UMTRR January, 2007 || Edited From Subscriber Edition
©2007 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 most Micro-Trains locomotives, most Special Editions such as the U.S. Navy Sets and the "Twelve Days of Christmas" cars are available exclusively in the e-mail subscription edition of the UMTRR.


051 00 130, $26.35
34 Foot Wood Sheathed Caboose, Straight Cupola, Canadian National.

Morency orange sides (including sides of cupola), ends and ladders. Brown roof (including cupola roof), platforms and trucks. White lettering including roadname and road number. Green and white "maple leaf" herald below cupola.
Road Number: 76731 (will be preceded with "CN" in website listings).
Approximate Time Period: mid-1940s to mid-1960's (per MTL).
Note: This item has been sold out and discontinued.

Although there are just four colors in use, this is a deceptively complex paint scheme and I believe the first time that platforms have come in a color other than black on an MTL wood sheathed caboose-- but I'd have a lot of cabeese to check to validate that. MTL calls out brown swing motion trucks on the car as well. The bilingual requirement did not yet exist so the roadname is spelled "Canadian" on both sides. © 2007 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

The exact 76731 appears on Page 101 of the Morning Sun Color Guide to the CN, Volume 2. According to the caption, the prototype was one of 53 acquired in 1920 and built in 1913 by the Preston Car and Coach Company Limited for the Canadian Northern, one of the main predecessors of the CN. The photo captures the van in 1956 in Toronto. At that point, the grab irons were painted white, as was the end railings, but the end railings only, as the rest of the end structure including the ladder and brake wheel was in Morency orange. The roof and cupola roof are in brown. The body isn't quite the same as the MTL model, having just two windows on the side that's visible in the photo, and one large side window in the cupola, which looks a bit taller as well though it's hard to estimate that. The swing motion trucks look good or at least close. © 2007 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

The MSCG notes, as you might expect from the ATP, that the various paint schemes overlapped, so the introduction of the "wet noodle" CN paint scheme does not mean the immediate end of the service life for this 'boose as painted. However, it is also noted on Page 101 of the book that the more than 2900 wood vans were operated by the CN alone, not counting subsidiaries, were down to just 37 by 1983. Paging through the Color Guide it seems that many of these wood cars were rebuilt from the CN's own boxcars. © 2007 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

099 00 030, $18.35
Evans 3 Bay Covered Hopper, USLX/FMC Chemicals.

Gray with mostly black lettering including reporting marks on left. Red FMC trademark on right.
Reporting Marks: USLX 20110 (United States Railway Equipment).
Approximate Time Period: 1978 (build year) through 1980's at least.
NOTE: This item has been sold out and discontinued.

Thanks to Steven of S&R Models and David Casdorph who granted permission for Steven to scan and make available David's "Freight Cars Journal #41" on the S&R website we have some builder's information on this month's new Evans release. First, breathe easier after the previous Seaboard release: The prototype USLX 20110 is in fact an Evans 4780 cubic foot hopper. The 20110 was the first of 202 built for United States Railway Equipment, later Evans Railcar Leasing, and leased to FMC, built in April, May, September and October 1978, numbered 20110 to 20311. © 2007 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

The Official Railway Equipment Register (ORER) for April 1981 shows that USRE was already listed as Evans Railcar Leasing Company. There are three series that combine to yield the 202 cars, all listed as "Covered Hopper" with AAR Classification LO and AAR Type Code L153 (Gravity Unloading Hopper between 4000 and 5000 cubic foot capacity). All of these dimensions are the same: inside length 54 feet, outside length 58 feet 9 inches, extreme width 10 feet 8 inches, extreme height 15 feet 8 inches, capacity 4780 cubic feet or 200,000 pounds. But the first 19 cars, numbered 20110 to 20129, have an inside width of 10 feet even while the rest of the group, 20130 to 20311, have an inside width of 10 feet 4 inches. How the cubic footage capacity is the same we might not know; the inside height isn't given so we can't really do the math. © 2007 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

You might already know that following the demise of Evans, the USRE rolling stock eventually wound up owned by that monolith of leasing equipment, General Electric Railcar Services. The January 2006 ORER showed 129 cars still in service from the group, in several subsets differing by height from rail to eaves or top of platform. How's that again? © 2007 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

