UMTRR December, 2006 || Tenth Anniversary Issue! || 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.
This is a special issue, marking the Tenth Anniversary of this column. (They're not all available on the website.) Thank you to all of my readers and especially to UMTRR contributors, who help make my labor of love that much easier. Looking forward to Issue 121, and beyond...


049 00 540, $22.95
40 Foot Double Sheathed Wood Ice Refrigerator Car, Vertical Brake Staff, Union Refrigerator Transit/Harding Cream Company.

Yellow sides, freight car red roof and ends, black door hinges. Mostly black lettering including large Harding's logo on left and "Union Refrigerator Transit Co" with road number on right.
Road Number: 11619 (will be preceded with "URTC" in website listings).
Approximate Time Period: 1927 to early 1930's.
NOTE: This item has been sold out and discontinued.

The paint scheme for this car looks like a direct lift from the Branchline Models HO Scale kit for the same car, among other sources no doubt. Branchline put this scheme on an American Car and Foundry reefer that was built starting in 1926. I think the build date shown on their model is 1927, and Branchline says that they leased cars from Union Refrigerator in that year, so given the absence of any other data, that's as good a place to start the ATP as any. That ATP would be pretty short however; though there is some scholarly debate as to exactly when the Interstate Commerce Commission's ban on "billboard reefers" actually took them off American railroads, we're probably still looking at a decade or less for the Harding Cream Company's products to be carried in cars with its own logo. By the way, Branchline offers a three pack of these cars so perhaps reprints are prototypically possible. Meanwhile, Art Griffin's "Great Decals" line includes a set for this very car with this very paint scheme. Art only uses builders photos to design his decals so yes, this car is legit. Griffin gives a "circa 1920s-1930s" time period as well. I'm a little concerned that the top part of the shield in both the Branchline and Art Griffin examples appears to be a darker yellow or almost orange with respect to the rest of the side of the car; that's not obvious in the MTL website image. But the sans serif or block lettering for the company name and cities in which Harding was located, a fairly unusual font in the Twenties, looks right on. © 2006 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

A quick look at the Official Railway Equipment Register (ORER) for April 1928 under the Union Refrigerator Transit Company shows the 11619 in a short series of cars described as just "Refrigerator" and numbered 10615 to 10624. Wouldn't it be nice if that corresponded to the cars leased to Harding? Anyway, the inside length was 33 feet, inside height 7 feet 5 inches, outside length 40 feet 2 and 1/8 inches, door opening 4 feet wide by 6 feet 5 3/4 inches high, capacity 70,000 pounds with ice handling of 10,000 pounds crushed or 8700 pounds chunk. Permanent floor racks were part of the car. The 10 cars in this group were a rounding error in the 4744 reefers in service for URTC at the time. © 2006 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

But what of the Harding Cream Company? Well, a search didn't turn up much. Branchline itself notes that "The Harding Cream Company had plants in Omaha, Kansas City and Des Moines" which is what the car lettering implies as well. There was a newspaper clipping found in the estate of an Iowa woman which read, "Farmers who have cream to sell, whether separated by a separator or not, should remember that we will buy it. We have arranged with C. N. Sholtz to take in cream for us, so bring it in any day. 17 cents for good sweet cream; 15 cents for turned and 14 cents for sour providing it isn't too rank...Harding Cream Co." A Geocities web page which captures the "Chicago Great Western Directory of Industries" as of 1957 notes that the "Harding Cream Division, Sugar Creek Creamery Company" in Kansas City for dairy products on Missouri Pacific track with reciprocal switching, apparently by the CGW. But of course the reefer depicted by MTL wouldn't have been part of that switching in 1957. Most of the other web entries referred to a sign magnet for sale at various auction sites. © 2006 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

054 00 151 and 054 00 152, $22.10 each.
61 Foot Bulkhead Flat Cars, Union Pacific.

Brown ("synthetic red") with mostly white lettering including reporting marks on left and roadname right of center. Red oxide trucks and couplers. Simulated lumber load included.
Reporting Marks: UP 262148 (the 151) and UP 262074 (the 152).
Approximate Time Period: late 1990's to present.
NOTE: This item (both road numbers) has been sold out and discontinued.

George Elwood's "Fallen Flags" site has several recent photos of sister cars in this series. Specifically, there is UP 262108 at York, Pennsylvania in September 2002 with a load of pipe; UP 262142 without a load, also at York in June 2003; UP 262154, also unloaded at York in January 2003 but with lots of pipe in a fenced yard just behind the car; UP 262179 with a wrapped load of some sort in Nashville in November 2003; and finally the oldest shot from "way back" in March 1999 of UP 262190 in the snow in Framingham, Massachusetts with a load of lumber that actually goes a bit past the tops of the bulkheads-- hey, is that legal? All of these cars look recent to me, down to the plain block lettering on the roadname and reporting marks that doesn't quite look the same as the standard UP font to me. © 2006 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

