About The Steam Era Freightcars Blog

This blog discusses all aspects of North American freight cars of the steam era, from the dawn of railroading through 1960.
It is intended to support the efforts of model railroaders who wish to produce the most prototypically accurate freight cars possible.
Prototype modelers are encouraged to participate in this blog. Please consider sending photos of prototypes and your efforts to model them, reviews of kits, books and other products, “articles” about your modeling efforts – with or without photos. The nature of blogging means the material can be "real time," and in-process models can be shared. These are not only welcomed, but appreciated as we all love to see a model develop over time.
Also welcome is information about upcoming prototype meets, shows, and other events.
Information submitted for this blog is considered gratis. Also, all submissions must include your name and contact email.
For more information or to submit information email steamfreightcar@gmail.com.

Monday, October 3, 2016

Boxcar Percentages Through White River Junction, Vt., circa 1954

A few years back several members of the Central Vermont Railway Historical Society tabulated the total number of boxcars (and only boxcars) going through White River Jct, VT over a several day period in 1954. (The period and locale were chosen because there were relatively complete train lists for that period of time). 
I thought this might help guide the creation of an accurate freight car fleet for the layout (by percentage of road name) so I was very interested in the results. After looking the resulting data I'm not convinced it's helpful for modeling purposes. 
The sample total was 3,605 cars. There were about 60 or different reporting marks represented (basically, name a North American railroad of the time and it appears at least one time ...)
By far the most common roadname, with more than 50% of the total, was Canadian National. Since the CV was a subsidiary of the CN, that was not really all that much of a surprise.  The inclusion of CV in the "top ten" in this summary is logical (White River Junction is on the CV, after all), but certainly would not be applicable if one was to take this list and use it to develop a roster for a layout set anywhere else in the country.
I prepared the somewhat useless pie chart above to have an image with the blog posting - I'm afraid there's little useful data to be gleaned from it - except that if you go with a statisical approach to a modeled fleet 3/4 or so of the fleet should be made up of boxcars from the 10 railroads listed. 

The table below shows the breakdown by roadname of most of the remaining 55+ reporting marks. 

Each accounted for far fewer cars - or for a total so small it was insignificant.
I noted the percentage of the total by roadname didn't come even remotely close to reflecting the national fleet, although the totals seem to reflect some regional "bias" (greater percentages of New England/Northeastern region road names, but not by much). I was especially shocked at how few NYC and PRR cars (based on the % of these roads rosters compared with the national fleet at the time) appeared in our sample data. 
Not sure what I learned from this exercise, except that out of a fleet of 100 boxcars fully half should be CN, with almost any other road name represented as long as you don't include too many of any one road name. The thing is, if one were to model a roster to these percentages and then compare the resulting trains to prototype photos, the resulting car fleet may be defendable as somewhat "authentic," but I don't think the trains on the resulting layout would really look right!

Monday, October 26, 2015

The cars of Central Vermont XTRA 471

Know I haven't posted in a while but my hobby time has been completely consumed by structures and scenery. I'm going to start getting back into freight car modeling in a big way this coming modeling season!

