UMTRR April, 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, 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.


020 00 806, $24.50
Reporting Marks: MP 46960.
40 Foot Steel Boxcar, Single Youngstown Door, Missouri Pacific "Eagle Merchandise Service."

Blue with white band, blue roof and ends. Cream door with white band. Black and white lettering including reporting marks on left and "Eagle Merchandise Service" on right. Red and white MP "buzzsaw" herald left of door.
Approximate Time Period: 1950's and 1960's, but see text.
NOTE: This item has been sold out and discontinued.

"Eagle Merchandise Service" was the Missouri Pacific's attempt to secure less than carload traffic that was rapidly draining away to trucks. Begun in 1951, the service was advertised, among other places, on the dedicated fleet of cars that were meant to carry this traffic. Ed Hawkins notes in a post to the Steam Era Freight Cars List on YahooGroups that "they were often found on house tracks at a local depot to be loaded or unloaded" and "they were commonly run in blocks of 3 or more cars." Initially, they were not supposed to stray off the Missouri Pacific System including the Texas and Pacific. But Charlie Duckworth, author of an article on these cars for the Missouri Pacific Historical Society, said in another Steam Era Freight Cars post that the MP's April 1957 Traffic Book listed offline destinations including but not limited to points on the Baltimore and Ohio, Pennsylvania, Wabash, Union Pacific, Chicago and North Western, and the Nickel Plate. As an example of this caught on film, Page 53 of the Summer 2003 issue of "Classic Trains" shows a photo of an "Eagle" boxcar second behind a trio of Baltimore and Ohio cab units in November 1959 in Indiana. The Eagle Merchandise Service was officially terminated in 1961, and cars could then go anywhere. Strictly speaking, the stenciling in the top left hand corner warning "Do Not Interchange With Other Lines" should have been painted over by then, but I doubt that this always occurred on the prototype.

There have been any number of 1:160 boxcars painted in this attractive scheme, almost since the beginning of N Scale. The oldest one I can recall is an old version made in Yugoslavia and marketed in the United States by Life-Like; and that car was quite similar to an Atlas First Generation 9 foot interior height 40 foot boxcar in the 2380 series of catalog numbers. Wasn't I sure that I bought that LifeLike- "Eagle" car at E.J. Korvettes department store sometime in the seventies, for something like 88 cents?

At any rate, Micro-Trains now offers their depiction, and unfortunately like all of the previous attempts, it's on a boxcar that is not a very good fit for the paint scheme. MTL correctly notes that the source for these cars is a group of boxcars built in the 1920's. I can tell you more specifically via several forum discussions I found that it's the Missouri Pacific series 120000 to 121749 built from 1925 through 1928. These cars were 36 foot inside length wood sheathed cars and were rebuilt for Eagle service in 1950 and 1951.

The Official Railway Equipment Register (ORER) for January 1953 shows the series 46000 to 48749 in three major groups: first, 1607 cars described as "Box, Steel Underframe, Z-Bar"; second, 485 cars described as "Box, All Steel" with AAR Classification XM (Box); and finally, the series in which we are interested, 543 cars described as "Box, All Steel" with AAR Classification XME (Box, Merchandise Loading). One of those cars, called out in the individual numbers listing in an end note, is the MP 46960. The dimensions illustrate rather clearly how this isn't a PS-1 type boxcar: inside length 40 feet 6 inches, inside width 8 feet 8 inches, inside height just 8 feet 6 inches, outside length 42 feet 3 inches, extreme height only 13 feet 3 inches, door opening 6 feet, and capacity 2994 cubic feet or 80,000 pounds. In short (so to speak), this is a noticeably less tall car, even for the time period. Ironically, this makes the old Yugoslavian tooling an arguably better match for the Eagle cars, even though it's not perfect either and it's a lot cruder than what we expect to see today. A correction from the subscriber version: The Atlas USRA steel rebuild boxcar is about the best out there at the moment, though it also is not perfect. Well, what can you do. HO Scalers have a Sunshine Models resin kit to work with and I suspect for a truly accurate model N Scalers would need to go the craftsman kit route as well. Once one is produced, that is. There's always scratchbuilding too.

In the January 1964 ORER, after the demise of the dedicated merchandise service, all cars in the 46000 to 48749 series were in one group described as "Box, All Steel" with AAR Classification XM, with the same dimensions as above. There were 1028 cars in the group at that time, but it's not immediately known how many were still painted in the Merchandise Service scheme. By January 1967 this group was all the way down to 292 cars, and by April 1970 there's just 81. At least one survived to be found in company service in the late 1980's and still in its "Eagle" paint scheme to boot.

I did find one online photo of this scheme, with the exception of gray ends (some were gray, some were blue as MTL did them) on Tom Stolte's webpages in glorious black and white. A photo of a car from this group that's painted in plain MP brown with the "Route of the Eagles" slogan buzzsaw herald is on the "Screaming Eagles" site. It looks as if new steel sides were attached to the original frame. There's substantial coverage of the Eagle Merchandise Service in several print resources, including Railway Prototype Cyclopedia Volume 14 and several issues of the Missouri Pacific Historical Society's magazine, titled, appropriately, "The Eagle." And the Fallen Flags website has a shot of MP 47418, one of the single sheathed boxcars that was in the same number series back in 1953.

