Awhile back I posted some information about depot bill boxes, which were used to communicate between train crews and agents when they were not able to do so in person (for example, when the agent was off duty). I also showed photos of the SP bill box I purchased at Winterail this year. The post can be viewed at this link: http://modelingthesp.blogspot.com/2012/03/bill-box.html.
Last weekend I was at a layout operating weekend called SoCal Ops 2012, in Burbank, Simi Valley, and Santa Barbara, California. As part of our activities, we visited the preserved and handsomely restored SP Santa Susana depot in Simi Valley (it’s the widely seen Common Standard 22 design). On the outside, to my delight, was the original bill box. It is slightly different dimensionally from mine, but is certainly identical in concept. Here’s a photo, kindly provided by Seth Neumann, who was there with a camera phone:
The box is painted with the depot trim color, which SP called “Light Brown.” This is an example of one kind of color scheme for these boxes. In later years, they were often painted aluminum, but some were red. Mine was red, though the paint is much the worse for age. This photo, repeated from the prior post, shows that the bottom opening arrangement, and the hasp for a switch lock, is the same:
This is a detail which needs to be added to many model depots, as well as a feature which can be used in model layout operations.