Thursday, December 26, 2019

Project #1 - ATSF Bx-11, 12, and 13 rebuilds

Merry Day After Christmas!

We continue our look at our first project. More cars!

The Santa Fe Bx-11, 12 and 13 classes continued in service as built until the early '40s, when some alterations were made to many, but not all, of the cars.

Bx-11 and -12 Rebuilding Begins - 8" Height Increase

ATSF Bx-11 124528 with 8" extended roof in New Britain, CT.
Kent Cochrane photo c1946/7

In 1941, the Santa Fe started a program to increase the interior capacity of the Bx-11 class and some Bx-12 box cars. This involved spacers on the sides of the cars, and extending the end (with a flat steel panel) by 8" resulting in an increasing the interior height to 10'0". The roof was replaced with a Murphy Rectangular Panel roof. Cars also received AB brakes if they hadn't already.

About half the class was modified in this way, along with 39 of the Bx-12 cars.

The difference in height is subtle, particularly in photos from a low angle. It's clearly recognizable from the end, however, due to the extended end panel.

Bx-11 and -12 Rebuilding - 12" Height Increase

ATSF Bx-12 212708 with 12" extension. Courtesy Bob's photos.

In 1943, they altered the modifications to raise the roof a full 12" to a 10'6" interior height. In addition to the larger spacers, the extra panel at the top of the side now included an extra corrugation. Usually this was another indented Dreadnaught corrugation, but in some cases it was a standard Dreadnaught panel, where the corrugation juts out from the steel panel.

Due to the height of the new extensions at the eave, five hat-section stiffeners were applied. All of the remaining Bx-11 cars, and most of the Bx-12 cars received these modifications. In 1944 the project was phased out as it became clear that the war restrictions were being lifted, so not all Bx-12s received the modifications, and none of the Bx-13 class cars did.

Starting in 1945, the Santa Fe started renumbering the cars with the 12" extended roofs into the 210000-211049 series (Bx-11) and 211051-214549 series (Bx-12). The original series for these classes retained both the cars with the 8" extended roofs, and those cars that had not been modified.

211050 was a Bx-12 with the 12" roof extension but with plywood sides applied.

There is no mistaking a Bx-11 or -12 with the 12" height extension. It makes for an interesting car in a consist, visible even when looking down the length of a train, much like picking out B&O wagontop cars or Milwaukee rib side cars.

Steel Rebuilds

ATSF Bx-11 19938 rebuilt with steel sides.
Courtesy of Santa Fe Railroad Historical and Modeling Society.

The Santa Fe rebuilt thousands of older box cars with steel sides, and it meant they remained in service much longer than similar cars on other roads.

From the side the steel rebuilds resemble any other Modified 1937 AAR Standard or Postwar AAR Standard box car with a quick glance. With a closer look, the notched end and the narrow underframe gives it away as a rebuilt car. But it's the end that really gives away their heritage, with the indented Dreadnaught ends of the original cars, plus the top panel with the extra corrugation making it clear that this was once a rebuilt Bx-11 or -12 box car.

These cars carried the more modern Santa Fe schemes, with many serving in revenue until the mid-'70s, nearly 60 years after their introduction.


Project #1 includes all of these cars too.
  1. ATSF 124000-125999 Bx-11 class
  2. ATSF 126000-129499 Bx-12 class
  3. ATSF 135000-135999 Bx-13 class
  4. RI 141000-142999 series tall Pratt truss box cars
  5. ATSF Bx-11/12 classes with 8" extended roof
  6. ATSF Bx-11/12 classes with 12" extended roof
  7. ATSF Bx-11/12/13 classes rebuilt with steel sides
Don't forget, these will be injection-molded plastic models, available RTR or as kits. Parts too.


More info on the web:
Ted Culotta featured some slides given to him by Jack Burgess of a Bx-12 on his blog.

If you are modeling in O-scale, decals (along with some information and nice photos) are available at the Protocraft site. As they note, Southern Car & Foundry makes O-scale resin kits, but they have been out of stock for a while. Here's Gene Deimling's description of building one, also with some more great prototype photos.

