UMTRR June, 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.


066 00 050, $22.45
Reporting Marks: UTLX 1328.
3 Dome Tank Car, Union Tank Car Company.

White and black tank, black underframe and details. Black lettering including company name and reporting marks on left. Black lettering on each dome.
Approximate Time Period: 1937 (build date) through 1950's or to present, see text.
NOTE: This release has been sold out and discontinued.

Last year, when we were "stranded" in Detroit on our way back home from the annual family visit to California, we made the most of our day long wait for a rescheduled flight and took in some of the Henry Ford Museum. Had we spent more time there or made different choices, we perhaps would have come across the prototype for this month's three dome tank car entry. No worries, though, it's on as found by Eric Larson in the Greenfield Village section of the Henry Ford. An additional pair of photos was furnished to Micro-Trains by someone who thought it would make a good entry on their 066 body style. The match is, well, OK, although there are differences. The most notable of these to me are pipe appendages to each of the domes-- I'm sure that there is a technical term for this, but I don't know what it is. © 2009 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

Checking out tank cars in the Official Railway Equipment Register (ORER) is typically an adventure in lack of data, and this round of lookups doesn't seem to be an exception. We do have an unquantified series UTLX 26 to 2299 in the January 1940 ORER, of which some cars are 80,000 pounds capacity, some exceptions are 60,000 pounds capacity and others are 100,000 pounds capacity. How's that for definitive. By way of it not being in the exceptions, we know that the 1328 was listed as 80,000 pounds capacity. That's backed up by the photo of the real UTLX 1328. It's not really any better in the January 1945 ORER, though the groups of cars are now quantified, the groups have widened, for example UTLX 26 to 12749 of 6313 cars of 80,000 pounds capacity and AAR Classification TM, plus 136 exceptions of 100,000 pounds, three more with 60,000 pounds, and two more with AAR Classification TL. Again, it appears that the 1328 is in the main series. In July 1950 the main series is off a little to 6208 cars; in January 1955 it's down to 5975 and in January 1959 it stands at 5278, though the exceptions with 100,000 pounds capacity has risen to 612 cars. This isn't really getting us anywhere, the series are just too broad to discern out the Approximate Time Period of a single car. However, I should add that posts on the Steam Era Freight Cars cite the Railway Prototype Cyclopedia as stating that low numbered UTLX cars included three compartment cars (the more correct name for "three dome" cars). This is probably a reference to RPC Volume 10 which was published in 2004 and contains 30 pages of coverage of the American Car and Foundry Type 27 uninsulated multiple compartment ICC-103 tank cars. © 2009 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

Technically, though, I suppose we could call the ATP at "the present" since as far as we know, the car is still at the Henry Ford. Unless you're actually modeling the Henry Ford, though, you'd be more interested in the cars timespan in active service, and in that white paint scheme as well. A principal use of three compartment cars was the delivery of different commodities to bulk fuel oil dealers. That traffic was rapidly moving to trucks by the end of the fifties which greatly reduced the need for these cars, and bulk fuel dealers were already going away by then as well. So if pushed, I would guess an active service time of roughly the period for which I checked ORERs, that is, the build year of 1937 through the 1950's. © 2009 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

But all bets are off on the paint job. Certainly it could have been white when built or in service, but the vast majority of tank cars were never anything but black. (And some of those less exotic paint schemes would still be appreciated, hint, hint...) The use of both the company name "Union Tank Car Co" and reporting marks was apparently in place at the build date per the RPI website. The early 1960's saw a change from yellow lettering to white for a few years, but that's not relevant for a car that's already white! © 2009 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

083 00 071 and 083 00 072, $18.20 each
Reporting Marks: IC 85725 and IC 85727.
40 Foot Drop Bottom Gondola, Illinois Central.

Freight car red with white lettering including roadname and reporting marks on left and "Main Line of Mid-America" slogan on right.
Approximate Time Period: 1952 to late 1950's.
NOTE: This release (both numbers) has been sold out and discontinued.

