Thursday, November 29, 2018

Flat Cars - General Information

There are many times where I can't really devote the time to go down and work on the layout, but I can work in small chunks of time while working on something else at my desk. Often this is a combination of working on models and research (and writing an occasional blog post). A common catalyst is the acquisition or announcement of a new model. 

One such group on my bookcase/desk is flat cars. The F30A that I posted recently was one such model/experiment. Instead of waiting to find a(n affordable) Sunshine model, I figured I'd see how hard it was to modify the underframe of the Bowser model. That was a result of getting the Owl Mountain Models SP F-50 and Espee Models SP F-70 flat car kits.

Once I start looking at a class of cars, I tend to look at what I might need. There are two general directions I work from in determining a roster.

Plastic Flat Car Models

The first option is to look at the available models, starting with the easiest ones - RTR plastic, as well as some that are available only as kits. In this case there are a number of good options, and resources (such as Richard Hendrickson's Railmodel Journal articles, Railway Prototype Cyclopedia, and the knowledge of the Steam Era Freight Car modelers in general.

41' Flat Car (Tichy/Ertl)

Based on an NC&StL Prototype, it's also close to DL&W, SP&S, SSW, CN, CP and NYC with 12 stake pockets. Ertl produced an RTR car based on the same prototype. I have no idea whether there are differences between the models. Ted Culotta wrote an article about modeling these cars in Prototype Railroad Modeling Volume Four (available from Speedwitch Media).

 The version that's sold as a Low Side Gondola can be built without the gondola sides and resembles AC&Y, C&O, and D&RGW cars with 10 stake pockets
I'm also working on using it as a basis for NH 36' flat cars.

AAR 50-ton 53'6" Flat Car (Proto 2000/Walthers)

This is a very accurate model, and as far as I know all of the roads released are prototypical. In my case I'm starting with ACL, C&NW,  C&O, CGW, CIL, CRR, D&RGW, I-GN, ITC, L&N, M&StL, NKP, NP, RI, SOO, UP, and WM. EJ&E would be another good choice due to the number rostered. Ted also has an article about these cars in Railroad Prototype Modeling Volume Four.

AAR 70-ton 53'6" Flat Car (Intermountain)

Another very accurate model, although the laser cut wood deck is too thick and tends to delaminate. I'm experimenting with removing it and using a styrene board-by-board replacement. The War Emergency ones are visually identical, the only apparent difference is that some of the crossties are wood. 

Again, I believe all of the released models are prototypical roads, but the NH is a must have for me, of course, and NYC rostered 1,000 of them! The ERIE and CRP are the other ones I'll definitely roster. PM had 350 as well.

NH/NYC Depressed Center Flat Car (Eastern Car Works)

Although this kit isn't produced anymore, they are easy to find, and it's an interesting prototype. More importantly for me, it's an accurate model of an NH prototype.

The body of the model is a very good replica of the cast body of the prototype. The details themselves are a bit course due to the injection-molding technology of the time, but it's easy to turn it into a nice looking model. The deck itself is beautifully rendered.

In addition, a second class of NH depressed center flat cars (they designated them "transformer cars") is nearly identical, only needing to extend the deck at either end. I need to get a picture of Chris' (award-winning) ECW flat car.

(Chris obliged in the comments. Here it is!)

NP Flat Car (Central Valley Model Works)

This is a series of flat cars rebuilt from boxcar underframes. It's a unique looking prototype.

PRR F30A (Bowser)

The Bowser kit is pretty accurate, but needs a few modifications like the addition of poling pockets and the work I did on the underframe. Speedwitch Media has decals available for this kit.

SP F-50 class Flat Cars (Owl Mountain Models)

This is a series of kits, I went with the F-50-10/12 model as it was probably the most numerous in my era. Available only as a kit, but it's a fun one to build. I'm building an SP F-50-12, and might build a T&NO F-50-8 as well. (Jason Hill has a series of posts on building this kit: Part I, II, III and a fantastic overview of SP Flat Cars. Tony Thompson did a quick write-up about assembling the kit too.)

SP F-70 series Flat Car (Red Caboose/Southern Pacific Historical and Technical Society)

(I couldn't find a picture of this kit that I could use).
Another series of kits, sometimes available RTR, the F-70-6/7 is good for most of my era, and the similar F-70-10 would sneak into the 1953/4 sessions if I wanted to.'

UP GSC 42' Flat Car (Exactrail)

Recently produced by Exactrail, these are an accurate rendition of a 1951 UP prototype.

USRA 42' Flat Car (Red Caboose/Intermountain)

This is actually a model of the NYC and subsidiary cars, and PM and W&LE are close matches as well. This is a clone of the USRA design with minor differences.

To actually model the USRA prototype Richard Hendrickson noted that stake pockets #2, 4, 5, 8, 9, and 11 need to be moved to evenly space them across the side. In this configuration the CNW was the largest owner, and I may add additional roads once I verify their rosters in my era.

