UMTRR September, 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.


032 00 410, $17.10
Reporting Marks: NKP 84147.
50 Foot Steel Boxcar, Plug Door, Nickel Plate Road.

Brown with black ends. White lettering including reporting marks on left and herald roadname on right.
Approximate Time Period: December 1963 (build date given by MTL) to mid-1970s.
NOTE: This item has been sold out and discontinued.

The January 1964 Official Railway Equipment Register (ORER) for January 1964 is one of the last editions that has the Nickel Plate Road, officially the New York, Chicago and St. Louis, as an independent line. Later that year, the Norfolk and Western would take it over, although it would be a while before the NKP would completely disappear from the railroad scene. © 2009 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

The ORER entry for the Nickel Plate is one of the last registrations that shows rolling stock grouped by type instead of in lowest to highest road number order. This was once a common practice in ORER listings. So in the NKP's entry, there are a few tank cars first, then flat cars, gondolas, hoppers, and finally boxcars. That includes the series 84095 to 84194, one hundred cars described as "Box, All Steel, Insulated Plug Doors" but carrying the AAR Mechanical Designation "RBL" which technically makes them "Refrigerator" cars. Let's get the usual dimensional rundown out of the way: inside length 50 feet 1 inch, inside height 9 feet 3 inches (remember the insulation!), inside width 9 feet 10 inches (ditto), outside length 55 feet 2 inches, extreme height 15 feet 1 inch, door opening 10 feet 6 inches, and capacity 4548 cubic feet or 100,000 pounds. That ten and a half foot opening does result in an unusual call of a "door thing" on a plug door here in the UMTRR; the prototype plug door is just a bit too wide for me to not notice. MTL does include the extended draft gear trucks which help simulate the cushion underframe. If you're body mounting these couplers as I do, then place them a bit outboard of the frame to emulate the look of that feature. © 2009 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

MTL also notes that these cars were built in December 1963 which makes them among the last delivered to the independent Nickel Plate. We can confirm that date via a bingo on George Elwood's Fallen Flags site of the very NKP 84147 in an undated photo taken in Marshalltown, Iowa-- among a considerable amount of vegetation! The three-quarter view clearly shows the black end, the wide plug door, and a whole lot of lettering that's a bit easier to read here than off of the image on the MTL website. To the right of the reporting marks is painted, "Equipped with movable bulkheads and side fillers" and a "Return when empty" direction. To the left of the "herald roadname" (not sure what else to call it!) are the words "Cushion Underframe". And directly on the door is, well, I still can't quite make out more than it is a Caution of some sort. One bit of lettering I wish Micro-Trains had included is the tiny "NYC&StL" in the very top left of the side. Yeah, it's tiny, actually smaller in size than the dimensional data on the car and probably outside the limits of practicality; still, we can dream. (Or decal it ourselves.) There are some deltas between the model and prototype in terms of side sills and ends, also there is a partial ladder instead of grab irons on the left of each side. © 2009 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

Let's return to the ORERs to see how far into the Norfolk and Western regime these cars lasted. We'll stop at January 1967 to find that, to my amazement, the NKP listing remains ordered by car type! The series in which we're interested remains at its full complement of 100 cars. In April 1970 we find 93 cars in the NKP series, with a bump to 140,000 pounds capacity (just swap for 70 ton trucks) and end notes finally mentioning the side fillers, movable bulkheads and cushion underframe-- how had that been missed before? Oh, and some cars, not including the 84147, had "pallets considered [to be] part of car" but that's awfully hard to discern with a plug door boxcar! © 2009 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

Although you've got to be thinking about roofwalk removal by this time, the April 1975 ORER shows a total of 62 of the original 100 cars still present in the NKP series, grouped into three subseries by pallets, no pallets, or skids. I'll call the end of the ATP there since I believe the roofwalks would be gone by then. But for the record, the series is at 34 cars in the April 1981 ORER and gone no later than the July 1989 issue. © 2009 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

054 00 181 and 054 00 182, $20.75 each
Reporting Marks: GN 160331 and GN 160335.
61 Foot Bulkhead Flat Cars, Great Northern.

Sky blue with white lettering including roadname and road number on left. Simulated concrete slab load included.
Approximate Time Period: 1968 (build date given by MTL) to mid-1980's.
NOTE: This item (both numbers) has been sold out and discontinued.

