UMTRR August, 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.


101 00 090, $22.55
Reporting Marks: BN 281441.
40 Foot "Hy-Cube" Box Car, Smooth Sides, Sliding Door, Burlington Northern.

Green (including roof) with white lettering including roadname and reporting marks on left and large herald on right. Note that there is no "Excess Height" band at the top of the ends, which is correct.
Approximate Time Period: early 1970's to late 1980's.
NOTE: This release has been sold out and discontinued.

We get a bingo on the exact car on where there is shot of BN 281441 in Anaheim, California in October 1977. There's also a 1980 view of sister car BN 281460. While the "Exceeds Plate C" stencil is clearly visible on the car sides, there is no "Excess Height Car" band at the top of the ends, so MTL has this omission correct. The Burlington and Northern Pacific Hy-Cubes didn't have this warning either, as I confirmed from photos in the appropriate Morning Sun Color Guides. As long as I was checking photos, I attempted to determine whether it was the CB&Q or the NP series which became this BN group. While I suppose that the answer could be "both!" it does look like the 281441 came over from the Burlington based on a few spotting features. The prototype and model are a close match. I could quibble about the roofline, but I won't.

The Official Railway Equipment Register (ORER) for April 1974 shows the series 281440 to 281474, described as just "Box, Movable Bulkheads" with AAR Designation XL, though the "C+" denotes that the cars are larger than the Plate C measurements. The inside length of these cars was 40 feet 6 inches, inside width 9 feet 6 inches, inside height 12 feet 9 inches, outside length 48 feet 4 inches, extreme height 16 feet 10 inches, and capacity 4730 cubic feet or 150,000 pounds. There were just 19 cars in this group out of a possible 35. There were also two cars in the previous series 281425 to 281439 which had the same dimensions except for capacity, 4900 cubic feet and 148,000 pounds, which were described as "Box, Cross-Bar Loading Devices."

By the April 1976 ORER there are 27 cars in the series-- obviously there's been some repainting into BN Cascade Green going on-- and they've gone from "Exceeds Plate C" to "Plate F". (I think we're now up to something like Plate L now, each letter farther along in the alphabet standing for ever larger cars.) Oops, make that "F+" in the April 1981 Equipment Register, where there are 28 cars in the group. That count has slipped back to 20 cars in January 1985, and to 17 total cars in July 1989, but that's all she wrote as the series is not listed in the October 1991 ORER. That's actually a little longer of an Approximate Time Period than I expected, given that, as MTL notes in its car copy, "The mini hy-cube phase was short lived."

105 00 711 and 105 00 712, $23.95 each
Reporting Marks: KGCX 121 and KGCX 138.
50 Foot Gondola, Straight Sides, Fixed Ends, Koppers Company.

White with black ends. Red and black lettering: Red "Koppers Coke" (in drop caps) across side and black "Fires the Nation's Foundries!" Reporting marks at bottom left of side. Koppers trademark at top left and top right of side. Simulated coke container load included.
Approximate Time Period: 1956 to 1975.
NOTE: This item (both numbers) has been sold out and discontinued.

From an article on the website of the Illinois Sustainable Technology Center at the University of Illinois at Urbana - Champaign titled "The Steel Making Industry," we have the following about coke: "Coke is a solid carbon fuel and carbon source used to melt and reduce iron ore. Coke production begins with pulverized, bituminous coal. The coal is fed into a coke oven which is sealed and heated to very high temperatures for 14 to 36 hours. Coke is produced in batch processes, with multiple coke ovens operating simultaneously." No, making coke isn't the most environmentally friendly process; the Center proposes methods of reducing pollution from steel production.

We go back to 1907 when Dr. Heinrich Koppers built the first coke ovens that recovered byproducts in Joliet, Illinois. Koppers founded the H. Koppers Company in 1912. Two years later it was acquired by industrialists who saw it as a building block to a fully integrated coal supply chain. In 1915 the firm was moved to Pittsburgh, the center of steelmaking of course, and fell under the influence of the Mellon interests. From there, I think it's safe to say that Koppers went all over the place in the area of production of industrial raw and basic materials, from roofing pitch to styrene to spruce lumber. You might recall its joint venture with Sinclair Oil, Sinclair-Koppers, a name seen on Center Flow covered hoppers for a time.

We'll pick up the Koppers story down in the Z Scale section when we look at the tank cars, but now let's turn to these very unusually painted gondolas. They were discussed a few years ago on the Steam Era Freight Cars List on YahooGroups (as were the tank cars, but we'll get to that). Elden Gatwood cited photos in the August and September 2001 issues of the magazine Mainline Modeler. We have access to those pages, thanks to a helpful reader! The photos, owned by Rail Data Services, show that MTL has captured the decoration quite well. The prototype gondola it's on differs in several respects to the model: the real one had only 13 panels, the ends, while fixed, have a bit of a "shelf" to them at the bottom, and the underframe appears to be a fishbelly type, not straight. However, you're unlikely to see anything closer in 1:160 without a lot of do it yourself work. Elden Gatwood noted at the time these cars were discussed that he couldn't locate an exact match to these Koppers cars. And the Mainline Modeler caption from August 2001 notes that "The origin of this series of cars is unknown." Oh, and before I forget, the word "Nations" does not have an apostrophe in it on the prototype, which would be an error, which is faithfully reproduced on the Micro-Trains depiction.

