Thursday, March 26, 2020

SD&AE locomotives on the SP

A detail familiar to many historians of the Southern Pacific Coast Division but perhaps not to many other SP enthusiasts, let alone to non-SP people, was the presence in late steam days of locomotives of the San Diego & Arizona Eastern (SD&AE) in various parts of the Coast.  I wanted to include one of these on my layout.
     For a very brief background, the SD&AE was formed in 1932 by a purchase of the San Diego & Arizona, of which SP had only owned part until that time. Most SD&A locomotives had various second-hand histories, many from SP, with the exception of two large Consolidations, built new by Alco (Schenectady) in 1914 for the SD&A. They were numbered 101 and 102. In 1921, SD&A acquired from SP four more Consolidations, all used and of classic Harriman design, and built, like so many SP steam locomotives, by Baldwin. Their numbers were 103 to 106.
     Of the latter, no. 103 had been built in 1907 as Class C-9 no. 2523, and was leased back to SP from the fall of 1948 until vacated in 1958. No. 104 was built in 1904 as Class C-8 no. 2720. It served on SP from 1948 until vacated in 1954, and survives today at the museum in Campo, California. Both nos. 105 and 106 were built in the SP General Shops at Los Angeles using reclaimed boilers, in 1917 and 1918, numbered 2843 and 2844, classified as Class C-10, and sold to SD&A in 1921.
     So when a San Luis Obispo photo like the one below crops up, we know what we are looking at. The view is by Rod Crossley, taken in February 1954, with SD&AE 103 switching at left, F units on Train 919 to its right, and just arriving at far right, no. 99, the Daylight, about to cross Osos Street and stop at the depot.


     Modeling no. 103 should not be difficult, as it is simply an SP Class C-9 Consolidation. Only the lettering might prove an issue, as there are no commercial SD&AE decals to my knowledge. Another problem might be matching the tender, a slightly unusual design of 9000-gallon tender with low side walkways.
     The saving grace on the tender topic is that tenders were very frequently swapped among SP locomotives when they were shopped. As SP tender expert Arnold Menke described it, when an engine went into the shop, it rarely came out with the same tender, depending on which tender of the proper size the tank shop had ready when the locomotive’s shop work was completed. Sometimes the tender re-applied to a locomotive could be quite different than the one it came in with. For example, here are two photos of SD&AE 104, both by G.M. Best at Los Angeles (where these locomotives were shopped).  The first shows a rectangular tender..


The second photo shows a Vanderbilt tender with a higher walkway, similar to several HO scale tenders that have been available over the years, and unlike the tender visible in the photo at the top of this post.


This means that (within reason) a variety of tenders of about the same size might be found behind a particular engine at any one time.
     I decided to use a Key Imports brass model of an SP Class C-9 Consolidation as the starting point. The aim was to model SD&AE 103, familiar at San Luis Obispo and thus appropriate for my layout, which depicts an SP branch not far from San Luis. Here is a photo, taken by Art Laidlaw, of SD&AE 103 in front of the San Luis depot:


     The first step was to correct any mechanism problems (such as out-of-quarter drivers, as this model had), to make improvements such as replacing the original rubber coupling in the drive train with universals, and add a centering spring to the lead truck, and then to install a DCC decoder and sound, along with lights. That work was done by Mark Schutzer, who also painted the locomotive while it was disassembled. It was then my job to do the lettering and weathering.
     As I said, I believe there are no commercial decals in HO scale for lettering SD&AE tenders, so I made artwork with the Charles Givens “font,” digitized from the original SP lettering drawings for numerals and characters (and available only for personal, not commercial, use). The decals were printed by Richard Brennan of TT West. I could then letter my model. Here’s a view to show the tender.


     Next I needed to turn to weathering. Steam locomotives did vary widely in how weathered they looked, depending of course on how recently they had been shopped and painted, and especially toward the end of steam, dirt accumulation was ignored. I decided to apply moderate weathering, using my method of acrylic washes (for more information, see the archived pages at: https://modelingthesp.blogspot.com/p/a-few-years-ago-richard-hendrickson-and.html ). Here is the completed locomotive, switching at the town of Ballard on my layout.


