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  • Western Pacific's 50-foot, 50-ton double-door boxcars

    Top: The first of Western Pacific's Pullman Standard 50-foot, 50-ton double-door boxcars, No. 35001, poses for her builder's portrait at the Hammond, Ind., plant in April 1954. She was one of the group of cars numbered 35001-35625 and outfitted for general freight service, not for auto parts. Cars replaced antiquated wooden 50-foot cars and only 275 were equipped for auto parts service.

    Below: Builder's phono of the "B" end shows placement of all applicable safety and operation appliances. Note end car card holder and important, seldom modeled coupler lift-pin details. Publicity and builder's photographs can often prove to be valuable modeling tools on account most have distracting background details obscured or retouched.
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    "They're not just for auto parts anymore!"

    BY JOHN RYCZKOWSKI - Photography by the author

       Back in 1954 the Western Pacific ordered 100 Pullman-Standard 50-ton double-door box cars. By 1957 their numbers had grown to more than 800 identical cars and they had effectively replaced the aging fleet of wooden 50-footers. Although cars of this type are usually thought of as auto parts cars, only 275 were equipped with auto racks.

       Those not equipped as auto parts cars were numbered from 35001 to 35625 and assigned to general freight service as Class XM unequipped boxcars. With forest products being a primary industry along the Feather River Route, it's not too difficult to comprehend why lumber became the major commodity shipped in these Western Pacific 50-footers. By 1982, a mere 69 of the original cars remained on the roster although 9 more of Sacramento Northern heritage supplemented the fleet.

    Above: Author's models of DF-equipped 3838 and "class car" 35001, the first of WP's nearly 800 identical 50-footers. Note the special stenciling on the side adjacent to the door and the Youngstown steel door which was standard on both their protoypes.

    Below: Two models of different eras in a car type's life: On the right is one of the 33401-33400-series cars not originally equipped to carry auto parts. It is stenciled "DF," which indicates it is assigned to auto parts-dedicated service and has been retrofitted with DF equipment during the course of its service life. The model on the left depicts a Sacramento Northern car (a WP subsidiary) outfitted with Pullman-Standard or Superior steel doors, renumbered from SN series 2401-2500. These two models represent older cars; note the thorough weathering treatment accorded both models.
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    Top: WP No. 3838 sparkles in new Boxcar Red on its birthday in Sept. 1955 at PS's Hammond, Ind., plant. It was the first of 24 cars specially equipped with Evans Products DF loaders to enable it to carry auto parts. Compare the various builder's photographs with those in-service photographs to help determine how much weathering will be needed and whether to exclude such details as roof walks, grabirons, DF equipment, etc.

    Center: WP No. 3984 is part of the 3965-3989 groups equipped with Evans DF loaders and dedicated to auto parts haulage. This idea of what the cars in auto parts service looked like later on in their careets, perhaps after a major overhaul or class repair. Note unusual "THE WESTERN WAY" slogan and DF loader stenciling.

    Bottom: Our model of WP No. 3301 suggests a car assigned to captive auto parts service and one which is in relatively good shape. This car is not only equipped with DF loaders but also Cargo Control cushioning devices.
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    Above left: WP 30002 is a 12/1955-built car renumbered from a 35401-35425-series specimen. All cars in her group were converted to paper loading service and retained their original Youngstown steel_doors. Middle left: WP 35009 represents the 35001-35100 group, the first 90 of which were not equipped with DF. No. 35099 was equipped, however and this is what a present-day example would look like. Bottom left: WP No. 35559 is a non-DF equipped car in an advanced state of atrophy.

    Above right: WP 3987 is one of the DF-equipped cars from the 3965-3989 group with the unusual THE WESTERN WAY slogan. Middle right: WP 4017 represents the 4007-4019 group of cars renumbered from the 3863-3964-series. These cars were converted to XP-type boxcars with protective bulkhead equipment installed. Bottom right: WP 35806 is an SN car built in January 1958 and renumbered from SN series 2401-2500. It has been retrofitted with roller bearings (inside old friction bearing box) and it has lost its roof walk. Most, if not all, of these cars have been retired and scrapped.
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       With few changes, the Athearn 50-foot double-door auto cars become close representations of the Western Pacific prototypes. These P-S cars have gone through so many changes during three decades of reliable service that the time frame you choose to model will dictate the amount of detail alteration to be performed. No matter the era you choose, the side sill along the bottom of the car will have to be cut away and replaced with one more closely matching the prototype (for the author's models, a .020" styrene strip was cut to form the new side sill). The detail of the early cars is enhanced by replacing the molded plastic roofwalk with an etched brass version from Detail Associates which also produces several other freight car detail parts including grabs, ladders and coupler lift bars). The car can be further dressed up by replacing the proportionally thick, molded-on steps with Tuttle Industries stirrup steps (style R on the left, style N on the right).

