UMTRR May, 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.


024 00 310, $15.10
Reporting Marks: CB&Q 34236.
40 Foot Steel Boxcar, Single Youngstown Door, No Roofwalk with Short Ladders, Chicago, Burlington and Quincy.

Cascade green ("Burlington Northern" green) with white lettering including "Burlington" roadname and reporting marks on left. Split table dimensional data on left. Simulated reflective panels along bottom sill.
Approximate Time Period: 1969 (service/repaint date) to early 1980's.
NOTE: This item has been sold out and discontinued.

I was kind of wondering when Micro-Trains would get around to this car. The use of the transition cascade green but with the Burlington roadname anticipated the merger of the CB&Q with the other "Hill Lines" into the Burlington Northern. It's quite a contrast to the bright red that graced earlier Burlington Route equipment. © 2009 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

An image of the exact car is on Ken Harstine's "Boxcars and Freight Cars of North America" site as of August 1972, and just to add interest, it's being used for grain service. The paper "grain door" visible in the door opening is the evidence. That door would be installed part way up the door opening, grain would be dumped in and the car door closed. At the destination, the main door would be opened, the grain door pulled down, and the grain would pour out. Well, most of it, anyway. Brooms and other basic devices would need to be used to get the rest of the grain out of the car. This was a very common practice during the time prior to the emergence of the grain hopper, but I believe it had become fairly unusual by 1972. Could be that this car was in service on a branch line with rail too light to handle those big covered hoppers. © 2009 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

Counting rivets? Well, we should, as the prototype car had riveted sides whereas the MTL model has welded sides. These probably came from of the numerous groups of the "Q"s XM-32 boxcars (each built group had a different subclass). Those cars weren't PS-1s; building of the XM-32s began in 1940 at the CB&Q's own Havelock shops. Moving along, the ends don't look too bad, the sills are not exactly the same, and I can't tell about the roof. The real 34236 did have a six foot door, hurray, no "door thing" here. As usual, the painting looks good. The end reporting marks are even in two lines on the model as on the prototype. The split table dimensional data just below the side reporting marks sort of took after the Canadian National, but didn't become common practice on the Burlington Northern. © 2009 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

The Official Railway Equipment Register (ORER) for April 1970 has the CB&Q 34236 in the Burlington Northern listing as part of the rather large series 29000 to 37799. That group had 4605 cars in the main series, plus ten with roof hatches and 33 more designated for that dreaded "tankage loading"-- yecch. (I'm surprised that those 33 had AAR Class "XP"-- did that stand for Xtra Putrid in this case?) Not to worry, the car MTL picked is not in either subseries. Let's run down the vital statistics: inside length 40 feet 6 inches, inside width 9 feet 2 inches, inside height 10 feet 6 inches, outside length 44 feet 3 inches, extreme height 15 feet 1 inch, door opening 6 feet, capacity 3898 cubic feet or 100,000 pounds. © 2009 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

Forty foot cars were falling out of favor in the seventies, and that shows in the April 1976 ORER where the main series has dropped off by almost seventy percent to 1451 cars, to which we add cars set aside for tankage loading (bleah), cars for hide loading (worse), battery loading, fishmeal loading and sodium formate loading. What? A salt of formic acid. "Sodium formate chemically reduces other components by donating an electron or electrons," says Er, thanks. © 2009 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

By April 1981, there are just 145 cars left in the slightly shortened main series 29010 to 37758, plus 10 for tankage, two for hides and one for batteries. I think that's enough of a Big Drop as Kieran used to say, to call the Approximate Time Period, but just for the record, the ORER for April 1984 shows a mere four cars left in the series. It's possible that some of these cars went over to the Burlington Northern proper. However, I noted in my review of Runner Pack #5, the four BN 40 foot boxcars, that they lasted until about the early 1980's as well. © 2009 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

058 00 080, $25.70
Road Number: 16272 (will be "CNOR 16272" in website listings).
36 Foot Wood Double Sheathed Ice Refrigerator Car, Truss Rod Underframe, Canadian Northern.

White sides, freight car red ends and roof. Black lettering including arched roadname and road number on left and legend "Refrigerator Dressed Meat Service" on right. Black door detail, black simulated auxiliary door on left, brown door sill.
Approximate Time Period: 1910 to early 1920's.
NOTE: This release has been sold out and discontinued.

