UMTRR February, 2009 || Edited From Subscriber Edition
©2009 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, Passenger Cars, Runner Packs, most Special Editions such as the Presidential Series and the Z Scale State Cars are available exclusively in the e-mail subscription edition of the UMTRR.

© 2009 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.


023 00 280, $25.45
Reporting Marks: GN 15466.
40 Foot Steel Boxcar, Double Youngstown Doors, Great Northern.

Vermillion (red) with black roof and ends. White lettering including reporting marks on left and large slanted roadname on right. Small black and white herald on left.
Approximate Time Period: 1963 to mid-1970s.
NOTE: This item has been sold out and discontinued.

New release, but produced as a Special Run (with small non-prototypical lettering at top left of side) for the N Scale Collector and released February 2002, NSC ID 02-11, as part of the "Western Road Pack #2".

Here's a car that started in the East and ended up in the West. The A.A. Morrison Company picked up former Erie Lackawanna ex-Erie Railroad boxcars, fixed them up, painted them, and leased them to at least two railroads: the Northern Pacific and the Great Northern. The GN took delivery of their leased boxcars in 1963. A photo of GN 15467 appears in the January/ February 2002 edition of "The N Scale Collector" magazine. The 15467 in the same paint scheme was one of six 40 foot double door boxcars in the NSC's "Western Road Pack #2" being announced in that issue. Hank Stevens, a GN expert, contributed the prototype story of all six of the cars. He noted that the black roof and ends on the series 15000 to 15549 may have denoted that these were leased cars, though there's at least one exception in the group. The GN's 50 foot plug and sliding door boxcars numbered 17300 to 17999 were the only other group of cars known to have this particular decoration. © 2009 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

Hank also notes that many of the Great Northern's other 40 foot double door boxcars were plywood sheathed, not all steel. Although it's arguably difficult to show that distinction in 1:160, that attribute does make this release the most accurate of the six cars in the "Western Road Pack #2" in terms of construction. The former Erie boxcars in series 78500 to 78999 and 79000 to 79199 that were refurbished by A.A. Morrison were all steel, but they were also single six foot door boxcars as of the Official Railway Equipment Register of January 1959. I think it's safe to say that they were converted to double door cars as part of the refurbishment process. © 2009 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

The ORER for January 1964 shows the cars in service for the Great Northern. The series 15000 to 15449 had 548 cars with these dimensions: inside length 40 feet 6 inches, inside width 9 feet 2 inches, inside height 10 feet, outside length 41 feet 10 inches, extreme height 15 feet, capacity 3720 cubic feet or 100,000 pounds, door opening 12 feet. Oops! We have a "door thing" here as the MTL model has two eight foot doors for a total opening of 16 feet, a discernable delta. © 2009 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

In the Burlington Northern listing for April 1970, the Great Northern series has 516 cars of the original 550, not bad. But a bit over four years later, in July 1974, that was all the way down to 125 cars, and just nine months later in April 1975 the group was down to 92. By that time you'd probably be looking at roofwalk removal anyway, but for the record, the series is gone no later than April 1981. Based on how fast it was dropping, though, I'm going to call the ATP at the mid-seventies. © 2009 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

049 00 590, $18.65
Road Number: 12301 (will be "URTC 12301" in website listings).
40 Foot Double Sheathed Wood Refrigerator Car, Vertical Brake Staff, Union Refrigerator Transit/Fox River Butter Company.

Yellow sides, freight car red ends side sills and roof, black door hardware and side ladders. Black lettering on sides including "The Fox River Butter Company / Seattle - New York" on left, brand name lettering and URTC name and road number on right. White reporting marks and other data on ends.
Approximate Time Period: late 1920's to early 1930's.
NOTE: This item has been sold out and discontinued.

"Your most delicious biscuit will be eaten with added zest when spread with Meadow-Gold Butter. You 'smack your lips'. Sweetness and fine flavor are there. You say at once 'Meadow-Gold's the butter for me. Meadow-Gold Butter is made only from rich, pasteurized cream and comes to you in the patented, sealed package. Makers and Distributors East of the Mississippi, The Fox River Butter Company, Chicago, Ill." © 2009 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

Thus read a 1912 print advertisement for Meadow-Gold Butter, a brand that is distinctively not on this month's Micro-Trains billboard refrigerator car offering. The company that made and distributed Meadow-Gold west of the Mississippi was the Beatrice Creamery Company of Lincoln, Nebraska; Beatrice was, I would say, more consistently connected to the brand Meadow Gold (with and without the hyphen) than Fox River was. In fact, a predecessor of Beatrice trademarked the Meadow Gold name back in 1901. Just to close out this part of the story, Borden's acquired the Meadow Gold name for national use and in 1997 Meadow Gold Dairies was sold to the Southern Food Group of Texas. © 2009 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

