A different kind of evolution — or — a different kind of California visitor

I recently ran a post of a red visitor from California to Roswell in the early 1990s.  In the post I commented on the evolution of the appearance of freight cars over time.  I focussed that post on weathering and graffiti.  There is a different kind of evolution concerning the ownership of cars. In the 1980s, the Stockton Terminal and Eastern (STE) Railroad acquired a number of box cars from the Southern Pacific and Cotton Belt Railroads.


Stockton Terminal and Eastern box car #694787 in the early 1990s

The STE patched over the Southern Pacific billboard lettering and just changed the reporting marks.

A similar car can be seen in HO on B. Smith’s LCN RR.


This car started out as a Cotton Belt RR Athearn PC&F 50′ box with 14′ door.  It was just a matter of painting out the COTTON BELT and the reporting marks with boxcar red paint, and then applying the decals, which were individual letters (Microscale 4″, 7″, and 8″ Stencil Lettering  for Patches & Leasers #2, white)–a pain to get lined up correctly. Then the NEW date was changed as well as the insertion of a more recent re-weigh date.  The car was then went over with a very light application of rust powder to make everything blend together.  The brown color of the car was lightened mostly by the wash of roof brown.  SP and SSW had hundreds of these 50′ cars with 14′ doors both in 70-ton and 100-ton versions (only visual difference being 33″ wheels vs 36″ wheels).  In 1990, STE had 239 cars from SSW and 169 from SP.  STE kept the same road numbers, just changed the reporting marks.

Out on the real rails. changes in reporting marks are very common now days and an important part of the rail scene.  Here are a few examples captured on film in recent years–


Railcar Custom Leasing, LLC #169032 (former Chicago and Northwestern) in Fort Stockton, Texas 2010 bringing in Frac sand.


CSXT #228248 (former Chessie System RR) in Fort Stockton, Texas in 2010. Sometimes the new reporting marks stem from mergers. Chessie System RR merged into the CSX RR in 1980. ©B Smith photo


Infinity Rail #55638 in Gainesville, Texas in 2013 (former NAHX).   Sometimes patch jobs are done so well that they are not obvious. photo ©D Hunt photo

Embracing this form of evolution (changes in ownership)–along with weathering and graffiti–is another means of increasing the realism of your layout.


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