"OPENS NEW ROUTE OVER THE ROCKIES"-- in all caps-- was the headline of an article in the New York Times of October 13, 1915. The first subhead was, "Canadian Northern Starts Its First Through Train for the Pacific Coast" followed by "Fulfills Builders' Dream" and "Is Dominion's Third Transcontinental System - Its Construction a Romance of Railroad History". Hmm, I'm probably past "fair use" right there. But this "Special to the New York Times" piece strikes me as not quite The News That's Fit To Print; it's awfully positive toward the line and its two builders, Sir William Mackenzie and Sir Donald Mann and strikes me as more of a press release than hard hitting reporting. © 2009 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

The two were as much "aggregators" as "builders," as the Canadian Northern was stitched together from some thirty different railroads, with new construction as well. It all started with the Lake Manitoba Railway and Canal Company, an affront to the monopoly of the Canadian Pacific and extended from there in both directions. This included a route (still in use!) from Toronto to Parry Sound, both in Ontario, a line off that one to Ottawa and then Montreal, and by 1910, a direct line from Toronto to Montreal. In the meantime, there was building along the less convenient shore of the Fraser River in British Columbia. © 2009 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

Had Mackenzie and Mann agreed to work with the federal government and the Grand Trunk when they were approached, there might have been only a second transcontinental route competing with the Canadian Pacific. Instead, there was the third line described in the Times article, competing with the CP and the Grand Trunk Pacific. And "extended" rapidly became "overextended", between the Fraser River and other construction and the building of the Mount Royal Tunnel to reach into downtown Montreal. Profits from the prairie branches couldn't support the rest of the empire, and the two builders asked for federal assistance. In exchange for what we would call a "bailout" today, the Canadian government took control of the Canadian Northern in 1918, operating it alongside the Canadian Government Railways. (The CGR also included the Grand Trunk Pacific, which also collapsed under its own weight, bringing down the parent Grand Trunk.) The Canadian Northern had lasted as a private enterprise only since 1899. It was officially dissolved into the Canadian National Railway in January 1923 although it had been part of that Crown Corporation since late 1918. Along for the ride was the Duluth, Winnipeg and Pacific Railroad. I didn't know that it was initially a subsidiary of the Canadian Northern, not the Canadian National. © 2009 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

Given the various railroads that had been put under the Canadian National umbrella by 1919, you might imagine that the ORER entry is a bit of a mess in October of that year, and you'd be right. Fortunately, the predecessor railroads are included as part of each description. In the case of refrigerator road numbers 16050 to 16574, there's not just the "C. Nor." listed, but the same line as "C.N.", the "C.N.O." or Canadian Northern Ontario, the "C.N.Q." or Canadian Northern Quebec, and the "Q.& L.St.J." or Quebec and Lake St. John Railway. I believe all these were part of the Canadian Northern empire. Anyway, these were the cars' dimensions: inside length 29 feet 6 inches, inside width 8 feet 3 3/4 inches, inside height 7 feet 8 1/4 inches, outside length 36 feet 10 1/2 inches, extreme height 13 feet 10 inches, door opening 5 feet wide by 6 feet 4 inches high, capacity 1884 cubic feet or 60,000 pounds. There were 229 cars in the group at the time. © 2009 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

There was another group of "C.N.O." cars with the same dimensions numbered 16576 to 16604. The entries just below show more 36 foot cars have 140 cars for the "C.Nor." numbered 16606 to 16884, and finally "C. Nat. Refrigerator" cars numbered 202636 to 202785 of 150 cars. I wonder if that last group was the eventual destination for the Canadian Northern cars. Probably so, for in the April 1928 ORER all freight refrigerator cars are numbered in the 200000's and lettered "Canadian National" and there are no "Canadian Northern" cars of this type left, though "C. Nor." cars of other types remain. This same ORER has an impressive map of the Canadian National Railways, taking up four entire pages of the volume and showing the system reaching from Prince Rupert, British Columbia in the west to Sydney, Nova Scotia in the east. © 2009 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

In addition to the usual painted details, Micro-Trains is trying something a little different on this car: a simulated auxiliary door near the bottom left of the side. While there is a bit of a lack of dimension from the paint only, the question is how thick the real one would have been. Perhaps it seems a bit "flat" from just paint, but I would not be surprised if it was closer to scale than we think at that depth. Without a picture against which to compare, I can't be sure, but hey, it's something they felt worth a try. © 2009 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

077 00 180, $16.85
Reporting Marks: CR 208875.
50 Foot Boxcar, Single Youngstown Door, No Roofwalk, Conrail.

Brown with white door. Mostly white lettering including reporting marks on left and roadname and "wheel on rail" (aka "can opener") herald on right. Black and white consolidated stencils and yellow on black "U-1" inspection stencil on far right.
Approximate Time Period: late 1970's to at least 1980, see text.
NOTE: This item has been sold out and discontinued.