But that September 2001 of Mainline Modeler adds a key fact: the cars first appeared in the ORER of October 1957. The photo also shows a service date of March 1956, confirming the MTL car copy. This also really helps me since the closest Register to that date is my January 1959 Westerfield CD-ROM, which is unfortunately missing the entry for Koppers! (It's on Page 653 of the hard copy if you happen to have it.) That brings me out to the January 1964 ORER, where there are 57 cars under the KGCX reporting mark, described as "Gondola, Container." They are numbered 100, 101, 102, 104 to 107, and 109 to 158. That seems like a match. The inside length was 48 feet 6 inches, inside width 9 feet 6 inches, inside height 3 feet (obviously the containers aren't part of this!), outside length 51 feet 3 inches, extreme height 6 feet 9 inches (again, not with the containers), and capacity only shown in weight, 129,000 pounds. The total was down just one to 55 cars in the January 1967 ORER, and we can tell that it was road number 118 that went away from the individual number listings. Mainline Modeler says that the cars remained until the last quarter of 1975. Sure enough, there are three cars remaining in the April 1975 ORER but the series is not present in the April 1976 issue.

The nifty paint scheme easily overshadows the fact that this is the first in yet another new body style, a fixed end gondola with straight sides. But I think both are trumped by the new load of coke containers, which is a single casting that fits quite tightly into the gondola. This has applications all over the place for N Scale pikes connected to the steel or coke industries. Which, I believe, is a lot of model pikes! So hopefully this is a load that we will see again or at least as a standalone item. I believe that there are other prototype gondolas that carried this cargo, for example a Louisville and Nashville car pictured in Mainline Modeler right next to the car that carries coke to Fire The Nation's Foundries.

118 00 040, $20.35
Reporting Marks: USAX G-10.
Troop Kitchen Car, United States Army.

Olive drab with silver roof. White lettering including "United States Army" at top center, reporting marks at bottom left and bottom right of side, and Transportation Corps logo left and right of door.
Approximate Time Period: 1954 to 1966, or to present, see text.
NOTE: This item has been sold out and discontinued.

The real G-10 is a part of the collection of the Pacific Southwest Railroad Museum in Campo, California. It was first one of the sixty "ambulance kitchen cars" built by American Car and Foundry in 1942. Three of these cars, road numbers 8764, 8765 and 8769, were converted in 1954 as MTL reports. According to the museum, "The toilet, sink, a wardrobe, and six fold-up cots were installed. A glass-enclosed cupola with sliding side windows was built atop the center of the car. It was repainted olive drab with a silver roof; lettered for the Transportation Corps with winged wheel insignia; and numbered USAX #G-10." The car was retired in 1966. I will push the first part of the ATP out that far even though it's almost certain that the car was restenciled to DODX G-10 before then, in accordance with the policy of the Department of Defense that slowly took effect in the 1950's and 1960's. A bit of relettering will handle that on this car as well.

The rest of the story brings the ATP to the present, if you'd like that is. The car was purchased at a surplus auction in 1973 by one of the Pacific Southwest Railroad Museum's members and then resold directly to the museum for the same price. It was unfortunately fire-damaged enroute to the museum's storage site. (I'm not aware of many trains catching fire, relatively speaking, so this really was unusually unfortunate.) Museum members restored it in 1974 and used it for various purposes. In 1987 it was restored and repainted into the olive drab and silver scheme that MTL depicts. "As USAX #G-10 again," the museum states, "the car is being temporarily used as a restroom and refreshment car on museum excursion trains. In the future it will also house displays of military railroading." So from one perspective, there is an Approximate Time Period of "to present," but only if you're modeling the museum's collection.

A large photo available on the museum's website and a photo on show differences between the prototype and the MTL body style. The key roof detail-- that small glass-enclosed cupola right above the center door-- is not present on the model. The prototype also has fewer windows to the left of the door than the model does on one side, and fewer windows right of the door on the other side. And the Allied Full-Cushion trucks have been replaced by roller bearing examples. Though my comparison is based on the contemporary photos, the cupola was added when the car was repurposed in 1954.

130 00 040, $29.65
Reporting Marks: CSXT 900400.
Bay Window Caboose, Windowless Sides, without Battery Box, CSX Transportation.

Gray sides and roof, yellow ends and brake wheel, black frame and trucks, white end railings.
Approximate Time Period: no earlier than 1986 to present.
NOTE: This item has been sold out and discontinued.

While CSX Transportation existed as a corporate entity and the holding company of the Chessie System and Seaboard System Railroads starting on November 1, 1980, equipment wasn't painted into CSX livery until 1986. So that would be the earliest start of the Approximate Time Period. It looks like we might squeeze out a "to present" on this ATP, I found a February 2008 photo of the real 900400 on, posing in Jacksonville, Florida. Technically, it's probably now a "shoving platform," not a caboose, but we'll use the old terminology, thanks.