The Morning Sun Color Guide (MSCG) to the Great Northern, page 64, has a photo of GN 160331 which is one of the two cars modeled by Micro-Trains for this release. The caption accompanying the circa 1968 photo confirms the 1968 build date and the builder, Thrall. Author David Hickcox said that these "could carry 95 tons of lumber or aluminum ingots, the highest capacity of any GN bulkhead flat. He also noted that the last six cars in the series, 160369 to 160374, were specially equipped for aluminum ingots and were in assigned service. The photo in the MSCG was taken in a bit of a shadow so I can't be precise on the prototype to model comparison. I can see a difference in the number and spacing of the tie downs, and they might not actually be pockets like the MTL model has but more like solid beams. There are some quibbles with the bulkheads as well. It would have been cool for Micro-Trains to print the instructions "After unloading stow tie down chains in side pockets" on the inside of the bulkheads, but I can imagine how much of a logistical nightmare that would have been. © 2009 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

We go to the Official Railway Equipment Register (ORER) for April 1970 and the Burlington Northern listing, where we find all 100 possible cars in the series 160300 to 160399. They had AAR Designation "FMS" and a description of just "Flat, Bulkhead." The inside length was 56 feet 8 inches, inside height 10 feet 6 inches, outside length 64 feet 5 inches, and extreme height 14 feet 3 inches. Those dimensions would be "roughly right" with respect to the MTL body style but not exact. The capacity is shown as 150,000 pounds or 75 tons so I'm not sure where the MSCG comment about 95 tons capacity originated. © 2009 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

No, wait, yes I do, for in the April 1976 ORER the cars that remain with Great Northern markings have been raised to 190,000 pounds capacity. The series has been split into subsets based on lading. Numbers 160325 to 160368 were "Flat, Cast Steel, Tie-Downs, 25K (Lumber)" with 190,000 pounds capacity and there were 28 of those. The other five were the specially equipped cars for aluminum ingots mentioned in the MSCG. © 2009 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

I would expect since these cars were almost new at the time of the BN merger they would have been absorbed into the BN roster eventually. In April 1976, then, there were only 33 cars listed. But in the April 1981 ORER, the total quantity of cars numbered 160300 to 160399, across five subsets, is down only two cars to 31. Just nine remain in the January 1985 book and they're all gone by October 1986. © 2009 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

110 00 130, $34.75
Reporting Marks: MCVX 72223.
56 Foot General Service Tank Car, Dow Chemical / The Firefighters Education and Training Foundation.

Blue with red ends and frame. Yellow lettering including reporting marks on left and vertical conspicuity stripes across car. Multicolor "Firefighters' Safety Train" logo on left, "TRANSCAER/Chemtrec" logos and Dow Chemical trademark on right.
Approximate Time Period: early 2000s to the present.
NOTE: This item has been sold out and discontinued.

Found in Springfield, Massachusetts, photographed and posted to is the unusual prototype for this colorful MTL release. This is just one of several "Safety Train" tank cars, boxcars and cabooses, all painted with considerable distinction and all with MCVX reporting marks. For example, there's an X58 class Conrail exterior post plugdoor boxcar now carrying a CSX "Hazardous Material System" placard along with a "Conrail HazMat" placard and a "Firefighters' Safety Train" placard. And there's a short tank car in yellow and dark blue with large "Safety Training Car" lettering. There's even another tank car painted in a similar manner to the one that Micro-Trains depicts this month. © 2009 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

That "Firefighters' Safety Train" logo is quite important, actually, and it points to the actual registration of these cars. The October 2007 ORER shows the MCVX reporting marks assigned to The Firefighters Education and Training Foundation, not to Dow Chemical. There is scant little on the net for the exact phrase "Firefighters Education and Training Foundation" but we do learn that it's based in Springfield, Massachusetts where the bulk of the photos were taken. © 2009 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

Unless you go to the Safety Train's own website, that is! There's a short history of the effort which began in 1994 in Massachusetts when two hundred firefighters participated in a training exercise featuring a simulated train wreck. "The real benefits of this elaborate exercise were not achieved. The emergency responders never learned how to identify different types of tank cars, their markings and their mechanical workings." So the idea of a dedicated "Safety Train" was born. Starting with three donated tank cars, there are now five Safety Trains which travel the country, including one consisting of passenger cars. © 2009 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