     This has been a rewarding project for me, having wanted for some years to include one of the SD&AE locomotives so familiar at San Luis Obispo, in my operating fleet. And now I have no. 103 to play that role.
Tony Thompson

Monday, March 23, 2020

Freight car graffiti, Part 9: even more examples

I continue with my ongoing topic, graffiti for post-1980 freight cars, in particular the cars loaned to me by Seth Neumann, from his layout set in 1999 and thus likely to host very many graffiti-marked freight cars.
     In the present post, I address cars owned by Calaveras Cement, a company founded in 1925 in San Andreas, California, which is located in Calaveras County, thus the name. Cement from this plant helped build the San Francisco Bay Bridge, Oroville Dam, the California Aqueduct, and other major projects in the Far West.
     The San Andreas plant was served by the Southern Pacific, on its Kentucky House branch. As the limestone quarries in the San Andreas area began to play out, the company was purchased by Flintkote in 1959. Calaveras was one of many Flintkote subsidiaries sold off in the 1980s, and was eventually bought by Lehigh Hanson. Although the plant at San Andreas was closed in 1982, the Calaveras name remains in use by Lehigh Hanson today.
    For decades, then, a familiar sight in the West has been the cement cars of Calaveras Cement. I show an example of a model below of PLCX 140, a Trinity-built design. For those who enjoy a paint scheme like this, with the large company name along the top of the car, there is good news regarding graffiti. Usually they are painted only near the bottom of the car side where it is easy for the “writer” (as they term themselves) to reach.


For this car, I began on the left side (as viewed from the B or brake end). You see below two graffiti, the one on the left from Microscale set 87-1534 and the other one from T2 decals (visit T2Decals.ecrater.com ). The presence of two or more graffiti is not uncommon.


The other side of the car was lettered with a decal from Dave’s Decals, set 6028 (see them at: www.davesdecals.com ). As these decals are somewhat transparent, it is essential to apply them on a light-colored background without any strongly contrasting lettering items. This area of the car met that criterion.


     Naturally there is not just one of these Calaveras cars modeled in Neumann’s fleet. In addition to PLCX 140, shown above, I can show the graffiti applied to the left side of PLCX 149, chosen from Microscale set 87-1535:


     The other side of PLCX 149 was chosen to have a different appearance, using a decal from Dave’s Decals set 6028:


     Next came weathering. Based on what I have seen on the Calaveras cars, I went with a fair amount of dirt, and a moderate degree of cement staining. To illustrate, I will just show the left side of PLCX 140 (shown before weathering in the second photo from the top of the present post).


     This series of Calaveras cars makes a nice set of variations on the rather plain lettering of many modern cement cars. They have been an interesting additional challenge to my graffiti approach to model freight cars.
Tony Thompson

Friday, March 20, 2020

Publication of L&N Shipper Guide

I have commented several times on this blog about Shipper Guides published by railroads (and you can find the previous posts by using that term in the search box at right). For a general discussion, this post may be best: https://modelingthesp.blogspot.com/2015/11/waybills-part-44-shipper-guides.html . For more recent comments about one of the better guides available so far, there is this post about a Northern Pacific guide: https://modelingthesp.blogspot.com/2018/12/an-excellent-np-shippers-guide.html .
     One of the big geographical gaps in the growing collection of these Guides available from Rails Unlimited (see their listing, now up to 21 Guides, at: http://railsunlimited.ribbonrail.com/Books/shippers.html ) is the entire Southeastern United States. Just released recently is a break in that gap, an excellent guide for the Louisville & Nashville. It served nine of the southeastern states and accordingly is a very interesting railroad for which to have a Shipper Guide. Here’s the cover; note the title is actually “Directory of Industries,” which may be a more informative name:


As are almost all these guides, the page size is 8.5 x 11 inches; page count is 163. Though the book is not dated, internal evidence points to a date in the vicinity of 1940 or 1941.
     This Guide is especially valuable (at least for non-L&N fans) because it has included in it 34 or so pages of “front matter” about the railroad and its primary on-line industries, as well as information about location of track scales, interchange points, livestock markets, and LCL stations.
     You may be saying, “Yeah, but I don’t model the L&N,” or words in that direction. Well, like all these guides, this book contains a phenomenal amount of information about where the loads arriving on your layout may have come from — or where the loads shipped from your on-line industries may be going. Included are a huge number of coal mines and coal brokers, if your interests run in that direction. If you care at all about realistic waybills, this information is pure gold.
     To choose just one very typical regional industry, this Directory lists brokers, producers and shippers of “Naval Stores:” turpentine, rosin and other substances that are obtained from the resin of living trees (primarily pines). Here is part of the listing, omitting a few Alabama locations (you can click on the image to enlarge it, if you wish):


     I really treasure the small shelf of Shipper Guides that I have, and am especially glad now to finally have one from the Southeast. And I have to thank once again the marvelous service provided by Ted Schnepf, proprietor of Rails Unlimited, for searching out originals of these Guides and getting them reproduced for sale. They are simply a great resource. If you don’t have one yet, go to the Rails Unlimited site, pick one out to buy, and see if you’re not impressed — and going back for more.
Tony Thompson

Tuesday, March 17, 2020

Big locomotives on small layouts

My topic for this post could apply to any era and type of layout. Many of us naturally have added large locomotives to our rosters because we like them. What my topic refers to, then, is the question of how to make a large locomotive look reasonable when operating with a short train or otherwise obviously not suitable for its environment, such as a branch line.  In fact, one can question if such locomotives can reasonably be operated on small layouts at all.
     The photo below compares a Southern Pacific 2-10-2, no. 3688 (Class F-4) in the foreground, with the standard power for most duties on my layout, a Class C-9 Consolidation behind it. You can readily appreciate the considerable size difference. Short trains behind no. 3688 simply look wrong.