We go right to the appropriate Morning Sun Color Guide page, thoughtfully supplied by a member of the UMTRR Spy Network, to find the IC 85725 as caught by Emery Gulash sometime in the 1950's. We're certainly in the ballpark in terms of model fidelity to the prototype, including the coal load. Do keep in mind that the cars were built by the IC and as such there probably are some subtle differences. © 2009 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

The car was built in 1952 and so it's off to the ORER for July 1953. The series 85000 to 85999 was described as "Gondola, Steel, Drop Bottom" with AAR Classification GS and these dimensions: inside length 41 feet, inside height 5 feet, outside length 42 feet 8 inches, extreme height 9 feet 5 inches, capacity 1947 cubic feet or 100,000 pounds. The "Main Line of Mid-America" had quite a few drop bottom gondolas in this listing. The thousand cars in the group 85000 to 85999 were among 5120 total cars of this type, which was more than nine percent of the railroad's fleet of 54,420 cars. © 2009 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

All one thousand cars were still present in the January 1955 ORER, but in the January 1959 Equipment Register the entire series is gone. What? What we have instead, with the same dimensions, is the group 98000 to 98999, of 998 cars-- but they're not shown as drop bottom cars anymore. Instead, the AAR Classification is GB and the description is "Gondola, Steel, Fixed Ends, Steel Floor. Returning to the Morning Sun Color Guide, the caption for IC 96891 notes that "by 1969, the Illinois Central had permanently closed off most, if not all, of the drop bottom doors on their classic 41 foot gondolas." It looks like the series from which MTL drew its depiction was near the front of the list for that conversion. Apparently the hardware was removed as part of the work, meaning that this car wouldn't even look like a drop bottom gondola any more. And so much for a lengthy Approximate Time Period. © 2009 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

102 00 090, $24.60
Reporting Marks: PC 221005.
60 Foot Excess Height Boxcar, Double Plug Doors, Riveted Sides, Penn Central.

Jade green with mostly white lettering including roadname and reporting marks on left and large herald on right. White "excess height" bands with black lettering on ends.
Approximate Time Period: 1973 (build date given by MTL) to 1992.
NOTE: This release has been sold out and discontinued.

From its inception, the Penn Central was in financial trouble. The reasons for this would fill a book; and in fact, it has, "The Wreck of the Penn Central" by Joseph R. Daughen and Peter Binzen. I read that book many years ago and just shook my head. Just within the last year, though, a film commissioned by the PC in 1974 and describing just how bad things were was discussed over at I could not call it your typical "promotional" film, unless one considers the message being sent to Congress that the railroad was sinking and needed help fast is within the definition of "promotional." A predecessor of the massive bailout that is the Troubled Assets Relief Plan? Certainly Conrail could be considered something like that. Anyway, the film is well worth searching out and viewing. I don't like anything made in my lifetime being called "vintage" but I think the term might just apply. © 2009 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

Anyway, a year before "Penn Central-The Movie" a small group of boxcars was constructed for the Penn Central by Greenville Steel Car. The April 1974 ORER shows the series 220998 to 221018, of 21 cars (the MTL car copy says 20) with AAR Designation "XP" and description "Box, Steel, X78". That "X78" part was a continuation of the Pennsylvania Railroad's classification system. The vital statistics: inside length 60 feet 9 inches, inside width 9 feet 2 inches, inside height 12 feet 9 inches, outside length 65 feet 3 inches, extreme height 17 feet, door opening 16 feet, capacity 7100 cubic feet or 169,000 pounds. These were tall cars, and though there may be some minor deltas I think the MTL model looks like a good match to the prototype. © 2009 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

George Elwood's "Fallen Flags" site has a 1991 photo of this exact car taken by Dennis Storek. Eighteen years after its construction, well, it doesn't look so great. There are rust streaks across the car, one set right at the top of the roadname and herald. Some of this may be due to the double doors scraping against the sides, but the rust goes beyond the limits of the door guides. The paint has faded quite a bit and the doors are pretty dirty. Although it's nothing like we see today there is a non-trivial amount of graffiti in strategic areas, such as over the dimensional data. There's an undated photo of sister car 221012 also on Fallen Flags which looks a fair bit better. © 2009 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

As long as we're in 1991, let's check the ORER from October and the Conrail registration, which shows twelve of the original 21 cars with PC reporting marks in three sets varying by weight capacity. However, this same list shows twenty cars with Conrail "CR" reporting marks in the same number series! Hey, that adds up to 32 cars in a number series that only fits 21 cars. What's up with that? For the record, the 221005 is shown in the "CR" groups. That's at least theoretically possible even with the photo of the car in PC paint which is from April 1991 vs. the October 1991 date of the Equipment Register. And of course Conrail's idea of restenciling was often: 1) Paint out "PC" 2) Stencil "CR", sometimes without painting out the old roadname and herald, so that change could have been done in, oh, as long as it took for a patch of paint to dry. © 2009 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

