw for that tidbit, which I've kept). The inside length is 89 feet 4 inches, outside length 93 feet 10 inches, extreme height 19 feet, and capacity 67,000 pounds, a little on the light side. There were 150 cars in the series but we cannot say definitively that they were all carrying Espee racking. I get my first chance to use my latest addition to the ORER Accumulation, the January 2006 edition, and it shows a the same series spanning the same road numbers but down to 136 pieces. © 2006 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

Given that these were not done in the speed lettering, I assumed that perhaps they didn't quite make it into the present day, and I'm probably right about this. However, at least one of the prototype series, the ETTX 854200, survived long enough to be lensed in May 2004 with the results on Fallen Flags (remember, look up "Trailer Train" and not "Southern Pacific"), although those aluminum panels are looking quite the worse for wear. I guess that if it was repainted by now, it would be with the Union Pacific shield and perhaps an SP reporting mark on the rack, as I have seen here and there in the long trains of racks that go by near UMTRR HQ. So I will be a bit conservative and call the ATP a year or two before 2006. If you're up to a Weathering Challenge you probably can't be argued with extending that to the present. © 2006 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

120 00 260, $12.65
40 Foot Box Car, Single Door, ARA Style, Plate Ends, Overlapping Flat Panel Roof, Vertical Brake Wheel, Pennsylvania Railroad.

Oxide red (called "iron sesqui-oxide") with white lettering including roadname and road number on left and circle keystone herald and "Railway Express Agency" on right.
Reporting Marks: PRR 2145.
Approximate Time Period: 1940's through 1960's.
NOTE: This item has been sold out and discontinued.

Let us title this commentary, "An Exercise in Frustration."

There are X29s all over the place in all kinds of configurations on the Pennsylvania Railroad... well, pretty much anywhere on the North American railroad system, truth be told. According to Rob's Pennsy Page it all started with the original X29s, built between 1924 and 1934. Then there were the X29Bs, consisting of 4500 rebuilds-- "new body on old underframe," Rob says, with a 10 foot 6 inch interior height and corrugated ends, done between 1940 and 1950. Then there were the Cs, and the Ds, another 3100 rebuilds during the period 1952 to 1956, 500 of which were painted with the "Don't Stand Me Still" slogan, again a new body on old underframe. Count up another 900 rebuilds to X29Gs in 1959. The X29L rebuilds even got an eight foot Youngstown door. X29Ks got roof hatches for flour loading. And according to an article devoted to the X29s in the August 1997 issue of Rail Model Journal, some of these cars actually got cushion underframes! Yikes! I'm not even going to pretend I know all of this stuff. © 2006 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

I wish I did, though. Things are quite the tangled web with respect to these cars. For example, the RMJ article states that several hundred cars were equipped for passenger express service, and other sources but that number at past one thousand cars. RMJ says that they originally were numbered into four digit series-- like the 2145, maybe?-- but after World War II, reverted to their original number series. The January 1953 ORER shows this; nothing with four digits but three groups in all in the "Passenger Train Equipment Cars" that are cross referenced to their listings in the main section of the Register entry. For the record, these groups are 49314 to 57641, 97949 to 103323, and 566091 to 574090, all of which are shown as simply "X29". © 2006 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

But hold on here! The Morning Sun Color Guide (MSCG) to the Pennsylvania, Volume 1, page 72, shows PRR 2145 in the Railway Express scheme depicted by MTL and the photo is dated Christmas Eve 1961! Well, one thing I can see from the photo even if the dates aren't clear: the ends are the later Dreadnaught corrugated type, not the flat ends on the Micro-Trains model. But also note a photo of PRR 2185 with flat ends, probably circa the early forties, and the photo of PRR 2412 with flat ends in a later paint job circa 1968. So the inaccuracy cannot be called across the board. Rob's Pennsy Page cites photos of PRR 2185 circa 1941 in "The Keystone," Volume 33 Number 3, that being the official magazine of the PRR Technical and Historical Society. (Not the same as "The Keystone Modeler," a free publication offered on the net by the PRRT&HS as a PDF and well worth the download.) What's going on? Could the Pennsy have changed its mind about the numbering system? © 2006 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

