Re: Hills Brothers Coffee Car

Garth G. Groff <ggg9y@...>

Nick and friends,

A partial view of one of the Hills Brothers' cars can be seen at:

It is the car on the extreme left. I am not sure of the exact location,
but it appears that this might be on the State Belt Railroad/San
Francisco Belt Railroad at their interchange with the SP. The rock
bunker to the rear was served by the SBR, and often figures prominently
in a number of surviving photos. Hills Brothers had a large roasting and
packaging factory in that area, but it was a few blocks inland from the
docks. Might these two cars have been used to shuttle bagged coffee
beans from ships to the roasting plant?

The above photo is part of the California Digital Archive collection. It
was taken during the 1934 Longshoremen's Strike. More photos, including
freight cars and locomotives, can be seen by browsing this collection
beginning at:;cs=default;ts=default

In general, the CDC has some very interesting train photos. You might
also look at the section on building the Oakland Bay Bridge. It has some
SP stuff. There is also a section on the Bully Hill Mines and their
Sacramento Valley & Eastern, plus more miscellaneous railroad subjects
in other files.

Kind regards,

Garth G. Groff

Nick Gray wrote:

Damn shame,

I guess this one gets added to my (2 year old) daughters collection. I
would still like a scan of the photo to see what the cars actually looked like

Thanks for the answer!

At 09:16 PM 2/22/2001 -0800, you wrote:
I know I am going to regret this and will probably end up tossing it in my
pile of things that I chop up and use for other projects. But I couldn't
resist it.

The car is a Train-Miniature Hills Brothers Coffee Car, HBCX #161. Other
data indicates Blt 3-30 and N&W 3-32 I think. There is no date on the box
or instructions but it appears to be 20-30 years old.

First question is on authenticity. I recalled seeing that Micro- trains had
one of these in n-scale. I would guess there must be some basis for this
car. Does anyone have any information they would like to share?

Second question is on Viability of the project. So far the only things
obviously other worth saving are the large decal, the rather decent paint
and the body structure. Does someone make a decal out there. If I want this
car as a detailing/rebuild project. Would it be better to start over from
Uh, Nick, are you sure you want to go there? For some obscure reason,
Hills Brothers of San Francisco owned two box cars numbered 161 and 162
which were stenciled that they were built in 1930 but look like they were
built earlier (so 1930 may have been a rebuilding date). They lasted less
than ten years and were gone from the 1/40 ORER. In my 1933 ORER, their
reporting marks were HBKX, but later they were apparently changed to HBCX.
Ca. 1937 Will Whittaker photographed HBCX 161 on the San Francisco
waterfront, and your model is probably based on that photo. I have a print
of the photo and could send you a scan, but -

(1) These cars could not have operated in interchange, and probably were
just used for short hauls around San Francisco, as the car in the photo had
not been reweighed since 3-30, and -

(2) The T-M model can't really be converted into an accurate replica of the
prototype because, aside from numerous other problems, the Hills Bros. cars
were 9'8" IH, thus considerably taller than the T-M model.

FWIW, the prototype cars were double wood sheathed with wood body framing
and had 4-4 inverse Dreadnaught ends, metal sheathed roofs with flat seam
battens, wood doors, fishbelly steel center sills, and ARA trucks with
spring planks and Barber lateral motion devices.

Richard H. Hendrickson
Ashland, Oregon 97520

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