That led me to see if I could find a dated photo of the 221005 in Conrail lettering. I didn't get an exact hit on that, but I did locate other cars in the series in with the "can opener"-- oops, "wheel on rail" herald. For example, there and was CR 221003 in two views from January and November 2008 on Fallen Flags taken by George Elwood himself. The car is looks pretty sad and rusty indeed, and a bit of jade green shows through the Conrail brown at the roofline. The site has two images of the 221010 with "Penn Central" ghosting through the brown paint (!) in one well lit shot from 2007, and also a picture of the 221016. © 2009 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

Which still leaves with what to do about the Approximate Time Period. I guess I'll have to settle for learning when the PC lettered cars in the series went away completely from the Conrail listing. That turns out to be not as bad as I thought: they're gone from the July 1992 ORER, while the Conrail series, including all subsets by weight capacity, has all twenty cars from the former Penn Central series. © 2009 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

130 00 010, $32.85
Reporting Marks: SP 4759.
Bay Window Caboose, Windowless Sides, with Battery Box, Southern Pacific.

Mineral red sides, orange ends, mineral red trucks, end railings and details, white side grab irons. Mostly white lettering including reporting marks on left and roadname on right.
Approximate Time Period: 1980 (build date) to the late 1990's at least.
NOTE: This item has been sold out and discontinued.

I think it's fair to say that this is among the most eagerly anticipated body styles in recent N Scale history. This was certainly among the most requested pieces of equipment in a long thread on an internet discussion board. And it's also going to be one of the most carefully examined offerings. A competitor's announcement that version of the exact same car will do that to the market. In this case, with this particular release, I don't think MTL has anything to worry about, except maybe keeping it on the shelves. The first run sold out on the day of release-- sorry, I'm not that fast!!-- and MTL is already taking pre-orders for a reprint number, 4745. © 2009 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

A 1998 image of the real SP 4759 can be found on Richard Percy's "Espee Modelers' Home Page" along with photos of many others in the C-50-9 series numbered 4700 to 4774. From the swing motion trucks to the roof detail, there is a very high level of fidelity between model and prototype. Well, I suppose there had better be, given that this series of SP cabeese is the basis for the MTL body style. However, even I was surprised by the inclusion of the truck mounted generator on the truck frame. (Look in the MTL photo to the right of the battery box.) The paint job is excellent, down to the small zebra stripes on the bay window. I am usually not shy when there are shortcomings on an issuance from MTL, so I don't think it's fair to be shy when they get it right. And this one has been hit out of the park. © 2009 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

Our friend and big Southern Pacific fan David Carnell notes that freight car scholar Tony Thompson has an entire chapter of the book "Southern Pacific Freight Cars Volume 2: Cabooses" devoted to the SP C-50 series. The C-50-9s were built in 1980 by PACCAR and were the last set of bay window cabooses constructed for the line. They are distinctive by their complete lack of side windows. Sure, there were plenty of cabeese that had windows plated over later, but this is a group of cars that was delivered without any side windows (other than in the bay that is). "Color photos of this series are found in Thompsonís book," David adds, "and in the Morning Sun Color Guide to SP Freight and Passenger Equipment, Pages 85 & 86. All cabooses were delivered in the standard paint scheme of mineral or boxcar red sides and roofs with daylight orange car ends and bay ends." © 2009 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

My only open question with regard to this car is where to end the Approximate Time Period. We've got the prototype photo of the 4759 from 1998 so we know that they lasted at least to then. How much farther? Well, the End of Train Device (also known as the "FRED" for Flashing Rear End Device) was already in use by then, wiping out the traditional last car of the train for all except local or switching uses. But sister caboose SP 4738 was found in Albany, Oregon in 2008 and that image is on (We also get a good view of the battery box side of this car.) So do I put the ATP to The Present? I think I'll deploy an "at least" here. © 2009 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

130 00 020, $26.65
Road Number: 18438 (will be "CR 18438" in UMTRR Website Listings).
Bay Window Caboose, Windowless Sides, without Battery Box, Conrail.

Blue sides, ends, and end railings; black roof, trucks and details, white side grab irons. Mostly white lettering including "wheel on rail" herald on left and roadname and road number on right.
Approximate Time Period: mid-1970's (probably 1977) to 1986 (scrap date given by MTL).
NOTE: This release has been sold out and discontinued.

