More babies!

Tangent has just released a great new item, a 40′ hi-cube boxcar, sometimes called a “baby” hi-cube.  On the heels of my previous assembly and weathering of a couple of Hi-Tech Details 40′ boxcars.  (See post.) I decided to add a few more of these distinctive cars to the roster thinking that Western Warehousing may receive loads of appliances from time to time.

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I have purchased a few of these great cars.  I decided weather first the CBQ model (above).  The level of detail is phenomenal.  I also really wanted a UP model so I also purchased a UP Athearn model and upgrade it a bit.

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The Athearn model (plug door) is only accurate for the UP.  While the details are rougher, scale wheels, new stirrups and Accumate scale couples and pockets, make this car acceptable and provides variety because of its plug door.

These cars didn’t come like this…  This is how they looked after I installed the scale couplers on the UP model and applied the COTS, ACI and yellow dots decals.  I used prototype photos to suggest proper placement of the decals.

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Here’s after the first cut at weathering.

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After a little clean up, the cars started looking pretty good.

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The middle car is the Hi-Tech Details model.

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The detail on the new Tangent car is spectacular!

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I am very happy Tangent produced this iconic car of the 70s and 80s!  They will make handsome visitors to the layout from time to time.

Rail Memories, Part IV

Adjacent cars.--©Photo by C.E. Hunt

Mykawa Yard team track, July 1978. —©photo by C. E. Hunt

The last few posts, I shared some vignettes or scenes that evoke special memories that I may seek to at least partially evoke through modelling in the future (somehow).  This post will conclude this series and touch on teams tracks and diversity of road names.

Team tracks

I really like team tracks.  Team tracks are typically small railroad sidings intended for the use of area customers to personally load and unload products and merchandise, usually in smaller quantities.  I love the way almost any kind of car can show up.  They are great for model railroads because they don’t need a lot of space and you can spot a wide variety of cars and road names there.  No building is necessary.  Just a flat spot where customers can load or unload freight cars.

There were a number of team tracks around where I grew up in Houston.  The two I kept the closest tabs on were near the corner of Griggs and Telephone Roads and at the Mykawa Yard not far away.

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Modern day remnants of the Griggs Road team track on the old SP in Houston. Green dots show the track I saw being used often as a kid.

Modern day remnants of the Griggs Road team track on the old SP in Houston. Green dots show the track I saw being used often as a kid.

I saw a wide variety of boxcars and gondolas (gravel) being unloaded over the years growing up.  Not once did it dawn on me to record it with my camera.  It’d be there forever, right?  Even though it was on the SP, I vividly recall a very old mineral red UP gondola (complete with a “Be Specific Ship, Union Pacific” logo in yellow.) being loaded there with old tires one afternoon.

Mykawa Yard team track

KCS boxcar on team at Mykawa Yard Nov 1978–©photo by C. E. Hunt

KCS boxcar on team at Mykawa Yard Nov 1978–©photo by C. E. Hunt

I loved this team track because it let me see cars from many railroads and a wide variety of loads.

Mykawa Yard team track, see green dots for approximate location. Modern day photo.

Mykawa Yard team track, see green dots for approximate location. Modern day photo.

I recall many boxcars, refrigerator cars, tank cars and some heavy equipment on flats.

 

 

The team track was behind the BN locomotives exiting the yard.

The team track was behind the BN locomotives exiting the yard. –©photo by C. E. Hunt

MP freight leaving Mykawa Yard Nov 1978 IV

MP freight leaving Mykawa Yard Nov 1978. Note engine and boom that had been unloaded at the team track. Note the debris in the foreground that one often finds at a team track.-–©photo by C. E. Hunt

MP freight leaving Mykawa Yard Nov 1978 III

Caboose of the MP freight leaving Mykawa Yard Nov 1978. Note crane, engine and boom that had been unloaded at the team track and the likely flat car that helped deliver them. -–©photo by C. E. Hunt

Mykawa Yard, Houston, TX 1978--©Photo by C.E. Hunt

Mykawa Yard, Houston, TX 1978–©Photo by C.E. Hunt

Above is possibly my favorite car that ever came in for some reason.  The other side was open.  The car had been emptied.

Team track are great opportunities for modellers.  They offered a lot of operation possibility with very modest modelling required.  One rule though is keep them messy!