045 00 360, $16.85
Reporting Marks: C&O 216508.
50 Foot Steel Flat Car, Fishbelly Sides, Chesapeake and Ohio.

Black with white lettering including reporting marks on left and small "C&O for Progress" herald right of center. Simulated front end loader load (unassembled and undecorated) included.
Approximate Time Period: late 1950's to early 1980's.
NOTE: This item has been sold out and discontinued.

The Morning Sun Color Guide to the C&O shows a 1975 photo of sister car 216614 specially equipped for auto frames. It was in restricted service and stenciled for return to the Milwaukee Road in Milwaukee when empty. On the same Page 69 of the MSCG is a shot of C&O 216801 also from the same series and carrying rigging for the transportation of large flat steel or aluminum plates. It's the consolidated stencils we're most interested in here, as they indicate the Approximate Time Period for the series lasting that long. The leading "2" in the six digit road number indicates that these were former Pere Marquette cars. The C&O picked up the PM in 1947 but took their time repainting cars. An example of what this car might have looked like in PM lettering was released by Micro-Trains in December 2003 with road number 16681 as their catalog number 45260, but the MTL depiction was freight car red, not black as PM flats were actually painted.

According to a caption accompanying a photo of C&O 216604 on Page 68 of the Morning Sun Guide, the original Pere Marquette series 16500 to 16849 was supplemented by 25 flat cars purchased from the New Haven in 1962, well after the PM became part of the C&O. A spotting feature delta between the model and the prototype is the brake wheel: it's staff mounted and on the end of the car on the real one, versus side mounted on the Micro-Trains model.

Though originally built in 1942 and 1944 for the PM, the use of Futura Bold and of course C&O reporting marks takes us to the late 1950's for the start of the ATP. So we'll first check the January 1959 ORER and find that there is roughly a 56/44 split between flat cars still lettered for the Pere Marquette (194) and cars relettered for the Chesapeake and Ohio (153). The main series among the C&O cars had these dimensions: inside length 53 feet 6 inches, inside width 10 feet 6 inches, outside length 54 feet 3 inches, extreme height 4 feet 11 inches, capacity 140,000 pounds. Twenty years after the PM was acquired by the C&O, there were still three flat cars lettered Pere Marquette. A total of 222 flats were lettered C&O, with 136 in the main series, another 151 called out as handling auto frames, 34 more equipped to handle tractors-- including the 216508-- and one more "equipped with a multi-level loader for overseas terminal." A photo of that one car, the 216821, would certainly be interesting!

The note about the 216508 carrying tractors was still there in the ORER for April 1975 and 31 cars in the series had that equipment, while 95 were set up for auto frames, 30 for lumber and two for aluminum. Oh, and there were still 93 plain old flat cars in the group. That's a total of (reaching for calculator) 220 cars. Though the forty-year rule was fast approaching, there were still 101 cars in service in the April 1981 ORER including the 216508 carrying tractors. Just 26 cars were listed in the April 1984 Register, and four hung on all the way to the July 1987 ORER.

Perhaps the notations indicating tractor carriage may have influenced MTL's decision to supply a wheeled vehicle as the load with this car, or maybe they've got some photo evidence. But a load that's unassembled and unpainted? Hmm, I might call that "uncool." Sure, the retail price would have been more "front end loaded" with a completed load, (if you'll pardon the pun). I'm not sure this will be a hit with those N Scalers that are more used to Fully Ready To Run equipment, even though this is more of a "shake the box" assembly than a large project.

053 00 070, $26.20
Reporting Marks: BNSF 559041.
60 Foot Thrall Centerbeam Flat Car, Burlington Northern Santa Fe.

Brown with mostly white lettering including reporting marks (only) on left. Simulated wood truss load included.
Approximate Time Period: 1997 to present.
NOTE: This item has been sold out and discontinued.

The article in the January 1996 issue of Rail Model Journal by D. Scott Chatfield is our starting point for this release. Burlington Northern bought cars in two groups from Thrall. In 1997, they took 190 cars numbered 624100 to 624289, and in 1990, 300 more numbered 624400 to 624699. "Micro-Trains' N Scale center beam is a beautiful model of the Thrall 60-foot beam, complete with brake rigging," approved Mr. Chatfield. To be extremely specific, the MTL model is of the second set of Burlington Northern cars, which have an oval pulling eye in each corner post.

That's great if you're a BN modeler, but, er, George, this release is painted for the successor railroad. Fortunately, David Carnell lets us know that the BN cars became BNSF series 559000 to 559453. "BNSF began renumbering and repainting these cars in 1997," he reports, "and had a quarter of this series done by 2003." I'm calling the start of the ATP at that 1997 date based on David's report on the overall collection, but of course the BNSF might not have gotten around to this exact car by then.

