Monday, September 21, 2020

A CRP mill gondola

I should begin by explaining what “CRP” stands for, since I am sure that not all readers will know. It is the reporting mark of the Central Railroad Company of Pennsylvania, a subsidiary of the Central Railroad Company of New Jersey (CNJ). It was organized in 1946 to own the lines of the CNJ in Pennsylvania, from Easton via Wilkes-Barre to Scranton. The intent was to avoid New Jersey state taxes, but evidently the CNJ’s tax attorneys were not as smart as the state’s people, because the effort essentially failed. In 1952, the CRP was folded back into the CNJ, and New Jersey state taxes continued to consume the major part of the CNJ’s revenue.
     But the lines of the CRP served a significant slice of the steel industry and ancillary businesses, centered around Bethlehem Steel, and accordingly the CRP owned the appropriate freight cars for that traffic. Of some 8200 cars of the CRP fleet in the spring of 1953, when I model, almost 2500 were mill gondolas, most of them 50 feet long or longer. (Incidentally, CNJ put most of its freight car fleet under CRP marks; in 1952 they only had 1750 cars of their own.)
     I happen to have inherited from Richard Hendrickson an HO scale version of one such CRP car, a 65-foot mill gondola. The model is a Precision Scale brass car, nicely detailed. It is fairly light in weight as it comes in the box, so Richard added lead weight in the underbody to make it more operable. He also tried the experiment (as he described it) of using a hammer and punch to try denting the side panels from the inside, as of course was the appearance of all such cars after a few years in service.
     I thought Richard had taken some photos of this denting process, and I have his binders of negatives, but haven’t found this particular project. So below is a photo of the final result, tilted to catch the light and show the denting.

     Richard painted and lettered the car after the distressing treatment, probably to suggest a 1930-built car receiving fresh paint after World War II (for his modeling time of October 1947). Since I model six years later, I needed to update the reweigh date. But the satin finish Richard chose should be retained, because if a model like this is given a coat of flat finish, the dents disappear. They are limited in visibility even with this finish; here is the other end.

     As I have mentioned before, brass freight cars usually are produced with springs on the truck screws which are stiff enough to essentially prevent rotation of the truck in model operation. Unless the model is just for the display case, something has to be done.
      My solution is one of two things: either cut the spring in half, which allows it to still restrain the truck but minimally, or to replace both spring and screw with a shorter, non-shouldered metric screw. With the latter solution, a washer has to be made, as I described in a recent post (see it at: ). In fact, the screw replacement pictured in that post was for this CRP gondola.
     This particular gondola was originally chosen to be part of a larger project Richard built some years ago, a trio of oversize loads that would require idler flat cars between a set of three gondolas.I showed the completed project in an earlier post (available at: ), and repeat the overall photo here (you can click on the image to enlarge it if you wish).

The CRP gondola that is the subject of the present post is at right. Below is a photo of the load you see above, installed in the car, with an idler flat, as would be needed with this over-length load. Here the pair of cars (both would be noted on the waybill) are being switched on my layout.

I can of course operate this pair of cars in any mainline train, without necessarily being part of the triple-car set that I showed above.
     It has to be admitted that the triple-car project, as pictured, does not operate well. Richard did not have an operating layout, so cannot have known that, but I would like to correct it. My efforts have been directed, first, at getting each of the gondolas to operate well, and second, to make sure the loads will all perform and pass all clearances. It’s still a work in progress.
Tony Thompson

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