Diversity of road names

Railroads used to put a lot of thought into how they decorated their rolling stock AND there used to be a lot of large to medium sized railroads.   This makes modelling the 1970s and 80s a bit more interesting.  A lot of the iconic railroads stayed independent until the early 1980s.  Just check out the diversity in the following pictures from that era.

Here is a sequence from a 1979 ATSF freight train.

ATSF Freight leaving Mykawa Yard Jan 1979 II

ATSF Freight leaving Mykawa Yard Jan 1979. –©Photo by C.E. Hunt

ATSF Freight leaving Mykawa Yard Jan 1979 III

ATSF Freight leaving Mykawa Yard Jan 1979. –©Photo by C.E. Hunt

ICG Shreveport LA Jan 1978 X

ICG Bossier City Yard, LA Jan 1978. Note plethora of road names and paint schemes. –©Photo by C.E. Hunt

MP freight leaving Mykawa Yard Jan 1979 III c

Lots of icons from the pre-Burlington Northern days! –©Photo by C.E. Hunt

 

CBQ Covered hopper near Milby St Roundouse Jan 1979

CB&Q Covered hopper near Hardy St Roundouse in Houston, TX Jan 1979 –©Photo by C.E. Hunt

Arkadelphia Aug 1978 III

Rock gondola at a team track in Arkadelphia, AR, 1978. (My poor, patient cousin was waiting in the Cordoba as I thoroughly documented this team track and pulp yard.)  –©Photo by C.E. Hunt

I could go on and on, but I just wanted to give a glimpse into the diversity.

Ah, these are great memories!  Memories can be a big part of why we model.

Hope you found them great too!

 

 

It’s a baby…

I am taking a break from constructing the layout to work on the car fleet.

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One car I have always liked are the “baby” hi-cubes.  They were never very common.  I believe they were largely used to haul appliances.

Athearn produced a couple of hi-cube cars, but most of the road names were not accurate for the variety the company produced.  Hi-Tech Details makes a pretty accurate kit of one of the most common prototypes designs.  Click here for a nice history of HO baby hi-cubes.

Let me be upfront, this is not a kit for beginners.

However, if you have patience and make a few modifications, it will result is a great addition to any freight car fleet for a layout set between 1967 and about the early 1980s.

The biggest recommendation is to not get in a hurry and do consider replacing the couplers.  I also added Hi-Tech Details rubber air hoses.  (They really are rubber.)  I still need to add pin lifters.  Again, do not hurry, especially when removing parts from the sprues.  The ladders are very fragile.  I broke a couple.

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The kit must be assembled, including the cars sides.  This was not difficult, but some careful sanding and slight bending of the sides to ensure flatness will likely be necessary. (Pictured is an D&RGW kit I am also working on.)

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Make sure you get the corners flush and square.

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Here is a tricky part.  I learned on the D&RGW car to do this BEFORE assembling the shell of the car!

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As messy as it might be, it works.  Pictured to the right is an accumate scale couple that works really well.

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Here is B. Smith’s coupler of choice for this job.  It worked well for me also on my CB&Q car.

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Here’s some photos from the master (B. Smith) from when he assembled his baby hi-cubes–

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See how nice the accumate couplers work?

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To see a similar prototype (#19837) from August of 1980, click here.  I really like the results.  Thanks goes out to High-Tech Details for producing this needed prototype and B. Smith for his helpful pointers.

To see another link describing assembly of this car, click here.

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Does the presence of this car, signal yet another shift in the era I am modelling?  Stay tuned to find out.

Selecting an era to model…

It is funny how fundamental this decision is, yet not a great deal is written about it.  For some of us, it tortures us to select just the right locale, era or railroad to model.  For others, it seems to come easy (I kind of envy or perhaps even almost hate those people, just kidding).  Why should it be so easy for them and so hard for others (including me)?

CB&Q 902 in Denver, CO, October 1970.  Photo by Hol Wagner.

CB&Q 902 in Denver, CO, October 1970. Photo by Hol Wagner.

I have had many scenarios during my modelling career.  Here is a highly simplified summary of my torturous history–

Mid-1970s — CB&Q in the 1970s (Midwest)

Late-1970s to early 1980s — BN in the 1980s (Pacific Northwest)

BN 2087 Mar 20 1977 Stockton CA.  Photo by Jim Gavin.