Let's check progress as of the ORER for October 2004: 376 in the two BN groups and 76 in BNSF (in a maddening number of subsets). While we're here, a quick dimensional data rundown: inside length 60 feet 8 inches, inside width 9 feet 3 inches, inside height 10 feet 3 inches, outside length 68 feet, extreme height 15 feet 5 inches, gross rail weight 253,000 pounds. The October 2007 Equipment Register which is the newest I have shows 94 cars in BNSF paint and 247 still stenciled for the BN. A June 2008 photo of sister car BNSF 559018 is available on, and the exact car 559041 is on as of September 2007. MTL did cheat a little by not printing all of the warning on the inside end of the prototype car, but they did include the now famous "man running from tipping car" illustration which certainly gets the point across-- that point being, load the car from both sides evenly, or else.

Micro-Trains has included a load with this car as has become their custom on an increasing number of releases, but this is the first time it's actually made out of the material that it's supposed to represent. The "wood truss load" is exactly that-- six laser cut pieces of honest to goodness wood, scaling about 57 feet long and 11 feet tall. As "delivered" from the factory, there are five rubberbanded trusses in front of the car and a sixth behind the car. This makes sense since five trusses is about all that will fit on one side of the beam. So... does it count as a "collector's item" if there are four rubberbanded together and two behind the car? How about if the rubber band is a different color than the standard issue? Hmm, I can do this all day... but I don't think this car will hang around long and it's my pick to click this month. You've been cautioned.

065 00 660, $20.60
Reporting Marks: AMOX 9758.
39 Foot Single Dome Tank Car, Standard Oil (of Indiana).

Black with white lettering including reporting marks on left. Red, white and blue Standard "torch" trademark on right.
Approximate Time Period: 1940's to 1960's, but see text.
NOTE: This item has been sold out and discontinued.

Please see the review of the Z Scale Release below. Yes, normally I'd refer Z Scalers back to the N Scale commentary, but this time there are two Z Scale road numbers and just one N Scale number, so Z Scalers "win"...

099 00 080, $19.15
Reporting Marks: USLX 20643.
Evans Covered Hopper, Louis Dreyfus Corporation.

Gray with mostly black lettering including reporting marks on left, LDC company logo left of center and company name on right.
Approximate Time Period: late 1978 / early 1979 to present.
NOTE: This item has been sold out and discontinued.

So, what does this month's car have to do with the television series "Seinfeld"? Read on...

The company featured on this month's covered hopper release can trace its roots back to 1851. According to the company's official website, "Léopold Louis-Dreyfus, the 18-year-old son of a farmer from Sierentz, Alsace, enter[ed] the grain business by purchasing wheat from local Alsatian farmers and taking it eight miles away to Basel, Switzerland, an important commercial center on the Rhine River between Germany and France." By 1864 this had become a Zurich-based international trading operation and by 1875 had moved to Paris (partially because the Alsace region of Germany had been ceded to France after the Franco-Prussian War). In 1905 the firm founded a bank to facilitate their operations. Four years later the first American office was established, in Duluth, Minnesota, and five years after that, in 1914, offices were established in New York. Founder Léopold Louis-Dreyfus passed away in 1915 and his sons Louis and Charles took over; when Louis died in 1940 three grandsons took over. From the 1960's to the end of the century the operation expanded into various commodities, real estate, energy trading and exploration and telecommunications. After 2000 there was a bit of refocusing with an exit from the shipping and telecommunications businesses. The company opened the world's largest soybean based biofuel plant in Anderson, Indiana. The current chairman and co-CEO of Louis Dreyfus Energy Services, and also great-grandson of Léopold, is Gerard Louis-Dreyfus, known as William in the United States. He and his first wife are the parents of Julia Louis-Dreyfus, who played Elaine on Seinfeld. And had the "Seinfeld Curse" (by which none of the cast has a successful television series after "Seinfeld") held for Louis-Dreyfus instead of her collecting her second Emmy and high ratings for "The New Adventures of Old Christine", we probably would not have to worry too much about her, as the Louis-Dreyfus family fortune is estimated to be in the two billion dollar range.

We turn once again to David Casdorph's Freight Cars Journal 41 and the review of the Evans 4780 covered hoppers by James Kincaid and E.A. Neubauer. (I think I may have misattributed the actual article to Casdorph in previous UMTRRs, count that as an "oops".) The series USLX 20525 to 20749 was built between October 1978 and January 1979 by the United States Equipment plant in Washington, Indiana.

The ORER for April 1981 shows, well, a mess. There are twelve sets of road numbers starting with 20525 and going to 20733, all of which have identical dimensional data including the capacity. Could that have meant different assignments or even different lessors? I guess we'll never know. We can quote the key dimensions, though: inside length 54 feet 1 inch, outside length 58 feet 9 inches, extreme height 15 feet 1 inch, capacity 4780 cubic feet or 200,000 pounds. Reaching for the calculator, the twelve series add up to 197 cars. That's quite a drop in only two years or so. In the next available ORER, April 1984, things go in the other direction with a big group numbered 20020 to 20989 of 607 cars, plus seven subseries ranging from a single car to 47 cars. I decided to give up on the Equipment Registers right there as they won't tell us anything about lessors anyway.

