Monday, January 31, 2011

Waybills, Part 2

I have added a version of my waybill article from the April 2010 issue of The Dispatcher’s Office (pages 17–24) to Google Docs. Anyone is permitted to download and, if desired, print this document. It is available with the following link:

     There are two reasons why I am doing so. First, some errors were made in the version which appeared in the magazine; most noticeably the car initials and numbers were omitted in magazine production from the waybills which were submitted to accompany model photos. Second, as the Dispatcher’s Office did not use full color images at that time, neither the pink perishable waybills nor the model photos were shown in color. However, the layout and overall appearance of the magazine article were generally good, and I think it looks attractive in the magazine.
     This article was written as a follow-up to my article in RMC (“Prototypical Waybills for Car Card Operation,” Railroad Model Craftsman, December 2009, pp. 71–77) and was so cited in my first post with this title, posted on December 9, 2010 (available at: The DO article was intended to explain the various parts of prototype waybills, which is essential if blank waybills are to be filled out properly for model use. Hopefully making it available with corrections and color will assist in that direction.
Tony Thompson

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Modeling freight traffic: Coast Line, 1953-Part 4

An important part of the handling of freight equipment on the prototype, certainly including SP, was the document known as “Equipment Instructions.” This was typically issued for an entire division, at intervals as needed (weekly or less frequently), and was addressed to agents, yardmasters, conductors and clerical forces associated with car handling.
     This document did two important things, over and beyond the Car Service Rules: it instructed those receiving the document how to handle empty company cars as well as foreign empties (in particular, where they were needed and should be sent), and also identified any special needs for foreign-road cars to be returned promptly to their owners. An example of the latter might be that the C&O was experiencing shortages of coal hopper cars and needed all empty C&O hoppers to be returned as soon as possible.
     Since these documents were frequently issued, the old one was normally thrown away in favor of the new one, and they are hard to find. But I have been able to obtain copies of a few SP documents of this type. With those copies as guidance for language and format, I have constructed an “Equipment Instructions” letter for the Coast Division in 1953. It’s been examined by a couple of former SP employees, who could vouch for its general tone and content, although the specifics might or might not be accurate for 1953.
     Using a typewriter font, I made this up as a two-page letter (typical size) and have placed it in Google Docs with this link:

You will notice that it separately treats company and foreign cars, and does refer to Car Service Rules for many situations.
     One explanatory point: the instruction to promptly move empty ATSF and SFRD cars homeward may seem like “helping the enemy,” but numerous employees have stated that this was indeed the practice, likely to avoid any possibility of such a competitor’s car being spotted for loading by an SP customer. All indications I have seen are that Santa Fe and SFRD did exactly the same with SP and PFE empties. 
     The “Equipment Instructions” fill a gap in the methods and practices of car distribution. When I describe (in a future post) the role of the local agent in freight car handling, I will have reference to this document as part of the story.
Tony Thompson

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Layout design: locale

As I mentioned in responding to Robert Simpson’s comment about my post entitled “Modeling freight traffic: Coast Line, 1953-Part 3,” my layout is an imaginary SP branch line, set along the central California coast. To be specific, it is located in the Guadalupe Subdivision of the Coast Division, between San Luis Obispo and Guadalupe. Part of the reason for this choice is the fertile Nipomo Mesa area, then and now a diverse and productive agricultural area, which generates one part of my freight traffic.
     The town names on my layout are not those of real places in this area, and are chosen to represent a Chumash (Indian) place name and a Spanish place name, together with a typical settler-named town. These are, respectively, Shumala, Santa Rosalia, and Ballard. (As I noted, there is a small, unincorporated town named Ballard in the Santa Ynez Valley, but none of its features are represented on my layout.) These names are part of capturing the flavor of this part of California.
     The branch is envisioned to diverge from the SP main line between Oceano and Callender, at the junction I’ve named Shumala, and extends to Santa Rosalia at the mouth of the Santa Maria River. Here’s a sketch map, adapted from the SP division map:

     My response to Robert Simpson included the comment that I originally got this idea from the common practice in England of making small layouts to be imaginary branches of well-known railroads (the Great Western, the London & North Eastern, etc.), so that locomotives, structures and other prominent characteristics have a familiar look. (I will, for example, build a model of SP’s iconic CS-22 depot for Santa Rosalia.) Then, if the typical scenic characteristics of the chosen area are also reproduced, an impression of realism is created, even though the specifics of the track layout and building locations are not those of any real town.
     Another part of capturing the regional flavor is the selection of shippers and consignees for the layout. On my layout, agriculture is represented by four packing houses, dominated by vegetable production, along with a stock pen and a sugar beet loader at Shumala, and a winery at Ballard. Each town has at least one bulk oil dealer, all chosen to represent western oil companies of 1953 (Union Oil, Associated, Standard of California, and Richfield). Planned for Santa Rosalia are a small fish cannery and a kelp products company. Other representative businesses are a dried bean warehouse, a wholesale grocer, and a district garage for the California Division of Highways (a predecessor of today’s CalTrans).
     Whether one considers this to be “proto-freelancing” or devises some other term, I think its main feature is the desire to model operations of a particular railroad, and a particular geographic area, rather than to model a specific place or town. As in all model railroading, I think the primary requirement is to use typical and plausible model components, avoiding the surprising and unusual, to create the impression of a believable place and time. I think time is as important as place, though I won’t explore here the problems of era identity, but obviously consistent choices of motor vehicles, advertising signs, and company names all help to create a sense of the time modeled. 
Tony Thompson

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Modeling caboose servicing

Modelers often neglect caboose servicing in design of yards or terminals. But servicing was certainly required. In the late steam era, SP cabooses still had stoves which burned coal, ice boxes which used block ice, and of course a caboose also would carry drinking water, consumables like fusees and torpedoes and lubricants, and an assortment of tools. I’ve been researching this so that I can model it on my layout.
     As Mac Gaddis and others have told me, there would be a caboose supply building at any yard where cabooses were serviced. This might be part of an entire complex of small, mismatched and sometimes ramshackle buildings, and might even be a box car or other car body incorporated into the complex. There had to be storage space for all the supplies, and working space for the assigned employees. This kind of building would be painted Colonial Yellow with Light Brown trim.
     The photo immediately below, taken at the West Oakland caboose track on October 11, 1946, shows two features. At left is a water tap, supported by and protected by a wood post (and note the Allied truck), and in front of the truck of caboose 205 (Class C-30-3) at right are several cloth bags of coal. This is how coal was supplied. (The R.W. Biermann photo is courtesy of Arnold Menke.)

     The next photo is very informative. It shows two service carts, the one at right apparently battery powered. The one at left carries ice and bottled water, while on the one at right are cartons of Olin fusees and Texaco “hot box coolant.” This photo is from the Roseville caboose track in 1962, and is SP photo N-6514. The caboose at center is number 1191, Class C-40-3. Both these photos (cropped less severely) are in my caboose book (Southern Pacific Freight Cars, Vol. 2, Cabooses, Signature Press, Berkeley and Wilton, 2002).

     My branch junction at Shumala has a caboose track, so I need to provide a small building for caboose servicing. An old box car body, perhaps one of the fine Westerfield models of early Harriman box cars, too old even to be in MOW service by 1953, might make a good choice. I’ll probably position a few bags of coal outside.
Tony Thompson

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Modeling freight traffic: Coast Line, 1953-Part 3