BN 2087 Mar 20 1977 Stockton CA. Photo by Jim Gavin.

Took a break — College, women and career

Mid-1990 to early 2000s — SAL, L&N and ACL in the early 1960s (Southeast)

Early-2000s to mid-2000s — MILW, Rock and CNW in Midwest in the 1980s

Mid-2000s to late 2000s — BN, SP and WP in 1978

Late-2000s to early 2010s — CSX in Florida (modern, Lance Mindheim almost hooked me, click here to see how.)

CSX 1143 Defuniak Springs FL front Dec 27 2011

CSX 1143 Defuniak Springs FL front Dec 27 2011. Photo by Glenn Laux.

2011-2012 — CSX, NS in Midwest (modern)

2013-2014 — ATSF in New Mexico in early 1990s, UP modern

ATSF GP30 near Roswell 1993.  Photo by C. Hunt

ATSF GP30 near Roswell 1993. Photo by C. Hunt

2014-present — DRGW-SP in Southwest (right after UP merger, late 1990s), UP modern

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DRGW-SP era in southwestern Colorado, 1999. Photo by Roland Levin. See his great website –http://hem.bredband.net/drgw/antonito_pictures.htm

That is really kind of a “train wreck” because I collected equipment for all of these periods.  There is really a financial impact and almost emotional impact for jumping around so much, particularly in this era of hyper-limited runs.  Thank goodness for ebay!   Through ebay, I estimate that I have been able to cut my losses by about 70%.

Here’s a point of sharing my lack of focus, you are better off settling into a period and primary set of railroads as soon as you can.  It is a lot easier on the wallet and saves you some of the anguish of collecting then selling so much!  We often assume that once something is run, It will never be run again.  That is often not true.

As late as September 2014, I was focused on the ATSF in New Mexico around 1990.  I designed and built a track plan around the concept.  It quickly became apparent that the layout was going to be limited and difficult to operate.  I started to redesign it, but then I anguished over letting go of Roswell as I did.  As I began to gently let go of Roswell, Athearn Genesis came out with DRGW GP-40-2s.

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Here is the troublemaker. Athearn’s release of this locomotive, partially caused me to re-evaluate my ATSF in Roswell concept.

As soon as I saw them, I had an epiphany–I always wanted to model the DRGW, why wasn’t I doing it?!  As I started considering it, I also started to think how neat it would be to model the DRGW-SP era.  I grew up with the SP kind of in my backyard in Texas and felt an emotional attachment to the SP.  I thought if I model right after the UP merger, I could feature UP, MP, DRGW, SP, SSW, WP and CNW (all railroads of interest to me) all as “home road” reporting marks.  This concept really caught hold with me, and I am committed to it (for now).  I have re-designed the layout in a much more free-lance manner that offers less complicated, but richer operating scenarios including a shortline inspired by the Union Railroad of Oregon.  (Click here for a nice link on the Union Railroad of Oregon.)

Union Railroad of Oregon in Oregon.  Note tiny locomotive on train.  This was the inspiration for there being a shortline on the new layout design.  Photo by Dan Schwanz

Union Railroad of Oregon in Oregon. Note tiny locomotive on train. This was the inspiration for there being a shortline on the new layout design. Photo by Dan Schwanz

I hope it sticks.  Here’s why–

1 — It is rich with having both DRGW and SP motive power and an occasional caboose.

2 — Home road cars of UP, MP, WP, SP, SSW, CNW and CNW.  All favorites–just need some ATSF thrown in.

3 — The track plan holds great promise and having a shortline could offer a variety of operations as well as mini-operating sessions when desired.

4 — I am very tired of re-configuring my rosters!!!

5 — It operates in the part of the country that I love and is beautiful.

Time will tell.

I also seriously considered backdating to the WP (early-1980s) but decided against going that far back.  I love the WP, but it is a bit limited compared to the versatility of the above scenario, plus I can run some WP rolling stock as a home road reporting mark.

I hope my sharing my difficulties in settling on an era, may help you navigate this tricky issue that we often may not fully appreciate.  We may let ourselves just drift along being knocked off course whenever a bright and shiny new product is offered.  (Take me for instance.)  Try not to go there if you can avoid it!  It is ultimately exhausting and can derail your dreams of having an operational layout.