Thursday, November 7, 2019

Larry Ostrech's Research

Larry posted an amazing spreadsheet on the Steam Era Freight Car list documenting the ratios of double sheathed, single sheathed, and steel box cars on what seems like every road from 1938, '42, '45, '49 and '50!

Looking at the big picture, in 1938 the percentages of cars in the US fleet are 40% double sheathed, 30% single sheathed, and 27% steel with the remainder of other or unknown construction.

In 1950, this has changed significantly, with only 9% double sheathed, 22% single sheathed, and 67% steel.

This reflects a number of different trends at this time. In the late '30s railroads were both beginning to purchase new steel cars in large amounts (the 1937 AAR Standard boxcar, along with numerous railroad specific cars), and they started rebuilding older cars into steel cars. In particular, old double sheathed cars were rebuilt or replaced in large quantities.

This is reflected in a steep drop from 40.3% to 26.7% between 1938 and 1942. Single sheathed cars declined much less in the same period, dropping from 30% to 28.8%.

After WWII there were a large number of new cars built, more cars rebuilt, and a lot of cars simply retired. But while double sheathed cars comprised of less than 10% of the fleet in 1950, single sheathed cars still accounted for more than 20% of the cars in the national fleet.

There are several single sheathed cars that have been released in plastic, although unfortunately many of them have suffered from unprototypical variations of side bracing, ends, and roofs. Reasonably accurate models include:

Fowler - Accurail, Life Like of Canada/True Line Trains Proto 1000
Mather - Life Like Proto 2000/Walthers
T&P/WP 50' Auto car - Roundhouse
USRA - Tichy (RTR available from Intermountain)
"War Emergency" - Intermountain

Compared to the standard box car releases, these don't cover too many prototypes.

CN/CP had a huge number of Fowler cars, but these models only match a portion of those cars. 

The Mather cars are very accurate for a portion of the Mather cars, although they are lettered for a number of cars that were taller than the model. But this is a small prototype (about 10,000 built, less that match the model's height). 

The Roundhouse car is very well done, and can be kitbashed into a number of other cars.

The Tichy USRA cars are good models of a fairly numerous prototype. There were 25,000 built. 

The Intermountain "War Emergency" car is a very good match for three prototypes. We'll be using Larry's spreadsheet to dig a little deeper in the next post.

Thursday, October 31, 2019

George Losse's Standard Boxcars Post

George Losse is modeling the Reading Railroad in P48 scale. We're going to dig into a post of his from October, 2012 a bit more.

Looking at steel boxcars through 1950, standard cars are well represented in plastic:

  • USRA Design (NYC)(20,000ish) - Broadway Limited
  • 1923 ARA (X29/M-26)(66,125) - Red Caboose (now Intermountain)
  • 1932 ARA (11,854) - Atlas
  • 1937 AAR (60,077) - Intermountain/Red Caboose
  • Modified 1937 AAR (41,094) - Intermountain
  • Postwar 1937 AAR (34,065)- Branchline (now Atlas), Intermountain for 10'0" IH cars
  • PS-1 (46,271) - Intermountain/Kadee

Total: 279,486

In addition, a number of numerous cars, often of single roads, are also readily available:

  • CP Minibox (7,000ish) - True Line Trains
  • PRR X31 (14,000ish) - Bowser
  • MILW Rib Side (15,000ish) - Exactrail/Intermountain/Rib Side Cars (now Accurail)
  • B&O Wagontop (5,000ish) - Exactrail/Fox Valley

Total: 41,000ish

That accounts for about 320,500 of the 769,711 cars that the roads receiving standard cars had, or only about 40% of the boxcars that those roads owned. It also doesn't account for the roads that didn't receive standard cars, but it does tell us that the available plastic models only cover a portion of what is needed. It's not clear whether his numbers include Canadian cars.

So what comprises the other 60% of boxcars circa 1950? More to come.

