Re: PRR X-29's, NYC Lot 486 and then?

Richard Hendrickson

On May 28, 2010, at 11:35 AM, Bruce Smith wrote:

I love these speculation fests... Gons can be a bit more of a
difficult sell - any eastern roads with Enterprise gons?
AFAIK, the only eastern road that had GS gondolas in significant
numbers was B&M, and they weren't of Enterprise design. Besides, we
already have the later Enterprise gons for SP and UP, though it would
be nice to have the earlier cars (as once modeled by Ulrich) as well.

I would also think that the following might be good if someone were
looking for projects:
- I second the notion of the GATC tank car
Under serious consideration.

- UTLX X-3 (as I doubt I will ever get enough of Martin's kits done)
Every manufacturer who has considered this has been scared off by the
fact that only UTL owned them and there are very few accurate P/L
schemes (actually, only one apart from some very odd-ball
exceptions). Many on this list would buy a bunch of these models,
but they would be of hardly any interest to the toy train collectors,
vesties, and perpetual beginners in the hobby who far outnumber us.

- Harriman Standard 40'10" SP/UP flat cars
One of the better manufacturers is thinking about this, though far
from being committed.

- 1921/22 and 1927/28 FGE/WFE reefers (as built, not the modified IM
Not a chance. Not many of us model a date before the 1950s, by which
time all (or almost all) of the FGE/WFE cars had been rebuilt.

Other suggestions have included such unlikely prototypes as Rio
Grande 12 panel box cars with Duryea underframes, 46' Rio Grande and
WP gondolas, and CB&Q 1-1/2 door single sheathed auto cars. Hello?
What are you guys smoking? Raise your hand if you would like to
spend your own money on the development and tooling for such
projects. Gee, I don't see any hands raised. I wonder why? These
are classic examples of prototypes which might make sense for resin
kits but are economically absurd for RTR styrene.

In my opinion, what us steam and transition era modelers need most
right now are single sheathed 40' box cars. Look at any freight yard
or freight train photo from the '40s and '50s, even the late '50s,
and they were all over the place; yet accurate, correctly painted and
lettered models are almost non-existent except in resin. The problem
is that most of the prototype cars were built during the 1920s when
there was scarcely any standardization of design, so there are none
that could be correctly modeled for more than one or two RRs. There
were, however, a few examples that were built in such large numbers
for one railroad that they're worth considering. For example, MILW
had a huge fleet of essentially identical SS boxcars built in the
early '20s that went everywhere in interchange. And then there were
a vast number of SP/T&NO B-50-13s and B-50-14s which were essentially
alike except for roofs and some other minor details, and some of
those got rebuilt in later years with Dreadnaught ends replacing
their original SS ends. Santa Fe got thousands of modified ARA SS
box cars in the late 1920s, many (though not all) of which got
distinctive extended height roofs during World War two and lasted in
that form way into the 1960s. Other RRs like the CB&Q and Rock
Island had a lot of SS box cars, as well, but their design kept
changing so that there weren't any dominant prototypes.

The number of steam era prototype freight cars for which injection
molded styrene models might sell well enough to make a modest profit
has diminished to almost none. Demographics are against us; to be
blunt, many of us who model the steam era are geezers whose numbers
dwindle significantly every year. The majority of modelers of every
age tend to model what they remember from their childhood and
adolescence, so there's an inevitable shift in emphasis away from the
steam era toward more recent periods of railroad history. It's no
accident that manufacturers like Walthers have largely shifted focus
to modeling freight cars of the 1960s and later, where there are many
more possibilities for multiple paint and lettering schemes, not to
mention a younger clientele.

None of this is any reason for crying the blues; for us steam era
modelers, this truly is the golden age in terms of what's available.
But much of it is only available in resin, and that's not going to
change appreciably. In fact, many of the resin models are going to
go away as suppliers like Al and Patricia Westerfield and Martin and
Patricia Lofton finally take their belated and richly earned retirement.

Speculation fests, to use Bruce's aptly chosen description, may be
harmless, but they're also largely a waste of time. Instead of
sitting around making pie-in-the-sky lists, maybe we'd be better off
going to the workbench and building some of the kits we already have.

Richard Hendrickson

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