Other Plastic Flat Car Models

Of course, there have been many other plastic (and metal) models released over the years. Normally I look primarily at models that have separately applied detail parts. But flat cars have so few grab irons, they are among the easiest to clean up. A few others that I might look into:

  • The Atlas Pulpwood flat car is based General Steel Casting car built for the ACL in 1951. I believe GM&O, IC, L&N, and TN&O all had similar cars built by 1953. I don't recall seeing any photos, nor hearing of any pulpwood movements on the New Haven, though. So it's not a must-have for me.
  • MDC has a 30' flat car that is similar to a Milwaukee car, and also the PRR F22. This is a very heavy duty flat car. The F&C resin kit is probably a better model at this point. 
  • Walthers has a GSC 53'6" Cast Steel Flat Car model in their Gold Line/Mainline series (depending on when it was packaged). These are simple kits, with molded on details. They were built starting in 1951 for the GM&O, with more built for ATSF and MKT in 1952. It was a long-lived car, with additional deliveries in 1955 and through 1969, many with bulkheads or equipped for TOFC service. From what I understand it's an accurate car, and is probably worth upgrading, especially if you model the late '50s through the '70s at least. 

There are quite a few options, actually, and most available RTR. But flat cars varied quite a bit from road to road, and even though there were a few standard flat cars, they certainly don't represent the national fleet. Fortunately, there are lots of resin kits available to fill in some of those spots. Before I get to those, I'll look at the other method I use to determine what's a good starting point for my roster, and that's the prototype data.

In The Postwar Freight Car Fleet (Kline/Culotta from Speedwitch Media) they note that 15 roads account for 3/4 of the national flat car fleet. 
  • SP and T&NO (Owl Mountain, Red Caboose)
  • MILW 
  • NP (P2k, Central Valley)
  • SOU
  • C&NW (P2k, Red Caboose)
  • PRR (Bowser)
  • ACL (P2k)
  • SAL
  • UP (P2k, Exactrail)
  • GN (Red Caboose)
  • ATSF (Intermountain)
  • NYC (Intermountain, Red Caboose)
  • D&RGW (P2k, Tichy)
  • RI
  • L&N (P2k)
  • CB&Q
Of the top 15, the Milwaukee is the only road that doesn't have an accurate plastic or resin model readily available, other than potentially the MDC/F&C F22 model. Since that's a heavy duty flat car, it's not likely that it's the most common one on their roster. Charles Hostetler has a quick post on another series of MILW flat cars.

Resin Flat Car Models

So the next step was to fill in the options from resin kits. These fill in a lot of holes, especially with the more unusual flat cars. In addition to the ones listed below, Norwest Models produced two Canadian prototypes in resin. There were some other resin or part resin models, such as Westrail, Pittsburgh Scale Models, and Protowest, but these are hard to find and have been duplicated by other releases.

Chad Boas

Chad makes quite a number of flat car kits. These are just the major castings, no other materials are provided. But the price is right and the castings are fantastic. Ordering information is available on the Sunshine Kits website.. These are the ones that, as best I can tell, are appropriate for my era.
  • CB&Q 89000-series 53'6" Straight Side Sill flat car
  • CB&Q 94000-series 60' Welded Straight Side Sill flat car
  • CP 310000-311348 series 36' flat car
  • CP 335000-336559 series 42' flat car
  • CP 300000-300499 series 46' flat car
  • GN 65000-series 52' Fishbelly Side Sill flat car
  • GN 65500/60060 TOFC 53'6" Welded Fishbelly Side Sill flat car
  • GN 66000-series 52' Straight Side Sill flat car
  • GN 67000-series 50' Fishbelly Side Sill flat car
  • GN 69500-series 43' Fishbelly Side Sill flat car
  • L&N 22000-series 46' Fishbelly Side Sill flat car
  • M&StL 23000-series 50' Fishbelly Side Sill flat car (available with straight or extended overhang deck)
  • MP 8000-series 45' Fishbelly Side Sill flat car
  • MP 8100-series 50' Fishbelly Side Sill flat car
  • NH 17500-series TOFC 40' General Steel Casting Frame flat car
  • NW 42900 40' General Steel Casting Frame flat car
  • SEABOARD 47000-series F6 flat car
  • SOUTHERN 51000-series 53'6" Fishbelly Side Sill flat car
  • WP 2400-series 50' Fishbelly Side Sill flat car

Funaro & Camerlengo

Many PRR prototypes, along with a couple of northeastern roads.
  • B&M Well Hole flat car with load.
  • B&O P-11 Fishbelly flat car (available with and without loads)(Chris did a long series of posts on building this car: Part I, II, III, IV, V, VI, VII, VIII, IX, X - I think that's all of them in the correct order)
  • PRR F22 Heavy Duty flat car
  • PRR F23 Heavy Duty flat car (same as F22 but with a steel deck)
  • PRR F29 Depressed Center flat car (Excellent writeup by Ted Culotta: Part I, Part II)
  • PRR F33 Well Hole flat car
  • PRR FM flat car (same casting as the B&O P-11) (available with and without loads)
  • PRR FM Container flat car with Container load
  • Rutland 2300/2600 series flat car (available with an without loads)
Speedwitch Media has replacement decals for the F29, F33 and FM flat cars (and containers).

