UMTRR December, 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.


N SCALE NEW RELEASES:

020 00 826, $17.90
Reporting Marks: B&O 467004.
40 Foot Steel Boxcar, Single Youngstown Door, Baltimore and Ohio.

Oxide red with white lettering including roadname and reporting marks on left and "13 States" Capitol Dome herald on right. Simulated interior load included.
Approximate Time Period: 1947 (build date) into the 1960's at least.
NOTE: This release has been sold out and discontinued.

UMTRR Gang Member and B&O expert Brian DeVries contributes the following, start quote:

Since I was involved in getting the latest B&O box car project into production, I thought I'd pass on a few notes regarding these cars. Beginning in June 1947, the B&O took delivery of 1,000 class M-55H class cars from Pressed Steel Car Co. These M-55H cars differ from their M-55 class and sub-class predecessors. Those were some 2,000 cars, built from 1940-45, all with Duryea cushioned under frames and variations in ends, roofs and doors - some unique to the B&O. The M55-H cars were built to the latest (1944) AAR design. The inside car height, however, remained at the B&O standard 10 feet, set for tunnel clearance clearances in some of its territory. The paint applied in the post-war years was an oxide red which was used through the 1950's, and the cars were marked with the familiar Capitol dome logo, now with the "Linking 13 Great States with the Nation" lettering, first applied the previous year, around the circumference of the herald.

Later, at least six of these cars were repainted one at a time, beginning in August 1950, into the colorful "Time-Saver" paint scheme with the "comet" band of orange across the car. B&O 467434 (rendered previously by Micro-Trains as Catalog Number 20266) toured much of the B&O system in a 1953 promotion.

The load included was engineered to have a different look from each side of the car and, probably, best represents a less-than-carload (LCL) shipment with its, relatively, small shipment of odd-sized crates. In the B&O's case, this kind of load would probably have been shipped in the much more numerous (12,000, or so) 8 foot 6 inch inside height USRA-type cars, since LCL traffic seldom fills a car. The taller cars were usually saved for customers that would "cube out" (reaching maximum volume before maximum tonnage), such as a glass works. Note that box car loads were always shipped in cars with closed and sealed doors. The "public" would never see it.

End quote, and thanks, Brian. If you haven't already discerned this, the MTL 020 body style serves as a stand in for this B&O class. It's been noted online that the only "full height" PS-1s that were owned by the B&O were acquired second hand from the Ann Arbor and were assigned the M-67 class. Meanwhile, there is a photo of B&O 467673, an M-55H with the same paint scheme as MTL used, in glorious black and white on George Elwood's "Fallen Flags" site. The new date is July 1947 and the reweigh date is July 1954. The photo was taken in Parkersburg, West Virginia in August 1954. In addition to the 467673 being less tall than the Micro-Trains depiction, it also has a seven foot Superior door. Does that mean a "door thing" as well?

The Official Railway Equipment Register (ORER) for July 1950 provides the answer: yes, a slight "door thing." The door opening on the cars numbered 467000 to 467999 is seven feet, while the MTL model has a six foot door. (We don't know for sure whether all of the doors were Youngstown or Superior; probably some and some.) The rest of the key dimensions are as follows: inside length 40 feet 6 inches, inside height 10 feet as we've already discussed, inside width 9 feet 2 inches, outside length 42 feet 11 inches, extreme height 14 feet 7 inches, capacity 3715 cubic feet or 100,000 pounds. There were 999 cars in service out of a possible one thousand. Quickly going through selected later ORERs we find 981 cars in the group in January 1959 but just 391 total in January 1964, 312 in January 1967 and 251 in January 1970. By April 1976 only 70 cars remained. By that time I think they would have been painted into some other B&O decoration, perhaps the simpler version with reporting marks only on the left and small capital dome (without the "13 States" legend) on the right. Actually, that the paint scheme would be the most likely limiting factor for this car's Approximate Time Period and could have been flipped well before the seventies. But we'll throw in an "at least" to the ATP since we can't track all thousand cars in the series.

025 00 700, $21.45
Reporting Marks: CV 600148.
50 Foot Steel Exterior Post Boxcar, Single Door, Central Vermont.

Blue with aluminum roof. Mostly white lettering including roadname and reporting marks on left and large "wet noodle" herald on right.
Approximate Time Period: 1979 (build date) to 2006.
NOTE: This release has been sold out and discontinued.

Berwick Forge and Fabricating took over the American Car and Foundry plant in Berwick, Pennsylvania in 1962. While Berwick started with rebuilding and the manufacture of subassemblies for other companies, it constructed its first entire boxcar in 1969. During the "Boxcar Boom" of the 1970s, Berwick built thousands more boxcars including a large number for the National Railway Utilization Corporation. (You might remember the sky blue boxcars painted for their Pickens Railroad.) When the boxcar boom became a bust, Berwick's venture ended, with the last boxcars being delivered in the 1980s. Berwick exterior post boxcars still roam the rails today, but mostly in the employ of second, third or even fourth-hand owners.

Well, I'd written that much before I discovered that the prototype cars aren't from Berwick! The series CV 600125 to 600299 was built in September 1997 by FMC, not Berwick. This was the second of two groups of 5347 cubic foot boxcars built for the Central Vermont. This "oops" actually works a bit in MTL's favor as the 025 body style is based on an FMC prototype; although the MTL car is a 5077 cubic foot car, the 5347 version of the prototype looks pretty close, with the same style of ends and the same seven panel sides left and right of the single door. The main difference is the height of the car.