And recent they are, relatively speaking. I first pick up the series UP 262000 to 262284 in the July 1998 ORER with a main group of 149 cars, a subset of 58 more, another one of 48 cars, a third subgroup of 30 cars, and... well, you get the idea. The Gross Rail Weight and the outside length are the differentiating factors on these groups. The GRW is in the range of 167,000 pounds to 203,000 pounds, and the outside length is either 69 feet 8 inches or 73 feet. The latter would be due to cushion underframes, most likely, and the telltale extended couplers. This fact sent me scrambling back to Fallen Flags to check said couplers: the first three have the shorter draft gear, the 226190 has the extended draft gear and I can't tell on the 262179. © 2006 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

My first thought was if that these were modern cars, uh oh, the model will be too short. Not to worry: the inside length of the group is shown as 62 feet for all but 31 cars which are listed at 61 feet 3 inches. (Uh, make that another differentiating factor.) That fits within the "close enough for me" continuum. Here's the rest of the vital statistics: inside width 10 feet 6 inches, inside height 11 feet 6 inches, extreme height 14 feet 2 inches. © 2006 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

I'll move straight into the January 2006 ORER, our proxy for "the present" at the present, and note that in the listing all but three of the cars have been moved up to the 73 foot 4 inch exterior length, so break out those extended draft gear trucks, or perhaps have some fun with body mounting couplers outboard of the frame-- way outboard. And perhaps we need to attach an asterisk to that "to present" ATP. (No, wait, that asterisk might be interpreted as having to do with steroids.) There are 281 cars total shown in the group as of that issue. © 2006 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

106 00 090, $15.95
50 Steel Side 14 Panel Gondola with Low Cover, Cotton Belt (St. Louis Southwestern).

Freight car red (including cover, trucks and couplers) with mostly white lettering including reporting marks on left and roadname across center.
Reporting Marks: SSW 71121.
Approximate Time Period: late 1950's or early 1960's (see text) or 1976 (service date) or 1978 (based on U-1 wheel stencil) to mid-1980s.
NOTE: This item has been sold out and discontinued.

How's that for splitting hairs on the ATP? Sure, the build date is 1957-- or at least we'll take MTL's word on that-- but all those extra stencils bring the "strictly speaking" ATP far forward of that. Actually, we need to "cover" something else first. © 2006 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

What we need to cover, as you may have guessed, is the gondola itself. Lee Gautreaux, in his excellent SP/SSW coverage points out that the SSW series 71000 to 71174 was renumbered to that group when it received covers during the time period 1959 to 1962. I quote: "These 52 foot 5 inch covered gondolas had covers added by the Cotton Belt's Pine Bluff shops from existing cars in 1958-60 and 1962. The cars came from original series SSW 71000-71024 and 75250-75524 built by Bethlehem Steel Co. in mid 1957." A 1980 photo of a rather beat up looking SSW 71135 is included as an example. The U-1 stencil is underneath the ladder on this car! Hmm, I think we can give MTL a pass on that one. The car is the 14 panel variety as modeled by the folks in Talent. © 2006 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

So instead of an ORER from the late fifties, let's hit the January 1964 edition. The series is described as "Gondola, Covered, All Steel, Fixed Ends, Flat Bottom, Wood Floor" with an AAR Classification of GBR. The inside length was 52 feet 6 inches, inside height 4 feet, outside length 54 feet 2 inches, extreme height 7 feet 8 inches, capacity 1995 cubic feet or 125,500 pounds. I'll wager the weight of the cover takes a little bit off of the total carrying limit. There were 175 cars in the series, all that there could be, and that's a lot for a covered gondola set. By April 1970 the series had been split into one group of 89 with capacity of 125,000 pounds and one group of 80 with capacity of 137,000 pounds. The cubic capacity had been raised on both groups to 2084 cubic feet by virtue of the inside height going up six inches to 4 feet 6 inches. The extreme height was also up, to a full 10 feet. More changes in the April 1974 Register: 86 cars with 139,000 pounds capacity and an extreme height of 9 feet 4 inches, and 74 more with 137,000 pounds capacity and the 10 foot extreme height. In the April 1976 book the group was reunited into one series with 149 cars, 139,000 pounds and the 9 foot 4 inch height. Phew, all this for pretty plain looking workaday gons, and we're still not at the point at which the car would have looked the way MTL painted it! © 2006 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

Well, by April 1981, when it would have looked the way MTL painted it, 74 of the cars in question-- fortunately, not the 71121-- had their covers removed and were simply gondolas again, while 63 stayed covered. By January 1985 that was down to 28 with covers, including the 71121, and the main series was the open cars. And by October 1986 there were just 15 gondolas with covers, the 71121 not among them, and only 28 open gons left as well. So that's where I stopped looking. © 2006 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

111 00 090, $37.15
89 Foot Tri-Level Enclosed Autorack, Southern Railway.

Green with aluminum panels. Mostly white lettering including roadname, slogan and road number on green panels left of center on racking.
Road Number: 159036 (will be preceded by "SOU" in website listings).
Approximate Time Period: 1977 (build date given by MTL) to mid-1980's.
NOTE: This item has been sold out and discontinued.

