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.

Sunday, September 3, 2017

Westerfield I-GN boxcar - ready for weathering

I finished dealing the Westerfield I-GN boxcar, and added an overcoat of Future floor polish followed by a coat of Vallejo Matte clear. I think it makes a nice addition to the "late 1920s" roster. 

I think I'm going to hold off on weathering the car until I get some other half-finished freight car projects completed. 

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Westerfield I-GN Boxcar

As I was sorting and packing some of the smaller items that reside in various small plastic containers, I came across the decals for a Westerfield International Great Northern 40-foot single sheathed boxcar that I'd built almost two years ago.
Having no idea how the decals ended up separated from the car, and knowing full well that it would happen again if I didn't take drastic measures, I opted to spend a pleasant hour or so this past Sunday evening getting the decals on one side of the car. Side #2 has since been completed.
For the record, and my reference, the car was painted with a base coat of Vallejo "Boxcar Red" sold by Micro-Mark. The Vallejo labels reveals they refer to this color as "Rust." The paint was allowed to dry completely (although the 26 months this paint dried may have been excessive!) before I hit the model with an airbrushed coat of Future clear acrylic (or whatever they're calling it this week).  
When this photo was taken I hadn't yet "snuggled"* the decals in place, which is why there's so much decal film showing.
When I decal a car I like to leave it on the modeling desk for a week or so - every evening I'll add another application of Microscale setting solution. After a few days of this most of the film disappears. The next step will be another coat of gloss, followed by a coat of clear flat.
Sharp-eyed freight car fanatics will note this car is lettered to reflect lettering styles that predate my typical 1950s roster. 
No further comment on that at this time.  

*When I was on the Model Railroader staff we were always debating the best way to describe of process of softening decals using settling solution to get them to conform to the various details, ridges, rivets and the like. Somehow, someone (likely Jim Kelly, it sounds like something he'd come up it!) suggest the term "snuggling" the decals....it stuck.

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: