Thursday, July 28, 2011

Choosing a model car fleet-SP box cars, Part 2

In the previous post with this title, I discussed SP’s box cars of AAR design, 40 feet long, spanning the years from 1936 to 1953 (see: ).
     In this post I address the cars which preceded those AAR-design cars, and for simplicity will only include those which survived in significant numbers by my modeling year, 1953. These would be classes B-50-12 through B-50-16. As I have done before, I show below a table of the cars and car numbers in each of these classes, along with a column entitled “Needs,” which means the rough number of cars I would want to have in my total car fleet, at a rough ratio of one model per 1000 prototype cars. Here is the table:

     It’s worth mentioning that in this table, I listed the numbers of cars originally built, partly to provide comparison to the table I showed in the previous post by this name. But with older cars like these, as-built numbers are potentially misleading, because my own model fleet should reflect 1953, not the original fleet as it was built in the 1920s. That’s why there is a column for 1953 survival.
     It can be seen immediately that the B-50-13 and -14 cars, nearly identical body styles as originally built, were built as 3700 + 3300 cars, a total of 7000, a very substantial group of cars and almost evenly divided between the two classes. But it should be noted how much attrition there was among the B-50-13 cars.I will comment below on modeling these.
     Second, the B-50-15 and -16 cars, with similar though not identical bodies, originally totaled 3900 + 1000 cars, 4900 total cars and like the -13s and -14s, a considerable group which has to be modeled, though in this case dominated by B-50-15. And these classes had significantly less attrition that B-50-13 and -14.
     Lastly, the Class B-50-12 group, which originally was the USRA single-sheathed design, was rebuilt to all-steel (and quite different looking) cars in 1949.
     To summarize the modeling approaches which are possible, the B-50-12 cars as rebuilt have been done in resin by Sunshine and in brass by Challenger, both beautiful renditions. The B-50-13 and -14 cars have been done in resin by Sunshine, with most of the variations in roofs, doors and ends encompassed by the prototype. And the B-50-15 cars, originally wood sheathed but later mostly steel-sheathed, have been done in brass by Challenger and in resin by Sunshine, again, outstanding models in both media. The B-50-16 class, admittedly smaller, has not been done to date, as far as I know, but since it differs in having a Dreadnaught end instead of the corrugated end of Class B-50-15, could certainly be kitbashed from a Sunshine kit.
     To illustrate results, I will show a brass car and a resin car. First, the resin, which is a typical B-50-14 with the Dreadnaught ends added in the early 1930s to almost all of the class, in the form of a Sunshine model.

The brass one is a Challenger B-50-15, and here I’ve chosen a T&NO car to illustrate the class:

     Comparing my present car roster to the table above, I still need two cars, chosen from B-50-13 and -14, for my fleet, and will probably try a kitbash of a Sunshine B-50-15 kit into a B-50-16, since I already have the entirety of the “needs” identified in the table above, for Class B-50-15. And that, by the way, is one advantage of doing a “fleet analysis” of the kind I’m showing here: it tells you what you do not need. I guess I’ve reached the point where that’s as welcome a message as finding out what I do need.
 Tony Thompson


  1. Hi Tony,

    Now that Sunshine are gone (or at least impossible to obtain 2nd-hand outside the continental USA), is there a way to kitbash a B-50-13/14 using more readily available kits/rtr? For instance, would a base of a USRA S/S boxcar get me there or are they dimensionally different?

  2. Well, that would depend on how meticulous you want to be. The USRA cars had U-section braces, where the SP ones had Z-bar braces; the -13s and -14s were built with braced wood ends, while the USRA ends were 5-5-5 corrugated steel; and when the -14s received steel ends, they were Dreadnaught ends, not corrugated. Most roofs were different too, as were trucks. They are also different in height. The USRA cars had 8'6" inside height, while the -13s and -14s had 9'2". I won't say this kitbash is impossible, but it sounds like a lot of work if you want to get close to the right look.
    Tony Thompson

  3. Thanks for the really prompt reply to such an old blog post, Tony. Really appreciated. I'm wondering now whether I can chop-and-close up a Funaro & Camerlengo 50ft SP auto boxcar to achieve the same result.