Just a month after the official startup of Conrail on April 1, 1976, this car in its previous scheme as Erie Lackawanna 63553 was photographed. The image is posted on George Elwood's Fallen Flags site. The match of these cars to the MTL body style is mostly OK with the most notable difference being cut down side ladders on the prototype versus full height on the Micro-Trains depiction. A photo of the next car in the series, 63554, appears to be older, perhaps from not long after the car was built by Pullman-Standard in 1968. It appears that it was built without a roofwalk and with the half height ladders. It looks like not every one of the original EL series was repainted; witness a 1998 photo of EL 63475 at Altoona, in the scrap line, found in Robert Waller's Conrail Cyclopedia under "predecessor railroad boxcars". © 2009 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

I'm told that the car in Conrail paint as modeled by Micro-Trains is in the Morning Sun Color Guide to Conrail, a volume not in the UMTRR Research Accumulation. The real CR 208875 as pictured has a lowered brake wheel so that's another delta to the model. But the photo in the MSCG is an important validation of the car's existence. Why? © 2009 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

Well, next I checked the ORER for April 1981, and wait, where are these cars? The listing skips from road number 208831 (a plug door car) to 209000. Huh? However, there were still 113 cars in the EL series 63400 to 63599 out of the original 200 built. On to the April 1984 Equipment Register, and that's no better. These cars had to go somewhere, as there are just eight cars left with EL reporting marks. Nothing in the January 1985 book either. So, now what? Well, I know that these are not in the April 1976 ORER (nor is much else with CR reporting marks as that's the first appearance for the road). So I can offer several possibilities: First, there is a short ATP on these cars in between the two ORERs in my accumulation, at least as they were numbered. Second, Conrail blew it and never reported these cars to the ORER folks. Third, the ORER publishers blew it and never published the listing. We'll have to go with what MTL offers as the service date and also note the presence of the U-1 wheel inspection stencil and consolidated stencils to make a guess, which would be 1978 to 1980. I find it hard to believe that these cars would go away so quickly, considering that they were outfitted for clean lading service (which was called out via the white door). But on the other hand, I didn't find any online images of any cars in the CR series nor was a search on the BE50F class boxcar of any value. (Except for a possible translation: B for Boxcar, E for Erie Lackawanna as the predecessor, 50 for the inside length and F for Food Loading.) © 2009 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

109 00 091 and 109 00 092, $23.15 each
Reporting Marks: SP 500502 and SP 500516.
Heavyweight Depressed Center Flat Cars, Buckeye Trucks, Southern Pacific.

Brown with mostly white lettering including reporting marks on left of depressed portion of car. Simulated "marine boiler" loads included.
Approximate Time Period: 1959 to mid 1990's.
NOTE: This item (both numbers) has been sold out and discontinued.

David Carnell has two resources we need for this release. First, there are photos of sister cars 500503 and 500518, also in the SP Class F-125-3, on Page 73 of the Morning Sun Color Guide to Southern Pacific Freight and Passenger Equipment. The Micro-News text is a close match to the MSCG text.

Second, a detailed history of these cars can be found in Tony Thompson's "Southern Pacific Freight Cars Volume 3: Automobile Cars and Flat Cars", specifically Chapter 15, Heavy-Duty Flat Cars (Pages 355-375). There are a number of photos of these cars under construction and in service. That includes use carrying boiler loads closely matching what MTL includes with these cars! There are also photos of several sister cars, taken as late as 1994, on Lee Gautreaux's SP Freight Cars Website. © 2009 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

As noted by Micro-Trains, the cars were originally assigned to the SP's Texas and New Orleans subsidiary but 15 of the original 20 were redirected to the parent road. By that time, the SP's renumbering of cars was underway. Heavy duty cars went into the 500 thousands and these F-125-3 cars became 500502 to 500516. David adds that "the SP had a removable flat center deck that could be inserted into the depressed center, so the car could be converted into a strait deck car for carrying heavy loads. Besides boilers, these flats carried transformers, large pieces of structural steel, large Fairbanks-Morse marine engines, and parts for the Apollo moon mission rockets." © 2009 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

Thanks, David, and we'll pick it up with the ORER for January 1959. The group 500502 to 500516 is already there, though marked as an addition for that issue of the Equipment Register. The inside length was 62 feet 9 inches and outside length was 63 feet 4 inches, so the Micro-Trains model is a bit less long than it should be. The capacity of these cars was 250,000 pounds. We need to go to the next ORER I have, January 1964, to get the size of the depressed center platform; it was 26 feet by 9 feet which again is larger than the MTL model. Since there are photos as late as 1994 available, I went right to the ORER for October 1996 to find eight cars of the group remaining. But there's only one left in the July 1998 Register, which does hang on to at least the January 2000 issue and the Union Pacific listing (still with SP reporting marks). If you're modeling prior to mid 1970's, you might consider backdating the cars by painting over or otherwise removing the consolidated stencils. © 2009 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

Oh, and what is a "marine boiler"? According to, quoting the Sci-Tech Dictionary: "A steam boiler designed to meet requirements of ship operation in propulsion, running of auxiliary machinery, generation of electricity, and heating."

111 00 130, $42.60
Reporting Marks: ATSF 88099.
89 Foot Tri-Level Closed Autorack, Santa Fe (AT&SF).

Red with white top end panels and aluminum roof. White lettering on flat car including simulated reflective panels and stars at each end of the sides. Blue panels (second from left and second from right) with mostly white lettering. Circle cross herald and reporting marks on left panel. Roadname in Cooper Black font and verbiage "Always on the move toward a better way" on right panel.
Approximate Time Period: late 1970's to late 1990's at latest.
NOTE: This item has been sold out and discontinued.