Fortunately, photos can help and there is a shot of the USLX 20643 on as of July 2006. It looks somewhat the worse for wear, and the reporting marks have been restenciled on a freshly painted panel of gray. The notation "Leased to Louis Dreyfus Corp" remains in place. A minor quibble: the MTL model shows the new date as October 1978 while the actual car has December 1978. Yeah, that's picky.

And one final question: if Julia Louis-Dreyfus, a key player in Seinfeld, is related to this company, does that mean that when this covered hopper isn't carrying any cargo, it would be "a car about nothing"? Ah, never mind...


049 00 270, $22.85
Reporting Marks: NWX 15435.
40 Foot Double Sheathed Wood Refrigerator Car, Vertical Brake Staff, North Western Refrigerator Line.

Yellow and green sides, green ends and roof. Black and yellow lettering including refrigerator line name and reporting marks on left. Small red and white "ball and bar" style herald on right "Northwestern Refrigerator Line". Black ladders and details.
Approximate Time Period: mid-1950s through late 1960's.
Previous Release (as catalog number 49270): a six-pack with road numbers 15004, 15026, 15130, 15269, 15378, 15488, July 1988, catalog 49272.
NOTE: This item has been sold out and discontinued.

Despite the large revenue stream from subscriptions to the UMTRR (it actually doubles every year; of course, two times zero is still zero), it's not financially feasible to keep up with all of the Morning Sun Color Guides that have been released. Even if I were not constantly looking for additions to the UMTRR Research Accumulation, a "must have" book in the MSCG series would have to be the "Refrigerator Car Color Guide" by Gene Green, a compendium of steel and wood sided cars of this type from roughly the forties through the sixties. Pages 78 to 83 of this book cover the North Western Refrigerator Line. The company was owned by the Chicago and North Western Railroad from its inception until its sale in 1955 to the North American Car Company. The company's Baraboo, Wisconsin shops were formally the winter headquarters of the Ringling Brothers Circus, until Ringling merged with Barnum and Bailey in 1918.

The North Western Refrigerator Line used a light gray as the color for the sides of its cars for decades, that in itself being fairly unusual versus the typical yellow or orange. Sometime in 1953 the first refrigerator car in the distinctive yellow and green emerged from the Baraboo Shops, and that scheme was used from that point forward. It's important to note, though, that the yellow and green and the gray schemes co-existed, so no worries mixing these on your 1950's or 1960's pike.

Wooden refrigerator cars, and for that matter, ice-cooled cars in general, declined significantly in the sixties, being replaced by mechanical refrigerator cars and insulated boxcars. But the April 1974 still had what to me was a surprising number of ice reefers in service in NWX reporting marks. However, the series we're most interested in, NWX 15000 to 15499, had a mere four cars remaining at the time. While we're here, let's check what was probably the final set of vital statistics: inside length 32 feet 9 inches, inside width 8 feet 4 inches, and inside height 7 feet, all of these small to account for the ice bunkers and insulation. The outside length was 40 feet, extreme outside width 10 feet 4 inches, and extreme height 14 feet 7 inches. The ice capacity was 8800 pounds of chunk ice, 9300 pounds of coarse ice, or 9700 pounds of crushed ice, or 235 cubic feet at a six foot depth. The lading capacity was 2052 cubic feet or 80,000 pounds.

The closest companion in the "Refrigerator Car Color Guide" to the 15435 is NWX 15120 photographed in 1955. The series 15000 to 15999 started as the group 7000 to 8019, 1020 cars built by American Car and Foundry in 1927 and renumbered to the 15000s before 1937. The photo of the 15120 shows reinforcing braces that span from one side sill to the other, passing below the fishbelly underframe. That would be an interesting detail to model. The 15120 has lines above and below the reporting marks, which the Micro-Trains model does not, but other NWX cars don't have the lines and I suspect Micro-Trains has a later repaint of this group of the cars from which they drew the paint. MTL's original run of cars didn't have the lines with the reporting marks either, but also didn't have the black ladders and details-- a slight "not a reprint" perhaps, but I see it as more of an improvement. David Carnell notes that the Morning Sun Color Guide to the C&NW, Volume 1, has a photo of NWX 15488 on Page 127. There's also a black and white photo of a yellow and green NWX 15145 on the Fallen Flags website.

078 00 030, $20.75
Reporting Marks: UP 161106.
50 Foot Automobile Box Car with Double and End Doors, Union Pacific.

Box Car Red with white and yellow lettering including road name and reporting marks on left. Slogans "Route of the Streamliners" and "Serves All The West" on opposite sides of the car.
Approximate Time Period: late 1930's through (probably) the 1940's.
Previous Release (as catalog number 78030): Road Number 161100, May 1997.
NOTE: This item has been sold out and discontinued.

