The Limpia Canyon Northern RR, part II (Pecos!)

The Pecos section of the layout is along a 12 ft long wall.  The height of the layout is 46” above the floor, determined by the height of the window sill.  Rail is code 70.  Time period is 1990.  (Click here to see Part I with a map of the entire layout.)

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It is the home of multiple businesses.

LCN Trackplan with color and shippers total Pecos

M-G Fuels

First coming from Sanderson into Pecos is M-G Fuels on the left.  It is a modest feature on the layout.  The LPG dealer is really only suggested by an unloading rack.  Below we see it in the middle of the photo.  Fat Cow’s tank car unloading facility is the small shack and blue tanks. blue tanks.

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It serves to illustrate how one can create a traffic producing industry with minimal space.

Fat Cow Animal Supplements

Next on the line is Fat Cow.  Fat Cow produces livestock supplements to “bulk up” your herd.  This business receives tank cars of molasses, covered hoppers of various ingredients, and occasional boxcar loads of bagged material.  In addition, outbound shipments of its finished product are shipped in covered hoppers and boxcars.

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Above we see a boxcar spotted at the loading dock and a covered hopper being unloaded above the under-track pit.  The blue overhead structure is for loading covered hoppers with Fat Cow’s product.

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The above photo gives a better overall view of the Fat Cow operation, from the tank car unloading area on the left, the building that receives inbound boxcar shipments, a loading dock for outbound boxcar shipments, the overhead covered hopper loading structure, an under-rail conveyor leading into the blue building for unloading covered hoppers, and a pressure differential covered hopper unloading building and four tall tanks on the very right for fine powdered ingredients.  Covered hoppers to be unloaded and ones to be loaded compete for the same track space so the train crew has to coordinate with the plant manager the order in which the cars are placed.  Fat Cow has an electric car puller to move the cars being loaded or unloaded without a locomotive.  The LCN can’t let cars sit around and keeps a locomotive here for the Pecos train.  The crew deadheads to work in the white suburban.  Outbound cars are gathered up and the train leaves Pecos for the interchange.  If the return trip to Pecos has more than five cars, which is often the case, the crew has their hands full because the short run-around track will only fit five cars, maybe six short ones.  The engine often has cars ahead and behind it as things are sorted out and the cars spotted.

Drill-Tex and Gerstle Chemical 

At the end of track in Pecos, we find Drill-Tex,  the red structure below, and the unloading structures for Gerstle Chemical against the wall.  Gerstle Chemical receives tank cars of acid that are used in the oil fields around Pecos.  When chemical tank cars are spotted here it reduces the length of the tail track, further complicating the work of the train crew.  Drill-Tex is a busy operation which receives bagged material (drilling mud) in boxcars and bulk material (frac sand) in 2-bay covered hoppers.  Hydraulic fracturing is just starting in 1990 so unit trains of frac sand are still in the future.

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Boxcars are unloaded at the concrete docks, covered hoppers into the yellow structure that loads the trucks.  Occasionally, sand cars are unloaded on the tail track with the white wheeled conveyor.

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These businesses result in Pecos being a very active end of the line for the LCN.  In the last photo below, you can pretty much see all of Pecos along the LCN.

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In our next post, we’ll venture back in time and visit Sanderson.

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A little E-L action on the Limpia Canyon Northern in the 1970s!