The site has this exact car in a December 1979 image at Cajon, California. Photographer Ron Hawkins noted that the car is an Ft-81 conversion with an enclosed Paragon rack and trifold doors, and here's the important part, a unique paint scheme. Certainly I don't remember coming across the slogan, "Always on the move toward a better way." It doesn't exactly roll off the tongue. And let's get this out of the way also: it is a bi-level autorack, not a tri-level, as the two rows of pickup trucks visible inside the protective panels clearly illustrates. The underlying flat car is a bit different from the MTL model as well. The number of panels looks right; I could quibble about the edges of the sides on the model versus the prototype. © 2009 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

The April 1981 ORER shows this apparently unique car as its own subset under the main Santa Fe series 88091 to 89107. It's described as "Flat, Enclosed Bi-Level, Shock Control, Axle Spacing 5 feet 8 inches, Truck Centers 66 feet" and denoted as exceeding Plate F specifications. It had AAR Classification FA and AAR Type Code V392, unlike the others in the above group which were V592. Here, the "5" stood for fully enclosed bi-level racks and the "3" for just bi-level racks, the "V" stood for Vehicular Flat Car or more specifically "Flat cars, equipped with superstructures or integrated multi-level car." The dimensions: inside length 89 feet 4 inches, inside height 7 feet 3 inches (we assume that's "each" level), outside length 93 feet 11 inches, extreme height 18 feet 9 inches, capacity 90,000 pounds. © 2009 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

This all helps with the next data point which is actually going backwards: in the April 1976 ORER, there is the Santa Fe series 88091 to 88108 which are all AAR Type Code V592s, that is, unenclosed. It seems plausible that 88099 was plucked out of this short series, fitted with full enclosures, and then advertised as such with the unusual slogan. But it's a plausible explanation, to me anyway. David Carnell noted to me that the Santa Fe did a lot of experimentation with autoracks and concurred that this was a one-off. "The Bicentennial paint scheme will be a nice match for my Santa Fe Bicentennial SD45-2s," David added. © 2009 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

The ATSF 88099 almost made it to the turn of the century; it's in the April 1999 book under the Burlington Northern Santa Fe listing but it's not in the January 2000 Equipment Register. Whether it remained in the paint scheme depicted by Micro-Trains is another story, of course, which leads to my "at latest" caveat on the Approximate Time Period. The 1979 photo on shows the car already having the consolidated stencils. © 2009 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.


031 00 310, $17.15
Reporting Marks: NYC 92102.
50 Foot Steel Boxcar, Single Youngstown Door, New York Central.

Experimental paint scheme: light blue sides, black roof and ends. White lettering including "NY Central" script roadname and reporting marks on left and modified oval herald on right. "DF" legend on door.
Approximate Time Period: 1958, 1959 and perhaps a bit after that, see text.
Previous Release (as catalog number 31310): Road Number 92101, August 2000.
NOTE: This item has been sold out and discontinued.

I think that my original commentary might rate one of the longest running oopses in the history of the UMTRR. Clearly I think I've confused myself in my follow on research for this reprint.

Well, let's start with what we do have: a photo in the Morning Sun Color Guide to the NYC (Volume 1 though not marked as such), on page 85. At the Mott Haven Yard on September 23, 1958 are two cars painted in an unusual scheme that had not been seen before: blue sides, black roof and ends, and white lettering. The oval herald depicted on the car is a departure from the oval herald that had been used for years on NYC System (or NYC Lines) equipment. This version has the words "New York" in one line above a script "Central", and a series of straight lines in the bottom quarter of the oval. In my mind this was meant to suggest "The Water Level Route" that the Central's New York to Chicago main line was (and remember, "water level" doesn't mean flat!). While I believe that this was the only use of what I call the "transition" herald on NYC freight equipment, it did show up on some locomotives, and was also utilized in the company's listings in the Official Guide of the Railways for a time between 1954 and 1963. © 2009 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

The caption in the MSCG, however, doesn't match the photo. The text describes two cars, 92100 and 92101 which were built by Pullman-Standard in 1957 for the Chesapeake and Ohio as their road numbers 19687 and 19749. (This should make them good matches for the MTL body style, and with the possible exception of the door width, that's basically true.) However, the cars shown are 92102, a fifty foot car which MTL does this month, and 220539, a forty foot car that is also less tall than the fifty foot car next to it and appears to my relatively untrained eye to be a rebuild or refurbish of a car from an earlier NYC series of boxcars. (That car was available as a special run, from LBC Model Trains I think, on an Intermountain boxcar, at about the same time that MTL did its original run of the fifty foot car.) So what of the NYC 92101 that MTL did do as the first release... is it the incorrect road number, misled as I was by the text in the Color Guide? Perhaps there is some Incremental Information out there. I might just have to check with some of the NYC groups out there. © 2009 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