Well, here we are faced with the reality that when a piece of rolling stock is based on the prototype for a specific railroad, there are going to be compromises when the same model is painted up for other railroads. Such is the case with the second of the MTL bay window caboose releases. And, with some few exceptions that really were sold to multiple railroads, such is the case for cabooses, waycars, cabin cars, and whatever else they're called, in any scale from any manufacturer. And even across those more common designs there are detail differences which can be ignored, fixed by the modeler or just wailed about. In this case, though, it must be noted that MTL correctly excluded the battery box under the carbody and also changed the roof mounted detail. © 2009 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

That having been said, we go to the Fallen Flags for a 1979 shot of the real CR 18438. I didn't expect a perfect match from the MTL model given that we are working with a Southern Pacific prototype. We can tell from the photo, which is a shot from above, that the roof and end railings are not the same on the model as the prototype. The windows on the prototype clearly show as being blanked out versus a smooth side on the model. I suppose it's really nitpicking to point out that the smokejack was different on the real 18438, but I will anyway. Oh, and the steps are different as well. Whether this all adds up to a "stand in" is up to the reader. As noted, such is life when working from another railroad's prototype. © 2009 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

Speaking of which, the prototype did originally come from another railroad, the Southern Railway, according to MTL's car copy for this release. The "Penn Central Railroad Online" page provides more information: "The ever-frugal PC acquired a group of former Southern bay window cabooses for yard service in 1971. The cabooses were put into the N5H class." There's an image of an out of service PC 18440, formerly Southern 3170. This three-quarter view shows four windows on the side visible to the camera-- these were blanked out by Conrail on the ex-PC 18438-- and the end railings which differ from the MTL model. (The key difference is a pair of angles bars from the roof to the end platform, just behind the brake wheel.) If MTL follows through on its hint that cars of this type with side windows in place are potential follow on releases, we might see this car at some point. © 2009 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

So, given the information that PC 18440 was Southern 3170, could we hit the trifecta here and dig out an image of these cars when they were in service for the Southern? Maybe. Fallen Flags has two images of the X3164, a bay window caboose that has two of the four side windows intact, but also has a roofwalk and ladders to the roof. It's also permanently parked as of February 2008 (or earlier) and on display at the South Carolina Botanical Gardens on the campus of Clemson University. In addition to the red paint and white lettering with "green light," the bay window is painted "Clemson College / Class of '39" and there are two placards further describing this gift to the school. How about that for a visible donation? Perhaps a bit more appropriate are a 1965 action shot of Southern X3192 and a 1966 image of Southern X3284, both by Warren Calloway and posted to These do appear to me to be the same series of cabooses as the ones sold to the Penn Central and thence conveyed to Conrail. © 2009 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

And back to Conrail for one more data point: the Fallen Flags site has a 1989 summary of caboose classes still in service. The number in the N5H class, of which the 18438 would have been one, is a nice round zero. All gone. A more extensive roster from 1983 is also on Fallen Flags, and shows seven cars from the Southern going to the Penn Central and then becoming Conrail 18432, 18433, 18435, 18437, 18438, 18441 and 18442. Note that this list has the 18438 as formerly being Southern 3143. There are five more cabooses also classed N5H that are shown as coming from the Indianapolis Union Railroad and being numbered CR 18425 to 18429. I don't know how close the former IU cars are to the former Southern cars and I guess that's a bit out of scope for now anyway. © 2009 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.


025 00 590, $24.95 Reporting Marks: ADN 9684.
50 Foot Steel Boxcar, Exterior Post, Single Door, Ashley, Drew and Northern.

Green with silver roof. White lettering including large roadname and reporting marks on left. White, green and yellow "Serves Southern Forests" herald on right. Yellow diagonal stripe on door.
Approximate Time Period: early 1980's to at least 2008.
Previous Release (as catalog number 25590): Road Number 9755, August 1999.
NOTE: This item has been sold out and discontinued.