Putting an Approximate Time Period to a leased car paint scheme is always tricky. We know from the Fallen Flags site that USLX 20122 from the same series was still riding the rails in 2004, but without the FMC logo or much of anything besides the reporting marks, unless you count the graffiti, which I don't. Photos from 2005 and 2006 on RR Picture show much the same, including a shot of USLX 20154 that looks like it could be a major Weathering Challenge. When the FMC Center Flow with SSIX reporting marks was issued by MTL in March 2003 (the commentary for which contains a thumbnail history of the company if you're so inclined to look), I commented that perhaps the logo was removed to maintain a lower profile for what might or might not be carried inside. But since it's hard to prove the absence of something, you should be OK running this car into the 1980s at least, and maybe into the 1990's. © 2007 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

121 00 010, $13.95
Scale Test Car, CSX/Baltimore and Ohio.

Blue with yellow brake wheel and walkway handrail. Yellow lettering including reporting marks on left and CSX herald on right.
Reporting Marks: B&O 914221.
Approximate Time Period: late 1980's to late 1990's.
NOTE: This item has been sold out and discontinued.

The 104th N Scale body style is certainly the smallest yet for Micro-Trains, and I doubt that any rolling stock smaller than this will ever be mass produced. But don't think that the prototype is lightweight. Many of these cars weigh tens of thousands of pounds. Why are these needed anyway? Glad you asked. © 2007 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

It's appropriate given the debut roadname that the CSX website has a glossary, and within it is a succinct definition of Scale Test Car: "A compact car equipped with weights for the testing of track scales." And why is that important? Well, that scale had better be correct; let's go back to the CSX site: "Scale, Railroad: A device for weighing railroad cars. Weight of the contents is determined by subtracting the light weight of the car from the gross weight and is used to determine the cost of transportation. The three types of scales include: static, weigh-in-motion, and coupled-in-motion." © 2007 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

I found a reference on the Baltimore_and_Ohio Yahoogroup to the Railway Prototype Cyclopedia, Volume 12, which has a piece called "Weighing Freight Cars" that weighs in (sorry) at 45 pages! "The extensive material includes plans and photographs of Fairbanks-Morse and Howe track scales, Baldwin-Southwark scale test cars, National Bureau of Standards scale test cars, B&O scale tool cars, as well as lists of track scales on the B&O railroad and a list of the railroad’s weigh station symbols. Several pages are devoted to describing the process of weighing freight cars and the reweighing and stenciling requirements of the A.A.R.". Hmm, better add that to my wish list. © 2007 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

As you might yourself be wondering, what's this "hybrid" paint scheme with B&O reporting marks appearing with a CSX herald anyway? Is this one of those fantasy cars? Failing to find any photo references on my own, I put in a query to MTL. Meanwhile, a reply to my query on the same Baltimore_and_Ohio Yahoogroup answered my same question with the fact that CSX did in fact for a short time have old reporting marks and the new logo on some of its equipment. This was only from latter part of 1986 through around September 1987; the September 1, 1987 paint specifications eliminated this format. This would result in a much shorter ATP than could be expected from, say, one of these painted in the "classic" B&O black with white lettering. But we'll come back to that. © 2007 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

The folks at Micro-Trains provided to me a scan of the photo MTL used to paint this car, and sure enough, the blue and yellow are correct, as is the B&O reporting marks-- exactly B&O 914221-- and the CSX logo. In general, the model is faithful to the original. I particularly like the inset steps, though they should be painted yellow as should the grabs leading to the walkway. The "MW" right next to the "MWM" is on the prototype car. All but the smallest lettering is present in the right place, but one of those items is "Calibrated Wt 40000" with a date that I just can't make out, even at 300%! (It might be November 7, 1988? But I can tell it was at Clearing, Illinois.) Two other photos I was pointed to show the same car in much worse shape as of 1995 and then 1999, still in the CSX/B&O hybrid paint. © 2007 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

As I mentioned when this car was announced, this is still a gutsy call from Micro-Trains that so far has been received pretty well by the 'netizens-- the Eternally Unsatisfied notwithstanding. There is some concern about the tracking ability of something so small; the real railroads generally hauled these at the very end of a train for at least this reason. And of course, the weight of the real car can't be simulated in 1:160-- well, not without some elements that have probably not yet been discovered!-- so we'll see how well the model tracks. © 2007 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

125 00 060, $20.65
Three Bay Ortner Rapid Discharge Hopper, Florida East Coast.