There's a photo of sister car CV 600235 in the October 2000 issue of Rail Model Journal, and there's an October 1991 image of the exact 600148 on RRPictureArchives.net along with some other cars in the group. The latest of these in the as-delivered paint is from 2004. But there's a shot of CV 600161 with rather sloppily overprinted reporting marks EEC 10157 (at least I think that's what it is!) not completely covering the CV markings. A detail image of CV 600195 from the same series shows unloading instructions from St. Laurent Paperboard Inc. It would not surprise me to know that other cars in the series including the 600148 were employed in the business of shipping paper products.

The April 1981 ORER is the closest I have to the 1979 build year. The series of 175 cars had an inside length of 50 feet 6 inches, inside width of 9 feet 6 inches, inside height of 11 feet 2 inches, outside length of 57 feet 7 inches (suggesting medium extended trucks), extreme height of 15 feet 6 inches, door opening of 10 feet, and capacity of 5347 cubic feet or 156,000 pounds. The October 1991 ORER showed 74 cars left in the series.

The Central Vermont became a "fallen flag" in 1995 when parent Canadian National sold the trackage to RailTex for operation as the New England Central. However, for accounting purposes the Central Vermont remained alive as a corporate entity. So in the October 1996 Equipment Register these and other cars marked "CV" are under the registration of the other CN subsidiary, the Grand Trunk Western. (Interestingly, the "CVC" reporting marks went to the Canadian National.) There were still 74 cars in service at that time. That 74 number holds steady all the way through the January 2006 ORER, but the series is completely gone from the October 2007 Equipment Register. So we have a somewhat better, er, approximation, of the Approximate Time Period this time.

Incidentally, in November 1981 Kadee released Micro-Trains catalog number 25080, a model of CV 600116 from the first group of FMC 5347s. I don't have that particular car in my accumulation, but a photo of it in "Micro-Trains: The Early Years" shows a car quite similar to this month's offering, probably similar enough to declare a "not a new release" if you're so inclined.

032 00 450, $24.70
Reporting Marks: GARX 50999.
50 Foot Steel Plug Door Boxcar, General American/Rio Grande (D&RGW).

Orange sides with aluminum bottom band separated by black stripe. Orange roof, black ends. Black lettering including reporting marks and General American triangular logo on left. Full name roadname with speed lettering "Rio Grande" on right. Green "No Damage" diagonal band on left.
Approximate Time Period: 1957 (build date given by MTL) to late 1960's.
NOTE: This release has been sold out and discontinued.

One of the more recent additions to the UMTRR Research Library is the Morning Sun Color Guide to the Rio Grande, picked up via a lucky bargain on that Internet Auction Community. (And I'm always looking to add to the MSCG accumulation, inexpensively that is.) As is my habit, I like to page through the volume when I get it; life is not all looking up monthly releases after all. Page 49 of the Rio Grande Color Guide caught my eye. At the top of the page is a shot of an RBL type plug door boxcar with an unusual rendition of the D&RGW's roadname. "Hmm, I wonder if Micro-Trains will do this car one day?" I thought. Well, we have the answer.

The MTL car copy is lifted from the caption for the photo in the MSCG. Back in the mid-1950's, General American was promoting the idea of insulated boxcars. These would be for goods that didn't need refrigeration, but did need protection from extreme temperatures. General American leased cars in an attempt to get them out on rails and the Rio Grande took 100 of them with reporting marks GARX 50900 to 50999. The ORER for January 1959 shows this group as part of a larger series GARX 50000 to 51999 of a total of 920 cars in two groups differing by capacity. The dimensions of both groups were the same: inside length 50 feet 1 inch, inside width 9 feet 2 inches, inside height 9 feet 6 inches, outside length 53 feet, extreme height 15 feet 1 inch, door opening 7 feet 7 inches, and cubic capacity 4300 feet. The much larger subset of 842 cars had a weight capacity of 96,000 pounds; the cars leased to the Rio Grande were in this group. The second subset of 78 cars had a weight capacity of 89,000 pounds. An end note calls out the General American-Evans Company "D.F." loading devices "having nine rows perforated wall angles."

The photo of the GARX 50999 shows that the MTL model is not a perfect match to the prototype. There is a "door thing" given the unusual 7 foot 7 inch size of the plug door, but it's a lot harder to notice such things on plug doors versus sliding ones. The side sill is straight all the way across the car, which can be fixed. Not so easy to fix is the row of horizontal rivets either side of the plug door, about halfway up and intersecting the bottom of the "No Damage" band on the left. I don't think these rivets were related to the presence of DF loaders, instead, like the steel meat packer refrigerator cars that have similar rivets, they may be simply indicative of horizontal panels used to construct the car.

A second photo of a car from the same series, also on Page 49 of the MSCG, helps us with the Approximate Time Period. GARX 50921 was caught in October 1968 in a more typical D&RGW scheme, with all orange sides and mostly black lettering including stacked "The Action Road" herald and roadname on the right. No more spelling out the entire company name on this one. I'll assume that repainting impacted all 100 of the cars on lease to the Rio Grande and end my ATP at the late 1960's, however I think you might be able to stretch that a bit.

066 00 060, $22.25
Reporting Marks: CONX 190.
Three Dome Tank Car, Conoco.

Black with white lettering including reporting marks on left. Red and white Conoco trademark on right.
Approximate Time Period: the present, or mid-1960's to mid-1970's, see text.
NOTE: This item has been sold out and discontinued.

Raise your hand if you remember the 50 foot double door and end door boxcar painted for Conoco that was released in December 2007. If you liked that one, well, here's the companion car that sits right next to it on a display track. We'll come back to that.