Sides of cabooses can differ, and my look is based on only the one side visible in the photo. It looks like two windows were plated over, so there's a bit of a difference between real and model. It looks like the prototype car also has the end windows plated over, and the window on the bay is a single pane with screens as opposed to the double pane on the MTL version. The end railing arrangement looks a bit different as well. I don't have a good look at the roof but I can see looks close. Overall, not a bad stand in for Micro-Trains given the use of the Southern Pacific caboose, somewhere between the excellent fidelity of the car painted for the SP, and the not-so-great match with the car done for Conrail a couple of months ago.

If you transpose two digits in the road number, as I originally did (oops), you'll find that bay window CSXT 904000 was repainted in a red and white "Spirit of the B&O" tribute honoring the 175th Anniversary of the Baltimore and Ohio. Fallen Flags has images of this car in two different versions (!) of this scheme from May 2007 and February 2009. This would be a nice car for someone to do, although perhaps not MTL at this time as the real caboose does have side windows-- one in the 2007 image and three (!) in the 2009 image, and diagonally slanted windows on the bay. I can not quite make out the B&O class of car on the 2007 image of this car, but it looks like C-274. A little detour, yes, but one worth mentioning.


038 00 220, $20.90
Reporting Marks: CP 80986.
50 Foot Plug Door Boxcar Without Roofwalk, Canadian Pacific.

Green with black ends and aluminum roof. White lettering including large script roadname and reporting marks on left. Black, white and green "pine tree" device on right.
Approximate Time Period: 1967 to about 2006.
Previous Release (as catalog 38220): Road Number 81158, July 1997.
NOTE: This item has been sold out and discontinued.

I have to laugh-- or, perhaps, wince-- when I go back to the my library of UMTRR commentary on previous Micro-Trains releases, in order to get a jump on a current item. Back in 1997, I noted that there was a potential discrepancy on this car, as it was listed as a 50 foot car while the ORER gave it a length of 57 feet. Er, extended draft gear, and 57 feet is the outside length, George? Fortunately, there is such a thing as "continuous improvement." That's the key reason why you don't find the oldest UMTRR back issues online anymore.

And it looks like we have some "continuous improvement" with respect to this reprint as well. Actually, it's a "not a reprint," my term for a rerun that is materially different than the original release. This second number has black ends and side sills and an aluminum roof; everything was the same color green on the initial Micro-Trains release in 1997. The multiple colors is in alignment with photos of two of the cars in this CP series in the Morning Sun Color Guide to the CP (Volume 1). The 81005 was found in 1984 and the 81046 in 1974. The view of the 81046 shows the colors as modeled by MTL... this time. If looking online, we have a bingo with the exact car 80986 on the Canadian Freight Railcar Gallery. Its picture was taken in 2003 and it's still in the original paint scheme, though quite a bit the worse for wear and with some non-matching green paint applied to the lower part of the sides-- probably to cover over some, ahem, "decoration". There's also shot of CP 81037 as found in 1968 and as you'd expect, it's a lot newer looking.

Regardless of the photo we use, we do observe some differences between prototype and model, key among them being the short side ladders on the prototype vs. full height ladders on the MTL car. (Micro-Trains doesn't yet have a body style of this exact configuration in a fifty foot plug door boxcar.) The side sills, ends and roof are a bit different as well. As usual, the degree to which the model is a "stand in" is up to you.

The MSCG notes that the series 80967 to 81216 was built in 1967 by National Steel Car, and were constructed without a roofwalk and with the short side ladders, as well as with a cushion underframe, nailable steel floor and nine foot wide plug door. We'll go to the ORER for April 1970 for the rest of the story: inside length 50 feet 6 inches, inside width 9 feet 2 inches, inside height 11 feet even, outside length 57 feet 10 inches, extreme height 15 feet 4 inches, capacity 5090 cubic feet or 157,000 pounds. There were 247 cars in the series at the time.

Moving back to the MSCG, it's noted that "when some newsprint was made in wider rolls, the rolls could not be double-stacked in the regular cars so 22 cars were rebuilt with increased height." There's a photo of CP 84981 on Page 51 of the Color Guide, looking very "topped off" with sheet metal between the roof and sides. The paint scheme is roughly the same, with the addition of a circled letter P and the "Exceeds Plate C" notation below the script roadname. I wonder if this was the source for the decoration of the original run of the MTL car, which also has the circled letter P?

Anyway, we know from the photo of the real 80986 that it lasted at least until 2003. That means it co-existed with the previous of the stepped roadname (from about 1956) and the script roadname with "Newsprint Service Only" shield (from about 1962) as well as the later CP Rail scheme with the multimark. The October 2004 ORER shows a healthy quantity of 187 cars still in service in the main series, plus 10 of the 22 rebuilt cars (series 84977 to 84999). We're getting close to the "40 year rule" by this point, and that limitation on cars in interchange service takes its toll by the October 2007 ORER, where there are just four cars remaining. Even so, this car has quite the generous Approximate Time Period, and with appropriate weathering can be at home on railways from the late sixties to the middle of our current decade.