Saturday, October 26, 2019

Essential Freight Cars

Years ago, Ted Culotta had a series of articles in Railroad Model Craftsman called Essential Freight Cars. The (primarily) detailed cars that he felt should be represented on nearly every post-war/transition-era layout. The majority of the models in the articles were built from Sunshine Models resin kits. A few of the prototypes were available at the time in plastic, and a few others have been released since. While there were 45 articles, two of them were two-part. These are the subjects of the articles:
  1. SL-SF Single Sheathed Boxcars 
  2. GN Double Sheathed Boxcars 
  3. MILW Single Sheathed Boxcars
  4. Northern Pacific 10000-series Double Sheathed Boxcars
  5. SSW Double Sheathed Boxcars
  6. SP Single Sheathed Boxcars
  7. CNW Single Sheathed Boxcars
  8. CN Single Sheathed Boxcars
  9. CP "Minibox" Boxcars
  10. CB&Q XM-25/26 Single Sheathed Boxcars
  11. SOU SU Double Sheathed Boxcars
  12. UTLX X-3 Tank Cars
  13. UP B-5-17 Boxcars
  14. USRA Single Sheathed Boxcars
  15. PFE Reefers
  16. USRA Double Sheathed Boxcars
  17. IC Single Sheathed Auto Cars
  18. GSX, ATSF, Rutland, NOT&M Stock Cars
  19. NYC 1916 Auto Cars
  20. QA&P Boxcar, Carbon Black Car, Vinegar Tank Car
  21. ARA Double Sheathed Boxcars
  22. "Alternate ARA" Single Sheathed Boxcars
  23. 1932 ARA Boxcars
  24. Wagontop and Ribside Boxcars
  25. PRR R50B Reefer
  26. Gondolas
  27. Gondola Loads
  28. PRR X31 Boxcars
  29. LV "Wrong Way" Boxcar
  30. ACF Reefers
  31. Dominion Fowler Patent Single Sheathed Boxcars
  32. Soo "Sawtooth" Single Sheathed Boxcars
  33. SFRD Rebuilt USRA Reefers
  34. PRR X29 Boxcars
  35. B&O M-26 Boxcars
  36. MKT Single Sheathed Boxcars
  37. Wabash Single Sheathed Boxcars
  38. Early PS-1 Boxcars
  39. 50-Foot Single Sheathed Boxcars
  40. Spencer Kellogg Tank Car
  41. Postwar AAR Boxcars
  42. UP "Alternate Center Rivet" Boxcars
  43. ACF Type 11 Tank Cars

Of those, these are the cars released in plastic:

  1. NP 10000-series Double Sheathed Boxcars - Rapido
  2. CP "Minibox" Boxcars - True Line Trains
  3. USRA Single Sheathed Boxcars - Tichy, RTR from Intermountain
  4. PFE Reefers - Intermountain
  5. USRA Double Sheathed Boxcars - ERTL
  6. ATSF Stock Cars - Intermountain
  7. 1932 ARA Boxcars - Atlas
  8. Wagontop Boxcars - Exactrail, Fox Valley
  9. Ribside Boxcars - Exactrail, Intermountain, Rib Side Cars (tooling now owned by Accurail)
  10. Gondolas (Various) - Accurail, Tangent
  11. PRR X31 Boxcars - Bowser
  12. Dominion Fowler Patent Single Sheathed Boxcars - Life Like of Canada Proto 1000 (aka True Line Trains)
  13. SFRD Rebuilt Reefers - Intermountain
  14. PRR X29 Boxcars - Red Caboose/Intermountain
  15. B&O M-26 Boxcars - Red Caboose/Intermountain
  16. Early PS-1 Boxcars - Kadee
  17. Postwar AAR Boxcars - Branchline, others
You can see, that less than half of the cars are available in plastic. Of those, not all are available with separately applied detail parts and are often only the most common variations of the cars. So there are lots of opportunities here.

This is one of our key starting points in determining what cars we want to offer.

Monday, October 21, 2019


What is Prototype Junction?

We're a new manufacturer of prototypically accurate HO-scale freight cars.

Naturally, we want cars that we need for our layouts, and we are also looking to focus on areas that other manufacturers seem to be neglecting these days. So our first projects will focus on cars built in the '20s, which ran through the '60s and sometimes into the '70s.

We're not quite ready to announce our first project just yet, but over the next few posts we'll outline a bit more what we are doing and why, and what's coming in 2020.

And if you're going to be at the Chicagoland RPM this week, John and Randy will be wandering around. Hope to see you there!

Tell us what you'd like us (or somebody else) to make in our Facebook Group.