And guess what, the ORER for January 1959 complicates matters further. The stats on NYC 92102 were as follows: AAR Classification XME, Box, Steel, with 19-Rail DF loaders, inside length 51 feet 6 inches, inside width 9 feet 2 inches, inside height 10 feet 6 inches, outside length 51 feet 10 inches, extreme height 15 feet 1 inch, capacity 4851 cubic feet or 110,000 pounds, and door opening-- 15 feet? No way! The photo clearly shows only a single door, and I'd estimate it to be the 8 foot width that is on the MTL model of the car. Perhaps there was a small error in the compilation, or perhaps there was a change to the car between the September 1958 photo date and the January 1959 ORER date? I'll bet on the former. The 92102 was still around for the January 1964 and January 1967 ORERs in the NYC's registration, and in the April 1970 Equipment Register listing for the Penn Central, but it's gone by July 1974. Oh, and all the way through it's showing a 15 foot door opening. Interestingly, a diagram posted on the "Canada Southern" website of Lot 741-B, of which the 92102 is the only car, seems to show a double door sized opening as well. © 2009 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

This white on blue scheme would have been a real eye-catcher; the sharp "NY Central" fit right in with the move to more modern graphics that was part of the railroads' "age of color". But Century Green proved more popular with the road's brass, I guess, and the modern NYC scheme with which we're more familiar debuted two months after the photo that appears in the NYC Color Guide was taken. Although the car itself survived into the 1970's, I don't think the paint scheme did, and obviously that limits the Approximate Time Period significantly. I'm probably stretching things too far out just by saying "1958 and 1959". The indication from the MSCG that these cars were in captive service for floor manufacturer Flintkote further limits the plausibility of having this car on your model pike. But so what? I like it! Well, as a Central fan, I am somewhat biased about this. © 2009 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

110 00 020, $25.25
Reporting Marks: ADMX 29867.
56 Foot General Service Tank Car, ADM Transportation (Archer-Daniels-Midland).

Black with mostly white lettering including reporting marks on left. Blue and white ADM logo on right.
Approximate Time Period: late 1980's (1988 built date) to present.
Previous Release (as catalog 110020): Road Number 29866, October 2001.
NOTE: This item has been sold out and discontinued.

Here's something a bit unusual: a prototype series that has gone up in quantity between the first and second Micro-Trains releases. But we do have that this time. The ORER for October 2007 shows the group ADMX 29051 to 29900 with 798 tank cars. In the January 2001 ORER this series was just 96 cars. During the same time the overall ADM fleet more than doubled from about eight thousand cars to seventeen and a half thousand. No wonder I'm seeing plenty of these around. This group of tank cars is of AAR Type T108 and can handle 194,000 gallons of something. Perhaps that "high fructose corn syrup" we've been reading so much about here at UMTRR HQ... or maybe a different commodity like vegetable oil as MTL suggests in its car copy. © 2009 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

However, I would be more likely today to see this series with the newer ADM logo, which had already been adopted when MTL did its first release. Certainly there are cars with this paint scheme still around, but I'm not seeing as many as I used to. And don't forget the Tank Qualification Stencil or the conspicuity stripes either. As of August 2006, ADMX 29867 was in the 1990's logo, and had the stencil but not the stripes. I found that image on © 2009 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

Back in 2001, I noted a bit of the firm's history. The company began in 1902 when George Archer and John Daniels began a linseed crushing business. (It's part of the flax plant, and linseed oil is used, among other things, for paint thinner-- I had to look.) When Archer and Daniels bought out another plant, which no doubt had "Midland" somewhere in its title, that completed the company name. Today, ADM has interests all over the food and bio-chemical business, so those rather ubiquitous tankers could be carrying ethanol, corn syrup, vegetable oils, and a variety of other "value added products." It's certainly one of the largest corporations for which a Micro-Trains car has been decorated. The firm has facilities in 26 states and around the world, including affiliations with companies like United Grain Growers in Canada. In its most recently completed fiscal year ending June, 2008 it rang up revenues of almost $70 billion (US) but did note that high commodity prices drove a lot of its 59 percent revenue increase from the previous year. It employs 27,000 people on six continents in over 350 facilities, processing soybeans, corn, cocoa, wheat, peanuts, rice, canola, barley, sunflower seeds and cottonseed, all as part of its sprawling "agribusiness." © 2009 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

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

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


507 00 411 and 507 00 412, $22.20 each
Reporting Marks: CN 401806 and CN 401822.
50 Foot Box Car, Plug Door, Canadian National.

Boxcar red with mostly white lettering including roadname (English one side, French one side) and reporting marks on left. Small "wet noodle" herald and CN website address on right.
Approximate Time Period: about 2003 to present.
NOTE: This item (both numbers) has been sold out and discontinued.

Excuse me for a moment whilst I bang my head against a nearby wall... OK, I'm back.