OK, let's try going back to the Equipment Registers. The January 1955? Nope; well, actually, it's worse. As with the '54 Register, the only cars shown that are numbered in the 2000s are express refrigerators starting at 2500, not boxcars. And no, the dimensions don't match the X29s, so it's not that. (I mean, if you could put on cushion underframes, you could certainly add in ice tanks, right? No, not this time.) The January 1959 ORER? Nope, same story, no 2145. And the same is true for the January 1964 Register. © 2006 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

So, are these phantom cars? No, of course not; but they're not listed, either. That could mean that the place to find them could be the Official Register of Passenger Train Equipment. But it could also mean that the ORER simply is not accurate in this case as well-- not likely, but possible, as we have seen before (Norfolk Southern Autoracks, anyone?). The problem for me is getting an adequate ATP. And, pending some incremental information, I will make a nice wide one of the 1940's to the 1960's, covering the photo evidence from 1941 and 1961, everything in between, and then some. If you are not happy with the choice of ends, it's a moot point anyway. You could renumber, but I'll add that the MSCG states that the Pennsy liked boxcars with reinforced ends for the express service. Which reminds me, have I brought up the nine different truck styles that were used on these cars? Well, perhaps I'll leave that for when and if there is a reprint... © 2006 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.


030 00 110, $18.20
50 Foot Exterior Post Boxcar, Double Door, Arcata and Mad River.

Red with aluminum roof. White lettering including Simpson Products Company logo and name and reporting marks on left and roadname enclosed in an oval on right.
Reporting Marks: AMR 1071.
Approximate Time Period: 1978 (build date) to mid-1980s.
Previous Release (as catalog 30110): Road Number 1087, August 1984.
NOTE: This item has been sold out and discontinued.

The distance from San Francisco north to the border of California and Oregon is longer than the entire length of many states, and around three quarters of the way up is Arcata. It's been ten years since my first and only trip to the area, but alas, the Arcada and Mad River Railroad was already a part of history. © 2006 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

It seems that MTL went to Wikipedia, or perhaps the sources cited there, for its car copy. Although it's correctly noted that the line can be traced back to the Union Wharf and Plank Walk Company, which was built starting in 1854 with wooden rails overlaid with strap iron, the exact date of the start of the A&MR is a bit later, July 1881. It lasted over a century, being abandoned in May 1985. Parent Simpson Lumber Company, which had purchased the road in 1960, sold it off in 1988. Simpson still exists; it's now Simpson Investment Company with divisions that include the California Lumber Division of Simpson Timber Company with operations in Korbel and Eureka. Korbel was a terminus of the A&MR and the last name of the line's first president, Francis Korbel. © 2006 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

The Official Guide of the Railways from February 1963 seems like a reasonable place to pull an entry, and you can't get much smaller than the listing on Page 753. The line ran from Korbel to a point called Korblex where connection was made with the Northwestern Pacific for freight service only. Passenger service ended in 1931. Just a General Superintendent was listed out of Blue Lake, California, which isn't far from what Google Maps tells me is Korbel (Zip Code 95550). The ORER from January 1964 doesn't list any freight equipment, which doesn't really surprise me. © 2006 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

So we go over to the ORER for April 1981 to find the series 1000 to 1099, of 100 cars described as "Box, Steel, Nailable Steel Floor" with AAR Classification XM and within Plate C dimensions. Which are: Inside length 50 feet 7 inches, inside width 9 feet 6 inches, inside height 11 feet, outside length 57 feet 3 inches, extreme height 15 feet 5 inches, capacity 5300 cubic feet or 154,000 pounds, and door opening 16 feet. My N Scale ruler tells me that there is a little bit of a "Door Thing" with the total of the MTL double doors being a bit short, but more important to note is that the prototype was an ACF product while the MTL 30er body style is based on an FMC 5077 boxcar. So details will vary. There is a photo of A&MR 1098 in the January 2000 issue of Rail Model Journal. On Fallen Flags there's a shot of A&MR 1010, just six months old in May 1979, a long way from home in Secaucus, New Jersey, and looking very new indeed. Fallen Flags also offers a trio of images of the other series of cars the A&MR had in service, all-door boxcars, two of which were also caught in New Jersey. © 2006 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

