Re: Why not model actual train consists?

Richard Hendrickson

On May 23, 2011, at 7:52 AM, Jim Betz wrote:


We keep re-visiting the topic of freight car distribution ...
and discussing how to represent the freight cars for a point
in time or an "era" ... and then, presumably, adjusting the
mix of freight cars on our layouts ...

So I'm prompted to ask "Why not model actual trains?" As in
find a train sheet you like and go for it - with selective
compression - of course. And then extend it to several trains.

Is anyone out there doing this? Thinking seriously about it?
Tried it and found they couldn't field enough models to fill
the bill (how close did you get)? Selectively compress out the
models you don't have as a first cut? No, substitutions allowed
(same number series but different number)? One box car - from
the correct era - is just as good as the next?

You could even preserve the order of the cars in the train
even if you aren't modelling all of them. And 'just' adjust
the waybills for the layout?
JIm, many years ago the late Terry Metcalfe had found a cache of
wheel reports for the location and date he wanted to model on the
Union Pacific and was well along with the research that would have
enabled him to model specific trains. I helped him with that
research and provided numerous photos of the car series in the wheel
reports. At that time, there were fewer models available of the cars
he would have needed, but today, with the profusion of styrene and
resin freight car models that have been introduced since that time,
it would be much easier to replicate those trains exactly.
Regrettably, Terry's unfortunate and premature death brought that
effort to a halt.

I know a number of other modelers who are doing essentially what you
describe, and I'd be inclined to do it myself if I had the
documentation it would require.

Bruce Smith's objection that modeling specific trains would make it
impossible to do prototypical operation is, of course valid. but
modeling specific trains is a viable alternative for those of us who
don't have the space to build a model railroad that's suitable for
prototypical operation. My diorama is intended to be what Bruce
refers to (I hope not condescendingly) as a "railfan's" model
railroad; sit down on a stool (standing in for a pile of crossties)
and watch the trains run through a scene that is, as accurately as I
can make it, a miniature of a real place at a real point in time. I
find prototypical operation rewarding, too, but when I feel the need
for an operating fix I can get it at the La Mesa club's Tehachapi
Pass layout in San Diego or at Bill Darnaby's in suburban Chicago.
On both of those large model railroads, operations are realistic
enough that it's well worth the air fare to get there occasionally.

Richard Hendrickson

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