The specific tank car MCVX 72223 modeled is not an exact match to the MTL body style. In fact, I'd have to call it more of a stand in. There are large bands about 15 percent of the way in from each end of the car, which appears to be longer than the 56 feet of the Micro-Trains car. The platform is larger and longer on the prototype. And tank cars such as these require double shelf couplers to diminish the risk of couplers riding up and puncturing adjacent cars during a mishap. There is no ORER listing available for these reporting marks, by the way. It's becoming a more common practice for private owners to exclude themselves from detail Equipment Register listings. © 2009 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

125 00 090, $24.90
Reporting Marks: WBCX 80053.
Three Bay Ortner Rapid Discharge Hoppers, Blue Circle Williams.

Yellow with mostly blue lettering including reporting marks on left and company name on right. Simulated sand load included.
Approximate Time Period: late 1990's to present.
NOTE: This item has been sold out and discontinued.

So you think I'm going to be able to copy and paste the story of Blue Circle Cement from previous MTL releases in that paint scheme? I should be so lucky! No, the presence of the name "Williams" on this Ortner hopper takes the story in an entirely different direction, as I found out when I began looking for prototype photos of this car. © 2009 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

Williams Brothers was headquartered in Atlanta and was purchased in 1985 or 1986 by Blue Circle. As you might recall, Blue Circle was the 1978 renaming of Associated Portland Cement Manufacturers Limited, a firm based in the United Kingdom. That firm was taken over by the French firm LaFarge. Unfortunately it appears that any history of the Williams Brothers is either not online or has been wiped out-- there is a LinkedIn group for former employees of the company, but there's a lot of search engine matches that don't relate at all to the company. For example, I didn't know that the singer Andy Williams had male siblings who were singers... © 2009 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

Anyway, we get a bingo on WBCX 80053 on the site (Look under "Private Owners.") Well, it's a bingo if you can somehow see through all of that graffiti. The photo was taken by James Hinman in March 2007 in Marietta, Georgia near Atlanta, actually near the headquarters of the company, and the car was part of a CSX local train. The lettering beneath all that, er, decoration, does appear to match the MTL model. The road number and the consolidated stencils were redone right over the top of the graffiti-- which I guess means that the defacing was itself defaced, right? © 2009 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

We'll next check the ORER Accumulation, and go backwards from the latest edition I have which is October 2007. (You'll see why in a moment.) The Blue Circle Cement series WBCX 80046 to 85070 could hold a lot of Ortner hoppers, but there are only 25, with outside length of 43 feet 10 inches, extreme height of 12 feet 6 inches, capacity of 2300 cubic feet, and gross rail weight (car plus what it's carrying) of 263,000 pounds. Among the home points listed for all of the Blue Circle cars are Magnolia, Georgia. Trinity Rail Management is listed as the place to which movements and mileage are reported and repair bills are sent. © 2009 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

Backtrack to January 2000 and the big series is split, although the only difference is 1000 pounds of capacity. The group 80046 to 80055 has ten cars and the group 85056 to 85070 has fifteen. At that point it was the Williams Brothers Division of Blue Circle that handled the paperwork. And backwards again to October 1996 where the two series, still totaling 25 cars, are shown as "change from previous issue" under the Blue Circle registration. © 2009 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

That brings us back to July 1992 where the registration itself is separate; it's "Williams Bros. Division, Blue Circle Inc" for the cars. I haven't mentioned that there were 70 WBCX hoppers in all, with 30 others numbered 73001 to 73030 also looking to be Ortner hoppers based on the dimensions presented. And our last stop on this reverse lookup is the April 1984 ORER where the name listed is "Williams Bros. Concrete, Inc" and the 80046 to 80055 set of cars is in service. This time we get an inside length of 31 feet 3 inches to go with the previous information. has a shot of WBCX 80048 with a note that it was built in 1980. Obviously this was before Blue Circle took over Williams Brothers, so the Approximate Time Period won't go that far back. © 2009 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

And here's a final interesting data point: some of these cars are still decorated for Williams Brothers without any mention of Blue Circle. In fact, I found more images of those cars online than I did with the updated paint scheme that MTL used. If you're already looking at you can see what I mean. So what does that mean for the ATP of the car or cars painted for Blue Circle / Williams like this month's release? I would say that it might be shorter than we expect, although under all that graffiti it might be hard to tell. Certainly the "new" owner of the cars was in no rush to paint out the Williams Brothers name, even if it's difficult to find in cyberspace. © 2009 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.