An important part of my understanding of Coast Line operations comes from my long interview with Malcolm “Mac” Gaddis, conducted at his home in San Jose in 1992. I had brought numerous 8 x 10 photos, employee timetables, and other materials to talk about, and Mac kindly consented to my taping the interview. Subsequently I transcribed the tape (a seriously tedious process), so that I have a paper text of what we discussed.
     Mac told me that he was an SP employee in Los Angeles until his transfer to San Luis Obispo (SLO) in January 1951, for the post of electrical supervisor. His main responsibility was cabooses, the newer ones of which had electrical generators, and he also did electrical repair and maintenance for passenger equipment and motive power as needed.
     Mac was something of a railfan, and kept his camera in his shop area across from the SLO depot, so that he could get a shot of anything interesting that happened. In fact, he loaned me his entire set of SLO negatives, and I had prints made, then returned them. Some of those images appear in the book about the Coast Line which John Signor and I published, called Coast Line Pictorial (Signature Press, 2000).
     Here’s some of what he told me about operations. I’ve chosen the parts relating to my two previous posts on this topic, and Mac’s words are in quotation marks.
     “There would be a Surf turn, mostly for the White Hills Branch, and they would sometimes meet the turn from Santa Barbara, but usually not. The local would go down to Guadalupe and come back, and do a lot of switching, perishables, maybe beets, and sometimes interchange with the Santa Maria Valley. Sometimes they would bring perishables back to SLO, or if it was heavy, they would spot them for a through train, like the “Watsonville Perishable Block” (WPB). That was a hot train. It would arrive in SLO with 60 or 70 cars, we would add to it, and it would fill out in Guadalupe to a full train, then run through to LA. Parts of it would go east from there. When it was a big train like that, it ran around three in the afternoon.” [about the scheduled departure of Train 916]
     At that point I asked if this was the same train as the “Smokey.” He said no, the idea of a perishable train originating in SLO (or Guadalupe) was from later years. [Evidence I’ve seen indicates that the “Smokey” originated in 1954 or 1955.] He then continued with more on the locals.
     “Those locals ran with Ten-wheelers, Moguls, or Consolidations. Now King City [turn], that was run with the 3251 or 3264. You needed a Mike to get up the mountain. And that job, you would go up there to the west leg of the wye at Camp San Luis to pick up ore. There was a mine dump there, you would pick up a gon or two of chrome ore, with maybe 8 or 10 inches of ore in the bottom, and it would be a full 50 tons, about the heaviest cars we saw. That ore usually went north, a pure black stuff, but I don’t know where it went exactly. Then the King City job, on the way back, they would pick up at Paso Robles, Atascadero, various industries along the way. They might have some perishables, but sugar beets, not more than a few cars. Any more would go in the full beet trains.
     “We used to laugh, because we would have two cab-forwards taking beets north, and two going south. There was Union Sugar one way, Spreckels the other, and it made lots of business for the SP. Those beet trains were usually extras, which was a little unusual on the division, extras like that.
     “George McCarron was one of the SLO engineers, and he ran the King City turn. He had his own whistle on the 3251, it was more of a UP whistle. He was just broken up when they started putting those Baldwin road switchers on there. In those days the conductors always had the same caboose, assigned, you know. They would sleep in there on runs like the King City. Some of them had special beds, all kinds of things fixed in there for their own use, linoleum floors, extra shelves.
     “At that time there was a little livestock on the Coast, a few cars. We had some grain traffic too, some in box cars, with those paper grain doors. The really new, clean cars would be used for sacked sugar. You couldn’t have nails sticking out of the lining with those sacks. We would probably do 10 to 15 grain cars and 5 or 6 sugar cars a day. I think the sugar cars were mostly Union Sugar. We switched at Callender but that was before they made coke there. They moved tank cars.
     “Auto parts? I don’t remember any special trains, but the cars would be in the manifest trains. Now these photos [looking at some of my 8 x 10s], you can’t go by those train numbers, because they just used the next number in the timetable when a [particular symbol] train was ready to go. Some days it would have one number, the next day maybe it was a little later, got a different number. They ran second sections sometimes when we had a lot moving.”
     I asked about the long time span between trains arriving and departing, for example at San Luis Obispo. Why was that, I asked.
     “Well, a train came in, they would switch it out, maybe shorten it to go up the hill, or make it bigger to go south. If you had really low-priority cars sitting in the yard, like empty drop-bottom gondolas, they might sit awhile before you had space on a train to move them out. Hot cars like perishables of course would go right out. Now this photo, that’s our 2829, with that rectangular tender. I think Duchessis was the engineer who ran it all the time, and his fireman was a guy called “Numb Nuts.” It got one of the yard jobs. They had two, a north-end job and a south-end job. We also used 2918, a Twelve-wheeler, on the yard jobs, sometimes a Ten-wheeler.”
     This is just a sample of Mac’s informative comments, relating to freight traffic. There’s much more than this in the entire interview, including some good railroad stories, but I’ve selected the traffic parts for this post.
Tony Thompson