The January 1940 ORER is our first stop for this reprint. The series 161000 to 161199 is described as "U.P., Automobile, Steel, Staggered Doors, Z-Bar". Why repeat the Union Pacific name? Because other series carried reporting marks for the Oregon Short Line (O.S.L.) or the Los Angeles and Salt Lake (L.A.& S. L.) or Oregon-Washington Railway and Navigation (o-W R. & N.) so it was necessary at the time to, well, Be Specific. (Sorry.) The inside length of these cars was 50 feet 6 inches, inside height 9 feet 4 inches, inside height 10 feet 6 inches, outside length 52 feet 2 inches, extreme height 15 feet 1 inch, side door opening 15 feet, end door opening in an arch from 9 feet at the top to 9 feet 4 inches at the widest point, and 9 feet 2 inches to 10 feet 1 inch at the highest point. Capacity was 4961 cubic feet or 100,000 pounds and there were 198 cars out of the possible 200 in the series. But there were only 87 cars listed in the January 1945 Register, which surprised me. I know from the May 1997 coverage of the first run that there were 26 cars in the January 1964 ORER and that the end doors remained in use. I did not note at the time that there is a "door thing" in that the MTL model has two 8 foot doors while the prototype has a door opening of 15 feet, probably an 8 + 7 combination.

However, certainly by the 1960's it's unlikely that these cars' original paint scheme, that is the one used by Micro-Trains, was still in place on the prototype cars; thus the ATP is going to be considerably shorter in my estimation than the life of these automobile cars. The Railroad Roman of the reporting marks and roadname was replaced by the much more familiar Gothic font in 1939. Lettering was changed from white to yellow in 1947. The "Serves All The West" slogan was replaced by the "Be Specific-Ship Union Pacific" slogan in 1949 and "Be Specific" supplanted "Road of the Streamliners" in 1953. Any one of these variants could have been used to redo the 161106 and the rest of the series.

A search for photos of this Union Pacific class A-50-15 turned up no images, but did result in this interesting fact from Richard Hendrickson on the Steam Era Freight Cars YahooGroup: some of these cars were rebuilt in 1942 with extended roofs and placed in service to "transport aircraft parts from Boeing's Kansas factories to their Seattle area assembly plants and were stenciled 'THIS CAR EXCESS HEIGHT ABOVE RAIL 16'11-1/2'. In the July 1943 ORER there were 23 cars numbered in the 261100-261199 series," Richard added. These cars had to be routed carefully as the 1940's rail clearances weren't what they are today.

105 00 020, $18.10
Road Number: 376620 (will be "PRR 376620" in website tables).
50 Foot Steel 14 Panel Gondola with Fixed Ends, Pennsylvania Railroad.

Oxide red with white lettering including roadname and number on left and small circle keystone herald on right.
Approximate Time Period: early 1950's through early 1960's.
Previous Release (as catalog number 105020): Road Number 376611, January 1998.
NOTE: This item has been sold out and discontinued.

Pennsylvania is nicknamed "The Keystone State," partially because of its geographic location among the original thirteen colonies, and partially because it was the host for pivotal Colonial events-- not the least of which was the writing of the Declaration of Independence. A keystone is considered to be a standard device in architecture, and has been since ancient times-- there are Biblical references to it. Therefore it fits nicely with the Pennsy's self declaration, "The Standard Railroad of the World." Even though most of its designs were not to be found on other railroads.

The interlaced "PRR" letters predate the circle keystone and were carried over to it when it was adopted in the early part of the century. Following the circle keystone, which was rather modest in size, was the much larger "shadow keystone." As red ink flowed in larger amounts in the 1960's, Pennsy brass decided that there was no need for shadows on keystones when there were much bigger shadows being cast on the survival of the railroad. And the switch was made to a plain white keystone, or, in some cases, no keystone at all.

Rob's Pennsy Page gives us just about everything specific we need for this reprint, The G31D class of gondolas was built for the PRR by American Car and Foundry in 1951 and 1952 and were originally delivered in the "circle keystone" scheme. An official PRR equipment diagram on Rob's site gives the inside length of 52 feet 6 inches, coupled length of 57 feet 2 inches, truck centers of 43 feet 8 inches and capacity of 140,000 pounds. ORER lookups already done by Rob and posted as well: 1200 in April 1952 and a minor drop to only 1183 in April 1968 prior to Penn Central. However, these cars were also modified along the way, for example, some received covers and others were equipped for specific cargo like automobile frames. A photo of sister car PRR 375892 taken at Altoona in May 1974 shows a paint scheme that is probably two past the "circle keystone": just reporting marks in rather bold print and a plain keystone, no roadname.

The Morning Sun Color Guides to Pennsylvania Freight and Passenger Equipment, Volumes 1 and 2 include photos of other G31 class cars in the "shadow keystone" paint that was adopted by the Pennsy circa 1954. I wondered whether I should reconsider my Approximate Time Period from the original 1998 release given the paint scheme documentation. The question is whether all of the G31Ds were repainted into a later PRR decoration. I somehow doubt this but I think it's probably wise to back up the end of the ATP from the late sixties to the early sixties. You can use your Modeler's License to bring the circle keystone forward to the Penn Central merger timeframe if you'd like, and I'm not sure that anyone could definitively prove you wrong. Eight of the G31D cars survived all the way into Conrail in PRR markings.