Since the A&MR was abandoned in 1985 by Simpson Timber, it is not a shock to see that the listing went from 99 of these cars in January 1985 to zero in October 1986. In fact, the entire listing is gone from the October '86 Register. These cars were most leased to the A&MR from Itel Rail, so chances are that they went to another road after being reclaimed. I will leave the exercise of finding that next operator to the reader. © 2006 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

While the A&MR is no more, successor North Coast owns the trackage. However, the website shows that it is not in service from Korblex to Korbel. (In fact, much of the connecting Northwestern Pacific isn't either.) So no trainspotting available on the line. But there is another reason to be in the area: according to the "Surviving Shay" website, Lima shop number 3014, originally built for the Lamson Logging Company and also A&MR #7 starting in August 1942, is displayed at the Humboldt Log Museum in Korbel. It was also, apparently, displayed in Arcata and stored in Blue Lake. © 2006 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

034 00 190, $15.25
50 Foot Steel Boxcar, Double Door, Missouri Pacific.

Boxcar red with white lettering including reporting marks on left and "buzzsaw" herald on right.
Reporting Marks: MP 90257.
Approximate Time Period: 1963 (build date on car) to late 1960's (see text).
Previous Releases (as catalog 34190): Road Number 90252, June 1989; Road Number 90277, May 1996.
NOTE: This item has been sold out and discontinued.

The 1996 second run of this car was a bit of a "not a reprint" from the initial offering of June 1989; most notably on the shade of boxcar red which is darker and "more red" on the second version than the first. There are some lettering size and placement differences as well. Based on the photo of the car, this third run is a much less of a "not a reprint" than the second run; the first difference I pick up is the funny looking stencil on the door that is sort of a horizontal bar - ball - bar that usually denotes load dividers. © 2006 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

The ORER for January 1964 shows the series 90000 to 90299, with AAR Classification XML and description "Box, All Steel, Cushion Underframe, DF Loaders." The inside length was 50 feet 6 inches, inside width 9 feet 4 inches, inside height 10 feet 6 inches, outside length 55 feet 5 inches, extreme height 15 feet 1 inch, door opening 16 feet, and capacity 4941 cubic feet or 140,000 pounds. There were 246 cars in the main series with the other 54 called out with Note L which states that the cars "have been equipped with racks for stowing automobile parts and differing in... AAR Classification [as] XAP. The exact items carried differ as well. Are you ready for some really excruciating detail? Here goes: The cars 90000 to 90011, 90020 to 90034, 90062 and 90063 were set up to carry motors. Cars 90012 to 90016 handled transmissions. One loaded axles in 90017, 90018, 90019, 90035, 90086 and 90087. Hoods went into 90036 to 90042. Stampings were put aboard 90043 to 90048. And finally, just the 90061 was equipped for control arms. Whatever those are. Note that none of the MTL-depicted cars fit into any of these subcategories, so carry whatever you want in them. The cushion underframe, outside length and "Hydra-Cushion 20 Underframe" stencil right on the car strongly hint to me that medium extended trucks would be more appropriate; if body mounting the couplers, you might try doing so a bit outboard of the body as I've done in a couple of cases. (I use good old Walthers Goo for this rather than mess around with screws. I haven't lost a coupler yet.) © 2006 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

Here's a big surprise: In the next ORER I have, January 1970, this group of cars had plummeted to just 35 total! There were 25 in a main series with some "pallets considered part of car" cars, just 9 with the automobile parts handling equipment, and one "exception" that was just a basic boxcar. What happened here? Well, it's possible that there was a renumbering here, not a purge: I have a group of cars 250600 to 250899 with the same general dimensions, similar descriptions, and perhaps most revealingly, the same cubic footage capacity, 4941. There were no other boxcar series I saw in that listing that matched the cubic footage. Further, there were a total of 259 cars across three subgroups in this collection, and adding that to the 35 in the 90000 group, you'd have had 294 which is pretty close to the 300 that you would have started with. And finally, a picture of MP 250893 in Fallen Flags shows a pretty similar looking car, even including the "Hydra-Cushion 20 Underframe" stencil. The build date is tantalizingly out of reach, though, and the roofwalk is gone, as you might expect given the photo date of September 1976. © 2006 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

Well, I hope I'm accurate with this speculation since the 90000 series is not in the April 1976 ORER; in any case the ATP is a lot shorter than I would have first guessed. I was curious so I followed the 250600 series to its end as well, which turned out to be the late 1980's based on my lookups. © 2006 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

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

021 00 404, $19.85
40 Foot Steel Boxcar, Plug Door, New Hampshire 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 () and state flower () on right.
Reporting Marks: NH 1788.
Fortieth release in the States of the Union series.
NOTE: This item has been sold out and discontinued.