(The brass F-4 model is from Westside, painted and weathered by Al Massi.)
     There are some ways to circumvent this problem. I remember once visiting a layout that was primarily a major backshop for steam power, so locomotives of all types and sizes, in everything from brand-new paint to very tired and dirty appearances, were all appropriate. This is perfect for the locomotive collector! . . . but is operationally limited for most modelers.
     My own layout mostly depicts a branch line, and has only a small segment of SP’s Coast Division main line. Moreover, its staging capacity is quite limited for length, only handling trains of modest size (ten freight cars, plus engine and caboose). This is fine for small steam power or single diesel road-switchers. But clearly something like a cab-forward or a 2-10-2,  truly large locomotives and common power in late steam days on Coast Division, is quite a different matter. I for one don’t want to operate, say, nine freight cars behind a cab-forward.
     So what to do? Speaking now just for my own modeling year of 1953, this was pretty late in the steam era for Southern Pacific, and certainly it’s true that locomotives sometimes filled assignments they would never have had in earlier years (passenger power on freight trains, for example). But this situation only extends so far.
     Perhaps the best possibility is something that did happen throughout the late steam era, namely power balancing between terminals, or return of locomotives to their home divisions. These were sometimes made as light locomotive moves, sometimes as caboose hops. Such a locomotive being moved was simply operated as an extra train. Here’s how it might look on my layout (in the background for scale is a Ten-wheeler on the turntable).


     Another possibility is a “high-wide” movement, in which an oversize load of some kind is moved with just the load (or loads), a locomotive, and a caboose.  Photos of such movements often show a far larger locomotive than would really be needed for the load. Even for a load not exceptionally high or wide, but needing careful handling en route, a special train might be called. As an example, it might be something like the photo below, showing a really large depressed-center flat car with a load. Such a train might well be severely restricted in speed, perhaps a plus in an operating session!


     Finally, most railroads operated dynamometer cars, to measure locomotive performance. This was of course usually with a train behind the locomotive, but locomotives were also measured without a trailing load. So a dynamometer car behind almost any large locomotive, and sometimes a caboose also, make up another possible movement.


The dynamometer here is a Custom Brass model of a Nickel Plate car, very similar in every detail to SP no. 137, which is how it has been decaled.
     I would only occasionally want to include special movements like any of the above in operating sessions, but they can  provide interesting variety when they do appear in the line-up. And of course they permit some larger locomotives to enjoy a little exercise.
Tony Thompson

Saturday, March 14, 2020

Freight car graffiti, Part 8: a couple more

This post is to present more examples of the graffiti applications I am doing on the freight cars from Seth Neumann’s layout, modeling the UP in the Bay Area in 1999. These are of varying ages, as indeed is often seen with cement cars, and they will be finished with varying degrees of dirt and graffiti. (To find the previous parts of this series, you can use “freight car graffiti” as the search term in the search box at right.)
     I will begin with a model of classic American Car & Foundry two-bay “Center Flow” car, this one lettered for D&RGW.


On the left side of this car, I applied a medium-size graffiti piece from Microscale set 87-1534:


    For the right side, I wanted to add one of my paper overlays, this one taken from a wall seen here locally. It spells the word “NESTA,” the middle name of musician Bob Marley, and a widely seen word in this area. Here is the original photo, obviously fitted around a window in this particular wall. and reaching right down to the dirt. You may also notice that it was applied over an older, green piece, a common sight on highly visible wall areas, which are irresistible to many “writers” (as they call themselves).


Sized in Photoshop, printed out on a color laser printer, and trimmed to size, then sanded on the back and applied with canopy glue, here is how it looked (to see my description of how I carry out this technique, you can visit this post: https://modelingthesp.blogspot.com/2020/01/my-latest-column-in-mrh.html ).


Since this is an older car with a fairly old paint scheme, I dirtied it a fair amount, but on this car, kept the cement staining down to a modest amount (for more about weathering these cars, see the previous post in this series: https://modelingthesp.blogspot.com/2020/03/freight-car-graffiti-part-7-weathering.html ). You can also see along the lower part of the car that I added some “tags” also, a topic to which I will return in a future post.