The Clover Hill Butter brand name goes back farther than that. There is an 1899 advertisement in Harpers that extols the virtues of that Fox River Butter product: "The best of wives and children, the best bread and the best butter, is a trinity that the most skeptical man believes in." (Hmm, perhaps some preachers of the period-- and now-- would have something to say about that!) "When you have Clover Hill Butter on your table you have the best the market affords." Accompanying this is a coupon offer... "FREE, a ten cent coupon good in part payment for Clover Hill Butter, sent free if you will send us your grocer's name and that of two other good grocers in your vicinity." An early example of address harvesting for unsolicited commercial advertising... er, personal visits by salespeople? Also in this ad, it's claimed that the Fox River Butter Company of Aurora, Illinois is the largest producer of pure butter in the world." The same claim is made in another 1899 magazine advertisement favorably comparing a pound of the product to a lion carved of butter by the Italian sculptor Canova. If it's true that Fox River was the world's largest butter producer, how come I can't find much beyond advertisements, and eBay listings for advertisements? Oh, well, it was the nineteenth century. © 2009 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

Some not so good publicity for the Fox River Butter Company can be found in the archives of the New York Times, where, in an August 17, 1919 article about a meeting of the Fair Price Committee on the subject of "hoarding and profiteering," a note that approximately 300,000 pounds of butter and more than 2 million eggs belonging to Fox River were seized in Detroit. I can't say I've ever heard of the Food Control Act, or its provision that there was "a penalty of five thousand dollars or two years imprisonment for the anti-profiteering section of the same act." © 2009 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

Uh, the refrigerator car, George? Well, Page 150 of the book "Billboard Refrigerator Cars" by Richard Hendrickson and Edward Kaminski includes a photo of the very car we're looking for, URTC 12301. It's stated to have been leased to Fox River Butter in June 1927. If it lasted to the end of the billboard era, that would close the ATP at about 1938. There is a difference between the prototype and model that's apparent from the photo: three large angle brackets at each corner. Other than that, we're pretty good. While normally an ORER lookup would be in order, the more I learn about how undocumented leasing periods were, the less confident I am on anything I find in those books. But since this is my only chance this month to pull out the April 1928 Equipment Register, I'll confirm from it that URTC 12301 was part of a group of refrigerator cars with a 33 foot inside length, a 40 foot outside length, and permanent floor racks. © 2009 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

084 00 031 and 084 00 032, $20.55 each
Reporting Marks: MILW 93118 and MILW 93120.
40 Foot Drop Bottom Gondolas with Woodside Extensions, Milwaukee Road.

Freight car red with white lettering including reporting marks on left and small tilted rectangle herald on right of gondola. Simulated woodchip loads included.
Approximate Time Period: late 1950's to late 1970's.
NOTE: This release (both numbers) has been sold out and discontinued.

Micro-Trains notes that these cars were built as general service gondolas in 1948, so before getting to the extension of the sides, let's have a quick look at the ORER for July 1950, where there were 200 cars in the series 93002 to 93206. They're described as "Gondola, All Steel, 16 Drop Doors Individually Operated." The "all steel" part of the original gondola body is important, as we'll see, but it's also nice to validate the correct number of drop doors. © 2009 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

Now let's head to the January 1959 ORER, where we find 166 cars with the same dimensions as in 1950, but two sets of exceptions of 17 and 15 cars on which the sides have been extended. I'll note the vital statistics on these groups: inside length 41 feet 6 inches, inside width 9 feet 9 inches, inside height 10 feet 5 3/4 inches (the first 17) or 10 feet 5 inches (the second 15), extreme height 15 feet (the first 17) or 14 feet 9 inches (the second 15), and capacity 100,000 pounds and either 4226 cubic feet (the first 17) or 4173 cubic feet (the second 15). © 2009 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

And then it gets confusing, as neither the 93118 nor the 93120 are shown among the individual road numbers for either set of extended cars. What? Considering that there's a photo of the 93118 with the extensions dated May 1958 in the Morning Sun Color Guide to the Milwaukee Road, Volume 2?!? I suspect that this is a shortcoming in the update of the ORER registration, as both road numbers are called out in the next ORER I have, January 1964. By that issue there are 70 cars with the original steel sides, and a total of 127 cars with extended sides, which have AAR Classification "GSS". The end notes explicitly state that the extended side cars are for handling wood chips. MTL is correct when they note that in their car copy that they "were fitted with different height extensions" based on the ORER information. It's clearly also true that not all gondolas were extended. © 2009 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

The two cars MTL produced remain among 134 extended gons in the series in April 1970. But while 38 extended gondolas are left in the April 1974 book, the 93118 and 93120 aren't among them. Three gondolas that were extended and four that weren't were shown in the April 1981 ORER and that's where I stopped looking. © 2009 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

David Carnell notes from the photo in the MSCG that there is one difference between the model and prototype which is diagonal bracing on the extensions; other than that, David tells us, the MTL depiction is a good match. And being that it uses an all steel drop bottom gondola as a base, it's a lot a better match than another manufacturer's previously released "wood chip gondola" with composite sides that uses road numbers from the same actual Milwaukee Road group of cars. (Oops, did the unconstructive criticizers resident on the 'net forums miss that one? Ah, but no one's perfect.) © 2009 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

David passes along from the MSCG that there was a second paint scheme for these cars starting in the 1960's, featuring yellow lettering and a large "Milwaukee Road" on the extensions. A follow on release, perhaps? Meanwhile, because extended and, er, unextended, gondolas co-existed from this series, by removing the extension piece from the MTL model and doing a bit of renumbering, it's possible to have a two for one special from this offering. © 2009 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

092 00 240, $22.35
Reporting Marks: NS 294246.
2 Bay Center Flow Covered Hopper, Norfolk Southern.