       Some cars, such as the 3965-3989 and 19601-19725 series and those of the Sacramento Northern, are equipped with P-S or Superior steel doors instead of the Youngstown steel doors provided with the Athearn kit. For those cars equipped with the Youngstown steel door, the tack boards need to be lowered. When modeling cars sans roofwalks, CM Shops roofwalk plugs were used to plug the rooftop holes. These cars should also be equipped with the shorter ladders, a step best accomplished by completely removing the ladders and replacecing them with Details Associates short boxcar counerparts.

       If modeling a 1950's or 1960's vintage car, Floquil's boxcar red will do just fine. Although it's a bit on the light side, fading of paint on the prototype was just enough to match that of a car having spent a few years in service. Rebuilt cars with more recent paint jobs should be painted with Scalecoat No. 21 Roof Brown or Floquil Tuscan Red. But if you're a real stickler for accuracy, you'd best locate a good color photo. Due to the many repaintings using paint on hand and the effects of weathering, the 50-footers are found in several shades of boxcar red.

       Decals are available from Herald King, Walthers, Microscale and Detail Associates. As for location of decals, and for that matter, which decals to use, you had best rely on photography. Again, the changes applied over the years have left the fleet with a wide variety of marking arrangements.

       Puddle the setting fluid where the decals are to be positioned, then lay them in place as accurately as you can. If necessary, use a paper towel to draw away some of the excess setting fluid and then maneuver the decals into position with tweezers. After allowing sufficient time to dry apply more setting solution to the decals and then press them down to the surface with either a cotton swab (previously soaked with water) or a piece of foam. This will assure that the decals snug up to the surface, especially over the rivet heads and other details.

    Western Pacific's 50-foot, 50-ton double-door boxcars
      No. B/D Description Notes   No. B/D Description Notes
      3001-3010 04/54 Built as part of 35001-35100 order. 1   30001-30010 12/55 Renumbered from series 35401-35425. 6
      3087-3089 04/54 Renumbered from series 3001-3010. 2   34004-34023 10/60 Renumbered from series 3965-3989. 7
      3301-3302 04/54 Renumbered from series 35501-35625. 1   35001-35100 04/54 Original 90 cars not DF equipped.  
      3501-3502 04/54 Renumbered from 35201 -35300 series. 1   35101-35400 11 /54 Original 90 cars not DF equipped.  
      3801-3837 12/54 Built w/ Evans DF loaders for auto parts serv.     35401-35425 12/55 Used as conversion cars.  
      3838-3862 09/55 Built w/ Evans DF loaders for auto parts serv.     35501-35625 01/57 Not equipped with DF.  
      3863-3964 04/54 Renumbered from series 35101-35625. 3   35801-35900 01/57 Renumbered SN cars series 2401-2500.  
      3965-3989 10/60 Built w/ Evans DF loaders for auto parts serv.     38001-38125 04/77 Not equipped.  
      3990-3995 04/54 Renumbered from series 3001-3010. 2   38126-38225 03/79 Not equipped.  
      4007-4019 04/54 Renumbered from series 3863-3964. 4   38226-38325 06/80 Not equipped.  
      18506-18508 12/55 Renumbered from series 35401-35425. 5   45001-45200 12/55 Renumbered from series 19301-19725. 8
      18509-18512 12/55 Renumbered from series 35401-35425. 5          
      18551-18553 12/55 Renumbered from series 35401-35425. 5          
      19301-19450 12/55 Equipped as auto parts cars.     Notes      
      19601-19725 01/57 Equipped as auto parts cars.     1   Equipped with DF loaders.
      19901-19902 01/57 Transco test cars.     2   Auxiliary door welded closed;
      19951-19960 12/55 Rebuilt ACL boxcars from Transco , 9/65.     3   Equipped with DF loaders for auto parts loading.
                4   Converted to XP-type boxcars with protective bulkheads.
                5   Equipped with special racks to hold auto transmissions.
                6   Converted to paper loading.
                7   All DF equipment removed.
                8   Auto parts cars with all auto racks removed.

    Article Details

    • Original Author John Ryczkowski
    • Source Prototype Modeler
    • Publication Date August-September 1985

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