There is a photo of sister car CN 401640 as caught in Sarnia, Ontario in November 2003 in fresh paint (or at least "untagged" paint) with the CN website and small herald and the side with the French roadname facing the camera. It's on the Canadian Freight Railcar Gallery. It's from the overall series CN 401483 to 401882, built in 1966 and 1967 by National Steel Car. This is the same series that includes CN 401527, which became the "newsprint" boxcar with the mastheads of Canadian newspapers on one side, modeled by MTL in N Scale in January 2008, Catalog 038 00 460.) The MTL paint, as usual, aligns well with the prototype. © 2009 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

But. Should. Not. Have. Roofwalk!

It's perhaps a little more understandable to have Micro-Trains do a car that once had a roofwalk while in a certain paint scheme, and then had the roofwalk pulled and the ladders cut down later. But putting a paint scheme that dates back only to about 2003 on a car with a roofwalk, well, that's a little less understandable. And thus my pause to bang my head against the wall. Yes, I am aware that Micro-Trains doesn't make a 50 foot boxcar of this type without a roofwalk.

The October 2004 ORER shows 202 cars in the series 401483 to 401882, described as "Box, Steel, 20 inch travel cushion underframe with sliding sills, Plug Doors, 25K" with AAR Classification "XP" and these dimensions: inside length 50 feet 6 inches, inside width 9 feet 2 inches, inside height 11 feet, outside length 57 feet 10 inches, extreme height 15 feet 5 inches, door opening 9 feet wide, and capacity 5092 feet. The October 2007 ORER shows 49 cars still in service, but that "to present" wouldn't last much longer as the cars were about to hit the 40 year rule. They could of course still operate on the CN itself without being interchanged, which provides a lot of trackage on which to roam. These were and are newsprint cars, and while the ORER doesn't tell us anything about how they were painted, I can tell you from perusing online photos until I found one with the "website" scheme that there are plenty still painted as they were when built, with the large roadname, split table dimensional data, and large "wet noodle" herald. © 2009 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

Speaking of which, that runtogether CN logo will be 50 years old next year as it was designed in 1960. The logo's designer, a young Canadian named Allan Fleming, was just 30 years old when he designed the trademark. He predicted it would last "for 50 years at least. It don't think it will need any revision, simply because it is designed with the future in mind. Its very simplicity guarantees its durability." Fleming went on to create other award winning designs, but is best known for the CN logo. He passed away in 1977, but his most famous work should easily pass the 50 year milestone. © 2009 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

522 00 201 and 522 00 202, $22.60
Reporting Marks: NS 191337 and NS 191339.
50 Foot Gondolas, Fishbelly Sides, Drop Ends, Norfolk Southern.

Black with mostly white lettering including reporting marks on left and "NS" speed lettering initials (not full roadname) in center. Simulated scrap loads included.
Approximate Time Period: mid 1990's to present.
NOTE: This item (both numbers) has been sold out and discontinued.

We get a bingo via with images of both numbers modeled by MTL. The 191339 was found in Gary, Indiana as of June 2006 and the 191337 was caught not far from there in Hammond in November 2007. The 191337 has conspicuity stripes added and the words "Coil Steel Loading Only" in very small lettering (even on the 1:1 size car!), whereas the 191339 looks just about the way that MTL painted its model. I don't see NS gondolas around here very much, and certainly not with the NS herald smack dab in the center of the car like these have it. (Most freight cars of any kind I see these days are heavily "tagged," if you know what I mean.) But interestingly, on our way back from Washington last month I did see an NS gondola from a different series painted in a similar manner in the yard west of Corning, New York. © 2009 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

Micro-Trains says that the prototypes were built in 1996. If true-- and we'll get back to that-- I would have expected a car of that vintage to be way off the MTL body style. But the deltas aren't as bad as I thought they would be. Well, there is the matter of the fixed ends on the prototype vs. the drop ends on the model, yes. And the use of drop ends on the model also moves the brake wheel to the side, whereas a shot of sister car 191268 also on clearly shows the brake wheel on the end. © 2009 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

The dimensions given in the ORER for July 1998 for NS series 191200 to 191499 are as follows: inside length 52 feet 7 inches, inside width 9 feet 6 inches, inside height 3 feet 11 inches, outside length 58 feet 7 inches, extreme height 8 feet, capacity 1980 cubic feet. Of the 300 car series, 180 are described as "Gondola, End of Car Cushioning" and have a weight capacity of 176,000 pounds. This group includes both modeled numbers. The other 120 cars are called just "Gondola" and can carry a bit more at 184,000 pounds. Both groups have AAR Classification "GBS" which translates to "Open top car, having fixed sides, fixed or drop ends and solid bottom" but "specially built, modified or equipped for handling particular commodities." The first series, the one with the end of car cushioning, has a type code "E631" the last digit denoting coil steel or aluminum as the commodity carried. In the October 2007 Equipment Register, there are 181 cars with the end of car cushioning and 57 without for a total of 238 from the original 300 cars. © 2009 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