038 00 240, $22.30
Reporting Marks: UP 492876.
50 Foot Plug Door Boxcar Without Roofwalk, Union Pacific.

Yellow with aluminum ends and roof. Black reporting marks (on left) and dimensional data (left and right). Red, white and blue shield herald on left. Large slogan "We Can Handle It" on right.
Approximate Time Period: 1976 (service date given by MTL) or early 1980's to early decade of the 2000's.
Previous Release (as catalog 38240): Road Number 492915, August 1998.
NOTE: This release has been sold out and discontinued.

Before "We Will Deliver," but after the request that shippers "Be Specific, Ship Union Pacific", was "We Can Handle It." Sometimes, as in this case, followed by the phrase "...the Union Pacific railroad people," the slogan was adapted in the 1970's and displayed in large bold lettering on car sides. The slogan also appears in white on a box car red background. An example of that version can be found in the form of M/T's catalog number 33050 / 033 00 050, last issued in 1992. © 2009 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

Like others in the MTL 038 series, it's actually classified as a refrigerator car in the Association of American Railroads code. It's an RBL, to be specific (no pun intended), according to Micro-Trains built in 1964. The series is described in the January 1967 ORER as "Union Pacific Refrigerator Plug Door Cushion Underframe" back in its original series of 499900 to 499999, with 98 cars in the group at that time. © 2009 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

Micro-Trains reports that the cars were serviced in May 1976 and renumbered into the 492801 to 492970 series, however the ORERs I own don't exactly concur with that information. The following also differs from my own August 1998 research on the first release. I suppose that makes for an eleven year old "oops," but we can also call it Continuous Improvement here at UMTRR HQ. © 2009 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

The first Equipment Register in which I pick up this exact road number is April 1984. There is a small group 492875 to 492890 of 16 cars described as "Refrigerator, Steel, Cushion Underframe, Load Dividers, Single Plug Doors, Special Interior Lining, 50K" with these dimensions: inside length 50 feet 1 inch, inside width 9 feet 4 inches, inside height 9 feet 11 inches, outside length 58 feet, extreme height 15 feet, door opening 10 feet 6 inches, capacity 4668 cubic feet or 135,000 pounds. The original release's road number 492915 is part of the next series 492891 to 492970, of 79 cars, described the same way with the addition "Considered Part of Car: Shipper Owned Pallets" and with the same dimensions except for a door opening of 10 feet even. © 2009 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

By July 1989 the 492876 was the first road number in the even smaller group 492876 to 492888 which was down to eight cars, and the series with MTL's first release number had slipped to 48 cars. Two years later the groups were down to seven and 36 cars respectively. Take that down to five and twenty cars in the October 1996 ORER, three and nine cars in the July 1998 Register, and three and six cars in the January 2000 book. It looks like the cars were in service for a couple more years, but in 2004 the forty year rule would have kicked in (cars older than that, unless rebuilt, are no longer supposed to be in interchange service). © 2009 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

My next question, which I hedged on back when the first number was released in 1998, was how long we could expect to see the "We Can Handle It" slogan on these cars. I had submitted a guess of an Approximate Time Period to at least the end of the 1980's, but knowing what I know now, I am thinking that the paint scheme MTL depicts was the final one for these cars until they were retired sometime in the decade of the 2000's. The Fallen Flags site has a photo of very similar car UP 492872, a class BI-70-7, as of 1989, so I believe it's safe to assume that the "We Can Handle It" got that far. I also note differences between prototype and model, the most prominent of which is the presence of diagonal seams either side of the plug door-- which is also wider on the real car than the model. There is also UP 492773 shot in 2007 and with the slogan almost completely worn away, and UP 493328 as of 2006 in only slightly better condition, both on © 2009 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

075 00 120, $24.80
Reporting Marks: BCIT 800480.
50 Foot Double Plug Door Boxcar Without Roofwalk, British Columbia Railway.

Dark green with light green center door. Mostly white lettering including reporting marks on left and roadname on right with multicolor "dogwood" herald.
Approximate Time Period: mid-1970s (1974 build date) to 1980.
Previous Release (as catalog 75120): Road Number 800516, September 2003.
NOTE: This item has been sold out and discontinued.

