Re: Interesting Photo of a Box Car and Load

A&Y Dave in MD




And with that many boxcars in service between 1916 and 1955, why don't we have a good plastic model of them again? Is it because of the Southern's gross green locomotives, zero public relations, horrible PR, and general lack of a following? Hmmm.......



Ray Breyer 

 Elgin, IL





Methinks I detect satire, but just in case…


The only gross green are the overly lime freight and excursion scheme-based models with the silly red roofs making them look more like Christmas ornaments than the prototype.  The original Virginia green passenger steam locomotive was beautiful. And for public relations, they had a massive advertising campaign that covered the entire end of this list’s time frame beginning in the late 30’s and ending in the 60’s. I would think that the Southern steam program might be considered quite impressive in terms of public relations too, of course THAT all occurred after this list time period after President Brosnan finished mechanizing and updating everything while alienating everyone.  There are PLENTY of Southern modelers, I know quite a few personally, including a guy who models Southern’s Murphy Branch in the steam era in N scale.  I know two who “roll their own” locomotives.


The biggest problem with the Southern for modelers is that everything they did was pretty much unique and rarely shared by other roads…like late steam era truss rod 36’ box cars.  Mostly they had little capital, huge debts as they consolidated a patchwork of rail lines, and they spent most of their money investing in right-of-way and simplifying the ownership issues (the legal history of the Southern Railway begun by Fairfax Harrison in two fat volumes of mergers and acquisitions and trackage rights was supplemented by two more huge fat volumes in the early 50’s to document the corporate streamlining.  The book by Klein describes how the Southern top hats had to grovel before FDR’s administration to get the interest free loans necessary to modernize their steam era freight car fleet with the ’37 cars so well covered by Red Caboose and IMWX with updates from Speedwitch media decals.  Later, in Southern’s diesel era beginning in ’53, which I find amusingly coincides with what many on this list think of as their steam era, the road began innovating in freight car designs following their MoW equipment.


So much unique steam stuff makes them tough for the RTR modelers.  Many Southern modelers spend their time researching, kitbashing, and doing their own thing. Or they are diesel modelers dreaming of high hoods forward which doesn’t bring them this way that often.


So unique, self-helping, and kitbashing, or off-topic, the Southern modelers don’t appear as a strong commercial market.  And yet the gons, flat cars, and caboose models, in addition to the great Westerfield kits covering every variant of that truss-rod shorty and the off-this-list waffle box and radio-car have sold well.


My own layout will have a couple of brass Ks-1 and my own kitbashed #338 class J consolidation pulling lots of Southern SU truss rod cars (mostly used in LCL or merchandise service unlike that photo), what N&W 1934 era-appropriate box and hoppers I can find, the occasional B&O, C&O, ACL, SAL, VGN, HPR&A, WSSB, TC, S&A, GA, and other fine southeastern and Atlantic seaboard freight cars, and a few Schluderberg & Kurdle meat reefers from Baltimore, and the odd tank car of tanning liquid from Richmond (INSX), and the few cars from ATSF, NYC, Pennsy, and others from monster fleets that wandered down to NC’s Piedmont plateau on occasion.  I’m working on analyzing Cap’n H. F. Snow’s conductor books on the Winston-Salem division to get that mix right.


I’m betting that new Accurail 36’ car helps me model a few of those wandering cars, though I still need the Westerfields to do the era right.  I got ten of the good grey resin kits to build, plus two 3-cars-in-1 kit sets with the yellow resin I bought from the early Westerfield days that I still think would be easier to open the box, read the instructions, and then scratchbuild from styrene!


We Southern modelers are probably not a great market, because we wouldn’t believe it was true if an accurate mass market styrene steam era Southern freight model ever hit the shelves!



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