Gray with mostly black lettering including reporting marks and herald on left.
Approximate Time Period: 1998 to present.

Oh, no, I thought as I read the car copy for this release-- built by Thrall, and so many years after American Car and Foundry introduced the Center Flow? (And "Center Flow" being their trademark as well?) This won't end well, I suspected. But I was wrong.

A David Casdorph photo of the exact car 294246 appears on and the three quarter view indicates that the MTL 092 body style is really not at all a bad match to this prototype class HC-106 for the Norfolk Southern. Sure, there are some nitpicks, including the shape of the stirrups and a difference in the bottom slope of the sides, but all in all, it's not bad. Your interpretation of "stand in" may vary, of course, but I would deem it a better match than that. And the side lettering looks spot on, down to the "lift here" and "jack here" directions on the lower sill. This does beg the question of how, in real life, Thrall got away with building a design that was so close to that of AC&F. The short answer: it is a slightly different design. © 2009 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

I did find one apparent discrepancy in the MTL car copy, and that's the build date. Both citations and the website of long time UMTRR Gang Member Joe Shaw point to 1998, not 2000, as the build year for these one hundred cars. In fact, Joe is specific while providing a photo of sister car NS 294274: "This 3250cf class HC106 car was built with four 30" round hatches in 1998 under Thrall job 488." And sure enough, the cars numbered 294220 to 294319 are listed in the July 1998 ORER. No inside dimensions are given; the outside length is 41 feet 11 inches (no, that's not far off the MTL model), extreme height is 15 feet 1 inch, and capacity is 3250 cubic feet or 220,000 pounds. The October 2007 ORER shows 99 of the original 100 cars still in service. I don't doubt that these were in cement service-- that stuff is rather heavy. For those of you into weathering, check out the March 2009 issue of Railroad Model Craftsman, where Mont Switzer describes how to dirty up covered hoppers-- with real cement, no less. © 2009 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

There are other photos of the series available online, perhaps the most interesting of which is back on of NS 294235. Based on the appearance of the end of the car, it looks like it's been in a little bit of a scrape, or as my friend Tony likes to say, "Customized by Crash!" © 2009 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

109 00 080, $21.55
Reporting Marks: D&H 16159.
Heavyweight Depressed Center Flat Car with Commonwealth Trucks, Delaware & Hudson.

Red with yellow lettering including reporting marks at left in depressed portion of flat car. Simulated tank load included.
Approximate Time Period: 1984 (service date given by MTL) to mid 1990's.
NOTE: This release has been sold out and discontinued.

The Fallen Flags website has a 1990 photo of this exact car-- well, being that the D&H only owned this one DC flatcar, I suppose it had better be "this exact car!"-- as found in Binghamton, New York awaiting its next load. There are some quibbles with the model versus the prototype, with respect to the shape of the sides of the non-depressed portions and the solid curved sloping portions of the car versus the slotted portions on the Micro-Trains car, but overall, I think we have a reasonable "look and feel." The wood decking on the non-depressed portions looks right, and the use of two brake wheels is also correct, and yes, they do look like they were painted bright red at one time. The red and yellow was a colorful and eye-catching choice for the D&H in its later years, and it seems to have held up okay on this car. In this particular prototype image the stirrups were painted yellow. A little touch up on the N Scale version will work there. © 2009 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

Bright red first came to the D&H's boxcars in 1973 per the RPI website, so I might be starting the Approximate Time Period too late by assuming that the MTL given service date of 1984 is also the repaint date. Checking the ORER for April 1984, the car has these key dimensions: inside length 57 feet 9 inches, outside length 60 feet 11 inches, extreme width 10 feet, extreme height 5 feet 10 inches, capacity 247,000 pounds. The "Heavy Capacity" section of the ORER adds that the loading platform is 21 feet long by 9 feet wide, sits 2 feet above the railhead and is made of steel. This was the only Depressed Center flatcar that the D&H owned, but not the only heavy capacity car, as there were several including a 60 foot car that had four six-wheel trucks and a capacity of 700,000 pounds. The D&H served General Electric in Schenectady and carried turbines and transformers out of the GE plant there. © 2009 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

Sometime between the October 1996 and July 1998 ORERs, the 16159 was stricken from the D&H roster. This would be right on schedule given the forty year rule for cars in interchange service, as the car was built in 1958 per MTL's car copy. © 2009 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

451 00 050, $18.55
Reporting Marks: SPTZ 936260.
45 Foot Trailer, Southern Pacific.

White with multicolored lettering including "Southern Pacific Golden Pig Service" herald on side near nose and on each door. Depiction of Los Angeles Olympics symbol on side near doors.
Approximate Time Period: 1984 through early 1990's at least.
NOTE: This release has been sold out and discontinued.