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Layout design: Ballard

The town of Ballard on my layout is intended as a switching-intense location. I designed the track arrangement as a modification of a published town plan, West Agony on Terry Walsh’s West Agony & Inchoate Railroad. The plan, and a switching problem to illustrate its complexity, was published in Model Railroader magazine (“Problem at West Agony,” Model Railroader, Vol. 27, July 1960, pp. 22–25).
     Terry Walsh’s town was laid out in a space 2 feet by 7 feet. I was able to go further and utilize a 34 inch by 8 foot piece of plywood. This permitted a number of industries, as desired. Terry had nine switching destinations at industries, in addition to a house track at the depot and a team track. I have ten industries and also have the house track and team track.
     My previous layout was set in the Santa Ynez River valley of California, in central Santa Barbara County, where there is a real location called Ballard, though it has less than 1000 people even today and remains an unincorporated town. I freelanced it entirely, making it a country town with some modern industrial growth. My new layout is set a little farther north, in southern San Luis Obispo County, but I am keeping the Ballard name for this town.
     Shown below is a photo of the town as it was on the old layout. In this view, half of the industries are visible (some will not be used on the new layout), with the depot in the foreground. They are as follows: at far left, the Zaca Mesa Winery, and to its right, Ballard Farm Supply (light roof) and Union Brass Foundry (the latter two are being replaced). On the track at the rear are Peerless Foods, a wholesale grocer, and to its right, Nocturnal Aviation. I was able to save the town and its structures as you see it for use on the new layout.

     Out of view to the right were a produce shed, a Union Oil bulk dealer, a California Division of Highways district yard, a tool & machine business, and a stock pen. All but the stock pen will be used on the new layout.
     On the Terry Walsh version of this trackage, this view would be looking westward. On my  layout today, it is looking northward by compass, railroad westward by SP convention. It is the middle town on my mythical SP branch line layout. I expect to discuss the other two towns in future posts.
Tony Thompson

Monday, January 17, 2011

Modeling freight traffic: Coast Line, 1953-Part 2

In my previous post with this title, I described the main features of SP mainline trains in 1953, summarizing operation of scheduled freights and passenger trains. I excluded extra trains, including various types of local freights, from that description. In this post I discuss those trains.
     The most important exceptions to the previous description of scheduled freights arose seasonally with perishables. Perishable trains were operated as required in harvest seasons and not year-round. In 1953, seasonal trains included the “Watsonville Perishable Block” (WPB), originating Watsonville Junction and destined Colton for consolidation with Los Angeles perishables as Colton Perishable Block (CPB) trains, which departed on the Sunset Route. On the Coast Division, the WPB was consolidated with the “Coast Line Manifest” (CLM) or “Los Angeles Manifest” (LAM) as needed.
     The “Salinas Vegetable Block” (SVB) operated from Watsonville Junction to Roseville daily, for consolidation with “Roseville Perishable Block” (RPB) trains, Overland Route, or “North Coast Perishable” (NCP) trains, Shasta Route. Both the WPB and the SVB would operate as full perishable trains if large enough.
     The “Santa Maria Vegetable” (SMV) originated at San Luis Obispo or Guadalupe, as needed, destined Los Angeles. (In later years, this train was informally called “The Smokey” with timetable authority as number 916, and usually departed San Luis Obispo as locomotive and caboose only, picking up at Guadalupe and beyond. Departure times varied over the years, but were usually late evening or midnight.) Santa Maria perishable cars destined Oakland were consolidated with the “Golden Gate Manifest” (GGM) as needed.
     Empty refrigerator cars returning to Watsonville Junction or Coast points were blocked as “Empty Watsonville Refrigerators” (XWR) or “Empty Salinas Refrigerators” (XSR); “Empty Santa Maria Refrigerators” (XSMR) were destined San Luis Obispo. These blocks were often consolidated with manifest scheduled trains.
     As stated in the previous post, cars were not set out or picked up by symbol freight trains except in the yards at San Jose, Watsonville Junction, San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara. The same was generally true of “drag” through freights, which on occasion might operate as extra trains. All local traffic between those yards was handled by local trains and haulers as needed.
     In SP parlance, a “turn” operated from a major yard to a point perhaps halfway to the next major yard and returned, with the return in many cases occurring the following day. A “local” was a regular job operating over a shorter distance, usually on a single day.
     On the SP, “hauler” trains were used to service large shippers (like auto plants) or to handle large blocks of cars for pick up and delivery. Switching would usually be accomplished by the corresponding local, which would set out cars for the hauler to pick up, and would deliver cars brought by the hauler, to their local destinations. In effect, the “Smokey” was a hauler to Los Angeles in perishable season.
     On the Coast Division, the Salinas Subdivision was served by a King City turn from Watsonville Junction, and the Santa Margarita Subdivision by a King City turn from San Luis Obispo. Eastward from San Luis Obispo, there was a Surf turn, and also a Surf turn from Santa Barbara.
     Locals were also operated. From Santa Barbara, for example, a Goleta local served the extensive packing sheds west of Santa Barbara, and from San Luis Obispo, a Guadalupe local served industries between San Luis Obispo and Guadalupe.
     Consequences for my modeling are as follows. First, perishable trains or large perishable blocks in manifest trains are expected. Second, both a Surf turn and an Guadalupe local will operate on the segment of main line which I model. Unfortunately, I will not operate a “Smokey” unless I decide to model nighttime operations, which I don’t currently plan.
     Sources of the foregoing information are the same as in the preceding post: employee timetables 162 and 164 for the Coast Division, effective September 28, 1952 and September 27, 1953, respectively; SP Condensed Freight Schedules of the period; dispatchers’ train sheets; and interviews with employees of the 1950s on the Coast, notably Malcolm “Mac” Gaddis, who consented to a long, detailed and most informative interview on tape.
Tony Thompson