Speedwitch Media

For me, the NH car is a must-have of course.
  • NH 172000-series flat car
  • NP 52' Straight Side Skill flat car (originally from Northern Specific Models)

Sunshine Models

Although Sunshine is no longer in business after Martin Lofton's passed away in 2013, many of the kits originally released by Sunshine are available from other sources now. However, there isn't a good source for ATSF prototypes other than the 70-ton AAR flat car. Sunshine kits are regularly listed on eBay, but they sell for premium prices. In my case, I have an ATSF Ft-L & N kit that I'm looking forward to building.
  • AAR 53'6" 70-ton flat car for ATSF, CRP, DT&I, ERIE, IHB, NH, NYC and PM (same Prototype as the Intermountain model)
  • USRA or USRA Clone 42' flat car for B&M, CNW, PM, SL-SF, and TC (the same prototype as a modified Red Caboose kit)
  • ATSF Ft-G & M 40' and 44' flat car
  • ATSF FT-I & J 44'6" flat car
  • ATSF Ft-L & N 53'6" flat car (originally 50' flat cars, they were lengthened by inserting a 3'6" section)(released with and without bulkheads)
  • ATSF Ft-O & P 50' flat car (released with and without auto frame loading equipment)
  • B&O P-11 flat car (same prototype as the F&C kit)
  • CB&Q FM-11, 11A flat car
  • CNW 46' flat car
  • MP Pulpwood flat car (the bulkheads were built using Murphy ends from retired boxcars)
  • PRR FM flat car (same prototype as F&C kit)
  • PRR F30A flat car (same prototype as Bowser kit)
  • RI 50' Spliced flat car (these prototypes were made by inserting a 7'6" section to the center of a USRA clone. It appears this can be accomplished by splicing together two Red Caboose kits.
  • SSW 42' flat car (I think this prototype looks similar to the Tichy kit)
  • T&P 42' flat car (I think this prototype looks similar to the Tichy kit)
  • T&P Pulpwood flat car (rebuilt from USRA clone boxcars, using the original Murphy ends for the bulkheads)

I haven't gone through the ORER of each of these roads to see if the available models address the largest classes on those roads. As always, the model roster is dependent upon the available models (or the ones I kitbash or scratchbuilt) which rarely coincides with the actual national roster.

Thursday, November 22, 2018

Engine Servicing Pits

Things as always have been a bit hectic lately, and my backlog of posts has been exhausted. Chris and I spent a day working on some modifications to the layout that I'll report on shortly, but in the meantime here's a few pictures experimenting with building the engine servicing pits that I'll need.

Here's a Kent Cochrane photo c1946 that shows the servicing pits. This used to be the inside of an engine house, and you can see the stone foundation for the pillars between the doors and also just beyond the locomotive. I wrote more about the photo when I picked up a different copy of in an earlier post. This one is a second exposure from a slightly different angle.

I looked at a variety of options to build them, including entirely scratchbuilt. But I like the drains in the Peco ones (although I don't know for a fact if there were present here), and thought I might need the stairs too, so I bought a couple of them to see what I could do to modify them to match the brick-lined ones here.

I narrowed the top "flange" of the model and scratched it up with a razor saw to make it look like wood rather than concrete. For the based of the wall I used a piece of .040" x .060" styrene that I roughed up with a mill file to look like cut stone. The brick is Plastruct, and then a piece of .040" x .080" styrene to extend the wood over the brick. I didn't color the brick, but the floor, wood tie, and the stone base were done by stippling Pan Pastels into wet paint as I described here.

I'm' happy with the general results, other than the Plastruct brick looks like little loaves of bread. So I ordered some brick sheet from N-Scale Architect, and started on the first one while I wait for them to arrive.

As you can see, I've only done the floor and the foundation stone. I'll cut  the brick sheet and paint/weather it before installing, and then I'll do the top strip to finish the wood before painting/weathering that. Based on the photos, I don't think I'll be using the steps after all, but I will add the wood bridge across the middle. I have three to build, but they go pretty quick. An added benefit is that the tie plates are already part of the model and will hold the track securely. While they aren't an exact match, if I feel like it I can add additional detail.

Thursday, November 15, 2018

Upgrading a Bowser PRR F30A

One evening after I had picked up a Bowser PRR F30A flatcar kit I decided to cut out the missing holes in the cast underframe. This was a process of drilling a bunch of holes, then cutting and filing until they were the right oval shape. It's hard to tell, but I even filed out the holes in the crossbearers.  

It's not precise, and I think I did two too many holes in the small sections where the trucks will be. On the track, of course, the underframe is largely unseen, but the very bottom of the holes can be seen when looking from the side on the layout.

It will take a little more work to finish the model, but this was a good project to just grab and do something on a night where I otherwise might not have done any modeling.

The Sunshine kit has the correct underframe, of course, but they are hard to find and the Bowser kit is not only easy to find, but inexpensive. And it's a pretty accurate model as is, with a few modifications.

More to come!

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Train Length

Like many of us, I'd like to run some long trains. For a lot of model railroads, particularly those with busy single-track mainlines, the limiting factor for most trains is the longest passing siding on the layout. Aside from that, the next limiting factors are grades and staging capacity.

So my layout, out of necessity, has two helixes, one at each end of the Highland Line. Eastbound is Hartford, and westbound is Holyoke/Westfield, the New Hartford branch, Waterbury, and Maybrook, depending on the train. These are about 2% on a 28" radius curve. The other grade on the layout is on the Berlin Line, also a 2% on a 28" radius curve.