Here's a "reprint" of the thumbnail sketch of the company from the December 2007 UMTRR. Founded in 1925 by Issac E. Blake to bring kerosene from eastern refineries by rail (!) to Utah, the Continental Oil and Transportation Company quickly expanded into the San Francisco area. It was taken over by the Standard Oil trust in 1885 and forcibly divested in 1913 by Supreme Court order. By then it was a top refiner and marketer of petroleum products including that newfangled gasoline needed by motor cars. It built the West's first filling station in 1909 and built one thousand more after that. "Each station was emblazoned with the trademark Continental soldier," reports the ConocoPhillips website.

Wait, the what? What about that triangle? Well, it came from the Marland Oil Company, which had been founded in Ponca City, Oklahoma in 1911 by E.W. Marland, a geologist who moved in from Pennsylvania to strike oil in Native American Territory. His first well produced from 1911 until 1976. Marland began refining oil in 1918. He was ahead of his time in employee benefits including free medical care. The Marland Oil Company was what we now call "vertically integrated"; it explored for, produced, refined, transported and sold petroleum products. By 1927 there were 500 filling stations, all triangle shaped and all impeccably landscaped, and all using the triangle trademark. Financier J.P. Morgan liked it so much, he bought the company in 1928 and ousted Marland. The next year, merger with Continental Oil and Transportation took place, forming the Continental Oil Company, keeping the triangle, but replacing the "Marland" with "Conoco." Perhaps the best known advertising campaign of the company-- reproduced in an issue of Model Railroader many years later-- was the "Gentlemen Prefer Bronze" billboard, advertising a brand of their gasoline.

Conoco was an independent company until weakened by financial maneuvers in the late 1980s, and leapt into the friendly arms of DuPont in what was then the largest merger in American history. The companies split up again in late 1998 after agreement that they were worth more separately than together. Continental Oil Company did not remain independent for long, merging with Phillips Petroleum in August 2002 to form ConocoPhillips, third largest publicly traded oil company in the United States. The Union 76 brand was added to the mix when Phillips bought Tosco in 2001, putting three famous oil trademarks under one corporate roof: the Conoco (Marland) triangle, the Phillips 66 highway shield, and the Union 76 orange ball (now red and blue). But that's not all, railroad fans: the company purchased and merged Burlington Resources in 2006. That company had grown out of the original land and mineral rights of the Burlington Northern's predecessor Northern Pacific, granted back in 1864. Both Conoco and Phillips have museums devoted to the formerly independent companies and their famous brands. Conoco's is, not surprisingly, back in Ponca City, Oklahoma.

However, as poked at in December 2007, the tank car isn't at Ponca City, but at Enid, Oklahoma. More specifically, it's at the Railroad Museum of Oklahoma according to a website listing, and it's with the CONX 50004 boxcar that Micro-Trains released. The car is shown in a photo on Tom Stolte's Trainweb.org webpages . As displayed at the museum, the car has railings at the top around the walkways, which are not quite reached by the ladders in the center of the car. Both of these attributes differ from the MTL model, although I can't say whether they were like that when the car was actually in service. The rivet pattern on the prototype doesn't quite match the model, but it looks fairly close.

The only question I have left is when this tank car was actually in service for Conoco, recognizing that it might not have been in the paint scheme MTL depicts. Micro-Trains has a build date of 1937 which appears on the car as displayed at the Railroad Museum of Oklahoma. The January 1940 ORER is the closest one I have to that build date, and among the 1218 cars listed in the Continental Oil Company registration is a series 180 to 230 of 80,000 gallon tank cars. Based on the smallness of the tank that is divided into three compartments, I'm not sure we have a match here. There's also no reference to this being a multiple section tanker, which often (but not always) appears in ORER listings. The January 1945 ORER shows the same listing of cars. Note that other than the total, there are no quantities of cars provided. The same is true for the July 1950, January 1955, January 1959 and January 1964 Equipment Registers-- the series is present but only the total number of cars is given. In the '64 book the series actually rises to the numbers 180 to 240.

Finally, in the January 1967 ORER, we see the numbers 190 and 191 called out of the rest of the group of tank cars, and shown as being 60,000 gallons capacity. That seems more appropriate for a three compartment car, certainly one as small as the MTL model. This is also the first ORER in which the boxcars appear, making the two on display in Enid possibly contemporaneous for their in-service dates in the paint and lettering in which they currently appear. That doesn't help a whole lot for the Approximate Time Period of the tank car however! I think I'll go with the mid-sixties to start despite the 1937 build date. The last Equipment Register I own in which the 190 appears is April 1976, close to the usual forty year lifespan for cars given the build date.

130 00 060, $32.85
Reporting Marks: WP 438.
Bay Window Caboose, Windowless Sides, without Battery Box, Union Pacific (with Western Pacific reporting marks).

Yellow sides, brown roof, black frame, red end rails and side grab irons. Roadname in red with black outline across top of side. Large reporting marks in red with black outline on left. Black safety slogan "Make Safety Your First Thought-- Not Your Last" on white panel outlined in black, on left. Red, white and blue Union Pacific shield herald on right.
Approximate Time Period: June 1984 to no later than 1993.
Note: This item has been sold out and discontinued.

The Western Pacific was officially merged into the Union Pacific on December 22, 1982 (twenty-seven years ago this month, yikes). At the time, the WP had 59 cabooses, all of which were bay window type. Among these were 34 cabooses numbered 426 to 460, omitting 458, built in 1955 and 1956. As Micro-Trains notes in its car copy, these became Union Pacific class CA-14; other newer WP cabooses went to the CA-15 through CA-18 classes.