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Modeling freight traffic: Coast Line, 1953

My modeling is set in 1953, and the location of my layout is in the Guadalupe Subdivision of the Coast Division, between San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara. Since I have a small segment of main line on my layout (most of the layout is branch line), I need to determine how freight traffic operated on this subdivision.
     It’s appropriate to start with the premium trains, which tend to define the framework of any schedule. The passenger trains in 1953 were numbers 98 and 99, the Daylight; 75 and 76, the Lark; 71 and 72, the “Coast Mail” (officially named Passenger), later known as “Sad Sam;” and 94 and 95, the Starlight. Of these, the Lark and Starlight operated in the middle of the night on this subdivision, while the Daylight operated late morning and early afternoon, and the “Mail” operated in early morning in both directions. Freight trains were mostly scheduled to operate in time periods left free from these trains.
     There was one freight train given first-class timetable authority, the “Overnight,” official name of which was the Coast Merchandise, C.M.E. eastward and C.M.W. westward. This also operated in the middle of the night. Since I plan only to model daytime operations, there are just two of the five first-class trains which I will operate, the Daylight and the “Mail.”
     Turning to freight trains, in 1952, SP scheduled four freights in each direction on the Guadalupe Subdivision. Eastward were numbers 912, 914, 916 and 918, listed as second-class trains; westward were numbers 911, 913, 915 and 917, listed as third-class trains. This of course means that eastward scheduled freights had authority by class over westward scheduled freights. Incidentally, the same directional division of second and third classes was true over Cuesta (Santa Margarita Subdivision) but was not true over the remainder of the Coast Division.
     Of those scheduled freights in 1952, numbers 912 and 918 eastward, and 915 and 919 westward, operated in late night or very early morning hours and would not be modeled, leaving me with two scheduled freights in each direction and two scheduled passenger trains in each direction, during daylight hours.
     What kind of trains were these freights? Did they have particular assignments? The answer is both yes and no. There were a number of symbol freights operated daily, and they  indeed had a “typical” or normal connection with these train numbers, but if a particular freight was badly off schedule–not a rare occurrence–a different timetable number might be used as authority for that particular train leaving its next terminal. In other words, the train number does not always identify a particular symbol.
     The Coast Line symbol freights in the early 1950s were as follows. Daily symbol trains normally  included the eastward “Coast Line Manifest” (CLM) and “Los Angeles Manifest” (LAM), Oakland-San Francisco to Los Angeles; and the westward “Golden Gate Manifest” (GGM) and “San Francisco Manifest” (SFM), Los Angeles to Oakland-San Francisco.
     Schedule of the CLM reflects connection at Colton with Sunset Route manifest trains, including “Blue Streak Manifest” (BSM), destined St. Louis, and “Southeaster” (SE) for traffic destined beyond New Orleans. Schedule of the GGM reflects connection at San Jose with the “San Jose-Roseville Extra” (SJR), which in turn connects  with Shasta Route and Overland Route manifest trains, including the “Oakland-Portland Special” (OPS), destined Portland, and “Overland East” (OVE), destined Ogden.
     Under normal traffic conditions, the CLM was operated as Train 918 eastward from San Luis Obispo, and the LAM as Train 914; westward, the GGM operated from Santa Barbara as Train 911 and the SFM as Train 915. Of these four, as mentioned above, trains 915 and 918 were night-time trains.