Passenger Train Length

The longest passenger train is 5 or maybe 6 cars. Presently, only one of those cars is brass. Most of the trains are 3 or 4 cars. The short trains can be handled by any of the motive power called to do so - Atlas RS-1, Athearn RS-3, Crown Custom I-2. The longer train, 131/136, receives power from Boston, which means either a DL-109 (Life-Like/Walthers or brass), or the BLI I-4. So that's not a problem. Other passenger service, depending on the era, is either the Comet or RDCs. So passenger service is no issue at all regarding the helixes.

Freight Train Length

Freight, on the other hand, is a different story - at least in one case. The major issue here is motive power, and the main limitation is steam.

Cedar Hill-Holyoke Freights (NY/YN)

The Holyoke freights won't be an issue. They come into Whiting Street yard on level track. They could leave a dozen or more cars at Whiting Street before hitting the 2% grade to New Britain (on a curve). Even the J-1 seems to be able to handle 15+ cars on that track, although it will primarily be handled by an S-2, RS-2, or RS-3, and the RS units often ran two or three at a time. The H-16-44s could also be on this run. So these trains could be 30+ cars westbound.

Eastbound, they are limited by whatever the motive power can pull up the helix. But we can add as much new tonnage, probably 12-15+ cars in New Britain, because it's downhill to staging. So they could still be 30-car trains leaving the layout.

Because of staging limitations on the Berlin line, the only way I'll be able to do that is to have the through train crew member actively splitting the train as it enters staging, then removing cars to make room for a later train. Something we might do from time-to-time with the right crew.

New Hartford Local (HDX-5)

Of course, the New Hartford local, with either a K-1-d or an S-1, will be much shorter. I'm not sure the K-1-d will handle more than 8 cars up the helix, perhaps less. I'll need to get as much weight into it as possible. The Atlas S-1 can handle at least a dozen cars.

Maybrook Freights (OA/AO)

The Maybrook freights, on the other hand, could potentially be very long...or not. Starting in '47 these were hauled by an FA-1/FB-1/FA-1 set. The Life-Like Proto 2000 locomotives are great haulers, and starting in '51 I could even add an FB-2 to the consist. But the brass L-1s on the other hand, won't be able to handle as much tonnage.

The good news is, that by the time they get to New Britain, all they have left is New Britain and Hartford cars. But that could still be 12-15+ cars for New Britain, plus that many or more for Hartford. One reason I'd like to be able to have a sizable cut for Hartford is the ability to have a decent string of reefers on the front with an equal or greater size cut of general freight. So maybe 8 reefers plus 10-12 cars, plus another 12-15 for New Britain. So I'll be able to do a 30-40 car train here with the ABA sets.

The westbound has only empties and loads coming from Hartford. This works out well, because I can max out the train coming up the helix, and add on the outbound from New Britain to go down the helix, just like the Holyoke freights.


The point is, even on a layout as small as mine, it is possible to potentially run some very long trains. If I do get to run 30-40 car through freights, it will look "right" because most of the area they are running through is 70%+ to scale. The reality is, in this era it was still possible to see 100+ car trains heading to Maybrook.

Even if I can't run trains that long, we can simulate them anyway. We most likely won't be running the overnight trains (often two Maybrook, one Holyoke, and even a Bridgeport to Hartford train). Instead, long cuts of cars will be waiting for the crew when they arrive at work, just like the prototype. We can extend that approach by leaving the long cuts for the evening/overnight freights when the crew goes home, instead of running those trains. This would be easier for the YN freights to Cedar Hill due to insufficient staging.

In the meantime, as we're prepping the layout it sounds like a good job for Joseph - test 30-40 car trains and see how the layout handles it.

Monday, November 5, 2018

Operations: Auto Dealers

Yes, I often find myself going off on a tangent...

One of the long-term goals is to better replicate the paperwork, such as waybills, used to operate the railroad. While it's easy to address either the shipper or receiver that is online in New Britain, it's often more difficult to determine the origination or destination of off-line cars.


A major commodity for most towns in this era are automobiles. Autos were shipped in 40' and 50' Automobile Boxcars, which frequently had loading racks that allowed one or more cars to fit above cars loaded on the floor of the boxcar. Some Auto Cars had end doors, and most (all?) had double doors to allow loading from the side. I believe 3 cars would fit in a 40' Auto Car, and 4 in a 50' Auto Car. I'll address the necessary freight cars in a future post.

Dennis DeBruler has a great post on his blog with lots of photos of how autos have been transported by rail over the years. Scroll down, because there are more pictures below the modern auto racks.

In most cases Autos were unloaded at bulk/team tracks, but not all towns had concrete (un)loading ramps, so I think that in many cases cars would be delivered to a nearby town. I don't know if the wooden platforms at a typical freight house was sufficient to unload automobiles. In the towns that have (un)loading facilities, they didn't always have end ramps to use the end doors.