The key spotting feature on this item for purposes of determining the Approximate Time Period is the depiction of a the symbol of the games of the XXIIIth Olympiad, which were held in Los Angeles. You might remember these as the ones that the Soviet Bloc boycotted, in response to the United States' boycott of the 1980 Summer Games in Moscow. I guess we could say that the results of both of these contests were somewhat skewed in favor of the respective host countries. You might not know that Los Angeles got this selection uncontested, as only Tehran, Iran had expressed interest but did not submit a bid. Los Angeles had previously hosted the 1932 Games, but the Great Depression seriously affected the size of the event, which saw the smallest number of competitors since the 1904 Games in St. Louis. © 2009 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

The Southern Pacific was a corporate sponsor of the 1984 Games, and as such decorated some of its trailers with the official logo of the event. David Carnell found a photo of the exact 936260 in the Morning Sun Color Guide to the Southern Pacific, Volume 2. The prototype was a Fruehauf Z-Van built in 1983 and leased by the SP from Xtra. It's from the series 936000 to 936499. David notes that there should be some silver trim paint along the roof seams and the base of the trailer (get out that 20/0 brush), but otherwise the MTL model is a good match for the real thing. Lee Gautreaux's "Railgoat" site has the "Golden Pig Service" beginning in the 1981-82 timeframe with the Espee's initial acquisition of 45 foot trailers with that decoration. Trailers in this scheme lasted at least to 1991 as there is a shot on Fallen Flags from then of SPLZ 936451 painted in the same manner as the Micro-Trains model. © 2009 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.


071 00 524, $39.65
Reporting Marks: TTX 252711 (flatcar), REAZ 240691 (trailer).
89 Foot TOFC Flat Car, TTX Corporation (Trailer Train) with Transamerica Transportation Systems Trailer.

Flat Car: Yellow with black and white lettering including reporting marks on left and 1991 TTX logo on right. Trailer: White with red and black lettering including company name at back and reporting marks at front of side.
Approximate Time Period: 1991 to late 1990's (flat car), 1990s (trailer).
Previous Releases for the flat car (as catalog 71524): Road Number 252705 (with undecorated trailer), January 1994; Road Number 252714 (with Rio Grande Trailer, Catalog 67100), January 1997.
Trailer has the internal MTL catalog number 451 00 040 but is not available separately.
NOTE: This item has been sold out and discontinued.

As was true for the most recent previous release of this combo, only the flat car is a reprint, while the trailer atop it is not. I guess that makes this MTL offering "half a reprint." But it's still twice as much usual work for your faithful byte slinger to cover both the flat car and the trailer. Alright, maybe one-point-five times the usual work. © 2009 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

Let's start with the flat car. MTL helps out by noting that this is in the 1991 paint scheme with the "TTX" replacing the "Trailer Train." This is also the year that the company changed names from Trailer Train to TTX Corporation. So we'll check the Trailer Train registration in the October 1991 ORER, where we find the series TTX 252647 to 252846, of 57 cars with the AAR Designation P812 (Conventional Intermodal Car, Double Length, Standard Level, 8 1/2 foot tandem, circus or lift-on/lift-off loading, capacity one 40 foot trailer and one 45 foot trailer with nose mounted refrigerator or two 40 foot trailers with nose mounted refrigerator) and 11 more with the AAR Designation P712 (the same except an 8 foot tandem). The key dimensions of the cars are the same: inside length 89 feet 4 inches, outside length 92 feet 5 inches, capacity 130,000 pounds, and both groups have the general AAR Classification "FC". From there, I jumped right to the January 2000 ORER to find a surprise: just two cars left in the series. This could have been a remarking and/ or reclassification; somehow I doubt it was a retirement. Recall that Trailer Train uses a bunch of different reporting marks, all of which refer to specific types of cars. By that January 2000 ORER, the "TTX" reporting marks that Trailer Train started with were stenciled with a mere 60 cars and one caboose (number 100, if you're curious), out of a total roster of over 113,000 cars. I was wondering why I wasn't having any luck locating online images; well, that explains it. © 2009 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

Now, to the trailer. At this writing, Transamerica Corporation is strictly a financial products and services operation owned by Netherlands-based AEGON, but in the period from the 1960's to the 1980's, it was a conglomerate owning companies from movie studio United Artists to Budget Rent-A-Car. You might remember an animated "build" version of the "T" logo that's on this trailer at the beginning of, among other films, several James Bond movies. The company was started by the same A.P. Giannini who founded the Bank of Italy, predecessor of Bank of America which he also ran. His vision for Transamerica was as a provider of diverse financial services to the general public, nationwide. (Seem familiar?) That vision included direct banking across the country, until forced divestiture of those operations in 1956 following the passage of the Bank Holding Company Act. © 2009 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

A vision that is familiar to most people, especially in San Francisco, is the famous Transamerica Pyramid skyscraper completed in 1972. It's 48 floors high and is the tallest building in San Francisco, said to have been built so that the Bank of America executives would have to look up to it, and constructed in this unusual form to comply with zoning regulations on total office space for the ground footprint. Transamerica doesn't occupy much of that building any more, though a depiction of the structure has supplanted the stylized "T" as the firm's trademark. © 2009 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