071 00 530, $39.65
Reporting Marks: D&RGW 105023 (flatcar), DRGZ 230058 (trailer).
89 Foot TOFC Flat Car, Denver and Rio Grande Western with Rio Grande Trailer.

Flat Car: Red with mostly white lettering including reporting marks on left.
Trailer: White with orange and black lettering including "Rio Grande The Action Road" speed lettering roadname and slogan on sides.
Approximate Time Period: 1991 to late 1990's (flat car), 1994 to 2000's (trailer).
Previous Release (as catalog 71530): Road Number 105019, December 2001.
NOTE: This item has been sold out and discontinued.

I don't think that I would have put this third-hand flat car on my top ten list of obvious possible reprints, or even my top hundred. But Micro-Trains has, and there you go.

The story hasn't really changed from the initial run in 2001. The Rio Grande Historical and Technical Society's website tags these cars as having been acquired in 1982 from the Maine Central and retired before 1993, thus handily saving me some Equipment Register lookups. The Maine Central got them from the Providence and Worcester. When under the control of the Maine Central, these cars most likely were in the same road number series 105001 to 105050, since in the April 1981 ORER, those were the only TOFC flats listed for the MEC.

What I do have in the UMTRR Research Accumulation that I didn't have in 2001 is the Morning Sun Color Guide to the Rio Grande (a recent addition), and on Page 62 of that book is a photo of the 105019 which was the first number MTL ran. I had wondered whether the Rio Grande had just dropped its reporting marks over the Maine Central's, and whether they had previously dropped their markings over the Providence and Worcester's. I think at least the first part is true, as the "DRGW" doesn't align with the "105019"-- in fact, it seems that Micro-Trains has straightened out the lettering too well versus the prototype. All of the other markings look good versus the MSCG photo including the trademark of car builder American Car and Foundry.

And there's also a shot on Fallen Flags of Providence and Worcester car 105129, which while not in the series that went to the Maine Central and then to the Rio Grande, is painted up in red with white lettering. So an aside to MTL: Might you have some leftovers in red paint from this run? Or just some leftovers, period? If so, here's a "gimme".

Meanwhile, when in the Rio Grande roster, the group 105004 to 105049 was of only 20 cars in the January 1985 Register. They are the only cars of this type listed in the Rio Grande's assemblage. They are called out as AAR Class FC, but described as COFC, or Container on Flat Car, not TOFC, trailer on flat car. Inside length (such as it is with a flat car) is 89 feet 4 inches and outside length is 94 feet 8 inches.

The Morning Sun Color Guide to the Rio Grande also has a photo of the trailer on which the MTL model is based. The RGTZ series 230050 to 230099 was a group of Fruehauf 45 foot dry box trailers purchased in 1984 and outfitted in the large "Action Road" scheme. A previous order with Fruehauf, RGTZ numbers 230000 to 230049, had a smaller "Action Road" herald in the top of the nose end of the trailer.

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


New Release:
800 00 190, $18.40
Reporting Marks: SP 132.
30 Foot Wood Double Sheathed Boxcar, Single Door, Southern Pacific.

Boxcar red with white lettering including reporting marks on left and "Southern Pacific Lines" round herald on right.
Approximate Time Period: see text.
NOTE: This item has been sold out and discontinued.

The Laws Railroad Museum and Historic Site exhibits "a variety of historic buildings saved from destruction and preserved at this site," according to the museum's website. "Each building contains exhibits of artifacts and collections as briefly described below. The Museum buildings have been set up to represent a village surrounding the railroad depot. With the exception of the original depot and the agent's house, the original village of Laws was gone by 1959, the year before the railroad shut down."

"What railroad was that?", I, whose narrow gauge knowledge is quite slim (sorry), asked myself. From the book "American Narrow Gauge Railroads" by George W. Hilton, we learn that the line through Laws was originally the Carson and Colorado, a line that once stretched all the way from Virginia City, Nevada to Keeler, California, a distance of close to 300 track miles. The line was begun in 1880 and became the Nevada and California in 1902. In 1912, parent Southern Pacific sold it to its own Central Pacific subsidiary and from that point lettered the equipment for the SP. Portions of the Nevada trackage were converted to standard gauge in the 1930s and other sections abandoned over time. The last section of narrow gauge was abandoned in 1960, "the year the railroad shut down" in Laws. Interestingly, before yielding to trucks, this line was dieselized! The narrow gauge 450 horsepower unit was given SP number one, quite a distinction.

Rick Blanchard hosts a site called "Slim Rails" which focuses on the Carson and Colorado and includes a series of photos taken in June 1998 by Orin Palmer. Among those are several of the car that MTL depicted, SP 132. We initially see from the broadside view that the prototype car has truss roads, whereas the MTL model does not. The door is different as well-- but who knows how many doors a wood sheathed car may have had over time. The "B" end view of the car (the end without the brake wheel) reveals a small sliding door, which would be an interesting detail to add to the MTL car.