Pity the poor folks of the Granite State: they lost their symbol! The Old Man of the Mountain, nicknamed the Great Stone Face or Profile, was located in Franconia Notch State Park. Discovered in 1805, it became the emblem of the state in 1945 and it was the centerpiece of the State Quarter that was issued in 1999. But there were literal cracks in the edifice discovered as early as 1937, and when it was found that they had widened, repairs were undertaken in 1958. But alas, the rocks that made up the profile collapsed on May 3, 2003. Almost immediately the "Old Man of the Mountain Revitalization Task Force and Revitalization Fund" was established. © 2006 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

The Native Americans that inhabited the region told a legend that if you follow the Great Merrimack River north you will find a mountain with a stone face. Tribes like the Abnacki and Pennacook had numerous subdivisions and "villages". The early part of the 17th century saw exploration of the area, mostly the short coastline. In 1622 the area between the Salem and Merrimac rivers, under the name of Mariana, was jointly granted to John Mason and Sir Ferdinando Gorges. In 1629 a grant called New Hampshire was made, but the Massachusetts Colony gained control of it in 1641. It didn't emerge as a separate Royal Colony until 1679. In 1680, the colony required schools for all towns of fifty households or more. The shipbuilding industry originated in Portsmouth in 1690 and remained there into the 1960's. Maybe it's Maine and Idaho that get all the press now, but the first potato planted in what is now the USA was in Derry in 1717. © 2006 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

New Hampshire took the concept of democracy seriously; they were the first state to declare themselves independent from England, and that was in 1774! They were also first with an independent government, the first to hold a constitutional convention, and the first to require that its constitution be referred to the people for approval, all this before they ratified the Constitution of the United States in 1788 to become the ninth state of the union. "Live Free or Die" indeed! But perhaps not for all at one time: the Noyes Academy in Canaan was founded as an integrated school in March 1835, and "forcibly removed from its foundation" in August. And it was not until 1890 that the first female students attended the University of New Hampshire, which had been founded in 1866. © 2006 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

The Mount Washington Cog Railway was opened in 1869, the world's first of the type, and climbs the 6,288 foot peak where weather can vary wildly. (For example, the world's highest recorded and validated wind gust, 231 miles per hour or 372 KM per hour, April 1934.) Even now, the Mount Washington Observatory calls itself "Home of the World's Worst Weather." © 2006 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

Famous people from the state include Franklin Pierce, the 14th President. Speaking of which, the first Presidential primary is held in New Hampshire, at least at this writing, and there is also the famous moments after midnight general election voting of the tiny hamlet of Dixville Notch; Neil Tillotson, Moderator of Dixville, cast the first vote in the nation in every presidential primary and general election since 1964 until his death in October 2001 at the age of 102. I guess that makes him a famous person in his own right! Other famous New Hampshirites include patriot Josiah Bartlett, Supreme Court justice David Souter, jurist and treasurer Salmon P. Chase (who was on the $10,000 bill), orator Daniel Webster, Governor John Sununu, Christian Science founder Mary Baker Eddy, sculptor Augustus Saint Gaudens (born in Ireland) who designed the eagle and double eagle gold coins that are widely considered to be the most beautiful ever minted by the United States; first American in space Alan Shepherd and teacher S. Christa McAuliffe (born in Massachusetts) who perished in the Challenger disaster. There was journalist Horace Greeley (before "Go West Young Man"), author of "Catcher in the Rye" J.D. Salinger (born in New York) who would probably prefer that I not mention him, but don't worry, I was not particularly fond of the book anyway; "Peyton Place" author Grace Metalious, who lived just forty years; and Sarah Josepha Hale, who wrote "Mary Had A Little Lamb." © 2006 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