Red with mostly yellow lettering including large "FEC" and road number in center.
Reporting Marks: FEC 15300.
Approximate Time Period: 1984 to through 1990's at least (by paint scheme).
Note: This item has been sold out and discontinued.

This one is a bit of a "gimme" for your faithful reviewer. I still have in my possession an overview of the FEC Ortner hoppers by John Sykes via UMTRR Gang Member Jon Hollahan, which I was given when the first MTL models of these cars appeared in January 2005 (two years ago already?). Those had white lettering and these, yellow, including the largest "reporting marks" you're likely to see for a while. The yellow lettering appeared approximately December 1979 when the immediately preceding series 15000 to 15299 were brought onto the property. That yellow lettering is enough to warrant this being a New Release, and I concur with that designation. © 2007 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

But this series starts with 15300, and it was delivered in July 1984, the first of that group of 100 cars. By this time, Ortner had been bought by Trinity, and Trinity decals were being applied to the cars emerging from that factory-- though Sykes notes that many of those decals have subsequently "disappeared." The ten panel configuration of the MTL model appears to be correct for this number series. Sykes notes that the AAR Classification changed from "HT" to "HTS" with the delivery of this group. As long as we're on that stuff, let's hit the ORER for January 1985 for a few dimensions: inside length 31 feet 1 inch, inside width 9 feet 10 inches, outside length 43 feet 10 inches, extreme height 12 feet 6 inches, capacity 2300 cubic feet or 200,000 pounds. As of the January 2006 book 99 of the original 100 cars were still in service, not bad considering the beating this type of car takes. © 2007 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

Sometime after 1989 the large yellow lettering began to give way to large white markings, as in the previous MTL run of these cars (125 00 020, January and June 2005) and then to "standard size" reporting marks. What that does to the Approximate Time Period is of course subject to some guesswork. FEC 15587 was still in yellow as of May 2001 according to a photo on Fallen Flags, but FEC 15902 was in plain reporting marks with reflective tape at the bottom of the body as is now required. has FEC 15099 in yellow in January 1999 and FEC 15868 in yellow lettering as of February 2001, just two of over one thousand (!) images of various types of Florida East Coast rolling stock on that site. © 2007 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.


046 00 320, $18.90
50 Foot Steel Gondola, Fishbelly Sides, Drop Ends, Conrail.

Brown with mostly white lettering including reporting marks on left and small roadname with "wheel on rail" herald on right. Simulated railroad tie load included.
Reporting Marks: CR 512351.
Approximate Time Period: late 1970's to early 1990's.
Previous Release (as catalog 46320): Road Number 512302, February 1992.
NOTE: This item has been sold out and discontinued.

I remember casually searching quite a bit for the first release of this car. You know casually searching-- I'll look for it, if I come across it at a reasonable price, great, but if not, I'll survive. I did locate it while on a business trip to South Jersey sometime around 1995 or so, in a small hobby shop in a small town southeast of Philadelphia. I can't recall the town or the name of the shop, and I wonder whether it's still around. I do remember that the car was a runner copy, probably assembled from a kit-- remember those? © 2007 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

It was appropriate that the first run was added to my accumulation in New Jersey since, at least for a while, the trackage near the store was a part of the monolith that was created out of the ashes of the bankrupt rail carriers of the Northeast. Lest we forget... that was now almost thirty years ago, yikes. © 2007 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

"Much of Conrail's gondola fleet came from the railroad's predecessors, such as EL and PC, and was never repainted," writes Bob Waller in his excellent Conrail Cyclopedia. While there are photos there and many photos of different gondola classes in other parts of the web, the best I could do with a 'net photo was CR 510545 in Scranton, Pennsylvania in 2005, found on It's an ex-Erie Lackawanna gondola, Conrail class GE61C, with a paint scheme quite similar to that of the MTL model. © 2007 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

