Dual Era Structure, Part II — Late 1960s

The PACIFIC INTERMOUNTAIN EXPRESS became the largest trucking company in the world in 1956.  By 1946 PIE had 535 employees and was growing rapidly through many acquisitions in the late 1940s and 1950s.  By the mid 1960s P.I.E. extended service to the east coast through more acquisitions, having 67 terminals in 29 states. In 1973 the company was purchased by IU International, and in 1983 merged with Ryder Truck Lines, forming Ryder/P.I.E Nationwide. Sadly, by 1989 loses were staggering, and the company was sold again, absorbing Transcon Lines. Loses continued, and in 1990 P.I.E. filed for bankruptcy.

However, on the RailsWest layout, the PIE is living it up in the late 1960s (sometimes early 1970s).



Small but often busy place.




Doesn’t generate rail traffic, but it does give a place to change up from time to time to create a more dynamic layout.  (A future project is to weather the tractors and trailers and add license plates!)


Next post will share its 1990 appearance.



Dual era structures?

Readers on this blog will recall a number of posts related to making your freight cars dual era.  I often make one side of the car appropriate weathering wise and other identifiers (COTS, ACIs, etc) for one era and the reverse side of the car appropritate for another.  Roofwalks obviously can put a crimp on this strategy depending on the breadth of your eras.  This works well if you have a shelf layout where only one side of your car is normally visible.

With this post, I want to illustrate a dual era structure.  By changing signs and surrounding details, one can backdate or “forward date” a structure.

When I lived in Roswell, NM, in the early 1990s, I often drove by a truck freight terminal. I often thought how I’d like to have a non-rail business such as this.  By changing out the trucks and trailers from time to time, one could  introduce a little variety on the layout.  Sometimes the terminal was quiet, other times, there’d be many trailers parked at the dock.

With this series, I am going to share how I took the leftovers from Hernandez Distributing (originally two Walthers Grocery Supply kits) project and created a dual era truck terminal that will be used to portray a late-1960-early 1970s Pacific Intermountain Express operation and a Consolidated Freightways operations set in 1990 around the time I lived in Roswell.  Just for fun, I theorized that Gillette Western also occasionally uses the terminal when it is in the early era JUST because I have a very cool Gillette Western truck and trailer and want to be able to use it!  (Hey, it could have happened!)

Ok, here is the building I made from leftovers of two Grocery Distributor kits.


Nothing too fancy.  This is what it looks like with no details to give it context, to evoke an era.


There is one lone sign that I attached to the building.  Could signal that another company uses the facility from time to time or it could be the relic of a long ago era.



Actually a pretty fun building to kitbash.  I only had to cut one large door opening and I had to remove the second story.


Everything came with the Grocery Distributor kit except the roof and roof details.  They are from a Walthers roof top details kit. (The roof is cut from a sheet of styrene.)


It is compressed a little, but it is adequate to suggest a viable business.


Next post, this building will be detailed out as a Pacific Intermountain Express terminal in the late 1960s.


How your automobiles and trucks can help set the era

Many of us put a lot of work into having just the right era freight cars and locomotives.  A bit of effort on your automobiles and trucks can also help evoke your desired era.  It is not always easy to research the date of some vehicles, but it is worth your time as shown below on B. Smith’s Limpia Canyon Northern.

Early 1960s.

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Mid 1960’s.
Late 1960’s
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Mid 1970’s  (Don’t have a date for the tank truck, any readers have an idea?)
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Doesn’t have to be perfect, but getting close will really make a difference.
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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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