That's a pretty bright green there on that autorack! I can't say that I recall ever seeing this in real life, and I was especially curious about that large "AA" in the top left corner of the rack. So I went directly to my Southern Railway Special Correspondent, Joe Shaw. Here is his report, start quote: © 2006 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

Page 87 of the Morning Sun Color Guide to the Southern Railway has a picture of brand new Southern 159128 in the exact same paint scheme, taken at Atlanta, GA in August 1977. MTL's description looks to be derived from the photo's caption, which contains no more additional information. The Southern Railway Diagram Books claim 3-77 to 9-77 build dates for the flats, and adds that the end doors were built by Portec. For most other series of enclosed racks, the equipment diagrams state Ford or GM services. For this series, it does not state. Both sources concur on the series being 159000-159200 - an odd total of 201 cars.

The model's lettering looks to match the photo, except for a couple of details: the PS builders logo and the ACI label are omitted by MTL, but both can be added using Microscale decals for those that care. The PS logo should be just right of the existing detail lettering under the center panel, and the ACI label goes on the green upright just to the right of the center panel, centered vertically in the middle of the second row of panels from the bottom (in line with the road number).

The prototype flat car is a low-deck type with the angled cutouts in the side sills over the wheels. There is also a minor 'door thing' - the end doors are of the "Tri-Fold" variety rather than the "Radial" style on the MTL car. Most modellers don't know the difference, and it is just an end door.

The previous page of the MSCG has a photo of Southern 50406 in the more usual Southern freight car red/brown but with the same basic lettering scheme. Instead of the AA marks, it has a white square with a dark script F (like the F in the current Ford logo). This is a possible future model, but they would probably need a license from Ford to add that logo, which might just explain why they did the green car with the Tri-fold doors instead of the brown car which has doors that match their model. Anyway, in the background of the MSCG photo is an open rack whose top row is filled with what appear to me five AMC Gremlins and an AMC Pacer wagon. (Disclaimer: I'm not a 'Car Guy', so I might be wrong, but I did Google 'AMC Pacer' and found the Wikipedia pages on both the Pacer and Gremlin.) One might infer from this limited data a possible interpretation of the meaning of the AA code to indicate assignment to American Motors Company.

My ORERs show the series disappears sometime between 1986 and 1995. No idea how long they stayed in the green paint. © 2006 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

End quote. Thanks, Joe, especially for that potential explanation on the "AA". Let's try to narrow down the ATP's end a bit using the UMTRR Accumulation of Equipment Registers. The series 152000 to 152200 was 199 cars in April 1981, and as long as I'm here, these were the key dimensions: inside length 89 feet 4 inches, outside length 93 feet 10 inches, extreme height 19 feet, capacity 105,000 pounds. They were described as "Flat, Tri-Level, Auto Enclosed" with AAR Code "V492" and exceeding the Plate F clearance limits. There was a drop of just one car to 198 total in January 1985, and there were 193 ion October 1986, but the whole series is gone by July 1987. Perhaps this was a renumbering, or perhaps a transfer out to Trailer Train, which managed lots of these flats, but I can't be sure.

And perhaps a bit more on the green paint. There are two photos on Fallen Flags of other Southern autoracks in this scheme. A somewhat washed out black and white photo of Southern 159221 from the next adjacent series with AGS sublettering (Alabama Great Southern) is there, as is a shot of Southern 159295 in color showing how that green may have turned blackish over time. Both photos are from late 1985. Neither of these cars has an "AA" or anything else in the corner although the 159221 looks like it might have a paint-out where a code used to be. The dimensions of the cars in that series, namely 159201 to 159370, are the same as the series from which MTL pulled a car. © 2006 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.


020 00 870, $18.10
40 Foot Standard Steel Boxcar (PS-1 Type), Single Youngstown Door, Erie Railroad.

Boxcar red with black ends. White lettering including reporting marks on left. Black and white "diamond" herald on right.
Reporting Marks: ERIE 79006.
Approximate Time Period: late 1940's to early 1960's.
Previous Release (as catalog 20870): Road Number 78960, March 1988.
NOTE: This item has been sold out and discontinued.

Over the Thanksgiving holiday, we spent one overnight in my home town of Jersey City, New Jersey. I can't be 100 percent sure of this but I believe it is the first time since moving away in 1969 that I slept in a bed within the boundaries of the city in which I was born. Not far from the hotel is the PATH train which takes commuters and tourists alike into Manhattan. The official name of the station is "Pavonia/Newport," but it used to be simply "Pavonia" for the Pavonia Avenue which crossed above the trackage at that point. However, if you go down into the station itself, you'll see that the columns which hold up the roof in the station are in fact inlaid with the letter "E". And that E stands for "Erie Railroad." And the eastern terminus for both passenger and freight service was right there. The Jersey City passenger terminal was a shell, at best, when my father took me down to see Pavonia Avenue, but freight cars were still stored among the platforms. At the time, the Pavonia Avenue PATH station was so little used that it wasn't even open on nights and weekends; and a small above ground structure was the only indication that there was a boarding place at all. I may find myself a bit wistful for the visits to that yard, but I cannot dispute that the transformation of that part of my birthplace to a very desirable upscale area has been nothing short of extraordinary. Where there were just weeds and abandonment there are office towers and high rise apartments and condominiums. Yet the modest "E" inlaid in the columns of the Pavonia Station reminds those who are paying attention of what was once there. © 2006 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