From the entire group of former WP cars, seven were selected by the Union Pacific and painted into full UP colors with safety slogans. Only the WP reporting marks were kept. (And that's a lot more in Armour Yellow than either the Missouri Pacific or the Katy did, by the way; the MKT had zero cabooses repainted into UP schemes and the MP apparently had one in yellow plus a few in maintenance of way green.) The road numbers picked from the WP group for the treatment were 429, 431, 437, 438, 449 and 459 from the CA-14s, plus 463 and 478. This information came from the book "Cabooses of the Union Pacific Railroad" which was donated to the UMTRR Research Accumulation by a reader. And yes, I've been waiting for a chance to use it! In the book's appendix, there is a photo of the 463 in a solo shot and an image of five of the seven cars, both lensed in Salt Lake City in July 1984. It looks like the only one not captured is the one that MTL selected! It also appears that the slogan might have been the same on all of seven of the cars. Make safety your first thought, not your last!

I was going to make a prototype photo my next thought, actually. And at Salt Lake City once again, there is an undated photo of the 438 available at the Central California Rails website. And there is a little matter of a window, which does not appear on the MTL model but is in place to the right of the bay window and to the left of the UP shield herald. That would explain why the herald is offset to the right instead of at the center of the right end of the side. I do note, though, that other cars in the WP series don't have this window, while others have a window at the far left of the side instead, and it's certainly true that caboose sides changed over time. There's also a small "P" (for "Pool"? or for something else?) at the top of the bay window, which is not quite the same shape and size on the real one as the model. (Er, this may make other manufacturers' depictions "stand ins" as well; as usual, your tolerance may vary.) Although this car doesn't have running boards, it does have end ladders while the Micro-Trains car doesn't.

It's stated in "Cabooses of the Union Pacific Railroad" that all of the former Western Pacific cabooses were retired by the Union Pacific by 1993, and the 486, which was not in yellow paint, was off the roster in April of that year. Of the 59 cabooses, 12 were preserved and 42 were scrapped. It appears that the subject of this month's model was among the preserved. As of 2001, the 438 was back in WP red and white colors and parked at the Spokane County Fairgrounds in Spokane, Washington, a long way from home but at least in one piece and with a reasonable representation of the classic "Feather River Route" herald adoring its side. A photo of the car in that scheme can be found on the Fallen Flags website.



N SCALE REPRINTS:

053 00 020, $28.80
Reporting Marks: TTZX 86086.
60 Foot Thrall Centerbeam Flat Car, Trailer Train.

Yellow with black lettering including reporting marks on left, "TT" logo in center and company name on right. Simulated wood frame load included.
Approximate Time Period: 1986 (build date given by MTL) to early 2000's at least.
Previous Releases: Road Number 86090, April 1995; Road Number 86097, February 2002.
NOTE: This item has been sold out and discontinued.

Back in 2002 when the first run of this car was released, I had several different resources on which to draw. The TTX Corporation's own website had a PDF file with technical data describing the car class TSH64 to which these cars belong. Unfortunately, it looks like that page is no longer available, but TTX does describe this car type: "A favorite among shippers and railroads alike, the centerbeam primarily transports wood building products such as dimensional lumber (2x4's, 2x6's, etc.) and 4x8 sheets of plywood, particle board, and wallboard. Interestingly, when first developed in the late 1960's, the car's intended purpose was to carry pipe, steel tubes and girders, and those loads are still carried on centerbeams, but in relatively small quantities." TTX notes that most of its centerbeams are now 73 feet long.

We certainly do still have the January 1996 issue of Rail Model Journal in which a photo of the TTZX 86015 which accompanies a pretty extensive piece by D. Scott Chatfield on the centerbeam flat car. Chatfield tags the MTL car as a match to this series, down to the pulling eye in the corner posts which was included in Thrall's later construction of these cars. He also describes the 60 foot 8 inch version of the car as "short beams" versus the later and more populous 73 foot "long beam" cars. And by the way, in the article, Chatfield also called out all of the roadnames that MTL has done as on this car type to date, except for the most recent previous release which was BNSF. Oh, wait, the BNSF didn't yet exist in 1996!

The January 2000 ORER showed, across various series and sub-series, a total of 271 cars in the group of road numbers from 86000 to 86274, which was just four shy of the theoretical maximum. The October 2007 ORER is the latest one I own and it also shows a bunch of subsets which sum to 263 cars. A few vital statistics: inside length 60 feet 8 inches, inside width 8 feet 3 inches, inside height 11 feet 5 inches, outside length 68 feet (suggesting extended draft gear trucks), extreme height 15 feet 6 inches, gross rail weight 263,000 pounds. Since the only difference present is the AAR Car Type Code which is F383 for two subsets and F483 for the other twelve subgroups, and there are no dimensional differences otherwise, it's beyond me why there are fourteen entries for road numbers 86000 to 86274 inclusive; but then again, I've never tried to understand the rationale behind some of these listings.

What could limit the ATP, though, is the paint scheme. The Trailer Train yielded to TTX in 1991 and that allows plenty of time for relettering of these cars. A small selection of images on RailcarPhotos.net shows just that in most cases. The change was pretty basic: remove "Trailer Train" and the double T logo and replace with a white on black "TTX". However, I do note a David Casdorph photo of TTZX 86171 in the MTL modeled paint scheme, that is dated March 2002. So I think we're safe with the early 2000s as an "at least" for this group.