The reporting marks of the trailer are not "TA" as reported by MTL in its release information. They are actually "REAZ" which is a throwback to a legendary company of a completely different type-- the Railway Express Agency. REA formed its subsidiary Realco Leasing in 1960 using the "REAZ" reporting marks, the "Z" referring to trailers. Realco was sold to Transamerica in 1968. Transamerica's leasing arm was part of its divestiture of non-financial businesses, and I'll skip right to the end of that story: it, like many other transportation-oriented leasing operations, is now part of General Electric. Transamerica Transportation Services eventually morphed into a third party logistics provider based in Ohio, and its final chapter was written in 2003 when it was acquired by Matson Integrated Logistics. But the Transamerica Leasing name is still around and in fact the REAZ markings and "pyramid" trademark were found on a trailer atop a Florida East Coast flatcar in 2005 by Joe Shaw, as captured on his website. © 2009 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

104 00 010, $23.70
Reporting Marks: GTW 384046.
60 Foot Excess Height Box Car, Single Sliding Door, Grand Trunk Western.

Blue with mostly white lettering including reporting marks and roadname on left and large "GT" herald and slogan "The Good Track Road" on right.
Approximate Time Period: mid-1980's to present.
Previous Release (as catalog 104010): Road Number 384063, October 1998.
NOTE: This item has been sold out and discontinued.

When I wrote the UMTRR entry for the original run of this car, which was also the first release of this body style, a "to present" ATP was warranted. We'll see if that holds up after some quoting of myself from October 1998.

Back in the 1980's, when those bigger railroads like Conrail and Chessie were having some well publicized problems with derailments, along came the Grand Trunk Western with its cheeky little slogan, "The Good Track Road." The implication, of course: Ship your stuff with us and it will get there. If "there" meant Southern Michigan, Chicago or down to Toledo, or further into Ohio following the GTW's purchase of the Detroit, Toledo and Ironton, yep, they could get it there. If in the mid-1950's it might still have gotten get there by steam power; the GTW was the last US Class 1 railroad to drop its fires. And if it needed to go "north of the border," that wasn't an issue; being that its parent was the Canadian National. © 2009 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

Although, per Micro-Trains, this car was built in 1966, the series doesn't show up in my ORERs until January of 1985, where all 100 of the series 384000 to 384099 are listed. Let's cover the vital statistics: inside length 60 feet 8 inches, inside width 9 feet 2 inches, inside height 13 feet 2 inches, outside length 68 feet 2 inches, extreme height 17 feet, door opening 10 feet, capacity 7320 cubic feet or 130,000 pounds. These dimensions exceeded the "Plate F" specificiations. In other words, a big car! What about before that? My guess is that the cars were in another number series since there were plenty of them in the GTW entry in the April 1970 and April 1976 ORERs. But none of the 60 footers in the April 1976 book were 17 feet tall, which makes me wonder whether this set of 100 cars were "stretched" vertically. © 2009 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

A photo of sister car 384054 (or perhaps it's 384094) on, besides indicating that the original paint scheme was still in place as of the January 2006 photo date, suggests that maybe the car was made more tall some time after it was built. There's a seam running along the side from end to end, maybe about a foot or so below the roofline. The weld lines present on the rest of the side don't seem to continue above that seam. There's a closer-in three-quarter view of GTW 384106 from the same website, technically not part of the same series but definitely looking like it had been "topped off". On Fallen Flags there is a December 2004 image of sister car 384002 taken in Whitby, Ontario, illustrating that these cars did cross the border into Canada. © 2009 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

Given the photo evidence I jumped right to the October 2007 ORER to find that of the 100 cars, sixteen remain, of which twelve had DF-2 loaders and a smaller Gross Rail Weight of 115,000 pounds (GRL is the weight of the car plus the lading), and four were just "Box, Steel" with a GRL of 220,000 pounds. I think we're OK for "to present" on the ATP, but I don't think we'll be able to say that when the next reprint arrives. © 2009 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

These releases are covered exclusively in the subscriber edition of the UMTRR.


800 00 050, $18.40
Reporting Marks: D&SNG 3409.
30 Foot Double Sheathed Wood Boxcar, Single Door, Durango and Silverton Narrow Gauge.

Boxcar red with white lettering including large reporting marks on left.
Approximate Time Period: 1960's to present (using the ATP for the tourist line operation).
Previous Releases: As catalog number 15105): Road Number 3749, September 1995 and Road Number 3410, October 1999; as catalog number 800 00 050, Road Number 3401, March 2005.
NOTE: This item has been sold out and discontinued.

The recently issued 2009 Micro-Trains Product Guide mentions the company's Nn3 line, and MTL notes that there will be quarterly releases from the product line. However, that product line currently consists of only boxcars and cabooses. It has for some time, now that I think about it. © 2009 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

Back in March 2005 when the previous road number of this paint scheme was run, I noted that perhaps there was only one boxcar listed in the official roster of the Durango and Silverton Narrow Gauge (no longer on their website), and even that one, road number 3861, was shown as a "rail camp converted boxcar." However, Benoit Poulin's site on the Rio Grande indicates otherwise. Poulin notes that there was a group of 750 boxcars originally built in 1904 by American Car and Foundry for the Denver and Rio Grande, and extensively rebuilt in 1926 keeping only a few parts. Some of these remained in service until the Rio Grande ended narrow gauge operations in 1968. "Many boxcars of this class have been preserved today, including 45 on the Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad, about twenty in their original condition on the Cumbres & Toltec Scenic Railroad (plus 22 other converted to passenger cars), 9 at the Georgetown Loop Railroad and another 4 at the Colorado Railroad Museum." I'd be inclined to think that was more like it than a single car! Perhaps there's a difference between the official roster and what's actually on the property. On a website no longer available there was mention of a "highway barrier" made of boxcars in Durango or thereabouts, but I couldn't re-locate that description or an image. © 2009 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.