I don't think I ever saw the Old Man of the Mountain, but I have been to New Hampshire several times. The first of these visits included a stop at North Conway, home of one of the major rail tourist lines in the country, then a ride up US 302 through Crawford Notch. John Steinbeck once wrote that on the road, he had never had a really good dinner or a really bad breakfast; but my breakfast during the trip at "Valley Vittles" in Glen must have been a really good breakfast since I can still remember the place more than twenty-five years later! The most recent visit to the Granite State was back in 2002, when I took Kieran over the border with Massachusetts so that he could set foot in what was for him a new state. Although I must report that with the population explosion in Southern NH-- inspired in no small way by the fact that the state, unlike its neighbor to the south, has no sales tax and no income tax-- you can't tell you've crossed over if you don't see the sign. © 2006 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.


800 00 040, $16.45
30 Foot Box Car, Wood Sheathed, Single Door, Florence and Cripple Creek.

Box car red with white lettering and yellow "The Gold Belt Line" herald in yellow.
Road Number 540 (will be "F&CC 540" in website listings).
Approximate Time Period: 1899 to 1912.
Previous Releases (as catalog 15104): Road Number 588, September 1992; Road Number 540, February 1999.
NOTE: This item has been sold out and discontinued.

With HOn3 getting all the narrow gauge time in the MTL factory lately, it's nice to see a car run for the N Scale slim gaugers for a change. This is just the third Nn3 item for the year, and the third boxcar reprint. Based on the pattern I am perceiving we might get one more before year's end. You may be aware of reports that other than the boxcar and caboose, the old tooling for these cars is unserviceable, which is perhaps why we've only been getting boxcars and cabeese lately. © 2006 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

Although the Official Railroad Equipment Register accumulation here at UMTRR HQ has grown significantly between the last run of this car in 1999 and now, there are still no matches for this line in those references. Fortunately, though, there is the book "American Narrow Gauge Railroads" by George W. Hilton. And according to that volume, the Florence and Cripple Creek actually did connect its two namesake cities, and climbed about 4,000 feet in the process, for the purposes of extracting gold from them thar hills. Completed in 1894, a flood in the Phantom Canyon knocked it out in 1895, after which it was rebuilt along a grade of ten to fifteen feet above water level. That version of the route lasted until the flood of 1912, which meant the end of the line. The F&CC had actually already been coming down from its 1897 peak, when it hauled 208,000 tons of freight and a surprising 239,000 plus passengers, and cleared $218,000 in profits. © 2006 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

Photos of the real F&CC are available in the cyber-files of the "Old Colorado City Historical Museum". From there you'll get six photos in glorious black and white with captions. Apparently the line had an inauspicious beginning, based on the caption for the photo of an early operation: "The First passenger train to Victor, Colorado. A Denver and Rio Grande train borrowed by the Florence and Cripple Creek Railroad. They made it to Cripple Creek, turned around, and on the trip back all the cars derailed, near Anaconda. May 27, 1894." © 2006 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

One of the F&CC's locomotives, the "Portland," went to the Rio Grande Southern as its number 20. That steamer went to the Colorado Rail Museum in Golden. Speaking of Golden, the original MTL run of this car, the 588, was the car that went to the Montana Southern, as released in November by M/T, was wrecked and came back to the Colorado Rail Museum for repainting in its original F&CC form. © 2006 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

No releases this month.


510 00 130, Magne-Matic Coupler, $20.10, 510 00 131, Marklin Coupler, $18.30.
50 Foot Exterior Post Boxcar, Single Door, Montana Rail Link.

Dark blue with mostly white lettering including reporting marks and roadname on left. White MRL stripe logo on right. Boxcar red doors.
Reporting Marks: MRL 20030.
Approximate Time Period: late 1980's (1987 paint date given by MTL) to around 1990 (a guess, due to the doors).
NOTE: This item (both coupler versions) has been sold out and discontinued.

[The following is largely a "reprint" from the March 2002 UMTRR coverage of the N Scale release of this car (Catalog 25620).]