I'm going to take the statement in "American Narrow Gauge Railroads" that the Southern Pacific painted its narrow gauge equipment for, well, the Southern Pacific, as an assumption that the paint scheme that Micro-Trains used was what the SP had in place at least for some years. But going to the ORER for January 1953, we find that the 132 was described as a "Combination Box and Stock Car," one of 14 in service at the time numbered from 125 to 139. Can't say I remember coming across that before! The 132 was just 28 feet long by 7 feet 8 inches wide by 9 feet 8 inches tall and had a capacity of a mere 20,000 pounds, probably the smallest number I've ever seen in my years of reviewing. I think we have to assume that a combination box and stock car did not have completely sheathed sides, so an ATP for the car would be a difficult question to answer. Furthermore, SP 132 is shown as a gondola in the January 1945 ORER, which is far back as I went. Perhaps at some point the car was converted back to a more conventional boxcar, but I'm not sure that would have been prior to the shutdown of the narrow gauge service. The ATP other than as a museum piece may in fact be "none", but that's a hard to prove "absence of something," and so we'll stick with our "see text."


500 00 590, $26.85
Reporting Marks: CN 428651.
40 Foot Box Car, Single Youngstown Door, Canadian/Canadien National.

Brown with mostly white lettering including roadname (English one side, French one side) and reporting marks on left. Yellow stylized wheat sheaf device left of door. White "wet noodle" herald on right. Simulated paper grain doors included (decorated but not installed).
Approximate Time Period: 1980 to 1995.
NOTE: This item has been sold out and discontinued.

The story is about the same as with the N Scale paired release from last month, but the car and the paint scheme are not! We'll recall from last month's UMTRR that the Canadian National had a number of light density branch lines which couldn't support large grain hoppers. So this became one of the last stands of the forty foot boxcar, complete with the old-tech loading and unloading methods enabled by grain doors.

We'll follow roughly the same research path as with the N Scale release, though, starting with Ian Cranstone's "Canadian Freight Cars" site, which has the CN series 428650 to 428699. These are ten foot interior height boxcars, taken from the CN series 520000 to 522499, and rebuilt, refurbished and probably repainted between January and April 1980. The cars came from various builders-- we won't try to sort that out. These boxcars would have been originally built in the mid-1940's and I doubt that they match the PS-1 body style. They are too old, they have a lesser interior height than the usual PS-1, and they were built in Canada, not by Pullman-Standard.

Ian Cranstone sets his "In Service Dates", based on ORER lookups, as between October 1980 and October 1995. From the April 1994 ORER we have 47 of the possible 50 cars in the series, described simply as "Box, Steel" with these dimensions: inside length 40 feet 6 inches, inside height 10 feet, outside length 44 feet 3 inches, extreme height 15 feet even, door opening6 feet, and capacity 3710 cubic feet or 131,000 pounds.

The blog "Trackside Treasure" helped us out greatly for the N Scale grain boxcars, and it's a boon again here with its inclusion of a photo of CN 428635, also a ten foot interior height boxcar from the previous series of cars. Both the CN and CP were part of this grain boxcar program. Blog owner Eric writes, "Federal government boxcar rehabilitation schemes were undertaken in 1979 and 1980. Floors, nailable door areas, spot welding, and doors were repaired and spray painting was done. A yellow wheat sheaf, a smaller version of the government grain hopper scheme, was applied to the left of the door. Under it was a stenciled bilingual message, reading in part, 'REPAIRED WITH FINANCIAL CONTRIBUTION FROM THE GOVERNMENT OF CANADA'." That lettering is present on the car in both English and French. And it's really, really small! By the way, the "Trackside Treasure" blog has plenty of Canadian railroad information and images other than the review of the light density lines and their grain boxcars. It's well worth a visit.

530 00 271 and 530 00 272, $22.60 each
Reporting Marks: KPCX 2105 and KPCX 2109.
39 Foot Tank Car, Single Dome, Koppers Company.

Black with orange lettering "Koppers Chemicals - Plastics" and reporting marks on left. White dimensional data and end markings. Black, white and red Koppers trademark on right.
Approximate Time Period: early 1940's (or 1952, see text) to late 1960's.
NOTE: This item (both numbers) has been sold out and discontinued.

Now we return to our thumbnail sketch of the Koppers Company which we started up there with the N Scale gondolas. The Koppers Company's fortunes ebbed and flowed almost from its founding. Chemicals, to which the firm branched out, always provided revenue but not always optimal returns versus the competition, for example, and the company was as often a laggard as it was a pacesetter. Funding says, "[I]ts circuitous route through a number of acquisitions and diversified products classifies it as an early predecessor to a modern-day conglomerate." Speaking of acquisitions, the Koppers Company itself was acquired, partially by its own Australian subsidiary, in 1988, and was then reborn via leveraged buyout a few months later. In 1997 it was bought out again, this time by a venture capital firm. In 2004, a holding company was formed called Koppers Holdings, which went public in 2006, with the venture capitalist having sold all shares by 2008. The net of it is that Koppers Incorporated is once again a publicly traded firm. Its general offices are still in Pittsburgh where they had been moved back in 1915. The impressive Art Deco style Koppers Building was built between 1927 and 1929 is right downtown and the namesake company still occupies a few floors of the 39 story tower.