059 00 540, $25.70
Reporting Marks: URTX 75529 (Union Refrigerator Transit).
40 Foot Steel Ice Refrigerator Car with Preco Fan, American Beef Packers.

Blue sides, black roof and ends. Black lettering including company name and reporting marks on left. Red, white and blue shield logo on right.
Approximate Time Period: mid 1960's to mid 1970's.
Previous Release (as catalog 59540): Road Number 75524, July 1998.
NOTE: This release has been sold out and discontinued.

Thanks to the explosive growth of information on the Internet, and a particular Morning Sun Color Guide, we have more of a story to tell about American Beef Packers than we did back in 1998. It's still not as clear as I'd like, but it's somewhat more complete.

Starting in the 1950's, changes to the meat packing industry that undid the concentration of market share across just a few companies (all of which have had at least one N Scale car produced: Swift, Armour, Wilson, Cudahy and John Morrell). According to a PhD thesis (!) I found on the net conditions became favorable for decentralized and specialized packing houses to be located nearer the source of supply, that is, cattle. American Beef Packers was founded in 1965 and was the beneficiary of these changes. However, it didn't last long.

The company debuted in the Fortune 500 list of the largest United States industrial corporations in 1969, having recorded revenues of $147.2 million which was enough to get it ranked Number 492. The company grew significantly from there, peaking in 1974 on the Fortune 500 at Number 218 in revenues with $729.1 million. However, profits were anemic at a mere $3.4 million which was number 473 out of the top 500. By 1976 that meager black ink had sunk into the red, a net loss of $32.8 million and a loss per share of a breathtaking $17.03! It probably wouldn't surprise you that the company filed for bankruptcy in 1975 and that 1976 was its final appearance in the Fortune 500. (The 500 lagged by a year at that time; 1975 results were used to compile the 1976 list. Ah, the good old days of long lead times!) According to one 'net account, the assets of American Beef Packing were sold to Swift, and a number of cattle ranchers were left unpaid for the animals they had delivered just before the company went belly-up.

Before ABP went broke, it filed a complaint to the Interstate Commerce Commission about rates charged by the Burlington Northern for beef shipped via trailer on flatcar. The BN was found to have rates that were "unreasonable and discriminatory." But BN appealed and the case dragged on; American Beef never collected any damages.

Meanwhile, there is a new American Beef Packers in Chino, California, which isn't related to the one referenced on the Micro-Trains car. Most of the current web search references are to this American Beef Packers, not the previous one.

Now, let's recap what we learned back in 1998 and add an incremental photo. The prototype for the first run road number, 75524, is on display at the Illinois Railroad Museum in Union. There are images of the car on the museum's website and one of the descriptive sign that is posted near the car, which is a great idea. "URTX 75524 was used to transport meat for lessee American Beef Packers nationwide. The car was retired in 1971, and was donated to IRM by General American Transportation, successor to URTX." There is no image of the entire car (we'll come back to that) but partial images show that the prototype car has the horizontal seam typical of many meat packer cars (although that's not for meat rails according to freight car experts). The car also has a straight sill; between that and the horizontal seam you have a non-match to the MTL body style. However, there is also no widely available model in N Scale, and that fact has not stopped, ahem, others, from slapping meat packer schemes on stand-in offerings. (MTL also did this for the N Scale Collector which issued two six-packs of colorful meat packer schemes in 1998.)

A 1971 photo of URTX 75551 on Page 120 of the "Refrigerator Car Color Guide" by Gene Green-- which is the Morning Sun book to which I referred above-- further illustrates the deltas between real and model. There's a white background tightly following the company name on the 75551 also. Vestiges of that background appear to be on the 75524 back at the Illinois Railway Museum but aren't present on the MTL model; if Micro-Trains used the museum car for the paint scheme development it's hard to fault them for missing something that is very worn out and difficult to verify-- at best. On the IRM car it looks like someone took an eraser to the spaces between the letters.

From the corporate history of American Beef Packers our ORER data looks good. I had a short series of cars in the January 1964 Register, but we now know that's too early for the leasing to ABP. So it's off to the April 1970 ORER where we find that same short series of seven cars, URTX 75520 to 75529, with these vital statistics: inside length 33 feet 3 inches, inside height 8 feet, outside length 43 feet 4 inches (longer than the MTL model), extreme height 13 feet 10 inches, capacity for cargo 1798 cubic feet or 70,000 pounds, and crushed ice capacity 9500 pounds. It's noted that the cars can't handle chunk ice, which is a contradiction of the RSM classification assigned to these reefers (and the MTL car copy as well). In the April 1976 the seven cars were still in place, but the Union Refrigerator Transit Company's roster had been absorbed into its parent General American Transportation. I stopped looking there as both the use of ice cooled refrigerators and the existence of American Beef Packers was just about over in the mid 1970s.



N SCALE WEATHERED RELEASES
N SCALE RUNNER PACKS
N SCALE SPECIAL EDITION RELEASES
These releases are covered exclusively in the subscriber edition of the UMTRR.


Nn3 SCALE (NARROW GAUGE):

New Release:
800 00 200, $18.40
Road Number: 7 (will be "C&C 7" in website listings).
30 Foot Wood Double Sheathed Boxcar, Single Door, Carson and Colorado.

Brown with white lettering including roadname and road number on left.
Approximate Time Period: the present, see text.
NOTE: This release has been sold out and discontinued.