But the MTL model depicts a Conrail Class G31a if the first run of the car is the same as this reprint. Turning to the ORER from April 1981, we find, well, kind of a mess. The main series runs from 511164 to 515462 and is of Class G31a with a long description: "Gondola, Steel, Flat Bottom, Drop Ends, Wood Floor, Concentrated Load May Equal Load Limit Capacity Provided Load is Supported at Crossbearers 7 Feet 2 Inches Each Side of Center Line, G31a, Axle Spacing 5 Feet 8 Inches, Truck Centers 43 Feet 8 Inches." The inside length was 52 feet 6 inches, inside height 3 feet 3 inches, outside length 57 feet 2 inches, extreme height 7 feet, and capacity 1646 cubic feet or 154,000 pounds. There were 1365 cars in this group, and then it gets nutty. There are another 68 cars with Class G31K but no dimensional data differences, and some G31b's and G31c's, and then some G35's, and a few subsets with no class code listed at all. This takes up about 40% of Page 221 of the Register, even in small print. A quick check strongly suggests that the road numbers crossed over from the same groups with Penn Central reporting marks. Then it was off to Rob's Pennsy Page to confirm that the G31s were originally built for the Pennsylvania Railroad between 1948 and 1951. The suffixed groups were "spinoffs" of the main series. And the G35's were the same as some G31's except for the underframe. The PRR peaked at almost 4800 G31a's in 1953. © 2007 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

Okay, let's get back to Conrail: by October 1986 the main group of G31a's was down big to just 667 cars, and by October 1991 there were just 58. That's where I stopped looking. I am surprised that there aren't more photos of this class out there in cyberspace, considering that there were a bunch of these out there in Conrail paint (or at least lettering) at one time, but that's just the way it goes sometimes. © 2007 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

078 00 060, $19.15
50 Foot Steel Box Car, Double Doors and End Doors, Santa Fe (AT&SF).

Mineral brown with mostly white lettering including large Cooper Black roadname and reporting marks on left and large circle cross herald on right.
Reporting Marks: ATSF 9868.
Approximate Time Period: 1972 (repaint date) through the rest of the 1970's, but see text.
Previous Release (as catalog 78060): Road Number 9870, June 1997.
NOTE: This item has been sold out and discontinued.

The exact prototype for the first release of this car, ATSF 9870, was caught somewhere in Newark on the Central of New Jersey in May 1974, and published in the Morning Sun Color Guide to the Santa Fe by Lloyd Stagner. It's kind of funny to observe on the same car both end doors and cut down ladders and removed roofwalk. Oops, the MTL car does have a roofwalk... er, um... Anyway, the MSCG notes that the ATSF 9870 was built in 1952; maybe that's a rebuild date, and it definitely didn't have that paint scheme then. It did have the Santa Fe classification Fe-29, the Fe for Furniture. © 2007 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

MTL says that the car was repainted in Bakersfield, California in 1972; that would coincide with the introduction of the Great Big Santa Fe roadname according to the RPI website. "Basically, they extracted the name from the herald," notes RPI, and they're right. I note the "Cooper Black" font for this as that's what the roadname inside the herald is. The reporting marks on the MTL model and the car pictured in the MSCG are in Railroad Roman (or the ATSF's version of it) which is before the 1974 change to Gothic (sans serif). So the strictly speaking ATP could be short indeed, especially if you throw in, or perhaps that should be throw out, the roofwalk. (I suspect that the roofwalk was pulled when the car was repainted, but I don't have clear evidence of that.) © 2007 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

My guess is, though, that this was the last paint scheme for these cars before they were retired. The ORER for July 1974 shows just 214 cars in the series 9700 to 9998. Let's pause for the vital statistics: inside length 50 feet 6 inches, inside width 9 feet 4 inches, inside height 10 feet 6 inches, outside length 54 feet 7 inches, extreme height 15 feet 1 inch, door opening 15 feet 6 inches (a nitpicky "door thing" vs. the MTL width of 16 feet) and capacity of 4956 cubic feet or 100,000 pounds. End doors were once commonplace enough to warrant their own columns in the dimensional data, but not in the '74 book; their size of 9 foot 3 inches wide and 10 feet 2 inches high is included as part of the description. But their inclusion at least means they might still be in use. In the April 1976 Register was find 198 total cars of which 112 had actually had their capacity raised to 110,000 pounds. But that's about all she wrote: by the April 1981 Register there is just one car left, the 9988. © 2007 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