At the time this car was built for the Ashley, Drew and Northern, the 40 mile line was busy "Serving Southern Forests" down Arkansas way. It connected with three lines at Crossett: Missouri Pacific, which most folks know; the Arkansas and Louisiana Missouri, which is lesser known, and the Fordyce and Princeton, which I'd never heard of. Turns out the F&P was the revival of a line that had been given up by the defunct Rock Island, and the AD&N later gained rights over it to interchange with the Cotton Belt. The Union Pacific borg would later make that deal somewhat moot, though. © 2009 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

While the principal traffic outbound from the AD&N was wood products, and the dominant type of car owned was of the "flat" variety, in the early 1980's the line took a big swing toward box cars. This series, from 9700 to 9899, was just one example. In the October 1986 ORER, there were 1,821 cars on the roster, of which 1,462 were box cars 50 feet or more in length. Among these was the series 9550 to 9699. This series was divided into 101 cars with the mouthful description "Box, Steel, 20 Inch Sliding Steel Cushion Underframe, Nailable Steel Floor, Lading Anchors, 50K" and the AAR Designation XM, and another 47 cars which were type XP and called just "Box, Steel." The 9684 was in the first group as far as I can tell. The dimensional data for both groups is exactly the same: inside length 52 feet 6 inches, inside height 11 feet, outside length 60 feet 3 inches, extreme height 15 feet 5 inches, door opening 12 feet, capacity 5486 cubic feet or 153,000 pounds. You might already know from the cubic capacity that the MTL 025 body style, which is a model of the FMC 5077 boxcar, doesn't match the prototype. Photos of sister cars 9682 from 2008 and 9691 from 2007, both on, will help you decide how much of a difference is too much. Besides the actual "cube" of the car, I see longer side sills without tapers at the ends, what looks like a bit steeper roof angle, and a "door thing" both in type and width. I also note that the previous road number MTL did isn't in this series of cars, but it also isn't a perfect match. © 2009 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

In August 1999 when the previous run of this car was done by Micro-Trains (its road number is not part of the same prototype series, by the way), the latest ORER I had was from 1996. By that time, the AD&N and its connection A&LM were fallen flags, replaced through a 1991 "end-to-end" merger of sorts to create the Arkansas, Louisiana and Mississippi Railroad Company. At 93 miles total, this consolidation wasn't going to raise any Surface Transportation Board eyebrows! The new line still connected with the Fordyce and Princeton, former Missouri Pacific and former Cotton Belt, and also interchanged with the Kansas City Southern's former Midsouth Rail, nee-Illinois Central line at Monroe, Louisiana. Georgia-Pacific, owner of the new line and the former A&LM abandoned 35 of the 40 miles of the former AD&N trackage and sold the other five to the Fordyce and Princeton, a paper transaction (so to speak) as Georgia-Pacific also owned that shortline. © 2009 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

I can update the Approximate Time Period with a check of the latest ORER I now own, the October 2007 edition. There are still 11 cars hanging on with ADN reporting marks under the Arkansas Louisiana and Mississippi registration. The images on show the two examples in pretty beatup condition, with plenty of rust and faded paint. Interestingly, the AD&N herald seems to have survived in the best shape of all the lettering, even though the railroad itself is gone. © 2009 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

064 00 070, $33.85 Reporting Marks: CP 504484.
57 Foot TOFC Car with 45 Foot Trailer, CP Rail.

Flat car: red with mostly white lettering including reporting marks in center and CP Rail roadname right of center.
Trailer: Aluminum with red reporting marks (CPPU 260952) at nose end and red panel with black and white roadname and multimark at tail end.
Approximate Time Period: mid-1970's (1978 build date given by MTL) to mid-1990s.
Previous Release (as catalog 64070): Road Number 504485, May 2002.
NOTE: This item has been sold out and discontinued.

We start coverage of this reprint with a look at Ian Cranstone's "Canadian Freight Cars" site. Ian has three separate groups of these TOFC Flat cars, all constructed by Marine Industries Limited in Sorel, Quebec for the CP. Group one was numbered 504000 to 504349 and was built between August and September 1974; group two had numbers 504350 to 504649 and were built between July and September 1975; and group three had numbers 504650 to 504739 and was built in June 1978. All of these cars were 54 feet 4 inches long and had one trailer hitch. Ian notes a renumbering of these to the series 506000 to 506290 and 506300 to 506626 from 1993 through 1996. © 2009 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