Although this is the first car Micro-Trains has produced in Nn3 (or any other scale, for that matter) for the Carson and Colorado, we've actually "visited" this railroad before. The most recent previous Nn3 car, from August 2009, was painted for the Southern Pacific, but likewise resides at the Laws Railroad Museum and Historic Site in Bishop, California. 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, and eventually wound up as part of the Southern Pacific system. As you can imagine, it's a bit difficult to find data about the looks of the C&C's boxcars more than 100 years ago. I'll be honest: I didn't even try.

I suspect it would have been a pointless search. The MTL model is based on a 28 foot boxcar painted as C&C 7 that was at the Laws Museum as early as June 1998. Rick Blanchard, a charter member of the UMTRR Gang, 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 C&C 7. Like the August release, SP 132, this car has truss rods and the model does not, and the door and roof are different as well. The roadname lettering including the odd spacing is accurate to the display model.

While, in theory, no one could fault you for operating this car with an ATP of the turn of the century-- the previous century, that is!-- I think the "present" ATP is more reasonable considering that the car is a museum piece. Although a bit pricey, one potential use for this car is for "delettering" and then adding other decoration. Certainly that's what I've done with Micro-Trains standard gauge equipment that has minimal lettering. What do you mean, ruining the collector value?



Z SCALE NEW RELEASES:

502 00 251 and 502 00 252, $26.95 each
Reporting Marks: NYRX 2502 and NYRX 2507.
40 Foot Steel Boxcars, Plug Door, Merchants Despatch Transit / New York Central "Earlybird".

Orange with brown ends and roof and black sills. Black lettering including large reporting marks on left and "Refrigerator" on right. Black and white "Early Bird Fast Freight Service" logo on right.
Approximate Time Period: late 1950's (1958 service date given by MTL) to late 1960's.
NOTE: This item (both numbers) has been sold out and discontinued.

Right on the cover of the softcover "Freight Equipment of the New York Central Volume 1: Box, Stock and Refrigerator Cars" is a color photo of NYRX 2517, one of the cars in the series that MTL honors this month. But I can do better than that; in the Morning Sun "NYC Color Guide to Freight and Passenger Equipment" is NYRX 2507, one of the "virtual two pack" release, as lensed in August 1961 at Fort Worth, Texas. The 1958 service date given by MTL was probably close to the build date as well, since the "Early Bird Fast Freight Service" herald was introduced in 1957 on the NYC's double door boxcars (also made available by MTL, catalog 506 00 16x, December 2007). And yes, this is another case in which what looks like a plug door boxcar is in fact termed a refrigerator. Lots of insulation inside will get you there.

The January 1959 ORER shows the Merchants Despatch Transit series NYRX 2500 to 2599 with AAR Classification "RB" and description "Refrigerator", with inside length of 39 feet 7 and one half inches, inside height of 9 feet 4 and 7/16 inches, outside length of 41 feet 10 inches, extreme height of 15 feet, door opening of 8 feet and capacity of 3341 cubic feet or 119,000 pounds. There were 50 cars in the series in '59, but there were also 50 cars also numbered 2500 to 2599 and the same statistics with "NYRB" reporting marks. All were relettered to NYRX in the January 1964 ORER, when there was a contingent of 98 cars. But that was down to just 25 in April 1970 by which time the New York Central had been absorbed into the Penn Central. Eventually the "Early Bird" logo was dropped from these cars and the word "Refrigerator" was moved up to the center of the side right of the door. Some of these cars may have gone to work elsewhere with different reporting marks and no Early Bird, which could lead to other releases with the same basic paint scheme. These were probably constructed right up the road from UMTRR HQ at Despatch Shops in East Rochester, New York, the "ER" in the service date. Merchants Despatch owned these cars, although since the NYC owned the MDT, this is just some corporate shell games going on. The MDT had been leasing reefers back to the NYC and to others since 1923 so this was nothing new.

I note that unlike the N Scale version of this car, which was decidedly yellow, MTL chose a shade of orange for its Z Scale offering. That's a good thing, as all of the photos I've ever seen of NYRX equipment, including the two referenced above, show sides that are much closer to orange. Said sides are also pretty dirty, to be sure, with noticeable streaks along the vertical rivet lines. And the boxcar red at the top of the sides hasn't fared well either, appearing to be almost black in the photos. It is true that there are cases in which the MDT painted cars yellow for lessees, so never say never in terms of NYRX cars in yellow, but I'm a lot more comfortable with orange sides for these insulated boxcars.

530 00 281 and 530 00 282, $20.20 each
Reporting Marks: USAX 10936 and USAX 10986.
39 Foot Single Dome Tank Car, United States Army Transportation Corps.

Black with white lettering including reporting marks and "United States Army" on left and Transportation Corps logo on right.
Approximate Time Period: 1960's and 1970's.
Listed as a New Release; however, a tank car in the same paint scheme with road number 10939 was part of the "U.S. Army Set #2" released in July 2008. Coverage of that set was part of the January 2008 UMTRR (subscriber edition only) when that set was announced for pre-orders.
NOTE: This item (both numbers) has been sold out and discontinued.

I thought this car looked familiar, even in 1:220. And I said to myself, "Self, isn't this really a reprint?" Sort of. As noted above, the initial appearance of this car was last year in a Special Edition Train Set; at the time I noted that it was an anachronism versus the rest of that set given its Approximate Time Period.