     In addition to these trains, there were also blocks of cars normally operated daily, which might be separate trains if large enough. These included the “Los Angeles Auto Parts” (symbol LAAP), Oakland to Los Angeles, and the reverse counterpart, “Empty Auto Parts” (XAP). Los Angeles to Oakland, reflecting predominant movement on the Coast of auto parts loads eastward, which had arrived via the Overland Route. Usual operation would find these blocks as part of the LAM and SFM, respectively. The lesser quantity of westward auto parts on the Coast, arriving via the Sunset Route, normally connected with the SFM.
     It is important to recognize that SP preferred at this time to operate most freight traffic as scheduled trains, although schedules other than the GGM and CLM were not usually observed very rigorously, because of the convenience provided by timetable authority. When traffic needs exceeded the capacity of the eight scheduled trains on this subdivision, second sections would be operated. In most situations, extra through freight trains were uncommon.
     The primary reason for extra through trains was perishable traffic, which I will discuss in detail in a forthcoming post. The other extra trains were the turns, locals and haulers. These performed the on-line switching throughout the division, while the scheduled through freights did no such switching between terminals. These locals I will also describe in the post about perishable traffic.
     The above description of the timetable in 1952 is the basis for my layout planning, in which I expect to operate all four of the daytime scheduled mainline freights. Two of these are the symbol freights, GGM and LAM. It will be noted that large blocks of auto parts cars should only appear in the LAM unless I operate a separate train in either direction, but the Coast Division also handled considerable traffic in assembled automobiles, separately from the auto parts traffic.
     Sources of the foregoing information: employee timetables 162 and 164 for the Coast Division, effective September 28, 1952 and September 27, 1953, respectively; SP Condensed Freight Schedules of the period; dispatchers’ train sheets; and interviews with employees of the 1950s on the Coast, notably Malcolm “Mac” Gaddis, who consented to a long, detailed and most informative interview on tape.
Tony Thompson

Tank car projects for Cocoa Beach -- 3

Now available on the web are Dave Hussey’s fine photos of many of the models displayed at Cocoa Beach. Included are photos of the four tank cars which I displayed, located on page 20 of Dave’s page at:
     The photos of course are not meant to document models in any detail, but they do show the overall look. The black table cloths form a background which may not be optimum, let us say, for the two tank cars which are black. In my previous posts under this title, I had not mentioned my SP tank cars, but I took one along to Cocoa Beach as a contrast to the smaller Plastruct-based cars, and because I talked about the detailing of these cars in my clinic at Cocoa. I did not take the Warren ICC 104 tank car, shown in the previous post with this title, as I already had four to take and with air travel, that seemed as much as I wanted to handle.
     I might mention that the only thing missing in these overall views by Hussey is the fact that the SP tank car depicted does not reveal, in a side view, its main feature: the aluminum end stripe which SP used to identify diesel fuel cars.
     Here is a photo which shows that aspect better. The decal challenge, of course, is that the car requires both white and black lettering. I had custom decals made by Rail Graphics in order to do this car (and several other SP tank cars).