500 00 561 and 500 00 562, $29.40 each
Reporting Marks: GN 2530 and GN 2533.
40 Foot Box Car, Single Superior Door, Great Northern.

Orange and pullman green sides; pullman green ends and roof. White lettering including reporting marks on left and simulated reflective squares along bottom of side. Green roadname in "Empire Builder" font on left. Black and white side facing goat herald on right.
Approximate Time Period: mid-1950's through 1960's.
NOTE: This item (both numbers) has been sold out and discontinued.

I'm not sure that this is really a new release. In February 2006, MTL issued catalog numbers 500 00 360 (Magne-Matic couplers) and 500 00 361 (Marklin couplers) which was Great Northern boxcar 2533. Looking at the photos in the issues of the Micro-News for each release, it does look like the shades of Pullman Green and Omaha Orange are different. But I don't see any differences in the actual paint scheme executed. Okay, so other than driving collectors nuts by having the same road number done twice, I don't see any real harm in this. Consider it a second chance to get one of the more attractive schemes in the Great Northern's history. Besides, there are some resourceful Z Scalers out there who might just create some decals for renumbering purposes. © 2009 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

Anyway, back in 2006, I found that on the RPI Website, John Nehrich notes that the "loader" scheme mentioned by MTL in its car copy was introduced in 1953 but apparently not used until 1955 on plywood express boxcars. So we'll go to the July 1953 ORER which shows two groups of cars, numbered 2500 to 2524 and 2525 to 2549. They are of the same general dimensions, which we'll get to in a moment, and they have the same notation: "Cars in series 2500 to 2549 are equipped with passenger type trucks, steel wheels, marker lamp brackets, steam and signal train lines and can be used in baggage and express service. Capacity of these cars is 60,000 pounds when used in passenger service and 92,500 pounds when used in freight service." However, there is a difference in the construction of these cars. The first group, 2500 to 2524, is listed as "Box, Steel Frame" and these are the plywood sided cars. The second group, 2525 to 2549 including the modeled numbers, is listed as "Box, All Steel." Aha! © 2009 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

Here's what I think is very interesting about these two groups of cars. The key dimensions are exactly the same: inside length 40 feet 6 inches, inside width 9 feet 2 inches, inside height 10 feet, outside length 41 feet 9 inches, extreme height 14 feet 8 inches, door opening 6 feet wide. Yet the cubic foot capacity is different, and it's less for the steel cars: 3712 versus 3727 for the plywood sheathed cars. If the interior dimensions are the same, would not the cubic foot capacity be as well? But I digress... © 2009 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

Not much has changed by the January 1959 ORER, with a drop down to 23 cars in the 2525 to 2549 series. But in the January 1964 ORER, the cars (and the 2500 to 2524 group) have been moved into the "Passenger Equipment" sublisting under the Great Northern's registration, and reclassified as AAR "BH" with the description "Baggage-Express, All Steel". The series is also down another car, to 2527 to 2549 with 23 cars. But the dimensions remain the same. In April 1970 under the Burlington Northern, 22 cars remain with GN reporting marks and the "Baggage-Express" description. Finally, in the April 1976 Register, there are 17 cars that are listed as just "Box, Steel" in the group 2527 to 2549, but amazingly, there are ten survivors with the "Baggage-Express" description in the other series, 2503 to 2521. This, five years after the Burlington Northern gave way to Amtrak and got out of the long-distance passenger business. © 2009 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

Of course, none of these facts tell us anything about the "loader" paint scheme, or how long it may have lasted. For a clue on that, we turn to the September 2003 issue of Rail Model Journal, which profiles the "Top 10 Express Boxcars". This piece actually including a ranking, as of January 1953, of the largest fleets of these cars by railroad; the GN placed fifth with 98 cars. (Number one: far and away, the Pennsylvania, with 931, more than the rest of the list combined!) Under the information for the GN's cars, we learn that the as delivered paint scheme for 2525 to 2549 was mineral red with white lettering, then pullman green with yellow lettering starting in 1950 or 1951. "These cars were repainted into the orange and green 'loader' scheme beginning in the mid-1950's," says RMJ, and of course MTL in its car copy as well. Since the RMJ article does not mention any successor paint scheme, and they're usually very good about this, I think it's probably safe to say that these cars remained in the decoration as depicted by MTL until they were retired. At the very least, you should be good for the ATP that I've called out. By the way, the "loader paint scheme" apparently refers to that painted on GN boxcars that had DF or other types of loader equipment. I've got a shot of another GN boxcar with that designation in that scheme in "Classic Freight Cars Volume 1". Fallen Flags has a shot of GN 39431 as an example to which you can surf as well. © 2009 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

522 00 181 and 522 00 182, $23.40 each
Reporting Marks: C&O 31630 and C&O 31636.
50 Foot Steel Gondola, Drop Ends, Fishbelly Sides, Chesapeake and Ohio.

