1964 Pontiac GTO… and icons for your layout

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Many of us model little (or big) icons on our layouts.  They can be cultural icons, historical icons or anything that strikes a chord with us and connects us to a larger place, time or feeling.  They can be particular freight cars we remember seeing pass by when we were 14, a favorite structure along a sleepy branch line, a commercial sign that awakens memories.  Whatever they might be, they help our layouts mean more to us than just a place to “run trains.”

Below is just a quick illustration of what I am talking about.

Dr. Pepper – I remember seeing tall bottles with this logo as a kid.  Makes me think of playing golf for $3.00 a round at Gus Wotham Golf Course in Houston.

Tracks to nowhere – I remember seeing a lot of lonely branch lines all over Texas and Arkansas that I wondered if they were still in business.  Sure enough, there was eventually a small business that still saw some rail activity.  The late-1970-early 1080s still offered a lot of opportunities to explore lonesome, yet still active rail lines.

Houston, TX May 1980-–©photo by C. E. Hunt

The Rock! — I remember seeing a lot of Rock Island action as a kid.  I caught the above on a Burlington Northern train near Houston, TX in May of 1980.  This is such an icon for me, that like B. Smith, I have adopted a dual era layout–1979 (Rock still active) and 1981 (Post BN-Frisco merger).  You’d be surprised how many cars and locomotives must exit or enter the stage based on two years.  Been spending a lot of quality time with my Railway Equipment Registers!

National Forests — I love National Parks, National Forests, BLM lands and State Parks.  To a kid growing up in Texas, being able to roam for miles on my land without encountering “No Trespassing” signs everywhere is heaven.   (Warning — Commercial for protecting our public lands.  Make your voice heard and consider joining this great organization or another like it.  I like Trout Unlimited too!)

Grocery Store Warehouses — Here is an icon that may appear on B. Smith’s LCN.  Grocery store warehouses receiving rail shipments screams out an earlier day in railroading.

Scene on the Rails West layout

Falstaff Beer – This is really an icon for all the former great brewery traditions or brands across our land. I know a lot of great new beer traditions have merged, but I still miss some of the iconic brands like Falstaff and Hamms.

Old pickups and cars — These are some of my favorite icons.  Vehicles have the potential to create a time aura like nothing else.

.Scene on the Rails West layout.

What if you really want an icon that is very difficult to achieve?  No kits, no available art work, etc.  That is when it really gets fun.

And that finally, brings us to the main topic of this post…the 1964 Pontiac GTO!  Now that’s an icon!

1964 Pontiac GTO

Considered by many to be the first muscle car, meaning high performance and low-cost, the GTO became available in 1964 as an option to the Tempest LeMans.

The GTO featured distinctive appearance items in place of standard LeMans features.

The famous Gran Turismo Omologata (GTO), better known as ‘The Goat,’ ‘The Tiger,’ and ‘The Great One’ was for the first year offered to the public.

The GTO became a much greater success than Pontiac ever thought possible.  Here’s a slick video on this iconic car.

Here’s the colors it came in in 1964–

A little over 30,000 were produced for 1964.  I am striving to figure out how a couple can be the denizen of Carrizo Springs or Artesia.  (Artesia is a former town near where the IMC mine is.  There are a few signs of the old town still in the Rails West world.)

How am I going to do that?
Good question.  I have been able to get my hands on a set of Williams Bros GTOs!  We will see what happens.  Here’s a link to Williams Brothers kits.  They are clear plastic.  I don’t know if they are still available.  The link was last updated  April 17, 2000!   It is going to be a challenge for sure.
I have about three or four projects ahead of them, so it is going to be a while.
The Rails West layout NEEDS a couple of these.  We’ll see what happens.  Stay tuned.
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Sanderson, 1968 — Part II

In Part I, we two came into Sanderson in the late afternoon with box cars for Big Bend Wool and Mohair and two empty open top hoppers for scoria loading.  After little a little action, we took on water.

Let’s pick up where we left off.

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About to couple into the load.

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Grabbing the two empty hoppers on the main.

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And putting them on the scoria siding so they can be rolled down for loading.

(Note:  I did a post on modeling scoria operations a while back.  Click here to see it.  It shows scenes from the LCN in 1990.)

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Backing down the main to get the caboose after leaving the load on the scoria track to be picked up tomorrow.  Looks like the ACI label has just been applied to the hopper.  The crew shakes their heads at this new-fangled electronic system and say it will never work.
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With caboose in tow the locomotive trundles down to the east end to spot the two loads at Big Bend Wool and Mohair.
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1968 in West Texas and Big Bend Wool and Mohair is getting in lots of bagged feed in by rail.
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Big Bend Wool and Mohair with two cars spotted in August, 1977–©B. Smith photo
Above is a scene from 1977 that helped inspire the above operation.
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The locomotive and caboose tie up at the water plug and the crew call it a day.
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Sanderson, 1968