The ORER for April 1981 has one set of 642 cars numbered 504000 to 504649 and another group of 89 cars from 504650 to 504739, both with the same set of dimensions. Which are: inside length 54 feet 4 inches, inside width 8 feet 11 inches, outside length 57 feet 7 inches, extreme height 7 feet 5 inches, capacity 70,000 pounds. Both carry AAR Designation FC. The first group has the longer description "Flat, Steel, One Trailer Hitch, Axle Spacing 5 Feet 6 Inches, Truck Centers 44 Feet" while the second group omits the axle spacing and truck centers. Minding Ian Cranstone's notation about CP's renumbering of these cars, I jumped over to the January 2000 ORER and sure enough, the 504000s are gone and the 506000s are in their place with the same dimensional data. When renumbered, these cars were also apparently modified to handle containers as well as trailers, which probably means losing the trailer hitch. © 2009 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

If you're checking online, the "Canadian Freight Railcar Gallery" site has an undated shot of sister car CP 504063. But the Morning Sun Color Guide to the CP has the exact car 504484. Comparing the prototype to the model, there are some differences, including the shape of the sill and the railing along the top of the flat car. The prototype car also has fold up bridges at the ends and white "grab irons" (so to speak) at the corners that extend above the top of the flat car's surface. The Canadian Freight Railcar Gallery also has several shots of the modified CP Rail cars in the 506000 series; sure enough, no sign of a trailer hitch. The image of CP 506171 shows it with a particularly striking "Canada 2000" container inscribed "A Proud Carrier of The Canada Tree". (Do look that up! It's quite a story.) © 2009 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

Where there's a bit of sleight-of-hand on MTL's part is what comes with their flat car. At first glance it certainly looks like a 45 foot trailer, although the wheel spacing is a bit wider than on the MTL offering. However, the reporting marks of the box, CPPU 260952, are a tipoff. The "U" in fourth position denotes a container, not a trailer, and indeed what we have here on the actual flat car as pictured in the Morning Sun Color Guide is a trailer mounted atop a spine chassis, CPPZ 165418. If you ignore the wheel spacing and the fishbelly of the chassis, the effect isn't that bad. I'd consider doing something about the reporting marks though, assuming that you can read them without magnifiers. I had to call out to MTL for a reading myself, so you know what category I'm necessarily in. © 2009 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

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


800 00 120, $19.20
Reporting Marks: D&RGW 3277.
30 Foot Boxcar, Double Sheathed, Single Door, Rio Grande (Denver & Rio Grande Western).

Brown with white lettering including reporting marks on left and "flying" roadname on right.
Approximate Time Period: early 1940's to the end of Rio Grande narrow gauge in the late 1960's.
Previous Releases: Road Number 3270, September 1999; Road Number 3276, April 2002.
NOTE: This release has been sold out and discontinued.

This scheme followed the "Scenic Line" version of the D&RGW paint which has also been previously offered on MTL cars. The "flying roadname" appeared on the Rio Grande about 1941 so our ATP starts there, but note the 1946 service date given by MTL (a repeat from the 2002 reprint, not unlike these bytes, actually). © 2009 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

The January 1945 ORER shows the series 3000 to 3749 of a total of 688 AAR Class XM Box cars. The inside length is 29 feet 5 inches, inside width 7 feet, inside height 6 feet 1 3/4 inches, just enough for me to stand up in with a bit of clearance. The outside length was 30 feet even. "Extreme width" is something I would have been interested in, but it's not given; instead we have "Width at Eaves or Top of Sides or Platform" of 8 feet 4 and three-quarter inches. (The typical standard gauge boxcar of the time was around 10 feet wide, more or less.) The door opening was 5 feet and the capacity was just 50,000 pounds. That may have been more a concession to the fragility of narrow gauge track than the mostly wood construction of these cars. © 2009 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

The July 1950 ORER also shows 688 cars left in the series. But this was down to 318 by January 1959, and had dropped to 294 in the January 1964 Register. Even at that shrunken state, the box cars were the most numerous group of the over 1100 car roster of the Rio Grande's slim gauge lines at the time. Stock cars, believe it or not, were the next largest series at 252 cars... I don't blame the Nn3 contingent for lobbying MTL for an example of a livestock carrier. © 2009 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

There are examples of this series of cars still extant, in varying conditions. Several of them are pictured on "Dave's Rio Grande Narrow Gauge Site," and there's also a table of what cars from the 3400 to 3999 group have survived in one form or another. According to that table, the 3277 can be found near Road 8 South in Alamosa, probably not far from where the car was painted with a "flying roadname". © 2009 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.