A bit of a curiosity is what happened to the prototype road number 376611 which was car chosen for Micro-Trains original release in 1998. The MSCG to the PRR, Volume 1, shows this car as of 1960 in the shadow keystone decoration including roadname, herald and road number, but with "WABASH" replacing the "PRR" reporting marks! That car and other PRR gondolas were leased to the Wabash. The 376611 was fitted with a rack for carrying auto frames. That certainly would be a "no one would believe it, but it's true" car for your early 1960's railroad, wouldn't it?

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

Nn3 SCALE (NARROW GAUGE): No releases this month.


507 00 401 and 507 00 402, $23.95 each
Reporting Marks: B&O 482680 and B&O 482755.
50 Foot Box Car, Plug Door, Baltimore and Ohio.

Dark blue with aluminum roof. Yellow lettering including "Cushion Underframe" legend and reporting marks on left. Small B&O "capital dome" herald on right.
Approximate Time Period: 1967 (build date) to early 1980s.
NOTE: This item (both numbers) has been sold out and discontinued.

Page 86 of the Morning Sun Color Guide to B&O Freight and Passenger Equipment has a photo of sister car 482760, and provides the bad news: the prototypes have short ladders and no roofwalk, unlike the MTL model. There are enough other differences, ranging from the ends to the size of the plug door, that this would have to be considered a "stand in" model. Ah, well, can't win 'em all. The caption of the MSCG mentions the 38 inch B&O capital dome herald and also that the Chesapeake and Ohio received similar cars in the same year of 1967.

The ORER for April 1970 has the series 482600 to 482799, listed as just "Box, Steel" but with the AAR Classification "XL" meaning Loader Equipped. An end note tells us that there are cushioning devices (as does the "Cushioned Underframe" on the car itself). The inside length of these cars was 50 feet 6 inches, inside height 10 feet 6 inches, outside length 57 feet 10 inches, extreme height 15 feet 1 inch, door opening 10 feet 6 inches, and capacity 4970 cubic feet or 140,000 pounds. There were 198 cars in the series at that time. Five years later in the April 1975 ORER there were 169 cars in the main series, 19 more with pallets (considered to be part of the car) and two more with differing AAR Classification "XP".

By April 1981 we're well into the Chessie System, so I can't guarantee what paint scheme these cars might have been in. An example of Chessie paint can be found on Fallen Flags in the form of a 1980 image of B&O 482720, for example. But the B&O's ORER listing is still independent and there are 160 cars in the main series plus 26 with pallets and those two "XP" cars. The two road numbers chosen by MTL are among those with pallets in this listing, however since they are inside the car no one will notice if you don't add them. The October 1986 ORER has thirteen different subsets in the road number series, mostly varying by capacity and totaling 161 cars, but again we don't know whether the capital dome was replaced by the outline cat. For the record, it looks like the theoretical maximum for the ATP is about 1991 where I saw just one car in a cut down series of road numbers, but my estimate is only to the early 1980's given that the Chessie System was a little faster at repainting than some other lines.

522 00 191 and 522 00 192, $25.40 each
Reporting Marks: CSXT 497105 and CSXT 497107.
50 Foot Steel Gondola, Fishbelly Sides, Drop Ends, CSX Transportation.

Blue with yellow center panels. Mostly yellow lettering including reporting marks on left and CSXT logo on right. Red and yellow "Ease Up!" markings on left and right sides. Blue "Coils Only" legend on center panels.
Approximate Time Period: decade of the 1990's.
NOTE: This item (both numbers) has been sold out and discontinued.

So what do you think the odds are of finding a prototype photo of a car that's in a series of just four copies? Pretty good, at least this one time. But what if it's inconclusive? Let me explain, a little at a time.

When the N Scale version of CSXT 497107 was released in July 2005, I noted that there were just four in the series, numbered 497103 to 497107 as listed in the October 1991 ORER, shoehorned in among larger groups of other gons. (They're not in the July 1989 Register which is where I looked first.) There are other gondolas, namely, 497099 to 497102 and 497108 to 497109, that have the same dimensions, though. It's not clear whether these cars came from a predecessor railroad since the numbering scheme didn't transfer directly from the Chessie or the Seaboard System or its antecedents, although the Seaboard System seems closer. Anyway. the cars had AAR Classification "GBS" and were described simply as "Gondola" with inside length of 52 feet 5 inches, inside height of 4 feet 6 inches, outside length of 59 feet 11 inches, and capacity of 2240 cubic feet or 170,000 pounds. These cars were in service through the decade of the 1990s but there was just one left in the January 2002 ORER and none in the October 2004 book.