Black with white lettering including reporting marks on left, roadname in center, and first version "C&O for Progress" herald on right. Simulated steel bar load included.
Approximate Time Period: 1952 (build date) to early 1980's.
NOTE: This item (both numbers) has been sold out and discontinued.

I can almost reprint myself from the March 2008 release of the N Scale version of this car. A key difference between the 1:160 and 1:220 body styles-- namely, the drop ends on the Z Scale car-- makes this a more accurate model. There's still the matter of the lever brake device instead of a brake wheel, but that's a lesser quibble.

In March 2008 when the N Scale model was released, our C&O Special Correspondent James Pugh provided citations of the book "Chesapeake and Ohio Freight Cars 1937-1965, Volume 1: Hopper and Gondola Cars" by Al Kresse, Jr, which we'll cite here. The series 31600 to 31799 was built by the General American Transportation Corporation in East Chicago, Indiana in 1952. The Dreadnaught ends were made of copper bearing steel as were the fourteen panel (thirteen rib) sides. The Armco nailable steel floor consisted of steel ribs with wood fillers-- hey, is that finally the operational definition of "nailable steel floor"?! Kresse further reported that "eventually 106 cars would be converted for coil steel loading (GBS) and six for containers (LG) and derated to between 130,000 and 120,000 pounds capacity. The container equipped cars were assigned to the Pere Marquette District. A photo of C&O 31722 accompanied this information. © 2009 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

In addition to the photo in Kresse's book, there's a shot of C&O 31640 as of 1961 at Dearborn, Michigan in the Morning Sun Color Guide to the C&O by David Hickcox. In the photo, the car is shown with coil steel hoods. It looks like the lettering is spot on, including the "first generation" monogram. Yes, there were two versions of the famous "C&O for Progress" logo. Also on the model is the General American logo and the special instructions "Return when empty to DT&I RR, Detroit, Michigan." That's the Detroit, Toledo and Ironton. While this car carries coil steel, the MSCG states that round bar steel-- such as the load MTL provides-- was transported by other gondolas in this group. Note that MTL did not simply reissue the N Scale number that's captured in the MSCG, by the way, but selected two other numbers from the series. © 2009 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

Speaking of that series, the July 1953 ORER has all 200 cars in one basic group; no special devices, no re-designations, just AAR Classification "GB," and the description "Gondola, Steel, Low Fixed Sides, Drop Ends, Nailable Steel Floor. The vital statistics: inside length 52 feet 6 inches, inside height just 2 feet 11 inches (the MTL model is taller), inside width 9 feet 6 inches, outside length 54 feet 8 inches, extreme height 6 feet 9 inches, and capacity 1494 cubic feet or 140,000 pounds. © 2009 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

The January 1959 Register shows the regrouping of the gons. Of the 200, 113 remain in the as built series. Another 77 were reclassed "GBR" and were equipped for coil steel loading with capacity of 130,000 pounds, not including the 31630. Another single car was for coil steel again with capacity of 125,000 pounds, four more were AAR Class "GBS" for coil steel, and three had the aforementioned containers with class "LG". © 2009 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

From the January 1964 ORER we have a list of road numbers that were equipped for round steel bar loading: 31603, 31609, 31613, 31670, 31677, 31722, 31749, 31756 and 31790, from a total of thirty-one cars. There were also the previously noted groups. The total number of cars appeared to be down to just 122 across all subgroups. But the April 1970 ORER shows 171 cars across the various subseries-- did the ORER folks miss something back in 1964? The April 1975 Register has 134 cars in the main series plus 28 carrying round bar steel, six "LG" type, seven for coil steel, five for "minerals," three for welded rail, and one for pallets. That's a total of 184-- how do these numbers keep going up? © 2009 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

Well, they go down from January 1981 where there are 181 cars, to January 1985, where there are just twenty eight. That's where I stopped looking. This was already the time of the Chessie System, so it's possible that a repaint occurred then or even beforehand. So the ATP is about at maximum with an assumption that nothing later than that first generation monogram ever graced this gondola. © 2009 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

550 00 020, $31.80, Smoothside 6-6-4 Sleeper Car, Pullman (Illinois Central color scheme).
551 00 020, $31.80, Smoothside Dome/Chair Car, Illinois Central.
552 00 020, $31.80, Smoothside 44 Seat Coach, Illinois Central.
553 00 020, $31.80, Smoothside 71 Foot Baggage Car, Illinois Central.

Each car has Chocolate Brown sides with orange bands and yellow stripes, and black underframe and trucks. Yellow roadname in center or left of center as appropriate (baggage car). Decals for all possible car names and road numbers will be included with each car.
Approximate Time Period: early 1940's to about 1971.
NOTE: The dome car (551 00 020) coach (552 00 020) and baggage car (553 00 020) have been sold out and discontinued.