Hmm, Burlington Northern went to all of that trouble to paint up a boxcar for the Montana Rail Link, and they didn't bother to do the doors to match? What happened there? Did they run out of paint? Did the shift at the paint shop end? Did priorities change? © 2006 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

Well, maybe what actually happened was that the doors were handled apart from the car body, and didn't come back together until final re-assembly. Sliding doors get pretty beat up on a regular basis, given the constant back and forth motion and the occasional encounter with loading equipment or cargo. So they're replaced or repaired more frequently than other parts of the car. There's no doubt in my mind that Micro-Trains has photographic evidence of this particular car being painted this way-- in fact, it was used in the advance advertising, but it would be interesting to know whether all in the short series (noted below) started their careers for the MRL with boxcar red doors. Given the well-kept condition in which I usually find MRL rolling stock, I would estimate that the non-matching doors didn't stay that way for long, and that's how I've cast the ATP. © 2006 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

The listing in the Official Railway Equipment Register for July 1989, which is the closest I have to the birthday of the MRL of October 31, 1987, shows just 19 cars in the total series 20000 to 20031. The inside length is 50 feet 6 inches and the outside length 55 feet 7 inches (better get out the extended draft gear couplers). The door opening is ten feet which lines up with the MTL model regardless of what color the door is. At this early point in its history the MRL had just 977 cars, of which 350 were covered hoppers, 383 were boxcars of various types, and 100 were woodchip gondolas. By October 1991 the total number of MRL cars had risen to 1166, but this series hadn't gone up or down. © 2006 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

The next Register I checked was October 1996, where I found 13 cars left out of the original group; and I ended in January 2000 with 13 again, including, specifically, the 20030. Meanwhile, the MRL was apparently picking up similar cars second hand from other railroads. An example is posted on the "Northwest Rail Pics." MRL 20091 came from the Detroit, Toledo and Ironton, fortunately, with the blue door matching the rest of the car. © 2006 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

While fooling around with all of this, I wondered just where the BN would have boxcar red doors laying around anyway. They certainly didn't use them on Cascade Green cars. How about the BN predecessors? Probably not. Well, how about the Frisco, which the BN purchased in 1980? © 2006 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

Aha! According to the MRL roster on Tim Harris' former "Unofficial MRL" site-- now, unfortunately, gone-- which itself was largely culled from a 1995 article in Diesel Era magazine, the cars were built in 1971 by ACF and came from the SLSF series 42000 to 42499. And therefore they would have had boxcar red doors. Mystery solved, perhaps? Sounds good enough for me. © 2006 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

510 00 140, Magne-Matic Coupler, $20.30, 510 00 141, Marklin Coupler, $18.50.
50 Foot Exterior Post Boxcar, Single Door, Norfolk Southern (prior railroad, not the current NS).

Boxcar red sides and ends, aluminum roof; yellow lettering including reporting marks and roadname on left and staggered initials "N S" on right.
Reporting Marks: NS 2210.
Approximate Time Period: decade of the 1970's (1971 build date given by MTL).
NOTE: This item (both coupler versions) has been sold out and discontinued.

[The following is largely a "reprint" from the August 2004 UMTRR coverage of the N Scale release of this car (Catalog 25660).]

No, not Norfolk Southern. The Norfolk Southern. This is the one that ran where it said it did, from Norfolk in a southerly direction, to Charlotte, North Carolina. Its main line was 383 miles or so between those two points, and branches to places like Aberdeen, New Bern, Durham and Virginia Beach brought the total mileage to the low 600's range. That wasn't going to be enough to survive as a presence in the railroad industry, and so the NS was merged into the Southern Railway in 1974. That was late enough, though, for the NS to have purchased some exterior post boxcars during the "box car boom," including the one that MTL presents this month. © 2006 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

According to a Jim Eager article in the January 2000 issue of Rail Model Journal, these cars were built by American Car and Foundry in 1971 to the specs of the Penn Central's X71 class, and were numbered 2100 to 2249. A photo of NS 2140 accompanying the piece shows a brown door, not a yellow one, so we can conclude that not every car sported a yellow door all the time. If there was a special service designation for yellow doored cars, as MTL states in its car copy, it's gone by the January 1976 ORER entry for the Southern Railway. NS series 2100 to 2249 still has 143 cars with the simple description "Box, Steel" and standard AAR Classification "XM". The dimensions were nothing out of the ordinary for the time: inside length 50 feet 6 inches, inside height 10 feet 6 inches, outside length 43 feet 10 inches, extreme height 15 feet, door opening 10 feet, capacity 5077 cubic feet or 154,000 pounds. Jim Eager noted that the former NS cars were to be renumbered into the Southern series SOU 527700 to 527849 but not many were repainted. "In the late eighties," Eager reported, "they were returned to their lessors and now are scattered among several shortlines." © 2006 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