[The following is largely reprinted from the September 2003 UMTRR coverage of the previous release of this car.]

We find our old friends the United States Railway Equipment Company here again, as you might have noted from the USA map stenciled on the right side of the bottom sill. In fact, the April 1976 ORER calls out specifically that these cars are owned by the USRE. The complete description is, pause for deep breath, "Box, Insulated, Cushion Underframe, Under Customs Regulations and Authorized for Exclusive Use in International Service Between Canada and the United States and Must Not be Used in Domestic Service Between Points in Canada, Owned by United States Railway Equipment Co., 50K." Because these were insulated boxcars, they got AAR Classification "RB" which is a refrigerator designation. There were 400 cars in the series 800200 to 800649; MTL's insert label splits these into two groups 800200 to 800349 and 800400 to 800649. The dimensions as listed show a bit of a problem: inside length 52 feet 5 inches, inside height 10 feet 5 inches, outside length 62 feet 3 inches, extreme height 15 feet 5 inches, door opening 16 feet. In other words, the 75er body style is a little too small for exact depiction of the prototype car, even with extended draft gear couplers which MTL did include here. © 2009 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

George Elwood's Fallen Flags site includes a shot of this exact car BCIT 800480, which brings out other differences. For example, the prototype has short ladders, not full size. And the light green door that's in the center on the model is offset to the right on the prototype, in fact it looks like the centerline of the car is actually between the two doors, not dead center of the main door. And the bottom sill runs completely across the car side. Overall, I think some folks will deem this a "stand in" for the prototype series, and I couldn't blame them. Also note that the photo on Elwood's site shows the colors with some significant fade, although I can't really tell whether it's from actual paint fade or a somewhat overexposed photo. © 2009 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

Moving to the April 1981 ORER, we find something interesting: the series isn't there? There is a group of cars numbered 800650 to 800849 with different dimensions, but the group 800200 to 800649 is not shown. Huh? Ditto from the January 1985 Register under the BC Rail listing. Perhaps these cars were on a short term lease and then returned? According to Ian Cranstone's "Canadian Freight Cars" site that's exactly what happened; he shows them all back to the USRE and restenciled with USLX reporting marks by 1981. So a short ATP indeed for these particular cars. © 2009 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

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

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


525 00 151 and 525 00 152, $19.10 each
Reporting Marks: NYC 480755 and NYC 480810.
40 Foot Flat Car, New York Central.

Black with white lettering including reporting marks across car and oval herald on right. Simulated generator load included (different style on the 151 vs. the 152 release).
Approximate Time Period: mid 1960's to late 1970's.
NOTE: This release (both numbers) has been sold out and discontinued.

Let's get this out of the way: I should add a "see text" referring to the length of the model versus the prototype. MTL has put 53 foot flat car numbers on 40 foot flat cars. Better choices for road numbers might have been out of the series 498000 to 498499, or 498500 to 498999, based on a look at the July 1950 ORER. There may be the opportunity for the Z Scale modeler to do some renumbering if the right size decals or transfers are available. © 2009 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

We'll continue with the road numbers that MTL did select. It's noted that the original series for these cars, built in 1942, was 499300 to 499599, and I did locate that group in the January 1945 ORER. The "inside length" was 53 feet 6 inches and "outside length" (over the couplers) was 54 feet 3 inches, with a capacity of 140,000 pounds. An endnote reveals that 75 percent of their load limit could be carried in a distance of 18 feet at the center of the car, in other words, the load could be concentrated. In 1955 there were 187 of the original 300 in the main series and five more that were specially equipped for gypsum board. © 2009 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

In the January 1964 ORER the renumbering and repurposing that MTL discussed had not yet taken place. How about the January 1967 Equipment Register? Ah, here we are: the group 480750 to 480849 has 58 cars in the main series with capacity of 140,000 pounds plus another five cars with the capacity bumped up to 154,000 pounds. The two numbers MTL depicts weren't among these exceptions. The "outside length" has also increased to 56 feet 9 inches. These cars were, as MTL notes, described as "Flat, Steel, Auto Frames" so I can't be sure that they would be carrying the provided generator loads during other times. © 2009 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