Want to know more about the Illinois Central's passenger consists? So did I. How about the entire day's consist of all IC passenger trains in and out of Memphis Grand Central Station from the night of October 6 to October 8, 1946? It's available! Have a look on the net for it with keywords "'Illinois Central' + passenger" and make sure you can read PDF files. Looking through this treasure trove, I realized that I also own a November 1946 edition of The Official Guide of the Railways, which allows the train names and destinations to be matched up with the train numbers given in the roster pages. © 2009 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

For example, Train Number 6 arrived Memphis at 11:35 PM on October 6, 1946 and left Memphis at 11:45 PM, on time in both cases. There were no consist changes during the stop so the train was the same: Locomotive 4012, IC cars 1801 and 1902, Pullmans "Delaware," "Proviso," "King Coal," "Magnolia State," "City of New Orleans," then IC coach 4102, then Pullmans "St Louisian," "Land o'Strawberries," "Blue Grass State," "Sugarland," and "Gulfport," total fourteen cars. Train 6 was the famous Panama Limited, en route from New Orleans northbound to Chicago, and there it is in the schedule in the Official Guide with the arrival and departure times as reported. Cool! © 2009 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

Perhaps a little less glamorous and more workaday was "The Chickasaw" between Memphis and St. Louis. It departed Memphis on time at 4:45 PM on October 7, 1946, under the control of IC locomotive 1191 and with two milk cars (C&NW and NRC), three express cars (PRR, NYC and IC), an RPO, four coaches and one car at the head end, IC 6654, 11 cars total. © 2009 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

It was particularly nice to have this roster from the end of 1946 since that should fit the Approximate Time Period for these cars. The Pullman sleeper was built by Pullman-Standard to the same general design as the Union Pacific "American" Series per information directly from MTL and is probably the most correct of the four cars for the IC. That's not saying the other cars aren't-- for example, the IC did have dome cars-- but this is where not having specific names and/or road numbers is a bit of a setback. The chocolate and orange paint scheme was introduced in 1941 on IC diesels for the Panama Limited, which got streamlined passenger cars in 1942. That paint scheme more or less stayed intact until the coming of Amtrak in 1971, with of course sales and purchases of equipment. Dome cars came from the Missouri Pacific and other streamliners from the New York Central. There is a listing of IC passenger equipment on the net that spans seven pages. © 2009 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

Meanwhile, back in Memphis in 1946, there is a delivery recorded from the IC to the Frisco at 5:30 PM, of one unoccupied tourist car, Pullman 1999, and also unoccupied, Pullman 9879... a troop sleeper. Fascinating. © 2009 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

982 01 160, $185.95 each
Road Number: 766 (will be "AMTK 766" in website listings).
GP-9 Diesel, Amtrak.

Platinum mist with black roof, top of ends, frame and details. Black lettering including "Amtrak" roadname on long hood and road number on cab.
Approximate Time Period: 1987 to early 2000's at least.
NOTE: This item has been sold out and discontinued.

So in my pre-review of the forthcoming Z Scale Amtrak MOW set (not online), I wrote the following: "Even before I had the complete set of road numbers of the individual items from MTL, I wandered over to the Fallen Flags site and holy unterminated arrow, Batman! There's a lot of images of Amtrak equipment! Amtrak had some GP-9s, among them the 763, 766 and 767, but they are shown as being painted in Platinum Mist (and wouldn't that be an interesting release?)" © 2009 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

Yes, wouldn't that be an interesting release! And since I know exactly where to go for a proto photo, let's go there. There are some detail differences shown in this December 1987 photo. First, the handrails and stanchions should all be platinum mist to match the body, except for the ends of the handrails which are white. If you have a small enough brush (I've seen 20/0 last trip to the craft store), the edges of the steps should also be white. The more difficult attribute of the prototype is the boxlike structure where the dynamic brakes are on the MTL model. No, I still don't know exactly what that object is! © 2009 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

Finding online Approximate Time Period information for this unit and other Geeps was a bit of a challenge. I found a photo of the 766 on the "Amtrak Photo Archive" site in orange as of September 1981 and in platinum mist in February 1998 and July 1999, plus we already have the 1987 shot. What may be the last piece we can get-- but a good one-- is the 766 in orange as of June 1986 on So the unit went from orange to platinum mist between June 1986 and December 1987. We'll take it. © 2009 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

Sister units help here. We've also got the 767 perhaps stored at Wilmington, Delaware in 2000 in platinum mist on RRPictureArchives. There's also a 2003 shot of 765 in storage with the 776 in Ohio along with the note that 764 and 765 were ex-Union Pacific units built in 1954. Could we extrapolate that to the 766? Why, yes, according to the all-time Amtrak Diesel Roster as of 1990, it was UP 207 and EMD Serial Number 17093. © 2009 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

One more bit of trivia from an Amtrak discussion board: The 766 was part of a group of locomotives on display in Wilmington in 2003 as part of that city's "Try Transit" weekend. The group was consisted together for a move pulled by an Amtrak P42, but included the 766, a pair of ex-Reading locos and the Wilmington and Western's steam locomotive! Besides being an unusual event, it shows that the 766 was around at least through the early 2000's. © 2009 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

Z SCALE REPRINTS: No releases this month.

These releases are covered exclusively in the Subscriber version of the UMTRR.

HOn3 SCALE (NARROW GAUGE): No releases this month.