By B. Smith

(Note: B. Smith is embarking on an exciting new chapter for his LCN RR layout.  Rather than just operating in 1990, he will be embracing multiple eras while maintaining reasonable efforts to present prototypical rolling stock, vehicles, etc.  He and I have been having numerous philosophical chats on this as we explore ways of thinking on the subject.  I too am experimenting in this area, but with a smaller range of years [1979 and 1981, pre-Rock Island shutdown, post-SLSF-BN merger].  Likely much more to come on this, but meanwhile, enjoy a recent session on his LCN.  Don’t be surprised if you see a glitch or two as we work the kinks out. )

We arrive in Sanderson just as the LCN local arrives.  The year is 1968.  The LCN still operates a steam locomotive.  Today’s consist are two box cars for Big Bend Wool and Mohair and two empty open top hoppers for scoria loading.  (I have the wrong side of the fourth car facing the camera.  The consolidated lube plate shows.  I’m not used yet to considering which side of the car faces out.)  (Note:  We are experimenting with dual era cars being detailed for different eras on different side.)

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The crew cuts off the caboose and two empty hoppers.  The LCN is having problems getting open hoppers from the class ones and operates an eclectic assortment of second-hand hoppers to serve the scoria shipper.  The empty hopper when the train departed earlier in the day has been loaded.

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The two loads for Big Bend Wool and Mohair are run to the east end and cut off on the main.

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The locomotive then backs to the water plug to fill its tender.

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After filling the tender the locomotive backs down the siding to the loaded hopper after the brakeman flags it across a crossing.

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In Part II, we’ll complete the run and tie down for the evening.

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A Rails West book report

I periodically share books that I find particularly good.  Here is a short installment in the series.  Both are older books, but very much worth acquiring if they are of interest to you and you can find them.

Tumbleweeds and Fast Freights

This book does a phenomenal job of capturing the ATSF in the State of New Mexico in the 1960-90s.  McMillan captured many nooks and crannies of the State that are rarely documented, many of which are long gone now.  Having lived in NM in the early 1990s, I really enjoyed seeing the places he documented as they were in the 1960 and 1970s.  This is an indispensable reference for modelers interested in the ATSF in the Southwest.

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The photography is superb.  Below are a couple of random pages.  McMillan captured a ton of ATSF action but also often captured the surroundings.  His photos really evoke the essence of railroading in the “Land of Enchantment.”  Buy the book to see these photos in their full glory.  You can purchase from the author here.

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Detroit, Toledo and Ironton Railroad in Color

Readers of this post know the west of the Mississippi orientation of this site, but I do like a few eastern roads, such as the Wabash, Western Maryland, Penn Central and the DT&I.  You will see these roads represented in the rolling stock that visit the Rails West layout.  I have wanted the book below for some time and finally found it for a good price.  I am not disappointed in the least.  It is spectacular.  The subject matter, vivedness and clarity of the photos are great.

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Most of the photos depict 1970s action (some 1960s and 1980s) and share a lot of rolling stock as well as locomotives.  It is great for someone like me who models the late 1970s-early 1980s.

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The mine in the above photo inspired the IMC mine served by the C&C RR on my layout.  If you like the DT&I or even just 1970s railroading, buy this book if you can find it. Unfortunately, it is out of print but you can buy it used or a digital copy from Morning Sun Books. You won’t be disappointed.  Like Tumbleweeds and Fast Freights, this book captures the context for the trains as well so you see a lot of rail-related structures, industries, scenery and rolling stock.

For more on books, see my September 23, 2016 post entitled, Ton Ten (actually 12) railroad books.

The gold standard for me is still–

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As I wrote last year–

Southern Pacific in Oregon — I love this book.  The photography is stunning and it really focuses on my era, the late 1970s-early 1980s.  The pictures are crystal clear and very vivid. This has to be one of the best pictorial railroad books ever produced.  Sadly, the company that produced this book is no longer in business.  Their Northwest Passages book on the Burlington Northern is a close second.

I hope one day soon, I can share with you an excellent book entitled–

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Ship it on the Frisco, an all color book on Frisco operations across the system.  It was such a photogenic railroad that this book will be written soon I hope.  There are a few decent books out there on the Frisco, but none that matches the quality of the above books. Oddly enough, the closest I have seen is Burlington Northern and its Heritage by Steve Glischinski.  It had a small but great chapter on the Frisco.

As always, my “go to” book dealers are–

Overland Hobbies in Indiana owned by Brian Marsh

and

Arizona Hobbies in Arizona owned by Randy Curtin

Brian and Randy offer great prices and are both great to deal with!

Happy reading and railroading!

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Neat little structure in Roswell, New Mexico to model and more…

I love buildings like this.  Not easy to model, but what character!Roswell

Roswell near Roswell Wool

Roswell near Roswell Wool 4Here you can see where the tracks used to service the structure.

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Unfortunately, Rancher’s Supply appears quite closed.

However, for you more modern modelers, next door is a modern gem.  Note the orange and white building next door to the right?

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It is Roswell Wool.  It is still a going concern.

Roswell Wool

Sadly the BNSF no longer a has an active spur to it, but you can see where it once ran and the doors that were possibly used to load boxcars at one point.

Hard to know how long Roswell Wool has been at this location.

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Right down the track to the north are a lot of warehouses that were at one time used for shipping agricultural traffic as well.