Based on the 1% waybill study, between 1950 and 1954 there were an average of 377,500 boxcars carrying passenger automobiles were shipped to CT annually. That's more than 1,034 Auto Cars per day. Looking at an NYC 1947 Routing Guide, it lists 148 freight stations in CT. That's almost 7 cars day (including weekends) per station. Although larger cities such as Cedar Hill would undoubtedly get more cars than smaller towns, I think this is balanced in part by the fact that not all towns have unloading ramps. So to me, it's safe to say that in any given operating session I'll have at least 1, but probably more, cars of automobiles delivered to the Whiting Street bulk tracks.

I have a New Britain City Directory, and the New Britain Public Library has the entire collection. So it's easy to identify the auto dealers in town, and all brands available at the time are represented:
  • A.G. Hawker Inc. (Packard) 
  • Automotive Service Garage (Willys-Overland) 265 Elm St.
  • Becker Motor Sales Inc. (Chevrolet/Oldsmobile) 1141 Stanley St.
  • Berlin Auto Sales (Ford) Berlin
  • Central Motors (DeSoto) 119 Church St.
  • Curry Motors (Dodge/Plymouth) 1139 Stanley St.
  • Edward Sousa Motor Sales Inc (Lincoln/Mercury) 152 South Main St.
  • Luddie K-F Motors (Kaiser, Frazer, and Henry J starting in 1951)
  • Moran Motors (Hudson) 403 West Main St.
  • New Britain Motor Car Co (Chrysler/Plymouth) 248 Elm St.
  • Papa's  (Hudson and possibly Crosley) 724 Allen St.
  • Royal Motor Sales (Kaiser-Frazer) 35 East Main St.
  • Stanley Motor Sales Inc (Ford) 85-105 Myrtle St. (Arute Ford Sales in 1951)
  • Swift & Ferguson Inc (Studebaker) 238 Hartford Ave.
  • Tufano Body Co (Nash) 209 Hartford Ave.
  • The Williams Corp (Pontiac/Cadillac) 50 Chestnut St.
All of these would be serviced at the bulk track at Whiting St. Yard, where there is a concrete unloading ramp. And all would be delivered in 40- or 50-foot auto cars. Not all neighboring towns have unloading ramps, so there's a good chance autos were shipped to New Britain for them too. At some point I'll get a list of other potential consignees, at least in Berlin since Whiting St Yard is on the border.

There is a lot of historical information available online regarding vintage autos and the auto industry. What isn't always obvious is what railroads service the plants. Here's what I've been able to determine for 1949. Ford and GM have numerous plants across the country, the closest plants that manufacture a given model would be servicing a given area. Although I really only need the ones east of the Mississippi, I've included all of the ones I could identify for 1949.

Note that there are some differences depending on the year. Most auto manufacturers didn't introduce new post-war models until 1949. A number of new plants were built in the decade following the end of the war, so each year is a little different in that regard as well.


Chrysler Corporation

  • DeSoto Wyoming St Assembly, Detroit, MI (DeSoto) - DTR
  • Dodge Main, Hamtramck, MI (Dodge) - GTW and MC (NYC)
  • Jefferson Assembly, Detroit, MI (Chrysler Imperial) - DTR
  • Lynch Road Assembly, Detroit, MI (DeSoto, Plymouth) - DTR
  • Los Angeles Assembly, Commerce City, CA (Dodge, Plymouth) - LAJ
  • San Leandro Assembly,  San Leandro, CA (Dodge and Plymouth) - SP (?)
Dodge Models
  • Coronet Club Coupe, Convertible Coupe, Sedan, Station Wagon, and Town Sedan
  • Custom Club Coupe, Convertible Coupe, Limousine, Sedan, and Town Sedan
  • DeLuxe Coupe, 2-door Sedan, 4-door Sedan
  • Meadowbrook Sedan
  • Wayfarer Coupe, Roadster, Sedan
Chrysler Models
  • Crown Imperial Limosine, and Sedan
  • Imperial Sedan
  • New Yorker Club Coupe, Convertible Coupe, and Sedan
  • Royal Club Coupe, Sedan, and Station Wagon
  • Saratoga Club Coupe, and Sedan
  • Town & Country Convertible Coupe
  • Windsor, Club Coupe, Convertible Coupe, and Sedan
DeSoto Models
  • Custom Brougham, Club Coupe, Limousine, Sedan, and Suburban
  • DeLuxe Carry-All, Club Coupe, 2-door Sedan, 4-door Sedan, and Station Wagon
Plymouth Models
  • DeLuxe Business Coupe, Club Coupe, 2-door Sedan, 4-door Sedan, and Suburban
  • Special DeLuxe Business Coupe, Club Coupe, Convertible Coupe, 2-door Sedan, 4-door Sedan, and Station Wagon

Crosley Motors

  • Richmond, IN - C&O (and N&W?)
  • Marion, IN - C&O
Crosley Models
  • CD Convertible, Sedan, and Station Wagon
  • Hotshot Roadster

Ford Motor Company

  • River Rouge, Dearborn, MI (Ford, Mercury, Trucks) - DT&I; DTR
  • Atlanta Assembly, Hapeville, GA (Ford) - SOU
  • Chester Assembly, Chester, PA (Ford) - PRR
  • Dallas Assembly, Dallas, TX (Ford) - ATSF (?)
  • Edison Assembly, Edison, NJ (Lincoln, Mercury, Trucks) - PRR
  • Lincoln Assembly, Dearborn, MI (Lincoln) - C&O (formerly PM)
  • Long Beach Assembly, Long Beach, CA (Mercury, Ford) - SP
  • Maywood Assembly, Commerce City, CA (Lincoln, Mercury) - LAJ
  • Norfolk Assembly, Norfolk, VA (Ford, Trucks) - N&W
  • Pittsburgh Assembly Plant, East Liberty, PA (Ford) - PRR
  • Richmond Assembly, Richmond, CA (Ford) - ATSF
  • Somerville Assembly, Somerville, MA (Ford) - B&M
  • St. Louis Assembly, Hazelwood, MO (Lincoln, Mercury, Trucks) - WAB
  • Twin Cities Assembly, St. Paul, MN (Ford) - ???