     The second car I want to briefly illustrate is a model of an outside-post cement car, lettered for Burlington Northern. I began by applying various decals. Shown below is its left side, with the graffiti from Microscale set 87-1534. As with many graffiti, this was applied to reflect the “writer” having avoided covering the reporting marks and car number, so they wouldn’t be “patched” and renumbered (you can see more on that topic in this post: https://modelingthesp.blogspot.com/2020/02/freight-car-graffiti-part-5-relettering.html ).


The other side received a graffiti piece from Microscale set 87-1535 (the word “CORKY”), and is shown here after the car was somewhat heavily weathered and cement stained.


     These two cars illustrate the range of work I am doing in adding graffiti to 1999-era freight cars. I am continuing with this series of cement cars, as I will report presently.
Tony Thompson

Wednesday, March 11, 2020

Building the AL&W power house, Part 2

The first part of this discussion was about the AL&W Lines kit for a Southern Pacific power house (kit SP 21). I prepainted the building parts and did the basic assembly of the structure in that segment (you can read the post at: https://modelingthesp.blogspot.com/2020/02/building-al-sp-power-house.html ). Now I want to complete the structure.
     With the basic building completed, the rooftop cupola needed to be built. It is put together much like the rest of the main structure, with peel-and-stick trim added to the bare cupola. I used the slots in the main roof as guides in assembling the cupola, but didn’t glue the cupola to the roof at this point.


     The kit has an interesting roofing material, styrene sheet scribed to suggest individual roofing sheets, and has a peel-and-stick backing. I prepainted this material with Testor’s Gray Primer as a good starting point. (At the same time, I painted the Roof Caps, parts #9 and #10, the same gray.) After a coat of flat finish to enable me to use acrylic washes, I added some slight streaking and dirt to the roof. I wanted to do this before the roof sheets are part of the structure.
     The cupola assembly was now glued to the roof. Then the peel-and-stick roof sheets were carefully applied, as were the roof cap strips.I first put them in place gently, so that I could adjust the exact placement if necessary. Then the smokestack was inserted with canopy glue, squared up, and supported from below at the desired height.


     Next came a check of the building in  its intended site. Of course soil and vegetation remain to be added, as does a sidewalk to connect the powerhouse doors to the rest of the complex.


     This building is a considerable improvement over the house with the green roof, as was shown in the first post in this series. This will help complete the scene at the Jupiter Pump & Compressor site, and I will report further when the scene approaches completion.
Tony Thompson

Sunday, March 8, 2020

A “tribute” industry for the layout

What might I mean by a “tribute” industry? I suppose it could mean a lot of things, but in the present case it turns out to be an opportunity for a tribute for my late and very good friend, Richard Hendrickson. (If you don’t know or don’t remember who he was, you might like to read the post I wrote after he passed away, which I entitled “In memoriam,” and can be found here: https://modelingthesp.blogspot.com/2014/07/in-memoriam-richard-hendrickson.html .)
     This all arose at the recent Cocoa Beach meeting last January, where, among other attractions, the Bob’s Photos sales room is always active. I hadn’t actually visited the room yet, when my friend Jeff Cauthen told me there was a Santa Fe passenger photo there that I really ought to see. So I went around to the room, and sure enough, here it was:


It may not be immediately obvious, but the point of interest was the lower right foreground sign, which I enlarge here:


These are even Richard’s initials, R.H., which really stood out when glancing at this photo. And those who didn’t know Richard likely wouldn’t realize he was a skilled woodworker, but he enjoyed that kind of task, and in fact did all the window and door trim when his new house was being built in Ashland, Oregon, so this lumber and millwork company is quite appropriate.
     An important point to make about this sign is that it is obviously the product of a sign painter. There are inconsistencies in some letters and in the shading. I made the same point about signs in my recent clinic about using typography in model railroading (you can read the handout for the talk at this link: https://modelingthesp.blogspot.com/2020/01/handout-for-typography-talk.html ).
    My layout doesn’t have space for a lumber yard, but I can readily imagine that such an industry is located off the railroad, thus picking up its shipments of lumber at a team track. Then the sign would be used on a truck which might show up at that team track to receive a load.
     Now the “& Son” part of the sign is unnecessary (though Richard did have a son), and as it happens, the last two letters of his name are not “EN” but “ON.” Both changes are easily made while adjusting the sign for model use, and removing the wires which cross the image. The “skew” tool in Photoshop allows the sign to be squared up. I also moved the words beneath the name so they would be close to centered. Here is a rough intermediate stage:


     With further squaring up and contrast adjustment, I printed this out in a suitable size for use on HO scale vehicles. I tried it out on two trucks. One was a flat-bed trailer being used for receiving lumber at a team track (you can click on the image to enlarge it if you wish):


I also tried applying the sign to a delivery-type box van, suggesting the reach of the business beyond its own premises.


     Whether these or other trucks may end up with the Hendrickson Lumber signs, remains to be seen, but I am pleased to add this industry to those that are visible on my layout.
Tony Thompson