Cars that excited me when I was a kid

When I was a kid in Houston racing down to the tracks to watch an ATSF, BN, SP, Rock Island, MP and MKT freight train roll by, “foreign” cars sometimes really sparked my imagination.  Cars from the Maine Central, Boston and Maine, Florida East Coast and the like, would make me wonder what those places were like.   I am pretty sure I saw a car like the subject of this post.  It’s road name probably just filled me with wonder.  I doubt I would have known exactly where to associate this car on a map–kind of like Nickel Plate Road or Wabash.

I was recently inspired to do this project by my partner on the site, B. Smith.  He created this car for his Limpia Canyon Northern.  Click here to see his post.  His version is new since he models a few years before I do.


As B. Smith shared in his post, the project is a bit harder than it looks.  Even though it is a fine model in most respects, Intermountain (or Red Caboose) made a couple of errors.  This car should have had a roof walk and a lowered brake wheel.   So to properly model the car, you must make some changes.


You must pop the brake wheel and housing off and lower to the proper height.  Fortunately, there are some great photos on the web.

The Fallen Flags site has a picture of the exact car I modeled a few years later in 1978–


Hard to tell but on the A side of the car, I had to lengthen the ladders to go to the top of the car.


Note ladder extended upward on the right side of car.

I only lightly weathered the roof.  I am trying to depict a car that’s about 7-12 years old.  It was new in 1966.  I did a different COTS on one side to depict a bit more of a later version of the car.


B. Smith’s post has more details on the work needed to make an accurate version of this car.


I would sure like to be able to climb into a time machine and go back and watch trains with cars like these!  Until that is possible, at least we have our layouts.





More on the Limpia-Rescado Project on the Limpia Canyon Northern

by B. Smith and C. E. Hunt

The pace of the Bureau of Reclamation’s Limpia-Rescado irrigation project is picking up steam.


More cement and now some large stones.

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Contractors are unloading the cement while…

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the stones await unloading.

Finally, the contractor secures equipment to try to unload the stones.

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Not an easy job.

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Some “cussing” is underway as to why a side-dump car was not used.  Apparently, the LCN prohibits the use of side-dump carts at this team track after the highway department created a huge mess a few years ago.

The excitement in Sanderson is building as the project takes shape.  Talk is that a warehouse may be built to ship onions along the spur, but we will see on that.

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Some Cement Coming into Sanderson, Part II

The Bureau of Reclamation’s contractors show up shortly after the cars are spotted to begin unloading.  The Limpia-Rescado project is at a stopping point until some cement is delivered.

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“Just in time,” the truck drivers keep repeating, “Just in time!”

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The Limpia-Rescado Project is designed to add a couple of thousand acres in irrigation in the valley.  The Limpia Canyon Northern crew has been told to anticipate a little upturn in fertilizer traffic and possibly some loads of outbound onions in the coming years.

BOR Logo Limpia-Rescado Project – Making Limpia Valley Bloom


Now an interesting feature of the Limpia Canyon Northern is that most of the layout is set in 1990.   As a result, most cars are designed to be dual-era cars when possible.  These cars were becoming rarer by 1990, but some were still on the rails.

Here is the other side of the cars appropriate for 1990–

II 3

We will see in the coming years if the Limpia-Rescado Project affects LCN traffic into Sanderson.

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Some Cement Coming into Sanderson

By B. Smith and C. Hunt

Nearly missed seeing the local arrive because of the time change, forgot to change my clock.  But I managed to catch the train as it arrived in Sanderson.  I had heard that the Bureau of Reclamation was starting a project and has cement coming in.


The caboose was cut off next to the old freight house, now the local fuel dealer, so the conductor could chew the fat with old man Wilson who runs the place.  Let the underlings handle the switching.  Besides, with a five-man crew and the short train lined out it wouldn’t take long.  Just got to move that tank car of molasses so the cement cars, feed car, and box car for the fuel dealer could be spotted, re-spot the molasses tank, then the ATSF box to the wool house.  Pretty easy.

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The cement cars are spotted and the feed car is about to be cut off.


The fuel dealer’s load is next.
While the crew re-spots the molasses car and then heads over to the wool house I check out the cement cars.  Apparently, the Bureau of Reclamation is going to be building a small dam along Limpia Creek that will require a bit of concrete.
Word is that a lot more cement loads and some steel are headed this way.  I’ll have to go check out what they are doing!  They are calling it the Limpia-Rescado Project.
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Railfanning in Sanderson, 1968 Part II

By B, Smith

The railfan outing continues.  First thing, the locomotive, empty scoria hopper, and the caboose back down to the scoria load and couple to it.  I was right, that scoria load is on today’s outbound train.

unnamed (6)Then everything backs down the spur track.  Looks like the three cars on the spur are also on the outbound train.

unnamedEverything is pulled out of the spur.  unnamed (1)The engine runs around its train, couples into the gon, and takes on fuel oil.unnamed (3)After fueling up, the train pulls down to the scoria loader to spot the empty.unnamed (4)The empty is spotted.unnamed (5)And the local leaves town with one load, three empties.unnamed (7)Time to go eat lunch as I await the locals return.

Until Part III…

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Railfanning in Sanderson, 1968 Part I

By B. Smith

I arrived early this morning in Sanderson before any activity was occurring on the LCN.  No car spotted at Safeway or Western Wool.


I climbed the water tank to get this photo.  The Limpia Canyon Northern owner is a steam fan.  Still runs one steam locomotive in 1968!  Going to get steam action today!
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The tender of the steam engine is spotted next to the water plug so water can be added when needed while the engine sits between runs.
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Three cars on the spur track.
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A load is down under the scoria loader, that will probably be on the outbound train today.
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I see the crew arriving so should see some action soon!
The action will continue in Part II.
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Trashing up the joint

An interesting aspect of modeling the mid-1970s, is a chance to evoke the era by bringing back some of the old brands to their former prominence.  Many of us recall the ubiquitous aqua colored Sears vans roaming the land.  We can do that by attempting to use the correct logos for the era.  Many brands, such as Taco Bell, Sears, Jack-in-the-Boxes, McDonalds and Western Autos, all had distinctive logos from the 1970s just to name a very few.

While I was grocery shopping the other day, I came across this bag.


I thought now if I could shrink that down, I’d have some nice 1970s trash for the layout.  What better way to evoke the 1970s than a little 70s trash lying about.  That is how we got that epic ad with the American Indian tearfully regarding the American landscape anyway.

So I poked around the internet and found other examples–some are not as high of resolution, but they are fun to think about.



Of course, there are many types of recognizable trash so I expect some creativity from the RailsWest readers and look forward to photos being shared.

Just as a quick proof of concept, I experimented.


This is quick and dirty stuff.  At some point, I’ll print it on photo paper to get better resolution.  However, I think this could be fun and helpful to evoke the 1970s.



Not too bad.  Ernie and Pablo, the warehousemen at the distributorship, need to police their trash a bit better!

Have fun trashing your joint.