  • 6 Series Business Coupe, Club Coupe, Fordor Sedan, and Tudor Sedan
  • 8 Series Business Coupe, Club Coupe, Fordor Sedan, and Tudor Sedan
  • Custom 6 Club Coupe, Convertible Coupe, Fordor Sedan, Station Wagon, and Tudor Sedan
  • Custom 8 Club Coupe, Convertible Coupe, Fordor Sedan, Station Wagon, and Tudor Sedan
Lincoln Models
  • 9EL Convertible, Coupe, and Sport Sedan
  • Cosmopolitan Convertible, Coupe, Sport Sedan and Town Sedan
Mercury Models
  • 9CM Convertible, Coupe, Sport Sedan, and Station Wagon

General Motors Corporation

General Motors had a primary manufacturing location for each brand. In addition to producing completed automobiles, they also produced "knock-down" kits that were sent to the regional assembly plants.

Main Plants
  • Buick City, Flint, MI (Buick and Chevrolet) - C&O (formerly PM)
  • Detroit Assembly, Detroit, MI (Cadillac) - GTW, and MC (NYC)
  • Lansing Assembly, Lansing, MI (Oldsmobile) - LMR
  • Pontiac Assembly, Pontiac, MI (Pontiac) - GTW
Regional Assembly Plants
  • Baltimore Assembly, Baltimore, MD (Chevrolet) - B&O
  • Doraville Assembly, Doraville (Atlanta), GA (Buick, Oldsmobile, Pontiac)- SOU
  • Fairfax Assembly, Kansas City, KS - (Buick, Oldsmobile, Pontiac) - MP, UP
  • Framingham Assembly, Framingham, MA (Buick) - B&A (NYC)
  • Janesville Assembly, Janesville, WI (Chevrolet) - MILW
  • Lakewood Assembly, Lakewood Heights (Atlanta), GA (Chevrolet) - SOU
  • Linden Assembly, Linden, MI (Buick, Oldsmobile, Pontiac; also GMC Truck and bus division) - PRR
  • North Tarrytown Assembly, North Tarrytown, NY (Chevrolet) - NYC
  • Norwood Assembly, Norwood, OH (Chevrolet) - PRR
  • Oakland Assembly, Oakland, CA (Chevrolet) - SP
  • St. Louis Truck Assembly, St. Louis, MO (also GMC trucks) - MBT
  • South Gate Assembly, South Gate, CA (Buick, Cadillac, Oldsmobile, Pontiac) - ATSF
  • Van Nuys Assembly, Van Nuys (Los Angeles) CA (Chevrolet) - SP
  • Wilmington Assembly, Wilmington, DE (Buick, Oldsmobile, Pontiac) - B&O
Buick Models
  • Roadmaster Convertible Coupe, Estate Wagon, Riverside, Sedanet, and Touring Sedan
  • Special Sedanet, and Touring Sedan
  • Super Convertible Coupe, Estate Wagon, Sedanet, and Touring Sedan
Cadillac Models
  • Series 60 Special Coupe de Ville, and Touring Sedan
  • Series 61 Club Coupe, and Touring Sedan
  • Series 62 Club Coupe, Convertible Coupe, Coupe de Ville, and Touring Sedan
  • Series 75 Business Imperial, Business Sedan, Imperial Sedan, Sedan, and Touring Sedan
Chevrolet Models
  • Fleetline 2-door Sedan, and 4-door Sedan
  • Styleline Business Coupe, Cabriolet, 2-door Sedan, 4-door Sedan, Sedan Delivery, Sport Coupe, and Station Wagon
Oldsmobile Models
  • Futuramic Series 76 Club Coupe, Club Coupe Deluxe, Club Sedan, Club Sedan Deluxe, Convertible Coupe Deluxe, Deluxe Sedan, Deluxe Station Wagon, Sedan, Town Sedan, and Town Sedan Deluxe
  • Futuramic Series 88 Club Coupe, Club Coupe Deluxe, Club Sedan, Club Sedan Deluxe, Convertible Coupe Deluxe, Deluxe Sedan, Deluxe Station Wagon, Sedan, Town Sedan, and Town Sedan Deluxe
  • Futuramic Series 98 Club Sedan, Club Sedan Deluxe, Convertible Coupe Deluxe, Deluxe Sedan, Holiday Coupe Deluxe, and Sedan
Pontiac Models
  • Chieftan 6 Business Coupe, Deluxe Convertible Coupe, Deluxe 2-door Sedan, Deluxe 4-door Sedan, Deluxe Sedan Coupe, 2-door Sedan, 4-door Sedan, Sedan Coupe
  • Chieftan 8 Business Coupe, Deluxe Convertible Coupe, Deluxe 2-door Sedan, Deluxe 4-door Sedan, Deluxe Sedan Coupe, 2-door Sedan, 4-door Sedan, Sedan Coupe
  • Streamliner 6 Deluxe Sedan, Deluxe Sedan Coupe, Metal Station Wagon, Metal Station Wagon Deluxe, Sedan, Sedan Coupe, Wood Station Wagon, Wood Station Wagon Deluxe
  • Streamliner 8 Deluxe Sedan, Deluxe Sedan Coupe, Metal Station Wagon, Metal Station Wagon Deluxe, Sedan, Sedan Coupe, Wood Station Wagon, Wood Station Wagon Deluxe