I get to use for the first time since its acquisition for the UMTRR Research Accumulation the Morning Sun Color Guide to the Erie and Lackawanna, by Larry DeYoung. The first order of business is a bit of a nit: technically the herald isn't a diamond, but a "rotated square." I'm sure you're glad that we cleared that up; but I'll continue to call it a diamond. © 2006 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

The "as delivered" paint scheme for this group of boxcars included the much smaller diamond herald with the smaller sized "ERIE" within. Fallen Flags has a builder's photo of Erie 79000, the first car in this collection. The RPI website shows that the much larger diamond was introduced circa 1947 so that would be the start of our ATP. By the way, though it's difficult to prove the absence of something, I did not come across any photos in which the white diamond was outlined in black as on the MTL reprint and its predecessor. And of course, since it was built in 1940, this would be too early a prototype for a match to the PS-1 body style that MTL used. However, the equipment diagram for the group Erie 79000 to 79199, also available on Fallen Flags, shows that they were built in Michigan City, Indiana, which was a long time Pullman-Standard location. (The actual builder's name can't be made out. Pity.) © 2006 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

The ORER for January 1943 (NMRA Reprint and another recent acquisition) shows the 79000 to 79199 in a larger group from 78500 to 79199, with all 700 cars in service. This was a basic "Box, Steel" with AAR Classification "XM" and these dimensions: inside length 40 feet 6 inches, inside height 10 feet, outside length 41 feet 9 inches, extreme height 14 feet 7 inches, door opening 6 feet, and capacity 3713 cubic feet or 100,000 pounds. © 2006 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

In the MSCG Larry DeYoung notes that the Erie brought over 18 thousand cars to the its 1960 merger with the Lackawanna, and many of those were plain forty foot boxcars. However, by the January 1964 there were just five cars left in this particular group, numbered 79023 to 79125. I skipped back a little to the January 1959 Register and found 196 of the possible 200 still in service, so it seems that the cars were "white-lined" pretty rapidly after the Erie diamond was traded for the Erie-Lackawanna "Broken E" diamond. (The original name of the line did have that hyphen, by the way.) My guess is that none of the cars were ever repainted after they got the large herald version of the Erie scheme so I think it's basically good until the cars were scrapped. © 2006 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

Oh, and the specific hotel we stayed at in Jersey City over Thanksgiving? Well, that's perhaps an even more amazing story, but it will have to wait until the next MTL release for the Pennsylvania Railroad. Wait a minute, that's in the Z Scale items for this month... © 2006 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

069 00 060, $22.35
51 Foot Steel Mechanical Refrigerator Car, Rivet Sides, URTX/Milwaukee Road.

Orange sides, aluminum roof, black ends. Black lettering including reporting marks on left and legend "Mechanical Refrigeration Electric Heating" on right. Red and white "tilted" herald "The Milwaukee Road" on right.
Reporting Marks: URTX 805.
Approximate Time Period: mid 1950's (1956 build date) to late 1960's.
Previous Releases (as catalog 69060): a six pack with Road Numbers 800, 828, 833, 850, 859 and 864, February 1990.
Note: This item has been sold out and discontinued.

The peak years for this MTL body style and the similar ribside version of the mechanical reefer were clearly 1989 and 1990, when the then Kadee Micro-Trains churned out an impressive quantity of six packs including one in each body style for the Milwaukee Road. Since then, release numbers cooled off considerably-- if you'll pardon the pun. © 2006 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

The previous run had July 1956 as the build date, so we'll go with that. The ORER for January 1959 shows the URTX series 800 to 864-- wouldn't it be nice if we could officially tag those all for Milwaukee Road service?-- with the description of just "Refrigerator" and an AAR Classification of RP. The inside length was 44 feet 5 inches, inside width 8 feet 6 inches, and inside height 8 feet. The outside length was 52 feet 1 inch, outside width 9 feet 9 inches at the eaves, extreme width 10 feet 8 inches, and extreme height 14 feet 9 inches. I'm providing all of this data to illustrate that even with mechanical refrigerators, there was plenty of insulation which cut down the actual capacity of the car. Speaking of which, it's listed as 3023 cubic feet between the ice boxes with bulkheads in place; a misnomer of sorts since there should not have been ice boxes in these cars. The weight capacity was 120,000 pounds and all 40 possible cars were present. © 2006 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

Note J allows us to do what I wanted to: "Send all bills covering all repairs to cars and mechanical units and all bills for supplies to cars and mechanical units for series URTX 800 to 899 and any additional correspondence relative thereto to R.P. Kauppi, Auditor of Expenditures, Chicago, Milwaukee, St. Paul and Pacific Railroad Company, Chicago, 14, Illinois. Send requests for material to repair and requests for disposition of damaged cars in series URTX 800 to 899 to F.W. Bunce, Chief Mechanical Officer, Chicago, Milwaukee, St. Paul and Pacific Railroad Company, Milwaukee, Wisconsin." I think that well establishes what road was operating these cars. © 2006 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