There are currently two core businesses for Koppers. First, there is carbon materials and chemicals, including roofing pitch, carbon black and creosote, made from coal tar which is a by-product of, you guessed it, coke. There was a large plant for this purpose just a few miles away from my original home in Jersey City. Second, there is railroad and utility products-- a place to utilize that creosote. "Koppers has been serving the railroad industry with treated wood railroad ties and railroad crossing panel products for over 20 years," according to its website. "In North America we are the largest provider of railroad crossties and are known for our pre-plated crossties. We are also a leading producer of wood poles for the electric and communications industries, along with treated wood for heavy-duty construction.

Speaking of company history, and fortunes, maybe I should I say "Fortune"--as in the magazine about business and industry. This has to be one of the more offbeat places to find a prototype car. MTL provided the citation of the January 1952 issue of Fortune, which illustrated an article about the Koppers Company. Our own UMTRR Gang Member (and accomplished author and industrial historian) Tom Flagg provided that piece to MTL, er, some time ago, I am told. Actually, in the shot there are tank cars with a variety of sizes of both tanks and domes, all with the same Koppers paint scheme, though KPCX 2129 is the only readable number in the photo. There's a similar tank car in "Classic Freight Cars Volume 2" by John Henderson but with the legend "Koppers Coal Tar - Chemicals" instead of "Chemicals - Plastics." Neither car looks to be a precise match to the model. During a Steam Era Freight Cars List discussion of Koppers tank cars, historian Richard Hendrickson noted that a number of Koppers 8000 and 10000 gallon cars were built by the Standard Tank Car Company in Sharon, Pennsylvania, to a distinctive design that hasn't yet been modeled very much. (And as far as we know, not commercially to a large scale in Z, N or HO Scales for that matter.) Standard Tank Car was taken over by General American in the 1920's.

We'll trust the MTL car copy stating that the car was built in 1943, meaning it may or may not have been built to a Standard Tank Car design. MTL says it was serviced in January 1952, conveniently the same date as the Fortune Magazine piece. We can't start the Approximate Time Period any later than 1952, of course, given the photo evidence of the paint scheme, but we don't know if that paint was new in '52, thus the "see text" caution in the ATP. The January 1955 ORER shows 29 cars in the number series 2100 to 2129, provides the 8,000 gallon or 80,000 pound capacity, the AAR Classification TMI (Insulated Tank Car) and a home point of Milton, Pennsylvania for the entire series. (Other Koppers cars had home points ranging from Massachusetts to Louisiana to Minnesota.) The 2103 road number is called out as "vacant" and it's also noted that the cars 2104 to 2129 are among the few without heater coils. Quite a bit of information above the usual "very little" for a change, although I would have liked some dimensional data, which I know I'm not going to get for tank cars.

Skipping some ORERs, we have 26 cars remaining in service in the same series in January 1967. But that's down to just the 2111 in the April 1970, bringing a halt to the ATP. We will further assume that the cars stayed painted in that almost glow in the dark orange for their period of service-- at least from 1952 onward, anyway. But I'd keep in mind that these cars were likely to get plenty dirty, and even gooey if they were carrying coal tar. Your weathering might justifiably range to the heavy side on these tankers.

552 00 060, $28.20.
Smoothside Coach, Pennsylvania Railroad.

Tuscan sides and ends, black roof. Gold pinstriping across car. Gold lettering including roadname with wide letter spacing across top and car number 4214 at bottom center.
Approximate Time Period: 1949 (build date) through late 1960's at least.
NOTE: This item has been sold out and discontinued.

According to the "Canada Southern" website, on November 24, 1947 there was a passenger extra train from Toronto through Hamilton on the Toronto, Hamilton and Buffalo Railway. The consist was quite unusual for the TH&B: all Pennsylvania Railroad passenger cars, including a heavyweight coach numbered 4214. Wait, a heavyweight coach? you might be asking. So was I.

However, the Pennsy modified some heavyweight passenger cars and the result looks quite a bit like a streamlined car, except for a lot of rivets. An example of this painted in the "Fleet of Modernism" scheme is the 4284, an image of which is posted on the ABPR section of the site and is referenced on Jerry Laboda's excellent "Passenger Car Photo Index" website. Jerry also cites a photo from the Denver Public Library's archive of PRR 4301, listed as a lightweight coach, so you can see the differences for yourself.

That gets us closer, and a recent post on the "PRR-Talk" mailing list seems to help us here. Steve Hoxie states that there was a group of cars that were converted from the Pennsy's P70 class of coaches for use with the then-new lightweight Pullman cars. A look at the diagram of the resulting class P70gs on "Rob's Pennsy Page" shows a car that's indeed similar to the MTL model, with some window placement differences. Apparently these cars had full skirts at first. A photo in the book "Pennsylvania Railroad Passenger Trains - 1952" shows a 1959 image of the 4214 with partial skirts. Hoxie notes that some of the converted P70's kept their double windows, and others, like the 4214, received single wide windows.

The diagram of the P70gs with the window arrangement similar to the 4214 as depicted by Micro-Trains is captioned "after June 1, 1941) so we'll go with early 1940's to mid-1950's as an Approximate Time Period. It'll have to do considering that either online information is hard to come by, or your faithful byte-slinger missed something.