500 00 571 and 500 00 572, $30.40 each
Reporting Marks: MP 46887 and MP 46690.
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 (both numbers) has been sold out and discontinued.

The "see text" doesn't differ that much from the N Scale release of this car back in April. Essentially, the issue is that the prototype car isn't a good match for the MTL body style which is based on the Pullman-Standard PS-1. However, unlike in 1:160, there are not too many choices in 1:220 on which to paint forty foot boxcar schemes, at least not yet. The prototype story is the same, of course, and I'll reprint myself from April for the rest of this release. © 2009 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

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

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

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

500 00 581 and 500 00 582, $24.90 each
Reporting Marks: SP 163324 and SP 163326.
40 Foot Steel Boxcar, Single Youngstown Door, Southern Pacific "Overnights".

Silver sides and roof, black ends. Black and red lettering including reporting marks on left and "Southern Pacific Overnights" wording on right. Orange and black "Southern Pacific Lines" herald on left.
Approximate Time Period: mid-1950's to early 1960's.
NOTE: This item (both numbers) has been sold out and discontinued.

The prestigious and somewhat mysterious author Clifford Notes (who is that guy anyway?) wrote two one-pagers for "N Scale Railroading" magazine that appear in the March/April 2001 and March/April 2002 editions, that combined, provide a nice thumbnail history of the Espee's Overnight cars. For a program that officially lasted only from 1946 to 1959, there were plenty of variations on the theme. The principal versions are, of course, the black and the silver paint schemes, but there are several takes on each of those. One of the black versions of the car (coming in September in a Runner Pack) has the full roadname Southern Pacific. But this was preceded by a style with just SP reporting marks, which so far has zero releases in either Z or N Scale. (Hint!) © 2009 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

The year 1956 saw the changeover from the black car in the series 97620 to 98069, to the silver, and 300 boxcars from the initial run of 500 B-50-24 class cars were redone in this paint and placed in a different number series, namely, 163051 to 163350. However, the program was dropped in 1959 by the railroad and some cars started to lose the "Overnights" under the large roadname on the right. Some but not all, so MTL's car copy is correct in stating that the cars could be seen into the 1960's. For a little variety, paint out the "Overnights". © 2009 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

The citation in the ORER for January 1953 under the first number series 97620 to 98069 (with black paint) will do for gathering the vital statistics. These were: inside length 40 feet 6 inches, inside height 10 feet, outside length 41 feet 10 inches, extreme height 14 feet 6 inches, door opening 6 feet, and capacity 3715 cubic feet or 100,000 pounds, although I doubt that given their duties they came close to carrying that heavy a weight. In fact, the description of the car is "Box, All Steel, Lightweight." I probably don't need to point out that these cars weren't PS-1s, but in case you don't know, well, no, they aren't. © 2009 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

After 1961 you'll need to renumber, though, according to Mr. Notes, who, well, notes that the group of 300 from 163051 to 163350 went to the series 121834 to 122310, apparently with just a touch up job. The April 1970 edition of the ORER shows 31 cars remaining in the group, but of course we're not told how they were painted or how that paint held up. © 2009 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

550 00 050, $28.20, Smoothside 6-6-4 Sleeper Car, Amtrak.
551 00 050, $28.20, Smoothside Dome/Chair Car, Amtrak.
552 00 050, $28.20, Smoothside 44 Seat Coach, Amtrak.
553 00 050, $28.20, Smoothside 71 Foot Baggage Car, Amtrak.

Each car has "platinum mist" (silver) sides with red, white and blue bands at the windows and black "Amtrak" lettering inside the band. Decals for all possible car names and road numbers will be included with each car.
Approximate Time Period: 1971 through early 1980's.
NOTE: All of these items have been sold out and discontinued.