Not willing to leave good enough alone, I went poking through images of other cars in the group on RailcarPhotos and came across NS 191461, which while shot in August 2008 clearly had Norfolk and Western reporting marks coming through the paint! It had the NW "runtogther" logo plus what looks like the road number 98204. Certainly not from 1996! The class G-12E was also visible on this broadside of the car. So back I wandered to the Norfolk and Western entry in the October 1986 ORER, where I found the series 98000 to 98499, with the same dimensions as the NS series above, plus a group with end of car cushioning and a group (broken into several subsets) without. Based on photos posted online, some cars got NS paint like what MTL did except with NW reporting marks. At least one survived with those reporting marks all the way to September 2008 from the 98000 series, that would be the NW 98367. So find (or make) some decals and go to it! © 2009 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

Meanwhile, I can't be lazy and simply repeat the MTL given build date, which isn't right, as the start of the ATP. I'll have to validate, and I did do the best I could with what I had, in this case the August 1992 ORER which does not have the NS series and the October 1996 ORER which does. So perhaps what we have is a rebuild date, or at least a repaint date, of 1996 as opposed to a build date. We'll hedge here and say "mid-1990s" in case the group appeared between '92 and '96. © 2009 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

550 00 040, $30.20, Smoothside 6-6-4 Sleeper Car, Alaska Railroad.
551 00 040, $30.20, Smoothside Dome/Chair Car, Alaska Railroad.
552 00 040, $30.20, Smoothside 44 Seat Coach, Alaska Railroad.
553 00 040, $30.20, Smoothside 71 Foot Baggage Car, Alaska Railroad.

Each car has yellow sides with blue bands and black underframe and trucks. Yellow roadname in center. Decals for all possible car names and road numbers will be included with each car.
Approximate Time Period: early 1970's through late 1980's.
NOTE: All releases in this group have been sold out and discontinued.

Ah, Alaska, the forty-ninth state, the Last Frontier, America's Icebox, Seward's Folly, et cetera. And a great place to ride a train. As mentioned below, our family's brief foray to Alaska included a ride on the ARR down from Anchorage to Seward; a ride that most definitely did not include any of these cars. No, as the service was really for tourists who wanted a day trip on the line, the consist was what I understand are called "ultradomes". We spent most if not all of the trip in the upper level of one of these in order to maximize the scenic vistas. The harder work is done on the trains that are northbound from Anchorage, like the one up to Fairbanks 470 miles away. © 2009 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

As has become the usual with these passenger car announcements, the lack of inclusion of a specific car number or name is both a blessing to the modeler and a curse to this reviewer. Without a specific car against which to compare, I have to, well, guess. Helping with this guess is the Unofficial Alaska Railroad Page by John Combs, which includes listings and some photos of the ARR passenger roster. © 2009 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

For example, now retired coach number 5403 came from the Union Pacific and looks good versus the MTL model. There were also coach numbers 5404, 5408, 5413, 5415, 5416, 5420, 5424, 5428, 5437, 5441 and 5443, all of which were built by Pullman-Standard in 1950 for the UP's Overland Service-- and carried numbers 5400 to 5499. The MTL model is of the 1950 P-S product so I'd say we have a winner here. Some of these cars were rebuilt by General Electric in Hornell, NY (a lot closer to UMTRR HQ than Alaska!) and are still in service according to the Unofficial Website; give those road numbers 200 to 204. © 2009 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

Dome car 500, also formerly from the Union Pacific and rebuilt, was built a bit later than the version that MTL used but doesn't look like a horrible stand-in based on the window arrangement. Dome car 502 looks closer to my untrained eye. There is a baggage mail express rebuilt from a government car in the late 1940's; the doors are near the center as on the MTL model but it's a full length car. I didn't see any obvious matches for the sleepers. I do note that also on the Unofficial Website, Jason Kuehn writes that "the UP cars retained the same yellow that the UP used and all the ARR applied was a blue stripe over the gray and red top and bottom bands on the UP cars for a quicky paint job. The gray roof was also retained." Well, that helps with paint touchups-- both real and model! These did go over to more appropriate Alaska yellow and blue in time. Kuehn notes that the ex-UP cars gradually gave way to newer cars from both the Alaska's own roster and those from cruise lines and other private operators. Among these newer arrivals were, believe it or not, several double deck cars from Southern Pacific commuter service in the Bay Area-- how's that for a change? © 2009 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

980 12 060, $45.95
Reporting Marks: None (will be "WP None" in website listings).
F7-B Unpowered Unit, Western Pacific.

Silver with black roof and orange band. Square "Feather River Route" herald in center.
Approximate Time Period: 1950's to 1970's.