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On this map the blue circle depicts those warehouses.  The black circle shows were the old ATSF passenger and freight station once stood (a portion still remains).  The red circle shows where the Rainbo Bakery sat that served as the model of the bakery on the Rails West layout.  You can still see the concrete pad where the flour silos once sat. (The rectangle with the 8 holes, click here for a post on the bakery that once operated in Roswell.)

Like many western towns of any size, Roswell is full of building crying out to be modeled.

Take Artesia just to the south of Roswell for instance…

Oh well, that may be a subject for a future post.

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Time for a little operating…

The local came into town pretty light today.  As is often the case, the yard crew in Trinidad did an iffy job of blocking.

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Three empties for the C&C RR interchange and two loads for Carrizo Springs.

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A couple of recent Rails West projects are featured.  A re-worked Accurail kit to depict a GN double-door boxcar.  I weathered it, cut the ladders down, removed the roofwalk, added lube plate, wheel inspection and ACI decals, replaced trucks, installed grab irons, stirrups, scale wheels and pin lifters and brake hoses.   It was about a 3-month project with many, many breaks.

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All in all, I’m pretty happy with it.  Not perfect, end ladders clunky, but it is close enough.

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I also re-worked an Athearn BN 40 footer.  I did most of what I did to the GN boxcar, but I did not replace the grab irons.  Again, close enough.  I wanted a couple of double door 40 footers to serve as backups when no 50 footers were available for the sawmill on the C&C RR.  They will be rare visitors, but I like the idea of having a few 40-foot boxcars still on the layout.

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Again, a bit clunky in a few places, but overall acceptable.  Weathering hides a lot!

Forty footers are fading icons from the rail scene in my era, the late-1970s and early 1980s.

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The two work pretty well together.

We might as well check out the rest of the small consist.

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Here’s an empty for loading at the sawmill too.

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Here is a load of beer for Hernandez Distributing and the CPLT box is a load of plywood for Foxworth Lumber (team track in town).

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And lastly, the venerable CB&Q caboose that frequently makes the trip over from Trinidad.

The crew will make their set outs and grab a bite at Paul’s Mexican Food.  They’ll grab the empties from Western Warehousing and the empty Frisco box from Hernandez Distributing and beat it back to Trinidad hoping to beat the 12-hour clock.

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Maps (and planned structures) of the Rails West layout (Conclusion)

In Parts I and II of this series, I shared overall maps and described my structures in place or planned for the east side of Carrizo Springs, the primary town of the layout.  In this post, we’ll explore the west side and outskirts of Carrizo Springs.

Here is a close up of the area we’ll cover–

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Going from east to west (towards the interchange with the Carson & Carrizo RR), I’ll discuss each structure.

Paul’s Mexican Food

This structure is undetermined, but I can share a picture of the inspiration in Carrizozo, NM.

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Paul’s Mexican Food, Carrizozo, NM, circa 2007–©photo by C. E. Hunt

This restaurant in the early 1990s had the best red enchiladas and green chili cheese burgers.  It was old school all the way and some of the customers really wore spurs!  It was magnificent in my eyes.  Note the cool swamp cooler out the side of the structure.  Little touches like that give your structure a real regional identity and help create a more authentic sense of place.

Yucca Bar and Grill

This place is the fuzziest in my mind.  I absolutely love this structure (also) in Carrizozo, NM.  I am not sure I’ll do this place, but I’d like to.  It is still a question.  It will involve serious scratch building.  Here is the real structure–

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Yucca Bar and Grill, Carrizozo, NM, circa1993–©photo by C. E. Hunt

Above is how the place looked in the early 1990s.  Note iconic sign still there!

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Yucca Bar and Grill, Carrizozo, NM, circa 2007–©photo by C. E. Hunt

This photo and the next two were taken around 2007.

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Yucca Bar and Grill, Carrizozo, NM, circa 2007–©photo by C. E. Hunt

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Yucca Bar and Grill, Carrizozo, NM, circa 2007–©photo by C. E. Hunt

This place screams out to be modeled!  When I did a post on this building in 2015, a reader gave me a great comment–

This was my grandpa’s bar back in the hey day. I worked there when I was a youngster cleaning tables, sweeping and when there was dances or bands I got to serve beer. WOW try that now!!!!–J. Ortiz

We’ll see if I model it, but I know I should try.

The next three are a little easier and almost guaranteed to be quite good because they are Monster Model Works kits by one of my favorite craftsmen kit producers, Jimmy Simmons.  His kits are AWESOME and yield very good results.

Feller’s Garage

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Gibson’s Body Shop

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Abandoned store (with sign a swinging)

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I know it is a little cookie cutter on the last three, but why not embrace excellence and take it easy sometimes?

The infrastructure at the piggyback ramp will be minimal, just a ramp, a couple of trailers and a few tumbleweeds.

At the far western end of the layout, there won’t be much.  My goal is to subtly suggest a change in ecotype as the country begins a transition into the foothills of the Carson Mountains.  A few trees will begin to appear and signage may indicate the boundary of the National Forest.

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The IMC mine is still under conceptualization right now.

There you have it on the current and future Rails West layout.  I gotta go, I have a lot of work to do!

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