Here's a start - most of this post is cross-posted from my CV blog. 
This post is something of a work in progress. A few years ago I purchased a set of photos (no photographer identified) showing a Central Vermont freight crossing a rather nondescript plate girder bridge somewhere on the railroad's Southern Division. These photos inspired my "Williams Creek" bridge scene. 
The head end of the train is shown in the lead photo above - with CV 2-8-0 471 in the lead. It's been something of an ongoing project to identify each of the cars in this train with the idea of modeling them.
I've managed to ID most of them - but believe I may have misidentified the boxcar in the second photo partially obscured by the bush. 
At first glance I saw the Roman style "L &" (all that's clearly readable in the photo, though there is clearly another single letter after the "&") and figured this might be an Louisville & Nashville car, perhaps one of the L&N's rebuilt cars with "reverse" Murphy ends. This seemed entirely logical. L&N didn't have a huge boxcar fleet, but it was a fairly substantial one, and entirely likely to show up in a wayfreight in south-central New England.
But scanning the print at a higher resolution and sharpening the image in Photoshop reveals a little more about the car. It has a flat end and a pronounced seam at the top of the end creating the appearance of a triangle on the top of the end. I couldn't identify a class of L&N boxcars that looked like the rest of the car with that style end. One group of cars with this end were the 1932 ARA boxcars. But which of those would have "L &" as the reporting marks.
The true freight car experts already have the answer of course. And, after doing a little more digging this weekend I'm now of the opinion this is a much more rare (considering sheer numbers) Louisiana & Arkansas 1932 ARA boxcar. As built these cars had a block, almost Gothic style lettering with the roadname spelled out above the reporting marks.
This one doesn't have the roadname and the lettering is clearly Roman. Which means this is the second scheme these cars wore, with the "L&A" and car number to the left of the door and a Kansas City Southern herald to the right of the door. 
I know Atlas makes a 1932 ARA boxcar - and even made one in this scheme. 
Guess who can't find one of those anywhere??

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Resin Car Works Web site

Eric Hansmann recently posted the following notice on the Steam Era Freight Cars Yahoo Group: 

"The Resin Car Works website is now open! This is a new venture from Frank Hodina for HO scale resin freight car kits. Our first kits represent ACF Type 27 Acid Tank Cars in both 7,000- and 8,000-gallon versions. HO scale acid tank car models have not been offered before. Pre-production models were displayed at the recent Prototype Rails meet at Cocoa Beach. Check out our website for more details.

A PDF file to order can be found on the Kits page. 

Resin Car Works has many projects under development to augment your freight car fleet. We look forward to serving you.

Eric Hansmann, RCW web guy"

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

From Athearn Bluebox to Marble Flat....

Completed flatcars in service on New England, Berkshire & Western.
Photo courtesy Rensselaer Model RR Society 
By Bill Gill
Photos by the author unless noted

Hi Marty, 
Don't know if this would qualify as prototype modeling or not. I recently detailed a pair of Athearn 40 ft flatcars for the NEB&W to approximate Rutland cars set up for marble service. I detailed and numbered the models for 2792 and 2755 shown in Shaughnessy's photo below, but they are, as is club practice, lettered for the NEB&W.  Bill Gill
Jim Shaughnessy photo courtesy Rensselaer Model Railroad Society (NEB&W)

Jim Shaughnessy photo Courtesy Rensselaer Model Railroad Society
 Compare the prototype side rivet pattern to the close up of the model below. 

Brake staff detail is scratchbuilt. Similar to prototype (below). (Note: rivets and uncoupling lever not yet added to end and original stirrups not yet replaced)

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Resin Car Works Type 27 7K and 8K Acid Tank Car Kits - Update

Seems like this fall has lots of big news about little tank cars...
I received my Resin Car Works Type 27 7,000 and 8,000-gallon Acid tank car in yesterday's mail, and look forward to building it this weekend. I'll be sure to post some photos of the build on this blog.
In the meantime, RCW is gearing up to ship kits. Kits will be available direct from the manufacturer's web site (resincarworks.com) in early December - shipping date is dependent on when the photo etched parts arrive. RCW will accept PayPal or payment by check with a printable order form.

Here's the flyer showing the roadnames that will be offered in the first run of kits:

Friday, November 7, 2014

New HO Scale 8K Chemical Tank Car from Tangent

I mentioned at Naperville there were rumblings about a couple of new steam era freight cars that "maybe" would be announced around the time of Trainfest in Milwaukee.
Awoke to find this posted this morning - Marty