While I guess it's OK, especially in 1:220, to allow for maximum flexibility with B-units by not having them painted with road numbers, I checked and the Western Pacific did in fact number their F7B's. The WP All Time Roster also at "The Diesel Shop" website shows road numbers ranging from 913B to 924 B, and from 913C to 924C. This fits with the A units 913A to 924A and 913D to 924D to enable twelve matched ABBA sets. Did they stay that way? I don't think that would have been in the realm of possibilities. Anyway, the B's were built in January 1950 and June 1951. Most were traded into GE for newer power, a few went to EMD, and one was scrapped. Fortunately, a few of the F7As were saved and donated, for example the 921D went to the Feather River Rail Society. © 2009 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

While the "Zephyr" paint scheme developed by EMD for use by the Western Pacific on its jointly operated "California Zephyr" train lasted from delivery date to the 1970's, there were variations on the theme. The use of the Feather River herald was eventually supplanted by the painting of the WP roadname, first in smaller block style and then in larger serif style.

980 12 150, $45.95
Reporting Marks: None (will be "ACL None" in website listings).
F7-B Unpowered Unit, Atlantic Coast Line.

Black with yellow stripes. White roadname across side.
Approximate Time Period: late 1950's to early 1970's.

As with the Western Pacific B unit just above, the Atlantic Coast Line did in fact number their F7B's even though Micro-Trains didn't number theirs. The ACL All Time Roster also at "The Diesel Shop" website gives road numbers ranging from 392B to 403B. They were delivered to the Atlantic Coast Line in 1950 and 1951 in the preceding purple and silver scheme and were repainted into the black and yellow that MTL depicts in the late fifties. All but two wrecked units survived into the Seaboard Coast Line merger but were retired by the end of 1971. This from the website of the Jacksonville Terminal Railroad Museum, which has a display of HO Scale locomotives representing what might have been seen at the real Jacksonville Terminal. © 2009 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

Photos featuring A units appear on the Fallen Flags website, but show enough of the accompanying B units to discern that the road number was painted in the lower yellow stripe, more or less underneath the words "Atlantic" and "Coast" at about the center of the carbody.

981 01 181 and 981 01 182, $195.95 each
Road Numbers: 401 and 402 (will be "MRL 401" and "MRL 402" in website listings).
GP-35 Diesels, Montana Rail Link.

Blue with black roof, top of sides and frame. White and red roadname on cab. Small white road number on cab. Larger white road number on front of long hood. "Lion's Head W" herald on back of long hood. Zebra striped nose.
Approximate Time Period: mid-1990's to present.
NOTE: This release (both numbers) has been sold out and discontinued.

The matched pair of Montana Rail Link GP35's 401 and 402 appear in a 1993 photo taken in Missoula, Montana, and posted on They don't yet have the "lion's head" herald. We can see that these units don't have dynamic brakes, do have the bell mounted about a third of the way back on the long hood and air horns atop the cab, and also have a rotary beacon mounted on the cab roof. All of these are deltas to the MTL model, the worst of which is of course the lack of dynamic brakes. There are 32 images of the 401 and 49 of the 402, most of which were taken in 2006 and 2007 on what appear to be one or more "train chasings" of MRL local freights. © 2009 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

According to the Montana Rail Link Diesel Roster site available on, the Montana Rail Link has six GP35's on its roster numbered 401 to 406. The 401 and 402 were built in January 1964 for the Detroit, Toledo and Ironton as their 353 and 355, then became Grand Trunk 6353 and 6355. The MRL took them with the GT's numbers and then repainted them into their present road numbers. (The four other MRL GP35's came from the Rio Grande and Southern Pacific via On-Track Railway Services (OTRX).) The "MRL Before and After" site has, well, shots of the 401 and 402 before and after they were acquired by the Montana Rail Link. © 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.


New Release:
855 00 050, $35.30
Road Number: 7455 (will be "RGS 7455" in website listings).
30 Foot Flat Car, Rio Grande Southern.

Brown with white lettering including road number only on right. Note that reporting marks do not appear on this car. Simulated rectangular oil tank load included.
Approximate Time Period: 1890's to 1950's (a guess).
NOTE: This item has been sold out and discontinued.

Both the October 1919 and April 1928 ORERs have the same information: "Freight cars owned are not employed in Commercial Service excepting one flat car." And you know that flat car isn't the 7455 (for the record, it's road number 593). While this explains why the modeled car doesn't carry reporting marks, only a road number, it's not much help! © 2009 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

The start of the Approximate Time Period for the Rio Grande Southern, though, can be thought of as being its date of incorporation, November 5, 1899, or perhaps November 23, 1890, the date of the opening of the first 45 miles from Ridgway to Telluride, both in Colorado. And the end came with the granting of the petition for abandonment on April 15, 1952, with dismantling and tearout of track done in August and September of that year. During the intervening time, the RGS never bought a new locomotive, developed the "Galloping Goose", served as the west end of the "Narrow Gauge Circle", and hauled a lot of coal, various ores, lumber and even sheep. © 2009 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

I did find a photo of RGS 7470, with the reporting marks, as of 1953 or after the line was abandoned, on the Denver Public Library's site. A reference to that photo is on Steven Haworth's online listing of photos of RGS equipment, part of his overall site. That car looks like a pretty decent match to the prototype. For one thing, it does not have truss rods, which the MTL model doesn't have either. © 2009 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.