The National Railroad Passenger Corporation, better known by its trade name Amtrak, was organized in May 1971 as directed by the Rail Passenger Service Act of 1970. All but six United States railroads which were still operating intercity passenger service opted in to the corporation, contributing cash or rolling stock in proportion to their previous losses on operations of passenger trains. The enterprise has been controversial ever since, to say the least, with proponents pointing to rail service as necessary and opponents decrying the unfair and wasteful government subsidies for what is a tiny fraction of overall travel. Brian Solomon, in his book "Amtrak" (MBI Publishing, 2004), says it well: "I think of Amtrak as the scrawny stepson of aged, jaded, and once-wealthy parents who must make his way through the streets in an out-of-style and awkwardly-fitting suit. Yet, despite constant ridicule from bullies, he keeps his chin up and smiles." © 2009 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

The contribution of rolling stock to Amtrak resulted in some very interesting train consists as the service started up, some of which I personally recall from observation with my dad at the Rahway and Metropark stations on the Northeast Corridor in New Jersey. Sure, there were the Metroliners, and a lot of Penn Central (and Pennsylvania!) passenger cars, but equipment from other railroads would show up frequently, including the Union Pacific's. Eventually, some of the rolling stock would be retired-- there was some junk sent to Amtrak along with perfectly serviceable cars-- and what was left was refurbished and repainted into Amtrak's "platinum mist" paint. It wasn't quite as much fun to see a consistently decorated consist, but it certainly enabled a more positive public image. © 2009 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

And that all leads to my estimation of the Approximate Time Period for this latest consist from MTL. The Union Pacific kept very few passenger cars for its own use when Amtrak was formed. The prototype for these MTL models is a set of cars built for the UP in the 1940's and 1950's (as early as 1942 and as late as 1957). Certainly some of these cars would have been conveyed to Amtrak-- ah, but the inclusion of lettering and number decals for modeler flexibility makes teasing this information out a daunting task. One look at the 17 page listing of photos on will tell you that! Here's one data point, though: The site shows the disposition of the "American" series sleepers, which MTL modeled, as largely being renumbered in 1969 and 1970 by the Union Pacific. I'd find it hard to believe that they did not proceed to Amtrak after that. The end of the ATP would be upon the replacement of what was called (sometimes kindly) the "Heritage Fleet" with new equipment purchased directly by Amtrak, for example the 492 "Amfleet" cars placed in service in the late 1970's, which displaced the inherited equipment on the Northeast Corridor by roughly 1977. Since it's hard to prove the absence of something, I suspect that Z Scalers wanting to operate these passenger cars on layouts set after 1980 won't get a lot of pushback from the Prototype Police. © 2009 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

981 01 191 and 981 01 192, $195.95 each
Road Numbers: 978 and 979 (will be "CB&Q 978" and "CB&Q 979" in website listings).
GP-35 Diesels, Chicago, Burlington and Quincy (Burlington Route).

Red with aluminum band across cab and long hood. White "Burlington" roadname on long hood. Black and white "Burlington Route" herald on cab with white road number below that. White horizontal stripes on nose and end of long hood. Red railings, black frame and trucks.
Approximate Time Period: 1963 to early 1970's.
NOTE: This release (both numbers) has been sold out and discontinued.

Ah, one of my favorite paint schemes of all time, and certainly one with which I associate happy memories. No, not of the CB&Q directly, even though I did eventually set foot inside the West Burlington Shops, but with an old HO Scale Mantua GP-20 in the same striking red and white paint running on my father's layout back in its original location in Jersey City. That makes the GP-20 model almost as old as the prototype GP-35s, which were built in 1963. © 2009 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

I'll kind of start at the end this time, just to confuse everyone. According to a table on the Burlington Route Historical Society website, the 978 survives on the BNSF as GP39-2R 2913 and the 979 is now BNSF GP39-2R 2932. The pair were part of the short series CB&Q 978 to 999. From the BN Photo Archives we learn that following their attractive red and white these units wore Burlington Northern green and black as BN numbers 2524 and 2525 and had EMD serial numbers 28300 and 28301 and were constructed in December 1963. © 2009 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

Perhaps if I'd lived a bit farther west of Jersey City, I might have seen the real CB&Q 979 in Buffalo as of March 1968. The image on Fallen Flags is taken from a low angle, not unlike the ones I've used myself over at Frontier Yard in Buffalo. This isn't the best for detail comparisons, but we can see that the prototype did have dynamic brakes, and that's the first thing I look for when checking the MTL model. From shots of sister units, including a few in glorious black in white taken in Minneapolis, we can see that the air horns are placed well to the back of the unit versus atop the cab, a relatively easy fix. I think we look pretty good otherwise between model and prototype. © 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:
865 00 040, $31.65
Road Number: None
30 Foot Skeleton Log Car, Load #4.

No paint, no lettering. Simulated log load included.
Approximate Time Period: 1890's to 1950's (a guess).
NOTE: This item has been sold out and discontinued.

Please refer to previous commentaries on this car.