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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