"Tangent Scale Models is proud to introduce our next ALL-NEW freight car replica, the General American 8,000 Gallon Acid Tank Car with Welded Underframe.  Following World War II, specialized liquid shippers requested new special duty tank cars, and General American Transportation Corporation met their demands by producing specific-service cars such as this 8,000 gallon acid service tank car.  At the same time, General American switched from a riveted underframe and riveted tank design to a welded underframe and tank.  While General American’s factory in Sharon PA manufactured at least three different post-war versions of 8,000 gallon acid all-welded tank cars, these specific prototypes were produced between 1949 and 1960.  Like all Tangent Scale Models offerings, these tank cars had long service lives, lasting well into the 1980s in revenue service.  Acid service tank cars were commonly-seen nationwide, providing transportation for strong chemical compounds, such as hydrochloric (muriatic), hydrofluoric, phosphoric, and sulfuric acids.  Acid tank cars were rubber-lined, featured one percent expansion domes on the top, and did not have bottom tank outlets. 

The Tangent Scale Models General American 8,000 gallon acid tank car is a visually-distinctive model that includes details accurate for each paint scheme.  Note the distinctive small expansion dome at the top, surrounded by a beautifully-rendered “see-through” safety walkway.  Our walkways along the side of the car are also “see-through” safety tread, just like their prototypes.  As always, our correct “true-to-life” colors and “hyper-accurate” lettering includes exact fonts and lettering placement.  Finally, our scale replicas operate as well as they look, equipped with free-rolling all-metal wheels and Kadee® scale couplers, meaning our models are truly ready to run.  
This is NOT a pre-order announcement.  Our NEW Ready to Run replicas are available NOW at www.tangentscalemodels.com and we are selling these at Trainfest in Milwaukee on November 8-9.  Whether wearing “plain” GATX lease colors or the colors of a lessee, these replicas will certainly be eye-catchers on your layout!  Our first stunning release includes four paint schemes:
GATX “Black Lease 1952+” in the plain “black lease 1952+” scheme.  This GATX black lease scheme represents a general lease car in service beginning in 1952 and is broadly applicable across North America.  It is available in four road numbers.
 GATX “Stauffer Chemical Company” in the distinctive gray and black scheme with a 1953 paint date and 1949 build date, complete with the Stauffer diamond logo and Victor Chemical Division lettering, just like the prototype car.  These stunning cars are available in four road numbers.
GATX “The D O W Chemical Company” in the black scheme with striking yellow graphics including “Freeport Texas” lettering.  These nationwide service cars include a 1953 paint date on the side of the car.  This GATX lease scheme is available in four road numbers.
GATX "White Lease 1971+” in the striking “white lease 1971+” scheme which includes a large black stripe in the middle of the car.  These cars were repainted in 1971, which of course is modeled after an exact prototype photo.  These cars lasted in service into the 1990s, and are available in four road numbers.
Undecorated RTR Black 1949-1951 cars are immediately ready for decaling!
Undecorated RTR Black 1951-1960 cars are immediately ready for decaling!
Undecorated Unpainted Kits are available as well for those who desire to build their own. 

Pricing for RTR models is $44.95.  High-resolution images showing these fine replicas are available at www.tangentscalemodels.com  and our site also includes prototype images for your reference as well."

Friday, October 24, 2014

One Man's Roster*

Trevor Marshall has posted a series of four posts to his excellent Port Rowan blog showing some select members of his roster, including more than a couple of examples built by co-moderator Pierre Oliver through Pierre’s Elgin Car Shops** custom building service:

I plan to do something like this with my Central Vermont roster, and encourage others to do the same for their favorite road or subject. What I'm thinking of is a variation of the "One Man's Roster" from vintage issues of MR, especially if it was divided by road or era (ie., "Bill models the Santa Fe in 1948, here's some of his home road cars....")
If you’re interested in sharing your roster on this blog simply email photos and a description of your prototypical steam era cars at me at STEAMFREIGHTCARatGMAILdotCOM . (Obviously replace the italized portions of that email address with the standard symbology.)
*Or do we need to be politically correct here and make it "One Person's Roster?" Don't want to discount any female modelers out there.
**To paraphrase one of those old late night Television ads, “I’m not only a Elgin Car Shops fan, I’m also a client ….”