Almost immediately after the image of the N Scale car was posted on the MTL website back in July 2005, the comments came in: it's wrong, it should be black. The Fallen Flags site seems to validate this assertion given that it has a photo of the CSXT 497107. That's the image of the one of four to which I refer, however to me that image seems to be underexposed. Complicating the situation is the Chessie System's gondolas, including ones with similar yellow center panels, that certainly look to be done in Enchantment Blue. The final word comes from a source I trust, the Modern Freight Car List, comes what I consider to be the final word via the following post from Joe Fehr: "The MT car is a dead on match for the CSX publicity shot that MTL used to make the paint. CSX blue fades a lot and looks black in time. The car as produced is accurate." MFCL is quite the group of folks that like to be precise, and I don't doubt that they are this time as well. Does that mean that the blue cars didn't "fade to black" with the effects of weathering? No, not at all. But MTL is, as always, capturing the "as freshly painted" version. And in this case, given the center yellow panels with blue lettering and particularly those "Ease Up!" warnings, that freshly painted version is a considerable contributor to the price.

Another point: It's likely that everyone's seen at least one covered coil gondola at one time or another. But an open gondola that carries coils? Again back in 2005, I referred to the CSXT website: [The uncovered] coil gondola fleet is perfect for the coiled product that does not require protection from the elements and offers even faster loading and unloading. The trough allows loading of 425 inches of coil width. [It] accommodates coils with outside diameters of up to 80 inches. Product protection is assured through the use of cross members that prevent longitudinal shifting and a composite wood-rubber flooring." CSXT noted that it operated a total of 940 of these cars at the time.

530 00 251 and 530 00 252, $21.80 each
Reporting Marks: AMOX 9756 and AMOX 9758.
39 Foot Single Dome Tank Car, Standard Oil (of Indiana).

Black with white lettering including reporting marks on left. Red, white and blue Standard "torch" trademark on right.
Approximate Time Period: 1940's to 1960's, but see text.
NOTE: This item (both numbers) has been sold out and discontinued.

The Micro-Trains car copy gives a thumbnail sketch of the Standard Oil trust, but in its brief discussion leaves out the Standard Oil that is most relevant-- Standard Oil of Indiana. That's the one with the "torch", you see.

John D. Rockfeller's Standard Oil Trust was well underway when in 1899 the Standard Oil Company of Indiana was formed to handle production only, centered around a refinery in Whiting, Indiana near Chicago which at the time accounted for 20 percent of the country's refining capacity. The history of the Trust is beyond the scope of this commentary-- well, actually it would need a good sized book! You might recall from my review of the Pan-Am Oils three dome tank car (UMTRR July 2008) that the Pan-American Oil Company and the Mexican Petroleum Company were eventually acquired by Standard of Indiana, starting with a $37.6 million investment in Pan-Am in 1925. An entry in the Encyclopedia of Chicago apparently equates this with Standard of Indiana's purchase of American Oil Company. American was actually owned 50-50 by Pan-Am and the Blaustein family of Baltimore. The Blausteins invented the "Amoco Gas" and the first measuring gasoline pump. In the 1930's Standard of Indiana turned over of its network of over 11,000 gas stations to independent operators.

The trademark combining the torch of the original American Oil Company with the red, white and blue logo of Standard Oil of Indiana came into common use in the 1940's. In the fifteen Midwest states where Standard of Indiana had the rights to the Standard Oil name-- this being part of the 1911 breakup of the "big" Standard Oil-- the trademark read "Standard" and in the other states it read "American." In 1961 both names began transitioning to "Amoco" and in 1985 the entire company became Amoco Corporation. Amoco was merged with British Petroleum in 1998 to form BPAmoco but the name of that company reverted to BP in 2001 as it was clear which of the firms was the "surviving company". As someone pointed out right after the merger, "How do you pronounce 'BP Amoco'? 'BP', the 'Amoco' is silent."

The American Oil Company had cars listed under the AMOX reporting marks in the 1930's, according to a database on the National Railway Historical Society's website. The July 1935 ORER makes reference to this, but only for cars with three digit numbers; otherwise you're referred to the Mexican Petroleum Company registration and reporting marks MPLX. And besides, that's too early for the trademark painted on the MTL car. The AMOX reporting marks return no later than 1959 with a listing for the American Oil Company that also brings in the MPLX reporting marks, and PASX to boot (Pan American?). But there are no cars numbered in the 9000s. I don't get everything in one place until January 1964, where the American Oil Company listing has AMOX 9500 to 9901 which are ARA III type tank cars of 10,000 gallons capacity. The total number of all cars under AMOX and PASX reporting marks is 1137, so it's unlikely in my estimation that the 9500 to 9901 series held anything near its theoretically possible 401 cars. Especially since the January 1959 listing had 1240 cars, meaning that the roster was going down, not up. And it kept going down: to 966 total cars in January 1967 and 815 in April 1970. It's not until the July 1974 ORER that the various series of AMOX cars are given quantities, and by then the group 9527 to 9744 has just 14 cars-- and the 9756 and 9758 aren't in that number series anyway. A check of the Steam Era Freight Cars YahooGroup finds a note from Richard Hendrickson authenticating as being from the late 1940's to the early 1960's a scheme in black and white with a large "AMOCO" across the center of the car, as done on an HO Scale Proto 2000 tank car in a different number series than what Micro-Trains chose.