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

021 00 409, $19.85
40 Foot Steel Boxcar, Plug Door, Rhode Island 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 (Rhode Island Red) and state flower (Violet) on right.
Reporting Marks: RI 1790.
Forty-fifth release in the States of the Union series.
NOTE: This item has been sold out and discontinued.

I'm turning over the review of "Little Rhody," once called the Colony of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations, to guest commentator Steve V., take it away! Start quote:

Rhode Island, the smallest of the 50 states, is only 1545 square miles big. Before we go on, a little history lesson:

The first settlement was started by Roger Williams, a clergyman from Salem Massachusetts, in 1636. He was one of those "fire and brimstone" preachers that got the local Puritans more than a little "ticked off". They were all set to deport him back to London, but he fled south out of the state. He was later befriended by local indians. He later bought land from these same indians and started the settlement that he called Providence in gratitude for "God's merciful providence".

In 1776, Rhode Island was one of the original 13 colonies to renounce its allegiance to Great Britain. And we all know what happened then!

In 1790, Samuel Slater built the first successful U.S. cotton-textile mill at the falls of the Blackstone river in the town of Pawtucket. Because of this mill, many other towns along the Blackstone built mills of their own. The abundance of water power led to rapid development of manufacturing in both Rhode island and Massachusetts.

The founding of the American jewelry industry by Nehemiah and Seril Dodge ( ya gotta love those names!!), made R.I. one of the chief industrial cities of New England by 1824.

So much for the brief history of R.I. Now, a little something from the tourist board. According to them, "Rhode Island is a major center for jewelry manufacturing, electronics, metal, plastic products, boat and ship construction. Also big are research in health, medicine, and the ocean environment."

Did you know that one town in R.I. was the hot spot for all those 19th century rich folks? Yep, a seacoast town called Newport. Many of them built what they called "summer cottages". To the average person, the would be called mansions. Two that railfans might like to know about were Cornelius Vanderbilt the 2nd, grandson of Commodore Vanderbilt (of NYC fame), and Edward Berwind, who made his fortune in Pennsylvania coal. (remember that Berwind coal hopper that Micro-Trains put out a few years ago?). Both of these "cottages", along with about 9 more, are open to the public. One of those other mansions was used in the movie" The Great Gatsby".

Rhode Island is nicknamed "The Ocean State" because of Narragansett Bay, a large bay that splits the state in half, putting no part of the state more that 30 miles from salt water. By now, your probably wondering how Rhode Island got it's name. We go back to the tourist board. " The origin of the name comes from the Greek island of Rhodes because it resembles that island."

Here are some of the State Symbols... The State Flower is the violet, the tree is the Red Maple, the bird is the Rhode Island Red Hen, the motto is Hope, the state beer was Narragansett beer ( another Micro-Trains car from years ago), the state shell is the Quahog Clam ( Hey, this is the Ocean State, we gotta have a state shell), and our official state drink is coffee milk. ( For those of you that have never had coffee milk, it's like chocolate milk but made with coffee flavoring instead of chocolate flavoring. Coffee syrup is made big time in R.I., and sold in stores in Southern New England.)

Some of our famous Rhode Islanders include the following: That great song and dance man, Mr. George M. Cohan, TV's Survivor Richard Hatch, Harry Anderson from TV's Night Court, that great writer H.P. Lovecraft, Ruth Buzzi from TV's Laugh In, and Gilbert Stuart. Who is Mr. Stuart? He was responsible for some artwork the everyone sees every day whenever the look into their wallets. He was the one that painted the portrait of George Washington which appears on the one dollar bill!

One last thing. One of the railroads in R.I. was put out on a Roundhouse car. This green car had a railroad that few people knew anything about. It was the 2 mile long short line called the WARWICK RAILROAD. And now you know.

