Extra 6138 East: Prototype Railraod Modeling
Models by Tony Thompson and Richard Hendrickson
Story by Richard Hendrickson
While en route to last October's Railroad Prototype Modelers meeting in Troy, New York, Richard Hendrickson stopped off to see Tony Thompson in Pittsburgh. Unpacking the HO scalefreight car models he'd brought to display at the RPM gathering. Richard made up a train, with Tony providing the motive power and caboose. Tony then ran it around his layout, which represents a part of the Southern Pacific's Coast Division in October 1953. The result, shown in this series of photos, wasn't just a display of prototypically accurate freight car models but a realistic representation of an entire scale-length train. All of the models represent cars of the same time period, and all of them might well have been found in a Southern Pacific freight train of the early 1950s. Here, then, in the form of a photo essay, is Extra 6138 East. [Modeling information is enclosed in square brackets .]
A pair of Southern Pacific F units growls eastward at Jalama with a predominantly reefer block in tow. The reefers, loaded with lettuce and other produce from the Salinas valley, are bound for the Pacific Fruit Expressice docks at Colton, where they'll be re-iced and sorted into trains bound for Texas and the Southeast. The SP didn't order road freight diesels until after World War II, and even in the fall of 1953 its F3s and F7s were heavily out numbered by steam locomotives. Diesels were often assigned to reefer trains, however,since they didn't have to stop for water. Thediesels and the layout are Tony Thompson's; the freight cars belong to Richard Hendrickson, who also took the photo.
Reefers abounded on Coast Lines freight trains. These three are a Pacific Fruit Express R-40-20 class car built in 1945; a Santa Fe wood-sheathed Rr-8 built in 1927; and a Northern Pacific 94000 series car built in 1947. [The PFE and NP models were built from Westrail kits; the Santa Fe car was extensively kitbashed from an Athearn wood sheathed reefer kit.]
Still more reefers. A 1937-vintage PFER-40-10, still with its original paint and lettering under a layer of dirt, leads the way, followed by a 1947-vintage R-40-23 and then a pair of American Refrigerator Transit Linescars, one built in the late '30s and repainted in1945 and one almost new. [All four modelswere built from Westrail kits.]
Box cars both old and new trail behind the 6138. The first car is a Santa Fe "war emergency" Bx-38 class car, basically an AAR standard box car built in 1943 with single sheathed sides to save steel for the war effort [built from a Westrail kit]. Cotton Belt 36532 is one of many USRA-design wood-sheathed cars originally built for the SSW in the early 1920s and then rebuilt in the 1930s with increased interior height and more cubical capacity [extensively kitbashed from an Athearn woods sheathed box car kit]. Next is a much newer Santa Fe Bx-50 built in 1947, a postwar AARdesignbox car with improved Oreadnaughtends [superdetailed from a C&BT Shops kit].
Illinois Terminal 1136 is an AAR standard 50-ton, 53'6" flat car [built from a Westrailkit]; the pilings are tapered bamboo chop sticks from a Chinese restaurant. Santa Fesingle-sheathed box car 32951 is a rarity, one of only 20 such Bx-22 class cars acquired when the Santa Fe purchased the Clinton & Oklahoma Western in the late '20s. The cars were built for the C&OW in 1927 to a stock American Car & Foundry design. [The model was kitbashed from a Walthers kit by modifying the ends, doors, and underframe and addinga radial steel roof made of styrene as well as various detail parts.] Santa Fe 276844 is a Bx-46 class car rebuilt at Topeka in 1945 by constructing a new AAR-design body on the underframe and trucks salvaged from a Bx-9 wood-sheathed box car of the late '20s. [Themodel was built from a Westrail kit.]
PFE 92593, an R-30-13-9 rebuild, still has its pre-1940 "Overland Route" Union PacificHerald. SFRD 7247 is also a rebuilt car of class Rr-35, as indicated by its USRA underframeand Andrews trucks. The SP box car isa class B-40-23 with Superior seven-paneldoor, built in 1942. [The PFE model was built from a Tichy kit; the Santa Fe reefer was kitbashedfrom an Athearn kit; and the box carwas built from a Westrail conversion kit.]
Loaded with cable reels, C&O gondola29907 is a long way from home. Recently repainted, GA TX 9320 is a standard General American 10,000-gallon tank car built in 1940, while CHAX 104 is an early-'20s AC&F car owned by Chartrand Traffic Service. [Both the gondola and the GATX tank car were kitbashed from Athearn kits; the Chartrand car was built from a somewhat modified Gould (now Tichy) kit.]
SCCX 1543 is an 8,000-gallon tank car built in the mid-'20s by American Car & Foundry. Following it are a pair of empty SP general service gondolas, also dating from the mid- '20s and showing a lot of dings and dents. Next in line is a Burlington AAR standard boxcar built in 1940 and repainted in 1947. [The tank car is an Overland brass import the gondolas are from Ulrich cast metal kits; and thebox car is from a Westrail kit. The castings in the gon kits were struck with a small hammer and various punches to make them look well used.]
Fine sand used to make glass is the load inthis Missouri Pacific panel-side gondola, and the New York Central flat car is loaded with plywood shipping crates. Santa Fe 142333 is a 1941-vintage Bx-37 with the EI Capitan sloganon the opposite side. [The gondola was built from a Sunshine Models resin kit, and the Santa Fe box car came from a Westrail conversion kit. The flat car, an AAR 70-ton standardcar, was modeled by kitbashing two Athearnflats. The banding that holds down theload is Chartpack striping.]
Two empty mill gondolas separated by an idler flat are homeward bound here, after delivering some fabricated steel bridge girders. [Both gondola models are Precision Scalebrass imports, while the New York Central flatcar was kitbashed from a Mantua (exLindberg) plastic kit. The CRP gon representsa car that's just been repainted, while the NYCgondola is beat-up and weathered. ]
Bringing up the rear are Wabash 13618, a mill gondola, and a pair of empty stock cars, one a Santa Fe car of class Sk-T and the other a Northern Pacific car. [The gondola was kitbashed from a Model Die Casting plastic kit, the Santa Fe stock car is a Pecos River brass import, and the NP model was built from a Central Valley kit. As for the caboose, it's a Balboa brass import detailed, painted and letteredby Tony Thompson.]