So where does that leave us? With a prototype photo, perhaps? Well, sort of. The National Railroad Museum in Green Bay, Wisconsin has what appears to be the model for this car. It's AMOX 9758, a single dome tank car built in 1918 and stenciled as serviced in 1928 in Baltimore. There is an image of the car as of the year 2006 on The Standard Oil of Indiana torch emblem is on the car, cracked and faded to a rather forlorn looking black and white, kind of like, well, an old decal. Hmm.

I suspect that this is, if you will, a bit of a prototype "fantasy scheme" for the benefit of this museum piece in that the dates on the tank car don't align with the Approximate Time Period of the Standard Oil trademark. The lack of AMOX reporting marks in the Equipment Registers during most of the time that the torch trademark leads me to think that "rather vague" should be my official call on the ATP. I will stick with the 1940's to 1960's for the use of the torch trademark despite my not being comfortable with it. Unless you've got a Petroliana scholar among the operators of your layout, though, you're not likely to get called out for running a tank car that's basically anachronistic with itself.

981 01 171 and 981 01 172, $195.95 each
Road Numbers: 2529 and 2556 (will be "BNSF 2529" and "BNSF 2556" in website listings).
GP-35 Diesels, Burlington Northern Santa Fe ("Heritage I" scheme).

Green with orange bands and yellow stripes, green roof, black frame, green details. Large green "BNSF" inside orange band on hood. Road number in green on cab. Circle cross BNSF herald on nose.
Approximate Time Period: at least 2001 to the present.
NOTE: This release (both numbers) has been sold out and discontinued.

We turn once again to David Carnell for some research, start quote:

These locos are part of BNSF's extensive fleet of ATSF GP35s in the number series 2500-2649. BNSF 2529 was built in April 1964 as ATSF 1329, and was later renumbered to ATSF 3329. It was then rebuilt in Dec 1984 as a GP35u and renumbered ATSF 2829. In anticipation of the SPSF merger, it was renumbered to ATSF 3586. It was renumbered back to ATSF 2829 when the SPSF merger fell through. It became to BNSF 2529 on April 24, 1997 and received its Heritage 1 scheme sometime after that. There is a photo of BNSF 2529 in action on as part of the BNSF Photo Archive. Note that the loco has a air conditioning unit, and the headlight was relocated to the nose.

BNSF 2556 was built in November 1965 as ATSF 1456 and later renumbered to ATSF 3456. It was rebuilt in September 1984 as a GP35u and renumbered ATSF 2956. It was not renumbered for the SPSF merger. It became BNSF 2556 on May 9, 1998. Like the 2529, this loco has an A/C unit and the headlight was relocated to the nose.

End quote, and as always, thanks, David. Six photos of the 2556 in the Heritage scheme on date back to 2001 so we know that our ATP goes back at least that far. One of those shots was taken outside the Topeka Shops-- hey, I was there once! Meanwhile, holy circle cross, Batman, there are 18 images of the 2529 on that same website. The earliest one I can see of the unit in the Heritage scheme is from 2003. One of the photos shows the 2529 paired with two GP38's, one of which has the "swoosh" herald in place of the cooper black font of BNSF lettering. A sign of things to come, and perhaps another Micro-Trains release as well at some point.

Z SCALE REPRINTS: No releases this month.

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


860 00 040, $40.80
Reporting Marks: D&RGW 9182.
30 Foot Gondola, Denver and Rio Grande Western.

Brown with white lettering including reporting marks on left and road number on right. Simulated coal load included.
Approximate Time Period: 1920's to mid 1940's.
NOTE: This item has been sold out and discontinued.

Assuming that the prototype for this MTL depiction was built in 1887, it predates the railroad for which it is lettered by several decades. The Denver and Rio Grande (without the "Western") was probably the original line for which this car operated, and there's a series of "Coal" cars numbered 8800 to 9199, with 30 foot outside length, in the October 1919 entry for the D&RG. Yes, by then, the Denver and Rio Grande and the Rio Grande Western were officially one company. But this was mostly as a financial convenience for George Gould, son of Jay Gould, who used its cash flow to finance the building of the Western Pacific. The D&RGW we think of emerged in 1920 following a reorganization, but was in fiscal difficulty for the next two decades.

I do pick up the same series of "Coal" cars in the April 1928 ORER, this time under the D&RGW registration with the same road numbers 8800 to 9199. The inside length was 28 feet 2 inches, inside width 6 feet 10 inches, and inside height just 3 feet. The outside length was 30 feet, capacity just 526 cubic feet-- though that's "level full"-- or 40,000 pounds. There are just 14 cars in the series, versus the 248 in service only nine years previous. You'd think 1928 would be close to the end of the Approximate Time Period, although that would still be more than forty years after the cars were placed in service if built in 1887. But nine cars held on to the July 1935 Equipment Register and seven were shown in the January 1940 and the January 1945 ORERs as well. I would not expect a repaint of these cars from what MTL used on its model although we'd be past the circle herald and into the speed lettering by then.

These cars were rare enough that I didn't find anything online in terms of images; however there is no shortage of print coverage of the various gondolas that the Rio Grande had in service on its narrow gauge lines. A quick look in the online Model Train Magazine Index will point you in the right direction for more information.