Hudson Motor Car Company

  • Detroit, MI - DTR
Hudson Models
  • Commodore Six Club Coupe, Convertible Brougham and Sedan
  • Commodore Eight Club Coupe, Convertible Brougham and Sedan
  • Super Six Brougham, Business Coupe, Club Coupe, Convertible Brougham, and Sedan
  • Super Eight Club Coupe and Sedan


  • Willow Run, Ypsilanti, MI - MC (NYC)
  • Long Beach, CA (Deluxe, Special, Traveler) - SP (?)
Kaiser Models
  • DeLuxe 492 Convertible, and Sedan
  • Special Sedan, and Traveler
Frazer Models
  • Standard Sedan
  • Manhattan Convertible, and Sedan

Nash Motors

  • Kenosha WI - CNS&M, CNW
  • El Segundo, CA - SP
Nash Models
  • 600 Super Brougham, 2-door Sedan, and 4-door Sedan
  • 600 Super Custom Brougham, and Sedan
  • 600 Super Special Brougham, 2-door Sedan, and 4-door Sedan
  • Ambassador Custom Brougham, 2-door Sedan, and 4-door Sedan
  • Ambassador Super Brougham, 2-door Sedan, and 4-door Sedan
  • Ambassador Super Special Brougham, 2-door Sedan, and 4-door Sedan

Packard Motor Car Company

  • Detroit, MI - DTR
Packard Models
  • Custom 8 Club Sedan, Convertible Victoria Coupe, Limousine, and Touring Sedan
  • DeLuxe 8 Club Sedan, and Touring Sedan
  • Standard 8 Club Sedan, Station Sedan, and Touring Sedan
  • Super 8 Club Sedan, Convertible Victoria Coupe, Limousine, Limousine DeLuxe, Touring Sedan, and Townsman Station Wagon

Studebaker Corporation

  • South Bend, IN - NJI&I (WABASH), MC (NYC), and PRR
  • Los Angeles Assembly Plant, Vernon, CA - LAJ
Studebaker Models
  • Champion DeLuxe Coupe, 2-door sedan, 4-door sedan, and Starlight Coupe
  • Champion Regal DeLuxe convertible, coupe, 2-door sedan, 4-door sedan, and Starlight Coupe
  • Commander coupe, 2-door sedan, 4-door sedan, and Starlight Coupe
  • Commander Regal DeLuxe convertible, coupe, 2-door sedan, 4-door sedan, Land Cruiser, and Starlight Coupe

Willys-Overland Motors

  • Maywood, CA - LAJ
Willys Models
  • Jeepster VJ2
  • Series 463 Jeepster, and Station Wagon
  • Series 663 Station Wagon

Industrial Railroads

Many of these plants are served by small industrial roads, also known as terminal and switching railroads, rather than Class I railroads directly to their plants. These roads typically didn't roster any freight cars of their own, cars from connecting lines would probably be the most common for outbound loads.

Detroit Terminal Railroad (DTR)

A look at the auto industry wouldn't be complete without mentioning this shortline road that circled Detroit and was originally owned by the GTW, LS&MS (NYC), and MC (NYC) railroads. It serviced many of Detroit's auto plants, running from the Ford River Rouge complex to the Hudson and Packard plants on the other side of town. It had connections with DT&I, GTW, MC (NYC), NJI&I (WABASH), C&O (formerly PM), and PRR.

Here's an article about modeling the DTR, including a map.

Lansing Manufacturers Railroad (LMR)

An industrial railway originally leased to LS&MS and MC railways, both of which became part of the NYC system. Among the industries served were the Olds Motor Works (GM Oldsmobile plant), GM Fisher Body/Lansing Car Assembly #6, and the GM Buick-Oldsmobile-Cadillac Plant #2. The railroad interchanged with GTW, MC (NYC), C&O (formerly PM).

Here's a map of the LMR (it's also available on Wikipedia).

Los Angeles Junction Railway (LAJ)

This shortline in LA services the Chrysler and Ford Maywood Assembly Plants. It has connections to ATSF, PE (SP), SP and UP.


Depending on where you model, there is a lot of additional traffic related to the automobile industry. Most of the companies had additional plants that manufactured parts, which were shipped by rail to the assembly plants. For example, in 1914, the Ford Highland Park plant received 100 cars of materials, parts and supplies, and shipped 176 cars of automobiles daily. (In the postwar era, the Highland Park plant manufactured Ford tractors).