By B. Smith
I decided that I needed an eastern car to diversify operations a bit.  I zeroed in on getting a car that could occasionally bring goods from back east to the Safeway warehouse.
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The Erie Lackawanna certainly conjures up some exotic eastern locations.
This car is an RPL reefer built in 5-66.
What I thought would be an easy project turned out to be a bit more challenging.  This is a Red Caboose (now sold by Intermountain) ready-to-run car.  I rarely find cars really ready-to-run but this one required more modification than I originally thought.
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This car came without a roof walk, so after years of taking roof walks off for my 1990s portion of my layout, I found myself putting one on for the 1960s/70s portion of the layout.  No problem I thought, the roof walk supports are already on the car, and Plano Models sells a generic 60’ boxcar running board (roof walk).
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The Plano roof walk had to be cut to the proper length but was easy to attach with super glue to the supports that came on the car.  The end supports are provided by Plano and after freeing them from their metal sprue and bending them they glued under the ends of the walk rather easily.  Rather than use the Plano side platforms, the pieces that extends to the ladders, I used platforms cut off a Kadee plastic roof walk as they have a plastic pin that makes attaching them to the roof very easy once a hole is drilled in the roof.
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I now realized that the corner ladders on the A end of the model were short and needed to be extended to the roof top.  Years of shortening ladders provided me with the parts I needed to extend the ladders.
Looking at photos of real EL cars of this series I saw that even though EL kept the roof walks at least through 1978, the car came with a low brake wheel!  So I had to lower it as the Red Caboose car comes with a high brake wheel.
Addition of an ACI decal and weathering completed my “ready-to -run” car.
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Backdating or transforming a structure on your layout

By B. Smith

I decided to change the below metal siding (Pikestuff, now Rix Products) structure to a brick sided structure to more closely represent a building like Alpine, Texas’ Big Bend Wool and Mohair.   On my Limpia Canyon Northern RR, the town in which this structure sits, Sanderson, is part of the back-dated portion of the layout.  I wanted something with an “older” feel,

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I wanted something more like this–

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Big Bend Wool and Mohair with Rock Island box car spotted in 1977–©B. Smith photo

I saw many loads of feed spotted with this structure in the 1970s and 80s.  (Click here for a post on the traffic I noted there in the 1980s.)

This is what the metal building became–

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The plastic “metal” siding was glued to a wood board for strength.  I removed the plastic door and window frames to provide a smooth surface and covered the “metal” siding with Faller Gmbh embossed building material-red brick (part #272-170608) and added a couple of doors made of Campbell Scale Models corrugated aluminum sheets (part # 200-801).

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I added plastic channel at the top of the doors to represent what the door rolled open on. I did not cut a door opening in the embossed brick sheet as this would have complicated the project.  C. E. Hunt graciously provided the signs which really add to the finished look of the structure.

I really like the feel of bringing in loads of feed to my back-dated structure.

The difference between it as a 1990 structure and the back-dated version is pretty stark.

From this–

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To this–

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It really is a joy to bring in one or two 40 or 50-foot boxcars back in the day when railroads still really appreciated carload traffic.  Seems more civilized.

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More human somehow…

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Inspiration for a Limpia Canyon Northern Customer

By B. Smith

In 1976, the ATSF still had a full-time agent at their depot in Alpine, Texas.  He claimed the boxcar sitting outside the depot one visit (June, 1976) was for the Safeway in town.

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Alpine, TX ATSF station, June 1976–©photo by B. Smith

I did not see the car being unloaded and do not know how Safeway transported what was in the boxcar to their store.  They must have had a large truck is my guess.  I took a picture of the car by the depot.  I’ve often wondered what was in the car, I can’t imagine one food item going to the store in Alpine.  It must have been many different food items that were loaded into the car at a large Safeway distribution center. And it’s an SP boxcar. Did SP bring it to Alpine and interchange it to the ATSF?  So many questions now I wish I had found answers to.

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SP box at Alpine, TX ATSF station, June 1976–©photo by B. Smith

I never saw another boxcar here after this one, so this may have been the last railcar shipment to Safeway in Alpine.  The agent job was eliminated in 1978 and the agent transferred to San Angelo.
Interesting that it’s a double door boxcar, one you would expect lumber in, but in 1976, the Foxworth-Galbraith Lumber in Alpine had its own spur off the SP by the SP depot.
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Note: It’s great to have a story like this behind the elements of your layout.  It makes modeling and operations so much more meaningful.
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