In the April 1970 ORER the New York Central has given way to the Penn Central, however the NYC series is actually up in count to 72 at 140,000 pounds and eight at 154,000 pounds. That was back down to 57 plus five in the July 1974 ORER and 52 plus five in the April 1975 book. Conrail inherited just 25 cars in April 1976, so they were dropping fast. Considering the original build date of 1942 that's not terribly surprising. I'm also not surprised that the cars were gone by the next Equipment Register in the Research Accumulation, April 1981. The Canada Southern website which also includes a wealth of data on the Central, notes that all of the cars from the original series, whether converted or not, were gone by 1986. It's also noted on the site that some of the original cars were flipped to coil steel service with the installation of hoods, or modified to bulkhead flat cars. © 2009 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

I had wondered a bit about the paint scheme on these cars. It seems very much like that of the NYC of the 1940's, not that of the 1960's. However, the RPI website indicates that after a period of either black or freight car red for open top cars, which I assume includes flat cars, it was back to black only around 1960. © 2009 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

535 00 270, $23.95
Road Number: 3559 (will be "C&O 3559" in website listings).
30 Foot Steel Center Cupola Caboose, Chesapeake & Ohio.

Blue with yellow lettering, stripe along bottom of side, and side grab irons. "C&O for Progress" herald and road number in center. Road number on each end of the cupola.
Approximate Time Period: 1969 (per MTL rebuild date) to early 1990's.
NOTE: This release has been sold out and discontinued.

The Morning Sun Color Guide to the C&O tells the story with a bit more detail than MTL has room to fit in its car copy. The C&O and subsidiary Pere Marquette were among several roads to purchase cabooses from Magor Car Company. The C&O series 90000 to 90049, delivered in 1937, were the first steel cabooses in service for the line. Other cabooses of virtually identical design were built by other manufacturers later and eventually the series grew to numbers 90000 to 90199. In 1969 and 1970, 185 of the cars were "retired" and completely rebuilt inside and out, resulting in a new caboose. Like the extended vision cars bought new by the C&O during roughly the same time period, these cars broke with tradition in their dark blue and yellow paint. It was reported (and cited in the MSCG) in the book "Steel Cabooses of the Chesapeake and Ohio" by Dwight Jones that blue, specifically Norfolk and Western blue, was chosen because the C&O and N&W were considering a merger at the time. © 2009 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

The 3559 and several sister cars can be found in a photo on Page 116 of the MSCG and we note that there are window size, number and placement deltas between model and prototype. The Micro-Trains car has two pairs of windows per side, a double window on each side of the cupola and square windows on the cupola ends. The prototype 3559 had two single windows per side, one large window with sliding horizontal glass and screens on each side of the cupola, and two rounded square windows on each end of the cupola. Special Correspondent James Pugh wrote us to note that some cars are shown with a third small rounded rectangle window on one side of the car. This is of course a function of "standing in" an existing body style for a prototype that isn't likely to be modeled precisely in widely available plastic. I'm sure everyone can think of other examples of this. © 2009 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

The MSCG notes that the cars, along with the extended vision cars, lasted "until the demise of cabooses across the system." Whenever that is! Based on photos on the Fallen Flags website, at least a few rebuilds were repainted into Chessie System colors in the early 1990s, so we will call the Approximate Time Period there. At least one got a Chessie Safety Slogan and orange paint "Safety is Good for Life" (duly forwarded on to MTL for future consideration with the "stand in" caveat). The "demise of cabooses" would be no earlier than the 1980's for the Chesapeake and Ohio based on the dates of the photos that I saw, assuming that some of them stayed in the blue and yellow C&O paint until the end. © 2009 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

And there are exceptions to my ATP estimate. C&O 3630 in Chessie colors posted on found in Seymour, Indiana in 1993, probably not in road-worthy condition however. Also James Pugh cites the book "C&O and B&O Cabooses: Display and Private Owner Cars" by Dwight Jones which indicates that 30 cabooses in the series were preserved. The Jones book also shows the cars with a "90" prefixed to the road number during the Chessie era, for example 903559. © 2009 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

553 00 060, $28.20.
Road Number 7905 (will be "PRR 7905" in website listings).
Smoothside Baggage Car, Pennsylvania Railroad.

Tuscan sides and ends, black roof. Gold pinstriping across car. Roadname across top of car; legend "Railway Express Agency" and roadnumber in center.
Approximate Time Period: 1949 (build date) through late 1960's at least.
NOTE: This item has been sold out and discontinued.