Here's a great site about the LA auto factories and dealers, including a map of the LAJ from an issue of the Warbonnet.

Terminal Railroad Association of St. Louis (TRRA)

Although none of the plants listed here are serviced by the TRRA, it's an industrial road originally owned by MP, StLIM&S (to MP in 1917), Wabash, O&M (to B&O in 1893), L&N, and CCC&StL (aka "Big Four" to NYC in 1930) , so by my era it was MP, Wabash, B&O, L&N, and NYC. In addition to those roads, it has connections to A&SCB&Q, C&EICRI&P (RI), EStLJ, GM&OIC, IT, L&MMKT, MRS, NC&StL, PRRSL-SF, SOU, StL&BE, StL&O'F, SSW, along with a water connection to Mississipi Valley Barge Lines.

Here's a map of St. Louis railroads from 1921 at the St. Louis public library.

Researching the Railroads

In order to identify railroads that serviced a given plant, I used a number of resources. First is the Opsig Industry Database. I'd search for the factory and railroads to see if any sites specifically discussed that location. If that didn't work, I'd find the location (or prior location) of a factory on Google Maps, and compare it to the USGS maps at Topoquest. Another resources is the collection of Sanborn maps at the Library of Congress. In addition to the maps, check out the Articles and Essays, and Sanborn Samplers where they've collected a series of maps with a bit of historical information as examples of how the maps can be used for research, including several of particular interest to model railroaders.

One of the main reasons I created my site and blog is to keep track of stuff that I research so I can go back to it later. Compiling this information in a single place makes it more useful to me, and hopefully you too. If there is information missing, or that you'd like to see that I'm not including, just let me know. And of course I always welcome corrections.

Friday, November 2, 2018

New Britain Gas Light Company

Yet another project!

I've been looking forward to building (at least one of) the gas holders for the New Britain Gas Light Company. Initially I was hoping to build the main one, which is about the size of a 5-gallon bucket if made to scale. I wasn't quite sure how I'd make the tank, but have some ideas.

But the Walthers model came up on sale, and I figured at the very least I could use it as a stand-in. There are a few things I don't like about the Walthers model:
  1. The walkway and ladder. The ones in New Britain don't appear to have a walkway, and stairs go to the top of the structure.
  2. The Walthers tank is one course too short, making the structure as a whole look too squat.
  3. The model as a whole looks short and squat. Dimensionally, it's about 1 1/2" too small for the diameter of the tank compared to the small tank that's in the location I'm modeling (the bigger tanks have been pushed off the layout).
  4. For some reason, the higher courses of the tank use smaller panels. That is, it appears it was constructed out of smaller sheets of steel for the higher courses. I don't have any pictures that are clear enough to see if this would be accurate or not, but I'm not sure why they would construct the tanks out of different size sheets of steel.
  5. To me, it looks like each course of the tank is stepped back too far. Again, I don't have good pictures or measurements, so this could just be me.
  6. There may not be enough supports around the tank. Like many of my issues, this might be an accurate representation of the tank they used as a prototype. If you look at pictures, there were lots of variations (especially in the framework) in the tanks that were built world-wide.
  7. The general detail (such as the bracing detail) is a bit lacking. I'm also trying to figure out how to better model the wheels that run along the tracks when the tank raises and lowers. The tank is right at the edge of the layout, and therefore very visible.
Here's the picture from the box of the Walthers kit:

And here's a picture of one of the holding tanks in New Britain:

Overall, my preference is for folks to see the structures and recognize them for what's being modeled, rather than seeing "the Walthers kit." Aside from the size itself, the major visual issue is the two courses of bracing versus four on the prototype.

As it turns out, the way the kit is designed, it's not all that difficult to address most of these issues, I'll probably tackle some of the detailing stuff later. Here's a look at how I address the major points:

The kit comes with two sets of main supports. One makes it look like the tank is nearly full, the other with the tank lower. Using the supports for the higher tank position, I cut off the very bottom, which is designed to fit into slots in the base.

I then cut off the bottom portion of the other main supports. I file both to fit together and extend the height of the main supports. I also cut off the top of the extra supports, to extend the top of the structures as well.

The lowest course as designed leaves enough of a gap between the tank and the support to squeeze in another course. This is the model half-built, and here it is with the tank completed, which required a second kit to get enough pieces for the extra tank course. I suppose I could have tried casting the part, but it seems like the time and money for the making the mold and casting the resin wasn't really going to save anything vs. getting the kit now while it was still on sale. In addition, I have other parts in case I need them.

For now I've tacked on a few of the Walthers supports with the center horizontal bracing removed. It doesn't look too bad. I think that the vertical supports may be a little too high, and I might lower it so the bracing reaches the ground, but on the Walthers' model and a lot of prototype photos I've seen, the lowest course doesn't have any bracing because it doesn't move. 

But overall, I like the changes. The proportions look better to my eye, and the number of courses of both the tanks and bracing match the prototype photos. I'm considering replacing the horizontal braces with channel as seen in the prototype photo, and I might scratchbuild the bracing altogether so it ends at the top of the first course. This would also allow me to end the bracing at the top of the first course, and will also make the individual sections of bracing proportioned more like the prototype. 

More to come!