As these are AC&F cars, not FMC boxcars as is the MTL 25000 body style, there are going to be differences. And since this was an early build for AC&F on a Penn Central spec, there are differences between this and the later AC&F cars, most notably (for me) on the ends which pre-date the "box corrugated non-terminating" type that became the AC&F standard. This same difference is on the MTL model; the "box corrugated non-terminating" end is also what MTL modeled. Useless trivia? Well, your mileage may vary of course. © 2006 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

George Elwood's "Fallen Flags" site has a surprisingly extensive photo collection from the NS, including a vintage November 1976 shot of the very NS 2210 offered by MTL and similar cars 2332 (with a green door), 2532 (with a yellow door) and 2556 (with a quite messed up door). © 2006 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

So with the Southern already owning a railroad called the Norfolk Southern, how was it that the 1982 merger of the Southern with the Norfolk and Western managed to be dubbed "Norfolk Southern"? Well, the "first" Norfolk Southern reverted to the name Carolina and Northwestern according to a Trains Magazine chronology (its November 1990 issue). Does that mean that the NS was once the C&NW? Maybe so, but that's not exactly how it worked. When the NS was bought by the Southern in 1974, it was merged into a Southern subsidiary called the Carolina and Northwestern (I guess no one noticed that Norfolk is in a northeastern direction from Carolina?), which then took the name Norfolk Southern. Reverting to the original subsidiary name allowed the "new" Norfolk Southern to be called that. In fact, there was Southern equipment marked for tax purposes for the Carolina and Northwestern with initials "CRN" or even "C&NW," which I'm sure the car accountants must have loved. OK, so maybe this is useless trivia... but I liked it! © 2006 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

981 01 070 and 981 01 072, Magne-Matic Coupler, $185.95, 981 01 071 and 981 01 073, Marklin Coupler, $184.15.
GP-35 Locomotive, Soo Line.

White long hood and cab, red short hood, sills and part of cab (curved boundary between red and white). Black frame, underbody and trucks. White handrails. Black lettering including "SOO" on long hood and road number on cab. White "SOO LINE" on nose. Black and white numberboards.
Road Numbers: 727 (the 060/061) and 731 (the 070/071) (will be prefaced by "Soo" in website listings).
Approximate Time Period: 1965 to 1986 (the 727) or 1987 (the 731).
NOTE: The Marklin coupler version of this item (both numbers) has been sold out and discontinued. Also, the 071 number of this item with Magne-Matic Couplers has been sold out and discontinued.

Sorry for the somewhat awkward paint description on this one. It is a sharp looking unit. When I first saw the photos of this (somehow snuck onto the Z_Scale Yahoogroup well before the official MTL update, by the way) I was concerned about the font for the large "SOO"-- to my eye, it should be more elongated and thicker. But apparently we are OK-- a photo on of the 731 dated 1976 confirms this. © 2006 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

The website "The Unofficial Soo Line Roster" (gotta love that name!) includes data on close to 900 Soo Line locomotives so far, including the two that were modeled by MTL. No need to be that Approximate on the Time Period this time. The 727 was in service for the Soo from May 1965 to July 1986 and then scrapped; the 731 also arrived in May 1965 but was sold in November 1987. The 727 was, between about May 1975 and July 1977, also the Soo Line's Bicentennial diesel, repainted and renumbered 1776 for that time period. Now doing that unit would be a challenge even for MTL in 1:220! The 731 went to Wisconsin Central and is reported to be privately owned as Northern Plains Railroad, their number 3509. Photos of both units are also available on that same Unofficial Site, as well as on Fallen Flags. The 1970 shot of the 727 on Fallen Flags includes an ACI Label on the left side, just in front of the cab window, a little detail if you are in that particular time period. Oh, I should also note that the protoypes didn't have dynamic brakes and the MTL models do... © 2006 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

No releases this month.

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