The January 1964 ORER shows the same listing including the number of cars and "Note J" except for a name change on the Auditor of Expenditures to E. B. Gerhke. But by the April 1970 Register there are major changes. The URTX 1 to 999 series is of 44 foot (outside length) cars, and there are just four of them anyway. "Note J" is still around and refers to cars with numbers 10100 to 10676, none of which are 52 foot cars. So we'll need to end the ATP before then, perhaps because the leases expired on the cars. I didn't see any cars in the URTX listing that lined up with the dimensions from the previous listings I cited, and there doesn't appear to be a match to anything in the Milwaukee Road's own listing either, so I can't say anything about where these cars might have gone after their service for the line. © 2006 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

In response to a query on "The Whistle Post" discussion board, a respondent added this: "The first cars [in the 800 series] were 800 to 839RP delivered in July of 1956. They had diesel refrigerator units. These were also the first cars with the large single plug door. Series 865 to 874RP [were] built the same time as 800 to 839 series but had ventilators added, also a new paint scheme with larger logos." Andy cites Morning Sun Color Guide to the Milwaukee Road, Volume 2. I have Volume 1 which, disappointingly, has not a single revenue freight car pictured-- a word to the wise, though there's at least one car MTL did pictured within Volume 1's pages. © 2006 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

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

021 00 408, $19.85
40 Foot Steel Boxcar, Plug Door, Georgia 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 (Brown thrasher) and state flower (Cherokee rose) on right.
Reporting Marks: GA 1788.
Forty-fourth release in the States of the Union series.
NOTE: This item has been sold out and discontinued.

The bird and the flower, yeah, sure, but the Georgia state song has to be mentioned in these bytes. It is, of course, "Georgia On My Mind" and I can't imagine the first person anyone hears on their mental radio singing it being anyone but the legendary Ray Charles, a native Georgian. (Sorry, Willie.) After that, in terms of state symbols, perhaps-- like many other states-- they've gone a little over the top here. State Possum (Pogo Possum)? State Pork Cook Off (Slosheye Trail Big Pig Jig)? State Musical Theatre (Jeckyll Island Musical Theatre Festival)? State Prepared Food (Grits)? Ok, we'll certainly let State Railroad Museum (Historic Railroad Shops, Savannah) slide. © 2006 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

During the 16th Century, the area now known as Georgia was principally settled by the Creek tribe of Native Americans, and during the 17th Century, it was granted in various forms by the British to numerous sirs, dukes and lords, when it wasn't being disputed by the Spanish that is. In 1717 one of these charters went to Sir Robert Montgomery who would have called the area "the Margravate of Azilia". He also published "A Discourse Concerning the Designed Establishment of a New Colony to the South of Carolina, in the Most Delightful Country of the Universe" -- I am tempted to add "Excellent!!!" in my best "Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure" voice there. The final royal charter went in 1732 to James Edward Oglethorpe, the Earl of Egmont and 19 associates and the name soon followed, and it was in fact Georgia, not Azilia or Oglethorpe for that matter. Great Britain wanted the colony to produce items that it had to import from outside its empire: silk, grapes, olives, and hemp. This didn't stop the claims to the territory from Spain and a conflict between the two countries was known locally as the War of Jenkins Ear. That conflict ended in 1763 when Spain ceded all land east of the Mississippi except New Orleans to the British. © 2006 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

And here's a fact connecting the two geographic cars this month: In 1758, Henry Ellis was appointed governor of the colony, but he served only until 1760. He went on to become governor of Nova Scotia from 1761 to 1763 but never actually set foot there. Just a coincidence, or excellent planning on MTL's part? © 2006 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

Georgia didn't attend the First Continental Congress and did not officially declare independence but did vote for the Declaration and agreed to subjugate all its laws to the Second Continental Congress. Lyman Hall, who attended the Continental Congress first for only one parish and then for the whole colony, became the state's second governor in 1783, but for the years 1783 to 1793, there was at least one governor per year! One year earlier in 1792, Eli Whitney invented a cotton gin capable of handling short stapled upland cotton. Forty five years after that in 1837, the Western and Atlantic located its western terminus at, well, a point called "Terminus." It was later called Atlanta. One year later, the "Trail of Tears" was the path for the forced march of the Creek and the Cherokee out of the state. The Underground Railroad was started the same year, for an escape from those who wanted to keep slaves in the state. The slave question precipitated the Civil War and Georgia was a crossroads of that conflict including the "Great Locomotive Chase" and Sherman's March to the Sea including the burning of Atlanta. But the city would rise again, become the state capital in 1877, be the site of the Georgia Institute of Technology in 1885 and the birthplace of Coca-Cola in 1886. Royal Crown Cola was bottled in Columbus in 1905. An unwanted guest was the boll weevil, which traveled from Mexico to the east coast and halved the state's cotton output. Peanuts proved to be a good replacement. And golf was a use for Georgia land too: fans probably already know that the Masters began in Augusta in 1934. © 2006 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

Famous Georgians include President Jimmy Carter, Martin Luther King Jr., authors Margaret Mitchell ("Gone With The Wind") and Alice Walker ("The Color Purple"); actors DeForrest Kelley ("Bones" McCoy on "Star Trek"), Burt Reynolds, Joanne Woodward, Melvyn Douglas and Lawrence Fishburne; singers Amy Grant, Gladys Knight, Otis Redding, Jerry Reed, Little Richard, Trisha Yearwood and Travis Tritt (born one day after me!), and comedians Nipsey Russell and Oliver Hardy. © 2006 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

My first setting foot in Georgia was after a plane trip down from New Jersey back in my independent consulting days, into the Atlanta area. It wasn't until a more leisurely return for classes at Georgia Tech many years later that I had a chance to see anything, and even then it's mostly been around Atlanta. Of course, that means Chik-Fil-A and Waffle House, which I don't miss when I'm there. (Stop laughing.) I've had the chance to walk on the floor of the Georgia Dome, visit CNN, and try varieties of Coca-Cola products at their museum that I might not sample otherwise. Every trip has been via plane, probably the only state east of the Mississippi about which I can say this. © 2006 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.


