More on Dual Era Cars

By B. Smith and C.E. Hunt

We having been working to create a number of dual era cars for our layouts.  See this earlier post on this topic.

The concept, in short, is if you have a shelf layout, most of the time, only one side of the car will be visible.  This gives you the opportunity to weather and detail cars for different eras.  Both of us have dual era layouts so this is attractive for cars whose service life spanned the two eras.

From the earlier post.  Here is a Moloco car detailed for post 1978.


Here is the other side of the car detailed for the early 1970s.


B. Smith recently received a couple of ScaleTrains PS 4785 covered hoppers and decided to make them useful for his earlier era late 1960-early 1970s and his 1990 era.  The cars are impressive.  The SSW has an unusual roof hatch arrangement that sets it apart from the other hoppers with their continuous hatch the length of the car.

The SSW car was built in 10-67 so it’s early enough to be spotted in Sanderson, the locale of the earlier era.  Smith added only an ACI plate and tried to go easy on the weathering.
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The unloading gates are very detailed and somewhat unusual.
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The other side of the car is for the 1990 portion of the layout.  More weathering, decals to show the car has been re-weighed, consolidated lube plate.
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Smith found that the Penn Central car offered a few more challenges.
“There are some minor issues doing a dual era car.  For the PC car I learned after ordering it that by 1990 there were no longer any PC reporting marks for this series of car, all had been changed to CR, but the cars kept the same numbers fortunately.  This means the reporting marks on the end of the car can only be correct for one of the car’s sides.  I didn’t change the PC reporting marks on my car’s ends.  (We will see if the conductor catches it.)
The other issue is how to weather the car.  Being NEW in 7-72 I felt the weathering should be very light to represent a 1970’s Sanderson version.  The 1990 version should be more weathered, and faded.  The PC green fades to a blue-green color after a few years.  I have been unable to find a 1990 photo of a PC green covered hopper, only recent 2000’s photos, so I’m making a guess here.
So to fade one side of the car I tried a technique I stumbled on (Lance Mindheim also mentions it).  I sprayed the entire car with dull coat.  I figured it would dull the PC side of the car enough.  On the CR side I went over the side after the dull coat had dried with just clear alcohol which results in a sun bleached effect.  The PC side still seemed too new and shinny so I hit it with an almost dry brush with just a hint of alcohol.  The roof I hit with a bit of alcohol and just left the ends with dull coat.  I may go back and splatter them with some flat black and roof brown but I can’t get carried away there.”
Here is the early version.
Here is the 1990 version based on photos from the internet.
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If you are like us and enjoy modelling more than one era, here is a way to get a “twofer” in your fleet.
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A versatile industry, a ramp

In my early 1970s version of the RailsWest layout, I wanted a place where I could handle a diversity of traffic–a place to load onions and cotton grown in the valley and a place to receive goods brought in for area businesses, such as the Safeway and lumber yard.


I wanted it to be able to handle 2 to 3 cars and look like it has been there out in the sun for a long time.


I also wanted it to look like it had been maintained over the years.


In fact, I wanted part of it to look rebuilt.


I built it by combining four Blair Loading dock kits.


The Blair kits are easy to build.  I recommend this kit.  It looks good and is easy to build.


It can handle 2 to 3 cars.


It looks good upon fairly close inspection.


All in all a great addition to the layout.  It offers a lot of operation possibilities.


A RailsWest Update



ATSF action in Houston, TX Nov 1978–©photo by C. E. Hunt


ATSF Freight coming into Mykawa Yard Nov 1978 II

ATSF action on Mykawa Road in Houston, TX Nov 1978–©photo by C. E. Hunt

You can blame  it on pictures like to above ones.

Change is the only constant for me it seems.   RailsWest is evolving a bit more.  As a 10-11 year old kid, I fell in love with railroads chasing (on foot) ATSF, MP, SP, Rock Island, BN and MKT trains.  I was thrilled when I saw F units.  Not sure why, I didn’t know at the time they were on borrowed time.  My first loves were F units, first generation GPs, 40-foot boxcars, scattered piggyback cars and…cabooses!