There is a scan of the PRR's entry in the January 1953 Official Register of Passenger Train Equipment on Jerry Britton's "Keystone Crossings" site. It's shown in that excerpt that the Pennsy had 140 steel baggage-express cars numbered 7797 to 7939, with a 60 foot inside length and a 63 foot 7 inch length over the buffers. Per diem rates for these cars at the time was 13.30 with a mileage charge of 6.7 cents, important if the cars roamed away from the PRR, which they certainly did. © 2009 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

The MTL model appears to carry the paint scheme of the B60b class of PRR baggage cars, and that's in fact what the series 7797 to 7939 were according to my local Pennsy expert and "Tuesday Night Gang" member Jack Matsik. The wide space roadname in an extended serif font was in place from the early 1940's forward, though some cars were changed to simple "PRR" initials with red and white keystones at each end. The "Railway Express Agency" lettering is referenced as being most prevalent in the early 1950's. In 1952 the lettering color was changed from gold leaf to imitation gold, but that won't be noticeable on Z Scale cars. © 2009 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

The B60b class, so named because they were the second major group of 60 foot interior length baggage cars, numbered as many as 500 pieces and came from four manufacturers including the Pressed Steel Car Company that MTL mentions in its car copy. They were delivered to the line between 1925 and 1930 and many were in service through the end of the Pennsylvania in 1968. The MTL body style is quite a ways from the B60b prototype, and I think that's already understood by the folks in Talent. First, the real B60b's were heavyweight cars. Second, the doors were most frequently equipped with the distinctive Pennsy "porthole" round windows. Third, they frequently rode on PRR-specific trucks, the 2D-P5 types. Suffice to say that the "see text" is justified here, but on the other hand, those that just want a Pennsy baggage car to fill in a train will probably be OK. © 2009 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

552 00 070, $26.60.
Reporting Marks: SP 296.
Smoothside Baggage Car, Southern Pacific.

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

Once again, we turn to our Special Correspondent David Carnell for information on this release. Start quote:

Information on this car comes from the book, "Southern Pacific Passenger Cars, Volume 3: Head End Equipment" by the Southern Pacific Historical and Technical Society. Specific information on this car is found in Chapter 19: "Southern Pacific Lightweight Baggage Cars": Development and Production 1937-1962, Pages 447-463. © 2009 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

SP 296 is a Pacific Car & Foundry "Economy Baggage Car" built as SP 6704 on April 18, 1962. It is one of one hundred cars in SP's Class B-66-2. When the car was delivered, it was painted gray with white lettering. The car was retired from regular service December 23, 1970. At this time it went into company service and was repainted into the Simulated Stainless Steel and Scarlet paint scheme for this service. The car was retired in July 1973 and went to the Golden Gate Railroad Museum. The museum sold the car in November 2005 and it was renumbered RCBX 296. This gives the car an Approximate Time Period of about three years in company service. © 2009 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

The Micro-Trains Car is a stand in for the PC&F car. The PC&F car is 65 feet 7 1/2 inches long and has two door openings, one 6 feet wide and one 8 feet wide. The 8 foot door opening was made up of two 4 foot doors. The cars rode on roller bearing trucks that are similar in design to the GSC BX express truck. The cars were known as "Economy Baggage Cars" because they were lightly built with minimal amenities. © 2009 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

Some interesting facts about these cars. The SP loaned them to the Penn Central in 1968 for baggage service. They were returned at the end of the year. When the SP no longer needed them, it tried to come up with alternate uses including using the cars to haul US Military Ammunition, and rebuilding the cars to haul containers. The last use was rejected because the cars were too lightly built. © 2009 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

End quote, and many thanks, David. There is a Jerry Laboda photo of sister car 295 in the company service paint scheme as of 2006 on, where it's noted that the car was formerly numbered 6706. On, there are two photos of a forlorn looking former SP 296 as of my birthday (!) in February 2008 with reporting marks NCBX 296 in Newark, California, and a third shot two months later in vandalized condition in the same location, all lensed by Rob Sarberenyi. In these photos, it appears that the car had been returned to the gray and white paint scheme at one time, although rust is now a primary color as well. © 2009 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

970 01 011 and 970 01 012, $185.95 each
Reporting Marks: CSXT 8014 and CSXT 8033.
SD40-2 Diesels, CSX Transportation.