New Release:
800 00 180, $16.25
30 Foot Wood Boxcar, Single Door, Vertical Brake Staff, Southern Pacific Coast (South Pacific Coast).

Boxcar red with mostly white lettering including large "Sunset Route" herald with legend "Southern Pacific Coast" on left and reporting marks on right.
Reporting Marks: SPC 368.
Approximate Time Period: 1899 to 1906 (from MTL).
NOTE: This item has been sold out and discontinued.

At first glance, this may appear to be a reprint of the 15102/800 00 020 car that's lettered for the Southern Pacific Company. Not so! There is a subtle difference- "Coast" versus "Company." We'll come back to that. © 2006 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

MTL mentions in its car copy that this car was one of many narrow gauge rolling stock items built by Carter Brothers. What they don't mention is that Carter Brothers had a facility right along the South Pacific Coast, in Newark, California, a town named by James Fair, the founder of the SPC, after the birthplace of his business associate Alfred Davis. Newark was also the base for the SPC's pretty extensive shops, and the base for real estate development by Fair and Davis, which was a principal reason for the development of the railroad line in the first place. When at its peak, the SPC extended from Oakland to Santa Cruz. It operated 95 miles of track when it was leased to the Southern Pacific in 1887. © 2006 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

Micro-Trains mentions that the car was in service on the SPC from 1899 to 1906. It was in that latter year that the conversion of the road began in earnest. Were it not for the famous 1906 earthquake, it might have been done sooner, but that tremor took out a tunnel in the Santa Cruz Mountains at Wright. Although narrow gauge service did not end completely until 1909, the need for 3 foot equipment clearly declined after the main line was converted to standard gauge so I can believe the ATP ending in '06. I do have an ORER from that time period, namely, the June 1905 edition (Westerfield CD-ROM), and within the Southern Pacific's main listing is a sidebar with the narrow gauge equipment. And within that sidebar is an entry for "S.P.C., Box, Even Numbers" from 8 to 500, 195 cars with capacity of 20 or 30 thousand pounds each. This was out of a systemwide total of 820 freight cars. © 2006 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

There is an excellent article on the South Pacific Coast in the March 1994 issue of Railroad Model Craftsman, and also in that issue is a piece titled "The Standard Carter Brothers Narrow Gauge Boxcar." That standard boxcar was of 28 foot length and was either a combination door for ventilation of cargo like produce or a single door. And what do you know, there's a shot of SPC 368 sitting at Laurel, California on the SPC illustrating the article. That car carries the sunburst herald, "Sunset Route" in the center, and the words around the outside: Southern... Pacific... Company. Not "Coast". I realize that the picture was shot at an oblique angle and that makes the herald hard to read, but once I have my glasses on, it really does look like "Company" and not "Coast." As I have said before, it's hard to prove the absence of something, but I couldn't find any references to "Southern Pacific Coast" being painted on any of the SPC boxcars, and typing in the phrase in a web search mostly returns information about beaches in Central America, not railroads. So, well, let's just say I'm not so sure about this. © 2006 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

No releases this month.


500 00 420, $20.45
40 Foot Standard Steel Boxcar, Single Superior Door, Rock Island.

Express scheme of Pullman Green with gold lettering including reporting marks and slogan "Route of the Rockets" on left. Red and gold herald on right.
Reporting Marks: RI 20039.
Approximate Time Period: early 1940's (1941 built date) to probably the mid-1960's.
NOTE: This item has been sold out and discontinued.

Five years ago this very car was released in N Scale (catalog 20566), and I'm pleased to report that I have collected enough other information since then to prevent this commentary being a straight "cut and paste" from those ramblings. © 2006 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

Let's start straight away with a photo of sister car RI 20003 in the Morning Sun Color Guide to the Rock Island, page 32. The caption notes that fifty cars out of a total of 3200 built for the Rock Island by the Pressed Steel Car Company were "equipped for express service with... steam lines and marker light brackets." These cars were given AAR Classification BX for Box Express and numbered from 20000 to 20049. The 1965 photo shows the car painted as MTL painted it... well, if you can see under all of that dirt. The word "Express" in caps appears to the right of the reporting marks on the prototype but is missing from the MTL model. (As it was from the N Scale model.) The caption further gives some statistics: inside height 10 feet 6 inches, outside length 44 feet 4 inches, capacity 3898 cubic feet or 75,000 pounds. You won't find these cars in the ORER, I looked; more likely the Official Register of Passenger Equipment since that's what they were considered to be. (What hasn't changed in five years is my ability to locate reasonably priced copies of those references.) © 2006 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