Next we'll "reprint" the UMTRR reviews of the N Scale releases of this car, which were in the same road numbers in July 1995 and June 2003 respectively. Although MTL states that this car was serviced in built in 1942, the ORER for July 1950, which shows almost 3400 tank cars registered to the Department of the Army, doesn't include a tank car numbered 10936. There are plenty of 10,000 gallon 100,000 pound tankers in the 10000 series with either USAX or USQX reporting marks, but the numbers from 10901 to 10992 are skipped. What? The same is true in the January 1959 Register. And there's no listing for the USAX reporting marks that I could see in the January 1940 ORER, which would have been before the MTL-given build date anyway.

Finally, we get somewhere in the January 1964 ORER, where the armed forces have all been consolidated under the rather bureaucratic sounding "Department of Defense - Defense Traffic Management Service" listing. A group of ICC-103 type tank cars with USAX reporting marks are numbered from 10038 to 11167. There are 851 cars in this group so there's a reasonable chance that both the 10936 and the 10986 are in here.

By the April 1970 ORER, the restenciling of rolling stock from USAX, USNX, et cetera reporting marks into unified DODX reporting marks was well underway, although the series of tankers with which we're concerned could have been wearing either the new or old initials. The group is down to 530 cars by then. By April 1976 it looks like the DODX transition has been completed, and there are only 126 tankers in the series left, so that's where I stopped looking.

There's a photo of USAX 10956 in the book "Classic Freight Cars Volume 2" it is also a single dome tank car with about the same looks, found in Anchorage, Alaska in 1977.

553 00 015, $35.60.
Reporting Marks: UP 5769 (though this is not seen on the car).
Smoothside Baggage Car, Union Pacific Heritage Fleet.

Aluminum roof, ends, bottom sill and trucks. Large depiction of waving American flag across most of side. Remainder of side is yellow with black lettering "Proud Heritage / Powerful Future" and "Building America" and red, white and blue Union Pacific shield herald.
Approximate Time Period: the present.

The site UtahRails.net provides a thumbnail history of this car. Originally built in May 1962 as a postal storage car, this car entered the Union Pacific's maintenance of way roster as road number 904286. In the year 2000, it was converted to a "Baggage Recreation Car" and given the name "Council Bluffs" and also given back its original road number with the reporting marks "UPP". It was part of a train sent to the United States political conventions in that year. The Council Bluffs is just one of a set of Heritage Cars that the Union Pacific has retained for special occasions and official company trips. While often based in Omaha or Council Bluffs, it's been reported that some of these cars "winter" in Oakland, deep within the intermodal yards that are located there.

The dramatic "waving flag" decoration was added to this car sometime before February 2007 when this car was part of the Green Locomotive Technology Tour. I'll quote from the Union Pacific's press release of February 13, 2007: "Union Pacific and General Electric today announced the Green Locomotive Technology Tour to showcase current and experimental technologies that are helping reduce locomotive emissions. The environmental rail tour will wind through California February 20 - 28 with planned stops in West Colton, Fresno, Stockton, Roseville, Oakland, Los Angeles and Long Beach. At each stop, UP and GE representatives will brief federal, state and local air quality officials, regulatory and elected officials, and high school students on the companiesí leading-edge emissions reduction technologies. Guests will also receive an overview of fuel conservation initiatives and railroad safety practices along with an on-board tour of environmentally friendly locomotives." Hmm, looking at the MTL car copy, I see I'm not the only one quoting from this press release! In terms of the fidelity of the model to the prototype, let's just leave things at the length, which is 71 feet for the model (based on a 1957 build for the UP by American Car and Foundry) and 85 feet on the prototype. 'Nuff said there...

Anyway, RailcarPhotos.com has, under "UPP 5769," three images of this car in Council Bluffs taken just before the Tour began. There's also a shot of the car from August 2008 caught in Cheyenne on the way to the Democratic National Convention in Denver. A note indicates the name "Council Bluffs" is only on the end doors. From the images we see that the car sides are mirror images of each other; that is, the yellow panel is at the "same end" of the car. I've never found a really good way to explain this. How about, if you are looking down on the car from the top, the yellow panels are in the front of the car on both sides. This allows the flag to "fly" in the forward direction on each side, with the blue field and white stars at the back of the car and the red and white stripes in the center. On one side of the car, the road number 5769 does appear in red in the white stripe that's just below the blue field of stars on the flag. On the other side of the car, it's in red below the words "Proud Heritage / Powerful Future" which is also in mirror image. Ah, just check out the photos!

Speaking of which, the Overland Models site has a photo of the car in the standard Armour Yellow and Harbor Mist Gray scheme as the "Council Bluffs". HO Scale modelers will get to own this car in that scheme or the one MTL depicts this month, for an Order of Magnitude price more than the Micro-Trains Z Scale version.

970 01 040 and 970 01 050, $185.95 each
Road Numbers: 5415 and 5420 (will be preceded by "CP" in website listing).
SD40-2 Diesels, CP Rail System (the 040 release) and Canadian Pacific (the 050 release).

Both locomotives are "candy apple" red with black frame, details and top of short hood, with white sill stripe, end rails and lettering including "CP" on nose and road number on cab. CP Rail (the 040) release has "dual flags" roadname with "CP Rail System" and depiction of Canadian and American flags on long hood. Canadian Pacific (the 050) release has contemporary "Canadian Pacific" roadname on long hood.
Approximate Time Period: 1993 to present for the "CP Rail Dual Flags" scheme and 1997 to present for the "Canadian Pacific" scheme.
NOTE: This item (both numbers) has been sold out and discontinued.

