Re: Does anyone make Ann Arbor decals for HO USRA SS boxcar?

Rob Adams

One thing to keep in mind about nearly all of the steam-era Ann Arbor RR lettering sets (Including the Westerfield offering) is that the "R" is not correct for most of the real world Ann Arbor lettering jobs applied to these cars. 

If you look at photos of AA cars from the 1940's and 50's, you'll observe that nearly all repaints of the single sheathed box cars and open hoppers wearing 14 inch road name lettering have a horizontal bar at the bottom of both legs of the "R" (I call this a "Modified R").  Single and Double sheathed cars painted with 14 inch lettering in earlier years had a curved right leg style R (Also used on all of their Post-1954, 18 inch road name schemes applied only to steel box cars built after 1954 and subsequent repaints of earlier steel cars).  This curved R style, (I refer to it as an "Original R") is what you see reproduced in most decal and transfer sets. 

There were occasional exceptions where the curved R was used on the 14 inch schemes during the 40's and 50's, but reality is that the available HO sets do not reflect the road's "typical" lettering practices. Unfortunately, this characterizes all of the otherwise accurate sets... Westerfield's USRA SS Box set, Mark Vaughan's Wabash/AA hopper set as well as all of the CDS AA hopper sets. 

It is possible to modify the available sets to create the bar at the bottom of the R.  Fastidious modelers will likely wish to do so.

For a wealth of photographs and comprehensive information about the AA composite single and double sheathed box cars, I encourage you to track down a copy of Prototype Railroad Modeling Volume 2.  It features a lengthy article that I wrote about the subject.

If you are studying Ann Arbor freight cars of the steam era, you'll likely note that the AA War Emergency hoppers were delivered with the Curved style R, but contemporary repaints of other hoppers all wear the Modified R.  I've postulated that the Wabash' Decatur shops (where the AA WE hoppers were built) was still using the Original Curved R stencil, while the AA Owosso, Michigan shops was using a Modified R stencil for all repaints by that time.  This seems to be confirmed by the AA's first series of Postwar AAR cars (series 68000-68049) also built by the Decatur Shops.  Builder's photos show the Original R and 14 inch high road name.  Owosso repaints of those cars with 14 inch road name lettering have the Modified R.  By the time they received 18 inch road name lettering after 1954, use of the Original R was universal in the 18 inch scheme.

In O scale, there is an excellent set for the AA single sheathed box cars from Protocraft and thanks to Norm Buckhart's willingness to add the "Modified R" style lettering after its initial release, the set now includes both styles.

As an aside: Accurail did get the AA Road Name lettering right (Modified R) on their single sheathed box car model, though shape of the numerals in the reporting marks leaves a bit to be desired and the center sill and ends are incorrect.  That kit can be modified to create a credible replica of the AA 73750-series box cars.

Probably more than you wanted to know about AA freight cars and lettering.

Kind regards and Happy Thanksgiving,

Rob Adams
Wellman, IA

On 11/27/13, 12:30 PM, Benjamin Hom wrote:

Charlie Duckworth asked:
"I have a Tichy USRA SS boxcar I'd like to finish as an Ann Arbor boxcar.  Been looking around the web but don't see that there are any decals available.  Anyone on the list know of any decals that have been made for the Ann Arbor car?"
Geoffrey Barbier replied:
"Westerfield offers decals for the AA USRA SS boxcars."
Here's a direct link to the ordering page on the Westerfield website (s/n D3319):
Ben Hom

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