End quote, and thanks for that, Steve. I just need to add my "first setting foot" part:

The passing of Gerald Ford last month reminded me of my first "visit" to the Ocean State, if you can call it that. On August 8, 1974 Richard Nixon resigned the Presidency; the Irwin Family was in Boston and we watched the speech from the hotel. We were scheduled to return to New York on the Amtrak Turbotrain the next day; and by my calculations Gerald Ford became the thirty-eighth President of the United States while we were crossing through Rhode Island. My setting foot was about as cheap as one could get-- stepping off the train at the Providence Station. I've made a few more short visits since then as well. © 2007 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

No releases this month.

New Release:

865 00 010, $29.85
30 Foot Log Car with chains and load.

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.

Of the three scales in which MTL has now done this general type of log car, the HOn3 is perhaps the "most authentic" since many of the prototype cars were in fact in service for narrow gauge lines. (Potential use of the Z Scale cars on Nn3 pikes not withstanding-- I don't know how feasible that really is.) That's not to say that there weren't standard gauge cars; for example, several of the logging and lumber operations described in the book "Rails in the North Woods" had trackage of the usual spacing of 56 1/2 inches. But many logging operations were thrown together as quickly and cheaply as possible given their transitory nature, that is, they only lasted as long as the forests did. That frequently meant narrow gauge track, and not very well done track at that, just good enough to make sure that the equipment could get the lading down to the sawmill or wherever it was headed after being cut down. © 2007 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

And that made the equipment somewhat nonstandard as well, not so much the Shay and Climax models of steam locomotives that powered many a steeply graded lumber line, but certainly the log carrying cars. As was true with the N and Z Scale offerings, the HOn3 version of the log car represents somewhat of a generic prototype. I observed images of many different types of log cars and I can't say I came across any exact matches for the MTL car. But that's not really the point. The concept of as small and light a car as possible so as to maximize the payload was certainly common across all of the lumber railroads, and the Micro-Trains offering certainly fits the bill there. You can't get much thinner than the slim underframe of this car, unless you go to disconnect logging trucks-- and it wouldn't surprise me if those were coming down the pike from Talent before long. © 2007 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

One feature that is different on this size car is that, as MTL points out in its car copy, the load is not fastened to the car. "The log load is unattached to allow the load to be displayed on or off the car. The load can be temporarily affixed to the car using small bits of clay or poster tack," says MTL. The image on the website and in the Micro-News barely shows the brake wheel, which is way off to the right just visible next to the log load. A photo of the car in the February 2007 issue of Model Railroader shows the car from the opposite end, where that part can be seen. It looks more like a solid wheel than the Peacock type that MTL put on the N Scale version. © 2007 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

I expect that there will be any number of different releases of this car, each with different log loads, as has been the case with the N and Z cars. If that turns out to be true, which I imagine will depend on the success of this first run, I will probably do a lot of "see previous commentary." There's just not a whole lot I can say about logs. © 2007 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.


511 00 021 and 511 00 022, Magne-Matic Coupler Only, $24.35 each.
50 Foot Exterior Post Boxcar, Plug Door, Santa Fe (AT&SF).

Bright red with mostly white lettering including reporting marks on left and large circle cross herald on right. Yellow and white "Super Shock Control" slogan on right. Black and white "XF Food Loading Only" legend on right.
Reporting Marks: ATSF 152317 (the 021) and ATSF 152321 (the 022).
Approximate Time Period: 1979 (build date) through 1980's (based on paint scheme).
NOTE: This item (both numbers) has been sold out and discontinued.