There is a small inn located in Parry Sound, Ontario that has an excellent location if you happen to be a railfan. (Or if you're attending a concert at the Stockey Centre, or visiting the Bobby Orr Hall of Fame, but that's for another day.) The building is located right beside the 1,950 foot long railway bridge that soars over what was once called "Depot Harbour". This structure, which is the longest trestle bridge in the Province of Ontario, was completed in 1907 by the Canadian Pacific Railway. It's part of a paired trackage arrangement with the Canadian National now. The CN passes through Parry Sound at a lower elevation on former Canadian Northern trackage, and the two lines send all westbounds on one track and all eastbounds on the other. They do vary which direction operates on which line, so during our two trips to Parry Sound last year we were treated to trains in both directions vaulting over the Parry Sound Bridge at speed.

Except when I had my camera ready, that is. It took until the last morning of our second trip to Parry Sound, about two hours before we had to leave for the drive back to UMTRR HQ, before I finally snapped a photo of a set of Canadian Pacific locomotives leading a westbound through a fogbound morning. If I could learn to edit out all of the utility wires out of the shot, I could have a contender for some sort of photo display. But I was just happy to get any kind of shot at all, and even with the wires in the way, the image is pretty dramatic-- if I may say so myself. I don't know for certain whether there were any SD40-2s among the consists that crossed Parry Sound while we were there, but given the number of units that the CP has in service, I wouldn't doubt it.

We know from the MTL copy that both of these units were built in 1976, but what Micro-Trains doesn't mention is that the CP was not the original owner. The 5415 started on the Kansas City Southern as its 670 and was sold to Helm Leasing in 1992 where it kept the road number. The CP kept that same road number when it bought the unit in December 1992. There's a photo on the "CP Diesel Roster" website of how it looked in 1993 with KCS' mostly white paint and a red "CP Rail" roadname on the long hood-- kind of attractive, actually, but probably not so good in the Canadian snow! The unit was repainted to CP 5415 in March 1993. The 5420 followed a similar path, starting as KCS 675, going to Helm and then to CP in 1992, and renumbered to 5420 in 1994. The CP Diesel Roster page shows the 5420 in the Dual Flags paint scheme in 1997 and 2003 and the "Canadian Pacific" paint scheme that MTL depicts in April 2008. Meanwhile, the 5415 remains in the dual flag scheme into 2008 and the site RRPictureArchives.net shows the 5415 freshly repainted in that scheme in October 1993 on former Delaware and Hudson trackage.

This is all good stuff for the individual units, but I was looking for an Approximate Time Period more generally, fortunately called out on the "Galt Station" website. The Dual Flags scheme debuted in 1993 and was the paint of choice for most units (yard switchers not included). The first unit painted this way was another SD40-2, number 6034, in April 1993. When CP Rail was changed back to Canadian Pacific Railway in 1997, the "golden beaver" herald was part of the plan, but since then a number of units have been done without that attractive logo. There were some locos painted in 1997 without the "golden beaver" prior to the introduction of that feature, so you could get away with this paint scheme in that year.

In terms of prototypical fidelity, there are a few quibbles I could spot. The end rails are correctly white but the side rails to the first stanchion should be as well. On the real units, the bell is mounted between the numberboards on the cab and the horns are on the roof back behind the dynamic brakes. And, a bit surprisingly, the 5415 does not have the black patch atop the nose.



Z SCALE REPRINTS: No releases this month.


Z SCALE WEATHERED RELEASES
Z SCALE RUNNER PACKS
Z SCALE SPECIAL EDITIONS
These releases are covered exclusively in the Subscriber version of the UMTRR.


HOn3 SCALE (NARROW GAUGE):

Reprint: 850 00 050, $38.85
Reporting Marks: C&S 1112.
30 Foot Wood Double Sheathed Refrigerator Cars, Colorado and Southern.

Freight car red with black lettering on sides including reporting marks on left. Black and white "button" herald on right. White lettering on ends (reporting marks).
Approximate Time Period: 1927 through 1930's.
Previous Releases: Road Numbers 1115 and 1119, April 2007.
NOTE: This item has been sold out and discontinued.

I'm not much better off in terms of a reasonable commentary on these cars than I was when the first two numbers were released. The lettering is identical to that used on the yellow sided version of this car (850 00 01x, April 2006) except for the road numbers. Micro-Trains notes that the "button" herald was first used in 1927. I cannot assume that just because I can't find any 'net based photographic evidence of freight car red reefers being on the C&S roster means they didn't exist. A call out to Micro-Trains revealed that they utilized information in the January / February and March / April 1992 issues of the magazine "Narrow Gauge and Shortline Gazette" to produce the model. Those issues had Parts 3 and 4 of a multi-part article devoted to the Colorado & Southern's refrigerator cars. I suppose I wish I had those issues, but frankly, if I had every issue of every model and prototype magazine, UMTRR HQ would most likely explode.

I did see a passing reference in an online posting of an issue of the NMRA St. Laurence Region publication "The Mail Car" to a 1910 build date for these cars, which predated the introduction of the paint scheme that MTL uses here. The top results of a search on "Colorado and Southern refrigerator" point to an old toy train model produced by Louis Marx & Company (!) if not to G Scale renditions of C&S cars.

Anyway, conveniently near the start of the ATP for this paint scheme is the ORER for April 1928, to which we'll go. 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 July 1935 edition of the ORER showed a drop to 18 cars in the reefer series in which we are interested, which makes sense since we know some C&S cars were sold to the Rio Grande Southern. But the next ORER I have is the July 1940, and by then it was all over for the narrow gauge operations of the line, although the standard gauge from Denver southward to the sister line Fort Worth and Denver was doing just fine.



HOn3 SCALE WEATHERED RELEASES

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