The 1941 build year for this car predates the introduction of the PS-1 style of boxcar on which the MTL 500 series (and N Scale 020 series) is based. In fact, the August 1996 issue of Rail Model Journal states that the series 20000 to 20039 was actually a "Modified 1937 AAR" design, which featured a 10 foot 6 inch interior height, 5/5 Dreadnaught ends and a six foot Youngstown door. The group of 40 was built by Pressed Steel Car company as their lot 164. The car had Allied trucks, which were captured by MTL on its N Scale version but not here on the Z Scale one. Another ten cars, in the series 20040 to 20049, were also built in 1941 and had S-1-L lateral motion trucks. By the 1950's the Allied trucks were gone, per ICC directive. The RMJ series on the Modified 1937's has photos of RI boxcars in their much more common freight paint schemes. © 2006 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

Speaking of paint schemes, it looks like there are at least two others. The RI 20050, a car taken from the freight pool, is done in what looks like Pullman Green again with gothic (sans serif) reporting marks without lines above and below, the same RI herald and no slogan -- but still the "Express" notation. A 1963 photo of RI 20035 on the publicly accessible part of the RPI website shows a large roadname replacing the "Route of the Rockets" slogan and the RI initials gone but otherwise the lettering is about the same. Finally, there is the same scheme as the RI 20039 on RI 20070, which was part of a fifteen car group of PS-1 boxcars that were pulled from freight service for express service. This of course begs the question of why MTL wouldn't have used a real PS-1 road number for more accuracy. Maybe next time. Meanwhile, photos of the 20003 are from 1965 and 1967, which tells me that our Approximate Time Period should be good until at least then. I would be surprised if these cars survived the 1971 coming of Amtrak, at least in the service for which they were initially equipped. © 2006 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

Well, now for some of that cut and paste from 2001 as a bonus. The Rock Island called itself the "Route of the Rockets" referring to their series of passenger trains, and as with many of the line's other box cars, that slogan was included on this car. Since these particular boxcars were intended to be in passenger service from their built date, let's take a quick look at some Rock Island Rockets courtesy of the November 1946 Official Guide of the Railways. © 2006 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

The most prominently featured "Rocket" in the Guide was the "Rocky Mountain Rocket," trains 7 and 8, which ran between Chicago and Denver or Colorado Springs, via Bureau, Illinois; Des Moines, Iowa; Omaha and Lincoln, Nebraska and Limon, Colorado which is where the Denver and Colorado Springs sections split. Running time was a respectable 19 hours to cover the nearly 1100 mile distance. Trains 7 and 8 carried sleeping cars and an observation car with 5 bedrooms, a buffet and lounge. At perhaps the other extreme of distance over the RI was the Peoria Rocket, which spanned just 161 miles between there and Chicago, taking only about two and a half hours. There was also the Choctaw Rocket, service for Little Rock, Oklahoma City, Amarillo and Tucumcari; the Twin Star Rocket which called on the Twin Cities; and the Zephyr Rocket, which as you might have guessed was a joint service between the Burlington Route and the Rock Island. All of these trains required no extra fare, but did have all reserved seating in coaches, parlor cars and Pullmans. © 2006 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

511 00 010, Magne-Matic Coupler Only, $20.35.
50 Foot Exterior Post Boxcar, Plug Door, Pennsylvania Railroad.

Dark boxcar red with white and yellow lettering including reporting marks on left and "Cushioned Car" and plain keystone herald on right.
Reporting Marks: PRR 112015.
Approximate Time Period: 1965 (build date) through late 1970's.
NOTE: This item has been sold out and discontinued.

Let's pick up the Jersey City story that we left at the neighborhood around Pavonia PATH Station which was once the site of the Erie's passenger station and eastern terminal (part of the review of the Erie boxcar reprint, above). A couple of blocks south of there was the Harismus Cove freight yard of the Pennsylvania Railroad, accessed via a stone viaduct now being called "The Embankment" and hopefully being preserved. (Nature has reclaimed the topside where GG-1 and E-44 electrics once pulled long strings of cars right past our family's apartment.) If my calculations are correct, the hotel where we stayed and where I slept in "JC NJ" for the first time since 1969 is directly atop the site of the yard; and the supermarket next door sits on land where there was once a transfer crane, and where a future Internet Columnist had his photo taken hanging from the ladder of a gondola by his dad. I don't think it would be completely accurate to say I was wistful about this thought; maybe "bittersweet" is the right term, but I also know that we can't go back and we can't exactly go home again, either. © 2006 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

Anyway, enough about me. Let's talk about the prototype for this first release in a new body style for MTL in Z Scale. The X58 group was the only series of Pennsy boxcars built to the "modern" exterior post design that is standard today. They were built in 1964 and 1965 and varied by subclass. The 112015 was part of the unsuffixed X58's and were actually AAR Classification RBL, or technically "refrigerator" cars given their insulation, duly noted on the door itself. X58A's were Class XPs, X58Bs were XLs and X58Cs were XLs or plain XMs. Equipment inside these cars varied so one might have seen an "SL" (Transco SL-1 loaders) or an "LD" (Equipco Load Divider bulkheads) instead of the "DFB" (Evans Damage Free Bulkheads) above the reporting marks. It all added up to more than 2500 cars of this type as of April 1968, of which the X58s, numbered from 112000 to 112399 and from 117813 to 118490, numbered 1074 cars by themselves. "Rob's Pennsy Page" has this information and an on-line equipment diagram; of each of the subclasses, no less. © 2006 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