Recently, after absorbing numerous books on the early to mid 1970s, such as Santa Fe on the Great Plains By Roger Ziegenhorn and Robert D. Walz (Santa Fe Railway Historical and Modeling Society) and Trackside around Kansas 1960-1975 with Lloyd E. Stagner (Morningsun) and working with B. Smith on his Sanderson posts, I realized that I really wanted to turn back the clock just a bit to capture more of the era that first drew me into railroading.


I now envision the layout as a “stage” that depicts the American West in the early to mid-1970s.


The actors are the ATSF, SP, BN, RI, CNW, Frisco, MP and my Carson County RR. (More to come on the Carson County Railway.)

Though I am leaning more towards ATSF right now, I plan over time to have one or two first generation locos of each road suitable to run a branch line local out to Carson.  The Carson County Railway will take it from there usually.

I love each of these railroads and recreating a branch operation will bring alive my favorite chapter in RR history which coincides when I first fell in love with trains.

Again, the excitement of running to the rails to watch freights when I was about 10 or 11 was amazing.  The standout is ATSF F units in the billboard and red, blue and yellow bonnet schemes.  After that is first generation MP units for some reason in the old buzzsaw logo scheme.  I think of heat and the smell of creosote as faded blue GPs ease past me with the red dot under the cab window.  I think I saw a few ex-CB&Q units but I don’t have specific memories but that would have made sense.  I definitely remember CB&Q cabooses.  Beat up RI and MKT GPs are also great memories slowly passing by the old golf course and baseball fields where I played as a kid.  Catching Frisco action AR in the late 1970s was incredible as well.

Just wanted to explain what’s going on.


So, having said that, this is a little of my most recent weathering efforts.

Here are a couple of Tangent’s MP 4750s.  Tangent nailed these cars!  Just a little light weathering and they are truly RTR and ready to robustly bring my childhood memories back.  They just look so right.



I love these cars.  Next, is a Kadee IC boxcar.



Kadee did their usual solid job on these cars.


Got to have some 40 footers ready to go.


This is one of my favorites.  I remember seeing feed being unloaded from one of these in Houston about 1978.


Kadee cars weather very nicely.


Other side.



This Centralia caboose weathered very nicely as well.


“Re”-welcome to the mid to early 1970s.


Carson County for blog


The Limpia-Rescado Project is really impacting the LCN, Part IV

By B. Smith

Today’s run out of Sanderson was somewhat delayed waiting for the tank car to finish being unloaded.  Then the crew found a longer than normal train awaiting them at the interchange.  At least it was there when they arrived.  And the cement cars were all together as were the cars of rip-rap.  The return trip to Sanderson took somewhat longer due to the greater tonnage, but the train made it with hours of service still remaining. Behind the engine were five cars of riprap, four cement cars, a box car for the team track (bagged feed), two empty extended height open hoppers for scoria loading, and the caboose.

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The crew cut off the train behind the riprap cars, pulled ahead, and then backed into the team track to pick up the three empties there.


The load of scoria was added to the rear of this pull.
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Fortunately today there were no cars for Safeway or Western Wool that had to be run around so the scoria load and three empties were then spotted on the east end of the main.
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Much to the relief of the project manager, the five loads of riprap were then spotted on the team track for unloading.  Not taking time to relocate the unloading crane, the riprap car adjacent to the crane would be unloaded first.

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The two empty scoria cars were spotted next.

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Then the boxcar of feed.

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Finally, the cement cars were spotted.  The first riprap car was already being unloaded.

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The caboose was picked up off the main.

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And the engine and caboose moved to the water plug, the crew tying up with just minutes left on their hours of service.

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As the sun begins to set, the much-relieved project manager wasted no time getting the auger under a car of cement and the unloading started there.  Wonder how many cars will be unloaded before tomorrow’s run?

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The Limpia-Rescado Project is really impacting the LCN, Part III

By B. Smith

As soon as the cars are spotted work begins on unloading the motor grader.