MTL does much better than on its first release on the body style in terms of prototype fidelity. The real ATSF series of cars didn't just have FMC doors; they were actually built by FMC according to "the Priest Book" (Santa Fe Freight Cars in Color, Volume 1: Box Cars by Stephen Priest and Thomas Chenowith). The group 152300 to 152499 of ATSF Bx-196 was built in 1979. There's a photo of ATSF 152321, one of the numbers MTL selected to model, on Page 161 of the volume as seen in Topeka in March 1981. The main quibble I see is with the roof, which appears to be fairly flat on the car versus the model. The number of exterior posts looks right and the door appears to be an almost dead match. © 2007 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

The ORER for April 1981 shows the series described as "Box, Steel, Shock Control, Lading Anchors, Roller Bearing, Nailable Steel Floor, 60K" with the AAR Classification of XF as advertised on the car sides. The inside length was 50 feet 6 inches, inside width 9 feet 4 inches, inside height 10 feet 11 inches, outside length 59 feet 1 inch, extreme height 15 feet 3 inches, door opening 12 feet (maybe a door thing there) and capacity 5151 cubic feet or 187,000 pounds. Of the original 200 cars, 190 remained in October 1996, though as MTL notes in its car copy, they'd been "demoted" to the XP class from XF. Hey, who's been using that term "demoted"? © 2007 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

And that bright red paint had been pushed aside as well, giving us the shorter ATP than the actual car life (in fact, I didn't check past '96). The Priest Book has two later much less interesting paint schemes on the Bx-196 as well. ATSF 152458 as of August 1986 wore the mineral brown with just initials and the "XF Food Loading" panel which was a bit unusual. ATSF 152450 had the mineral brown with gothic reporting marks and the "why bother?" 24 inch circle cross herald in the top left hand corner. And soon, of course, the Santa Fe wouldn't even bother with that herald. © 2007 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

511 00 031 and 511 00 032, Magne-Matic Coupler Only, $29.35 each.
50 Foot Exterior Post Boxcar, Plug Door, Soo Line.

White sides, red doors, black ends. Mostly black lettering including reporting marks on left, large roadname across car ("SOO" left of door and "LINE" right of door). Black and yellow "A Soo Line Colormark car" legend right of door.
Reporting Marks: SOO LINE 18448 (the 031) and SOO LINE 18512 (the 032).
Approximate Time Period: early 1970's to present.
NOTE: This item (both numbers) has been sold out and discontinued.

They're just barely hanging on to their paint schemes, but yes, these "Colormark" cars are still in operation as of 2006, although some of their color is, well, added in an unauthorized manner, if you know what I mean, i.e. graffiti. Several photos on Fallen Flags of sister cars indicate their existence as recently as July of last year. They also indicate some differences against the MTL, including the number of posts (ribs): eight to the left of the door and seven to the right, versus seven and six on the 511er body style. The roof and ends look pretty good, though, based on what I can see in the images. © 2007 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

I couldn't just go over to the similarly painted MTL car in N Scale, since its road number is 178258; so much for the easy way to get the build date. No problem, though: the September 2002 issue of Rail Model Journal has a rundown on the Soo Line x-post cars that the line built for itself, and among those are the group 18440 to 18638 constructed in 1972, even numbers only, as were many Soo Line boxcar series. The RMJ piece calls out X-panel roofs as well as the exterior post construction. The Fond du Lac shops turned out more than 2300 plug door x-post boxcars between 1964 and 1979. © 2007 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

So with that information in hand, off we go to the ORER for July 1974. The series vital statistics are: inside length 50 feet 6 inches, inside width 9 feet 4 inches, inside height 10 feet 7 inches, outside length 56 feet 8 inches, extreme height 14 feet 11 inches, door opening 10 feet, and capacity 5038 cubic feet or 154,000 pounds. The descriptions are essentially identical as well: "Box, Steel, 15 inch HD-E Freightmaster Cushioning Device, 10 Foot Plug Door, Even Numbers" and both are AAR Classification XM and AAR Type Code B209. There were 90 cars in the group, the most possible using only even numbers. Skipping all the way to our proxy for the present, the January 2006 ORER has 27 cars remaining with the same long description as in '74 with the addition of "One Piece Bulkhead" plus 22 more that were simply "Box, Steel" including both the 18448 and the 18512, confirming the almost 35 year Approximate Time Period for these cars. © 2007 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

526 00 090, Magne-Matic Coupler Only, $19.95.
40 Foot Bulkhead Flatcar, Illinois Central.

Black with white lettering including reporting marks on left and roadname in center. Simulated pulpwood load included.
Reporting Marks: IC 60469.
Approximate Time Period: 1963 (build date given by MTL) to early 1980's.
NOTE: This item has been sold out and discontinued.