I'll grab the April 1970 ORER for the Penn Central listing since 1965 is just a little later than my last PRR ORER. The series 122000 to 122299 had 283 cars in it at the time, described as "Box, Steel, 20 inch Travel Cushion Underframe" and, as I mentioned the RBL classification. The inside length was 50 feet 6 inches, inside height 10 feet 3 inches (allowing for insulation), inside width 9 feet even (ditto), outside length 57 feet 11 inches, extreme height 15 feet 2 inches, door opening 10 feet 6 inches, capacity 4358 cubic feet and 135,000 pounds. It's noted that these were among the last cars repainted from the Pennsy scheme (although I recall some pretty hideous paint-outs rolling by me in New Jersey). Entering Conrail in the April 1976 ORER, there were still a total of 168 cars with the PRR keystone in place. The Penn Central had repainted some X58s into, for example, the series 361299 to 362372. By April 1981 the end was near for the PRR paint, with just 14 cars left in this particular group. But Conrail paint, or at least stenciling, was on some X58 cars numbered 361910 to 362009. © 2006 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

The Morning Sun Color Guide to the Pennsy, Volume 2, notes alongside a photo of PRR 118223, also an X58, that the insulated cars were meant to carry pre-cooled foods that needed to be kept cool but not actually refrigerated enroute. The insulation weight took the capacity down to 135,000 pounds from the 140,000 that was typical of the other X58 subclasses. As long as I've got a reference photo or two, I might as well deliver the not so good news: the MTL body style is really more of a stand in. Topping the list of differences, if you'll pardon the pun, is that the real cars had a roofwalk and full ladders! The prototype cars had eight ribs on each side of the door while the model has seven. The ends on the real cars are the more "traditional" 4/4 Dreadnaught type (I think that's right) but the MTL model has the more modern squared off end ribs. I was initially most concerned about the door, but it looks like a pretty close match. The net of it is that there probably could have been a better choice than this Pennsy car for the first release of the new body style. Well, it is Pennsy after all, so I'm not complaining. Well, wait, I guess I am. © 2006 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

531 00 040, Magne-Matic Coupler only, $18.40.
Two Bay PS-2 Steel Covered Hopper, Rio Grande (Denver and Rio Grande Western).

Gray with black lettering including reporting marks on left and "speed lettering" roadname on right.
Reporting Marks: D&RGW 18006.
Approximate Time Period: 1960 (build date) to about 2000.
NOTE: This item has been sold out and discontinued.

The website of the Rio Grande Historical and Modeling Society shows a surprisingly short prototype series of just 20 cars numbered 18000 to 18019. They were built by General Steel Car in June 1960 and are listed as a "PS-2 clone" with cement as the principal commodity carried. According to the website there were real PS-2s built in late 1956 by Pullman Standard and numbered D&RGW 18325 to 18349, so there's plenty of room for reprints. There's a photo of D&RGW 18329 of that series in "Classic Freight Cars Volume 4." The basic paint scheme matches that used by MTL on their model; the 1987 photo shows adds of ACI Labels, the "Yellow Dot" stencil and COTS stencils, plus a fair amount of weathering. © 2006 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

Jim Eager noted in the DRGW Yahoogroup back in March that "D&RGW 18020-18099 and 18110-18179, which were clones built by Greenville, have the channel at the bolsters like the early Pullman cars matching the Athearn [HO] model, but they have more or less equally spaced hatches." Eager noted in an earlier post that the Kadee HO PS-2 was "Good for D&RGW 18325-18349 and 18475-18499." © 2006 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

The January 1964 ORER shows all twenty cars described as "Hopper, Steel, Covered" with AAR Classification LO and these dimensions: inside length 29 feet 3 inches, outside length 35 feet 3 inches, extreme height 13 feet 2 inches, and capacity 2003 cubic feet or 140,000 pounds. All 20 were still present in the April 1976 ORER and 17 remained in the April 1981 book. There were ten listed in the October 1996 Register, six in July 1998 under the Union Pacific listing. Four cars even snuck into the January 2000 ORER but just one remained in 2002; that one somehow got past the forty year rule although there was certainly enough Union Pacific available for it to stay on home rails. © 2006 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

This is the first PS-2 that MTL has done in just one road number; given that the practice of doing two cars per release was well received in the reports I've read online, I hope this is just an exception. © 2006 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

538 00 050, Magne-Matic Coupler Only, $17.80.
40 Foot Skeleton Log Car with Uprights and Load (Load #5).

Black body, no paint, no lettering. Simulated log load included.
Reporting Marks: None.
Approximate Time Period: most of the 20th Century.
NOTE: This item has been sold out and discontinued.

Please refer to the commentary in the August and December 2005 editions of the UMTRR.

No releases this month.

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