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The project boys have a lot of unloading to do tonight to keep on schedule.
The next morning when the train crew arrives.  They find a rather upset project foreman.  The two cement cars have been unloaded so he needs more cement.  The two riprap cars that were not next to the feed bins are empty and his unloading crew is sitting idle waiting for the other two riprap cars to be re-positioned so they too can be unloaded.  The lumber has been off loaded from the flat car.  The motor grader up by the molasses tanks has been ramped off, but the big dual-motor scrapper has not, although it appears someone is working on getting it off.  The tank car of gasoline is still not empty but a connected unloading hose and the whine of a small pump can be heard working on getting all 8,000 gallons out of the tank car and into the storage tank.  As the engineer and fireman inspect and prepare the locomotive, the conductor informs the project foreman that as soon as the tank car is unloaded the riprap cars will be moved, but not until the unloading hose has been disconnected and the fuel dealer manager says it’s OK to move it.
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Finally, the tank car is empty and the locomotive and caboose back down the spur and couple up all the cars except the flat with the motor scraper.
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The empties are shoved down against the scoria load and the two loaded riprap cars are spotted so unloading can begin on them, which happens almost immediately.
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The caboose just clears the crossing and the engine takes on fuel oil.  With all the extra project traffic, the crew wants the fuel level to be as full as possible before leaving town, especially after having to remain at the junction a couple of nights ago.  No way to refuel there!
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The contractors remain busy unloading.
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All that remains to be done is to pull the empty box from Western Wool, move it and the locomotive to the head end of the train, do an air test, and head to the junction.
The train finally pulls out.
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The question now is, will the cars for Sanderson be at the junction?  How many will there be if and when they show up?  Tune in to the next post to find out!
Meanwhile, back in Sanderson, the motor scraper has been unloaded as have the two riprap cars.  I’ll bet the project foreman is burning up the phone lines demanding to know when his cement and riprap will arrive.
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The Limpia-Rescado Project is really impacting the LCN, Part II

By B. Smith

Today, the inbound cars to Sanderson were waiting at the interchange so there won’t be another night spent in the caboose.  I think the brakeman was sort of hoping for the possibility of another one of Missy’s home cooked meals.  What had begun as a fairly easy day now didn’t look so easy.

As the heavy train finally returned to Sanderson we see two loads of cement, a tank car of gasoline for Sanderson Fuel and Lubricants (fuel and lubricant sales have been brisk with all the Project activity).

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A duel-engine motor scrapper for the Project, four loads of riprap


A motor grader, also for the Project, a boxcar for Western Wool, and a load of lumber for the local lumber yard.  Concrete construction requires a lot of wood forms.

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First, the tank car of gasoline was spotted at the fuel dealer.

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But before spotting the tank, the dual-engine motor scrapper, then the flat of lumber, and with the agreement of the project supervisor and the Lazy W Ranch, the four loads of rip rap had to go in first.


The two cars of cement were placed on the scoria track for unloading as the scoria operation did not expect to load more than a car a day for the next week.



The Lazy W Ranch agreed to let two cars of riprap to be placed by their feed bins but not unloaded there.  The Ranch did not want to risk damage to their bins with the unloading of riprap right next to them.  The contractor was very pleased with the new riprap being supplied now.

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Of course, the LCN can’t forget their regulars customers and the boxcar was spotted at Western Wool and Mohair.  So what started out as an easy day for the train crew became a rather long day, but they finished within the hours of service.
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The Limpia-Rescado Project is really impacting the LCN, Part I

The morning after the day delivering the cars that had been late arriving at the interchange (necessitating the crew spending the night in the caboose), the LCN crew finds the following in Sanderson.  The three cars of cement have been unloaded as has the last car of riprap.  The Lazy W Ranch’s load of feed is also empty.  There is a load of scoria ready to go to the interchange.  And the Safeway car is ready to pull.  The tank car of molasses has finally been released and will also go to the interchange


The crew quickly gathers up the empties on the team track.  Below, the empties are shoved against the scoria load.

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The engine grabs the Safeway car and runs up the main to the head of the train.

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With train assembled below, an air test is made.

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The train pulls out onto the main and the conductor lines the switch behind.  The train heads for the interchange.

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