New dual ear car on the LCN

By B. Smith

The new Arrowhead Models car is excellent.  I decided to create a dual era car to toggle between my 1990 and late 1960s/early 1970s eras.

Here is the 1967 version:


No ACI (The installers haven’t caught up to this car yet.), no COTS and lightly weathered.  It is roughly based off the photo of  DRGW #14638 which can be found on Fallen Flags site at —

Flip it over to the other side and here is the 1990s version–


Heavily weathered, two panel COTS, numbers freshened up.

It is roughly based off the photo of  DRGW #14608 which can be found on Railcar Photos site at —

I am happy I am able to use this great car in both eras of my layout.

LCN logo 7 with n tighter








Livestock traffic comes to Sanderson!

By B. Smith:
In the mid to late 1960’s the LCN was still moving some livestock by rail.  In the Spring the Lazy W Ranch would move sheep from their low ranch to the upper ranch for the summer, then back to the low ranch in the Autumn for the winter.  Since the LCN’s track ran by both ranches the sheep were moved by rail.  The LCN would also spot cars of cattle from west Texas for the Lazy W feedlot.
Sheep being loaded in the Spring for relocation to the high country as the Sanderson local gets the days train together.
cow 7
Not an easy task but they seem to be cooperating today.  Maybe they know green grass awaits.
Trying to get the sheep up a ramp and into a stock car didn’t work.  So the local sheepman got the LCN to spot a cattle car and he loaded them from his truck.  Worked much better!  Sheep normally are loaded into double deck stock cars but the absence of a loading ramp required just a single deck car.
cow 2
Two cars of sheep bound for the high country.
cow 3
Cattle bound for the feedlot.
cow 6
Another view of the MP stock car.
The stock car is an Athearn Blue Box that I’ve had since the early 60’s!  I never ran it as I never had any cattle loading/unloading operations on any of my previous layouts.  I added better couplers, air hoses, pin lifters and stirrups.  I also cut off the Athearn door hinges .  The cu ft stenciled on the side and it being built by UPRR are incorrect, but surprisingly, the car number is correct for the MP.
MP had almost 300 cars pretty much just like this Athearn car in October of 1969.  This car number was from 100 originally built for the International-Great Northern Railway, a Texas railroad that became part of the MP.  By 1976 MP no longer had any stock cars listed, so this scene is 60’s/early 70’s.
LCN logo 7 with n tighter

Arrowhead Models’ new hopper


Per Arrowhead Models’ website, there are 141 separate parts to this outstanding model.  It shows.  It truly is ready to roll.  Scale wheels and, since I want this car to represent a late-1960s to mid-1970s, ACI tags are the only things I could think to add.  If you were modeling a later era, a COTS would be in order.

It is a masterpiece.  I pretty much love everything about this car.


The model looks like a prototype that was magically shrunk to 1/87 scale!  There are really no angles where the model does not hold up to fine scrutiny.  The ends and gates level of detail is extraordinary.



I like how they are compact and look really great on the layout.  Having a long string would not take up a huge stretch of track.


Arrowhead Models really filled an important void with this offering.


There are only two very minor things I’d change.  One, I’d make the fine coal load just a bit easier to remove. Two, I’d suggest the interior could be just a hair more detailed.  However, those are quibbles and the fact the load is snug makes it look very realistic.  And, as you can tell if you click on the photos, there is actually a good level of detail on interior.  Note the rivets.

Congratulations to Arrowhead for such a fine initial offering!  If this suggests what is to come, Arrowhead is positioning itself to be a true leader in the industry.

I have more work to do if I am going to have a long string of these beauties…



Modeling small refrigerator cars

There are few offerings of highly detailed smaller, steel HO refrigerator cars though, if one looks at 1960s and early to mid 1970s images of freight operations, ’40 foot steel refrigerator cars were still fairly common.  The PFE had many variations.


Accurail offers a reasonably detailed version that with a few updates looks pretty good.


The kit is pretty detailed but I did replace the running boards and couplers (Kadee) and installed brakes hoses (Kadee), pin lifters (Tangent) and scale wheels (Exactrail).  The molded on details are not ideal, but with proper weathering look OK.  I added an ACI tag as well (Microscale decals).



The Kadee running board helps a lot.