"YN3" scheme: dark blue; yellow nose, rear of long hood and sills; silver roof on cab; blue and yellow handrails; black frame. Yellow lettering including large "CSX" on long hood and road number on cab. Blue "CSX" on nose and rear of long hood. Black on white numberboards.
Approximate Time Period: 2002 to present.
NOTE: This release (both numbers) has been sold out and discontinued.

Would it be fair to say that this went beyond an eagerly anticipated release to a "when is it going to get here already?!?" release? Possibly, but the first six-axle diesel from Micro-Trains has finally arrived and I suspect Z Scalers will be pleased. The SD40-2 was part of the "Dash 2" line of diesels from Electro-Motive Corporation and featured modular electronics and other improvements over the previous SD40 model. And of course there is that distinctive "porch" appearance at both the front and rear of these locomotives. The SD40-2 was among the most successful locomotives in history with nearly four thousand built. A variant of the design even went "across the pond" to become the British Rail Class 59. © 2009 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

The original owner of these units was the Louisville and Nashville who bought them from Electro-Motive in 1979. Order number 786167 consisted of diesels numbered 8000 to 8033, road numbers which remained the same even as the reporting marks and paint schemes changed from Family Lines, in which paint these units were delivered, to Seaboard System to CSXT. Technically these were SD-40 Dash 2's, Phase 2b according to a compendium on the website © 2009 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

The 2002 date for the start of the Approximate Time Period comes from the adoption in that year of the "YN3" paint scheme on CSX. The "CSX Photo Archive" hosted by Trainweb has shots of both MTL modeled numbers, not only in their most recent paint scheme but also in previous decoration going all the way back to the "Family Lines." The 8033 is shown in three other CSX versions; just doing those could keep the folks in Talent busy for a while. (I suspect we'll see other roadnames first.) Easily topping that for sheer volumes is with a whopping 41 photos of the 8033 including some interior shots (!) and 40 more of the 8014. Certainly there are enough prototype images for me to do a top level comparison to the images of the model, and I can't say I see any major differences. Wait, a shot of the 8014, taken at my old stomping grounds of Port Reading, New Jersey, does show a bell mounted on the long hood that the MTL model doesn't have. Also, an online discussion revealed some painting discrepancies that were not evident in the reference photos I used. First, the pilot, step, plow and fuel tank should be black not blue. Second, there is a yellow edge around the short hood that comes up over the top which is not duplicated on the MTL version. © 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.


855 00 010, $36.90
Reporting Marks: C&S 7127.
30 Foot Flat Car, Colorado and Southern.

Brown with white lettering including reporting marks on left and road number on right. Simulated log load included.
Approximate Time Period: late 1930's (reweigh date July 1938).
Previous Releases: Road Number 7123, September 2007; Road Number 7132, October 2007.
NOTE: This item has been sold out and discontinued.

Sometimes research for these bytes can take some twists and turns, and that was certainly the case with the original releases of this car two years ago. Most readers know that I will never pretend to be an expert on narrow gauge railroads, but I can usually find a fact or two or pull something out of the Equipment Registers. But the July 1938 reweigh date of the car was a problem, since it was later than the July 1935 ORER and earlier than the January 1940 ORER by which time the Colorado and Southern was listing only standard gauge equipment. © 2009 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

Fortunately, while browsing in a train store, I came upon the book "The C&S High Line Memories and Then Some" by Tom Klinger, which had two photos which included a C&S flat car from the same series, both taken in 1938 as that line was being torn up. Based on the photos, I noted a good match between model and prototype. I coupled that with a posting to the HOn3 Yahoogroup which stated that these cars were not made from stock cars "until after the South Park line had been abandoned." And that was in 1938, which matches the photos in the C&S book. © 2009 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.

I still find it a bit difficult to believe that stock cars were converted to flat cars with no mention of this in the ORER, but the July 1935 Equipment Register does show the series 7015 to 7134 as being all stock cars. The flat cars were numbered 1069 to 1098. I suppose that narrow gauge operations were a little more informal-- certainly there was little chance in the 1930's of interchange of cars between railroads. But I could still envision requesting a stock car for cattle shipments and getting a flat car instead! © 2009 George J. Irwin. All rights reserved. Reposting prohibited.


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