552 00 070, $26.60.
Smoothside Coach, Southern Pacific.

Silver with red band. Silver roadname inside red band. Small "winged circle" device and reporting marks (SP 2212) at bottom center.
Approximate Time Period: 1958 to 1962 (for this car specifically).
NOTE: This release has been sold out and discontinued.

We turn things over to David Carnell for a guest commentary:

"Information on this car is from ‘Southern Pacific Passenger Cars, Volume 1: Coaches and Chair Cars, Chapter 7, Rebuilt Chair Cars and Secondhand Purchases’ by the Southern Pacific Historical and Technical Society. According to the book these cars were built by American Car and Foundry for the Chicago and North Western in 1953 for City of San Francisco service. Southern Pacific purchased cars 2211-2215 and 2219 from C&NW in May 1961 to use in City of San Francisco service. C&NW had severed its ties with Southern Pacific and Union Pacific transcontinental passenger service in 1955 so these cars ran over the C&NW system for six years before going back into City of San Francisco service.

"The cars were initially painted into the Simulated Stainless Steel with Scarlet letterboard scheme. In the mid to late 1960’s, several were repainted into UP Harbor Mist Gray and Armour Yellow. There is a picture of SP 2212 on page 412 on the passenger car book in the Harbor Mist Gray and Armour Yellow scheme. The picture is dated May 3, 1967.

"Another picture of SP 2212 is on Page 29 of the Morning Sun Color Guide to Southern Pacific Freight and Passenger Equipment, Volume 3 by James Kinkaid. The shot shows this car in an Amtrak train on March 18, 1972 painted in the stainless steel scheme with sunset herald. This picture appears to be the source for the MTL car. This puts the ATP of this car from about 1970 to 1974. Amtrak purchased SP 2211-2215 in 1974 and renumbered them Amtrak 4465-4469. SP 2212 became Amtrak 4466.

"These cars are similar to the UP 5400 series coaches. The model is close to the actual car but there is a minor variation in the window pattern. The third window in from the vestibule end is smaller."

Thanks, David. I did a quick search for online images of this specific car and did not come up with anything, although the phrase "SP 2212" returns an interesting variety of non-railroad items.

980 12 130, $45.95
Reporting Marks: None (will be "B&O None" in website listings).
F7-B Unpowered Unit, Baltimore and Ohio.

Blue with black band and yellow stripes. No lettering.
Approximate Time Period: 1950's to 1970's (check the paint scheme from the A unit) Sept 2004

Back in September 2004 when the A-unit in this "Bando Blue" paint scheme was released by MTL, I made an attempt to untangle the Approximate Time Period for this version of the railroad's decoration. It's a transition out of the handsome blue, black and gray that the Baltimore and Ohio's F-units wore when first delivered. Basically, you switch out the gray for black. Less expensive to paint, to be sure, but it's still a lot more classic EMD design than the later scheme of just blue with a little yellow striping and a large serif or gothic font "B & O"-- essentially the later road unit schemes applied to the "covered wagons."

You might remember from the review of MTL's FT's in N Scale that the B&O shook up its numbering scheme in 1956. According to the all-time B&O diesel roster online, the F7B units were built between 1950 and 1953, were originally numbered 249X to 297X plus 361, and became 5418 to 5519. There were also units acquired from the Bessemer and Lake Erie and numbered 5528 to 5538. Of all the photos on that site, only the 5418 is shown in the scheme MTL modeled-- well, sort of, as the roadname is in the black band on that unit and there is also the roadnumber in the blue band centered below the "And" in "Baltimore And Ohio". The rear of the unit has a dual light mounted to the right of the door-- it has the shape and we assume the function of a headlight, but it's in the rear, so we can't call it a headlight, right? Photos of A units show that the "Bando Blue" did co-exist with the older blue and gray, as well as with the later "plain blue". I also note that at least in that later plain blue scheme, F7B's were paired with later motive power. You might get some funny looks coupling a B unit to a GP35, for example, but you'd be prototypical.

I suspect that even if I were to come across an exact start date for the "Bando Blue"-- which I haven't although I suspect it was around the same time as the renumbering, the photo cited above proves that at least it and its predecessor co-existed. The dominance of black and white photos on the 'net with respect to documenting this series makes it a bit difficult to call anyway-- dirty gray is going to look a lot like black. © 2009 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

981 01 200 and 981 01 210, $175.95 each
Reporting Marks: B&O 3547, C&O 3568.
GP-35 Diesels, Baltimore and Ohio, Chesapeake and Ohio.

Blue (differing in shade between B&O and C&O) with black frame and yellow sill. Yellow lettering including railroad initials on long hood and road number on cab. B&O Capitol Dome or "C&O For Progress" herald on nose as appropriate.
Approximate Time Period: 1964 through mid-1980's (both units).
NOTE: This release (both numbers) has been sold out and discontinued.