Here may be noted other SP tank car paint schemes. Behind the aluminum end stripe car are a liquid sugar car, with the large “S” in a white diamond on the dome, a plain black car, and a Colonial Yellow car in gasoline service. All are conversions from the Athearn HO car, with domes raised to correct height, the dome walk on the left side removed in all cases, and other details upgraded.
     For anyone interested in modeling the SP cars, I’ve published a magazine article on that. Although these individual paint schemes were not discussed in my description of how to model these cars, the physical re-detailing was shown fairly completely. The article was in the SP Society magazine, Trainline, “Modeling SP Tank Cars,” issue no. 71, pp. 35–37, Spring 2002.
Tony Thompson

Monday, January 10, 2011

Tank car projects for Cocoa Beach -- 2

I’ve just returned from another very good Prototype Rails meeting in Cocoa Beach, and full thanks and credit to Mike Brock and his crew for doing the fine job they seem to do every year.
     I mentioned last December, in the first post in this thread, that I was working on two projects which I planned to display at the meeting. Quoting from that post, these were, first, a swap of tanks and underframes between two kits:

    • A General American 8000-gallon car, modeled by placing an InterMountain tank of that size on a shortened Athearn tank car frame. The Athearn frame, though not very refined in its detailing, is nevertheless a generally accurate General American underframe.
     • An AC&F insulated 10,000 gallon car, modeled by cutting an Athearn insulated tank body down in length, and placing it on the frame of the InterMountain car just described. The IM underframe is an AC&F design. The Athearn car body is intended to represent a pressurized or ICC 105 type of tank car, but the prototype being modeled is an insulated but not pressurized car, ICC type 104, so a new dome had to be made also.

     Photos of these two cars are included below. The second car, as I mentioned previously, is inspired by a Mark Feddersen magazine article, cited in the previous post.
    I should mention in connection with the El Dorado car that it represents a personal connection of sorts, since my great uncle worked for that company and in fact had his home in Berkeley only a few blocks from where I now live. El Dorado was not a petroleum oil company but one which processed copra (dried coconut meat) and other materials to make a variety of vegetable oils.

I based the lettering and overall appearance of both cars on prototype photographs. Likely I will prepare magazine article about these cars, but if not, I will summarize the modeling methods in a future post.
     The second project was a continuation of earlier work, applying scratchbuilt tanks to Tichy underframes to model tank cars with no commercial equivalent. Previously I described it this way:

    • A 6000-gallon car, with a slender dome like an acid car but in this case for shipping hydrogen peroxide by the Buffalo Electrochemical Company (Becco), modeled with a Tichy underframe and scratchbuilt tank from Plastruct tubing (body) and aluminum tubing (dome).

    Again, the basic method is inspired by Mark Feddersen’s article on the Becco peroxide car, cited in the prior post, but with a number of modeling variations. As with the kit swap described above, I may do a magazine article on my method, but otherwise will do a post here summarizing the modeling. Here’s the completed Becco car that I did, along with a Stauffer acid tank car built earlier with the same method (and coupled to a 10,000-gallon tank for size comparison).

     It was an interesting challenge and certainly a learning opportunity to develop methods to get these tank cars together. I photographed all four of these tank cars at the town of Shumala on my layout.
Tony Thompson

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Staging trackage installation-3

I received a couple of questions about my use of rerailers on my staging “transfer table,” so I will share a couple of photos.
     Although one naturally makes every effort to ensure that tracks align perfectly between the fixed layout trackage and a moving staging device like mine, there is of necessity a small gap between the two sets of rails, and it’s always possible to develop a small misalignment. Accordingly, I tried to minimize any danger of derailment by placing rerailers on both sides of the gap. And since it is really only of concern for trucks coming onto the transfer table, or leaving the table, I only needed one-half of a normal rerailer, with the “point” oriented toward the problem area, the gap.
     I used Atlas commercial rerailers, and cut them in half, using a cutoff disc to cut the rails and a razor saw for the plastic. Here’s how it looks at the table edges:

     I also added full rerailers at the approximate center of the tracks nearest the aisle. These may help by rerailing passing equipment, but their real purpose to make the addition of rolling stock easy. I have, by design, rather more freight cars than can or should fit onto the layout at once, so I plan to rotate the cars which are most distinctive or are owned by smaller railroads in and out of service. These rerailers makes it easy to add them to a staging track. Their installation is conventional:

Running trains over these track features, both in test mode and for the purposes of trial operating sessions with my waybill system, has been entirely satisfactory so far, and these rerailers deserve some of the credit.
Tony Thompson