I like the results enough that I have ordered a few more to depict late-1960s, early to mid 1970s operations.  Accurail has upped their game.  Some of the details such as stirrups and beneath the car details have gotten much better.  I truly love the work of Tangent, Moloco, Exactrail, Athearn Genesis and now Arrowhead Models for sure, but it is nice to have other American made cars on the layout to go with my large fleet of Kadee cars.  (Just got my order of Arrowhead Model’s Rio Grande “Committee Design” Hoppers and they are outstanding.)

Note:  Accurail thoughtfully made it easy to install the step up to the door at three different locations.  This series of cars put it to the left of the door.  Other PFE orders (with three rod doors) put it to the right.

Note 2:  Weathering is critical.  This is how the car appeared before weathering began—






Dual Era Structure, Part III — 1990

By the time the 1990s rolled around, only a few large trucking firms were thriving.  Consolidated Freightways managed to continue having success and hung on until 2002.


I’ve always liked their logo and image.  CF had its roots in Portland, OR, but grew to have a presence across the nation.


The structure is nicely “forward dated” by switching out the PIE trailers and tractors for CF equipment.


And parking the right kinds of cars around it.


It doesn’t really generate freight traffic for the railroad, but it does add a nice industry to enhance the overall realism of the layout.


Overall. I am please with the result.  The price for the terminal was sure right since I had all the parts to the building on hand.



Trailers were getting bigger by 1990 as the 48′ trailer attests.

Hapy railroading! (whether it be the 1990s, 1960s or whenever)



Dual Era Structure, Part II — Late 1960s

The PACIFIC INTERMOUNTAIN EXPRESS became the largest trucking company in the world in 1956.  By 1946 PIE had 535 employees and was growing rapidly through many acquisitions in the late 1940s and 1950s.  By the mid 1960s P.I.E. extended service to the east coast through more acquisitions, having 67 terminals in 29 states. In 1973 the company was purchased by IU International, and in 1983 merged with Ryder Truck Lines, forming Ryder/P.I.E Nationwide. Sadly, by 1989 loses were staggering, and the company was sold again, absorbing Transcon Lines. Loses continued, and in 1990 P.I.E. filed for bankruptcy.

However, on the RailsWest layout, the PIE is living it up in the late 1960s (sometimes early 1970s).



Small but often busy place.




Doesn’t generate rail traffic, but it does give a place to change up from time to time to create a more dynamic layout.  (A future project is to weather the tractors and trailers and add license plates!)


Next post will share its 1990 appearance.


Dual era structures?

Readers on this blog will recall a number of posts related to making your freight cars dual era.  I often make one side of the car appropriate weathering wise and other identifiers (COTS, ACIs, etc) for one era and the reverse side of the car appropritate for another.  Roofwalks obviously can put a crimp on this strategy depending on the breadth of your eras.  This works well if you have a shelf layout where only one side of your car is normally visible.

With this post, I want to illustrate a dual era structure.  By changing signs and surrounding details, one can backdate or “forward date” a structure.

When I lived in Roswell, NM, in the early 1990s, I often drove by a truck freight terminal. I often thought how I’d like to have a non-rail business such as this.  By changing out the trucks and trailers from time to time, one could  introduce a little variety on the layout.  Sometimes the terminal was quiet, other times, there’d be many trailers parked at the dock.

With this series, I am going to share how I took the leftovers from Hernandez Distributing (originally two Walthers Grocery Supply kits) project and created a dual era truck terminal that will be used to portray a late-1960-early 1970s Pacific Intermountain Express operation and a Consolidated Freightways operations set in 1990 around the time I lived in Roswell.  Just for fun, I theorized that Gillette Western also occasionally uses the terminal when it is in the early era JUST because I have a very cool Gillette Western truck and trailer and want to be able to use it!  (Hey, it could have happened!)

Ok, here is the building I made from leftovers of two Grocery Distributor kits.


Nothing too fancy.  This is what it looks like with no details to give it context, to evoke an era.


There is one lone sign that I attached to the building.  Could signal that another company uses the facility from time to time or it could be the relic of a long ago era.



Actually a pretty fun building to kitbash.  I only had to cut one large door opening and I had to remove the second story.


Everything came with the Grocery Distributor kit except the roof and roof details.  They are from a Walthers roof top details kit. (The roof is cut from a sheet of styrene.)


It is compressed a little, but it is adequate to suggest a viable business.


Next post, this building will be detailed out as a Pacific Intermountain Express terminal in the late 1960s.