First, I'll ask and answer what I think to be the most obvious question about these units: Yes, they were different shades of blue. That answer conveniently appeared in an article about CSX and predecessor locomotives by Ron Bearden in the July/August 2009 issue of N Scale magazine. According to several online resources, both of these locomotives were built in 1964. The "CSX Photo Archives" site shows the C&O 3658 becoming CSX 4408, but there is no entry for the B&O 3547. © 2009 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

The Fallen Flags website shows B&O 3547 as found in 1973 in an unspecified location. The image is dark but it looks like the Royal Blue has darkened some over time. We appear to have a good match between prototype and model, including dynamic brakes and placement of the air horn. Plenty of photos of sister units are out on Fallen Flags as well, dated as late as 1986, giving us an Approximate Time Period through the Chessie System and into CSX for the overall roster of GP-35s as painted here. The "CSX Photo Archives" site shows the C&O 3658 becoming CSX 4408, but there is no entry for the B&O 3547, so that ATP may not apply to these specific units. © 2009 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

The C&O 3568 is also on Fallen Flags in "coming right by you" low level three-quarter view in Lansing, Michigan in November 1971. There are plenty of shots of sister units on Fallen Flags also, extending into the early 1980's. But I note that some of these units have yellow noses with blue "C&O For Progress" heralds. Based on the photo dates, these two schemes clearly co-existed. And yes, the 3568 is correctly painted by MTL with the all blue nose. © 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.


850 00 010, $39.45
Reporting Marks: C&S 1101.
30 Foot Wood Sheathed Refrigerator Car, Colorado and Southern.

Yellow sides, freight car red roof, ends, sill below door, and trucks. Black lettering including reporting marks on left. Black and white circular herald on right.
Approximate Time Period: 1927 to 1938.
Previous Releases: Road Numbers 1113 and 1116, April 2006.
NOTE: This item has been sold out and discontinued.

[The following is largely reprinted from the April 2006 UMTRR coverage of the previous release of this car.]

The Colorado and Southern was formed out of the mess created out of the 1893 bankruptcy of the Union Pacific system. The UP-- or should I say, rail baron Jay Gould-- had control of two narrow gauge lines in Colorado, the Colorado Central and the Denver, South Park and Pacific. (I'm leaving out some of the intermediate names here.) When the UP went under, its subsidiaries did as well. Bondholders took over the standard gauge line from Wyoming to the New Mexico-Texas border, from whence affiliate line Fort Worth and Denver took over into Texas, eventually to the Gulf Coast. The C&S took control of the two narrow gauge lines and started operating them in January 1899. The controlling interest in the C&S was sold to the Chicago, Burlington and Quincy in 1908. (And that's how the Burlington ended up with former Union Pacific-controlled trackage.) © 2009 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

While the Colorado Central was somewhat better off than the South Park, both lines were already in decline by the turn of the century. Both lines had historic achievements-- the South Park was the second largest slim gauge road in the Rockies after the Denver and Rio Grande. The Colorado Central had the famous Georgetown Loop which was a tourist attraction even then. The Loop enabled the gaining of 638 feet of elevation in two miles using a full loop and two horseshoe curves, keeping the maximum grade to three and one-half percent. But neither's long term prospects were good, and the combination of fluctuating mine traffic and the encroachment of the highway meant the end for the C&S narrow gauge lines. Much of the Colorado Central is buried under US 6, with the key exception of the Georgetown Loop which was rebuilt and is once again a tourist attraction. Most of the South Park line was shut down in the late 1930's, with small portions kept and one key connector from Leadville to Climax converted to standard gauge to service a molybdenum mine that was strategic for the World War II effort. © 2009 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

The first run of these cars were numbered 1113 and 1116 and at that time, Micro-Trains noted a Better Than Approximate Time Period for these two specific cars in the C&S series of wood reefers. They were painted in the manner modeled by MTL in 1927 and sold off to the Rio Grande Southern in 1938. Conveniently near the start of this ATP is the Official Railway Equipment Register (ORER) for April 1928, which we'll go to. Of the total of 895 narrow gauge freight cars listed in the C&S registration are 25 refrigerator cars, of which 20 belong to the series 1100 to 1119. The inside length of these cars was just 23 feet, but that's between the ice tanks which carried 5712 pounds of chunk ice or 4896 pounds of chunk ice. The inside height was 6 feet and one-half inch, which means I could have just stood upright inside!-- and the inside width was 6 feet 7 inches. The outside length was 30 feet even, outside width was 7 feet 11 1/2 inches and the extreme height was 12 feet. The smallness of these cars can really be appreciated by considering the space capacity after the ice tanks are subtracted-- a mere 914 cubic feet! I think that's about the same displacement as my kitchen! © 2009 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

The slide in fortunes of the narrow gauge operation wouldn't be all that evident from the July 1935 edition of the ORER (Westerfield CD-ROM), with a drop in equipment to 790 pieces not all that alarming including a dip to 18 cars in the reefer series in which we are interested. However, there had been no additions of new rolling stock at all, based on the listings in '28 and '35. Considering that the C&S had started its attempt to legally shed itself of its 3 foot gauge operations starting in 1915 via abandonment proceedings, that's not too surprising either. © 2009 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.


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