This issuance was a bit of a surprise, as there hasn't been a bulkhead flat since March 2005 (the Union Pacific, 526 00 080). Sharp eyed veteran Z Scalers may notice that the bulkheads used on this car are different than those used previously. MTL R&D guy Joe D'Amato noted on Trainboard that this is true as the mold for the old bulkheads was destroyed. We might just see those bulkheads on the new 60 foot flat car as well (see below). This car comes with a pulpwood load which would be particularly relevant for the more southerly reaches of the IC's rail network, where lumber and paper were fairly active industries. As shown in the image, that load looks good; I wonder if, when it becomes a separate catalog item, it might have some usage on my N Scale pike as a large firewood pile, for example. © 2007 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

I'll take the MTL car copy for the build of 1963. The ORER for January 1964 shows a group of 171 cars numbered 60300 to 60470 with the description "Flat, Steel, Bulkhead" and the dimensions as follows: inside length 48 feet 6 inches, inside height 8 feet 6 inches, outside length 54 feet 2 inches, extreme height 12 feet 2 inches, and capacity 100,000 pounds. Yes, the MTL model is noticeably shorter than the prototype, a "length thing" if you will. The next group, 60471 to 60499, had identical dimensions but per an end note also included "permanently attached chains and binders for handling packaged lumber." © 2007 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

The series was completely intact in the April 1970 Register with a few cars called out for pipe loading or implement parts loading, neither of which applied to the 60469, but interesting diversions if you're so inclined. In the July 1974 ORER, it's the Illinois Central Gulf, not the IC, that owns the flats. There were 117 cars in the main IC series, plus another one in implement parts service. I'm going to take a wild guess that the series moved over to ICG numbers 920400 to 920570, as the dimensions and AAR Car Type Code (F131) are the same, plus there were three of forty cars in that group that were also called out for implement service. But it's just a guess. By the April 1981 ORER there were just 20 cars in the original IC series, but there were also just 11 cars in the "guessed" ICG series as well. One way or another, we're probably near the end of the ATP. © 2007 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

981 01 091 and 981 01 092, Magne-Matic Coupler only, $175.95 each.
GP-35 Locomotive, Southern Pacific.

Gray with red at back of long hood and on nose. White lettering including roadname on long hood, number on cab and "SP" on nose.
Road Numbers: 6316 (the 091) and 6323 (the 092) (will be prefaced by "SP" in website listings).
Approximate Time Period: 1977 (based on road numbers) through 1990's.
NOTE: This item (both numbers) has been sold out and discontinued.

There were 160 units delivered to the Southern Pacific proper, originally numbered from 7408 to 7484 and from 7700 to 7782. (Twenty-two more went to SP subsidiary Cotton Belt. MTL's already been told about that by more than a few people looking for that paint scheme.) The phases of these units ranged from "Ia1" to "IIb". A GP35 roster page I found detailed all of these phases. © 2007 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

The Great Renumbering of 1965 moved these units into the 6520 to 6579 series. Beginning in 1977, seventy-one of these Geeps were rebuilt into GP35R's and numbered 6100 to 6161, except 6301; and that's how we come up to the start of the ATP for the road numbers that MTL selected. These were assigned to Houston for maintenance. A photo of the 6323 in action circa 1990 is available on Richard Percy's Espee Modeler's Archive. © 2007 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

A shot of SP 6316 in March 1982 in Phoenix, Arizona is on "Craig's Railroad Pages." That unit was sold to INCO Limited in 2001 for use in its Copper Cliff, Ontario operations. It was rebuilt by Motive Power Industries into a GP38M-4. INCO used a red and gray (or perhaps silver) paint scheme on them still somewhat reminiscent of the Espee's decoration; that photo is on the Unofficial INCO Ltd. Railway Information Site. If I am following a trail on correctly, the SP 6323 was rebuilt into a GP39M still in service as of 2006 as BNSF 2889. The BNSF Photo Archive has the rebuild date as 1991 so that ATP may be a little too generous. © 2007 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

No releases this month.

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