Thursday, December 19, 2019

Project #1 - ATSF Bx-11, 12, and 13 classes...and RI

It should be obvious by now where we are starting with this project. As we noted in some earlier posts, in 1950 box cars using single sheathed construction were still an important part of the national fleet.

In 1924, a standard design for single sheathed box cars was approved by the ARA, and in 1925 the two designs were designated 4C-XM-1 (40-ton) and 4D-XM-1 (50-ton).

The design incorporated the ARA center sill (approved 1922) with a external bracing using pressed hat- (or U-) section steel in a Pratt truss configured with two diagonals on either side of the door. They are often referred to as "7-panel" cars. Cars of this standard design were built for a number of eastern and midwestern roads. These cars had an interior height and width of 8'6".

ATSF Bx-11

As the decade progressed, many roads were building cars with larger dimensions than the ARA standard, particularly western roads. In 1929, ATSF adopted the basic ARA standard design, but increased the interior width to 9'2" and the height to 9'6" for 2,000 box cars in their Bx-11 class.

The cars had "indented" Dreadnaught ends with 3 corrugations above and 4 below a center corrugation where the two halfs of the ends were riveted together. They had radial roofs with wood running boards, Youngstown steel doors, and Ajax powered handbrakes. They were equipped with KC-brake systems, and rode on ASF Dalman Two-Level trucks.

A unique spotting feature is the use of tension rods at the corners of the sides, instead of flat steel strapping that was usually used on single sheathed cars. Over the years many of these tension rods were removed, and photos often document cars with only one rod on a side, instead of two. In some cases a horizontal brace is added to the final panel about halfway up the car, in others the rod is simply removed, and no additional bracing was added.

ATSF Bx-12

In 1930, the ATSF added 3,500 Bx-12 class cars to the roster. These were virtually identical to the Bx-11 class, except for the use of Dalman One-Level trucks, which have never been offered in HO scale.

In later years, the Bx-11 and Bx-12 classes are grouped together in the ORER.

ATSF Bx-12 class builder's photo
Note the radial roof and tension rods.

ATSF Bx-13

In 1931, and additional 1,000 cars were added as the Bx-13 class, but used Murphy Solidsteel roofs, a precursor to their familiar rectangular panel roof, but without the raised rectangular panels.

ATSF Bx-13 class in 1/1/52 at Fayatteville, NC. Courtesy of Bob's Photos
Note the peaked Murphy Solidsteel roofs instead of radial roofs of earlier classes.
Note that the B-end tension rod on the is no longer present on this side.
This car has also received AB Brakes.

All three classes, accounting for 6,500 cars, were very long lived, although not without alterations. The less common Pratt truss along with the tension rods unique to these cars and the 500 Fe-U 50' automobile cars making them easy to spot in photos and on your layout.

Looking back at our previous posts, 22% of the ATSF box car fleet in 1949 were single sheathed box cars. In 1950, there were 6359 of the Bx-11, 12, and 13 classes in service, accounting for more than 21% of their entire 40' box car fleet, and nearly 97% of their single sheathed cars. This is an important class for modelers of this era, of 5 out of every 20 Santa Fe 40' box cars. Although as we'll see in the next post, that they weren't all in the original configuration.


RI 141000-142999 series tall Pratt truss single sheathed box cars

The Rock Island owned 1,000 ARA standard XM-1 box cars. In 1930 they continued using this design, but with the larger dimensions used by the Santa Fe. These 2,000 cars had 4/4 Dreadnaught ends, Hutchins Dry Lading roofs, Youngstown steel doors, power assist horizontal brake wheels and Morton brake steps, KC brakes, and ASF Dalman Two-Level trucks with Barber Lateral Motion devices.

RI 142798 builder's photo
Note the flat strap steel stiffeners in the lower corners
as opposed to the tension rods on the ATSF Bx-class cars

The RI rostered a lot of single sheathed cars, and in 1949 nearly half of their box cars were of that type of construction. Of their 40' box cars, these accounted for almost 12% of them, and they accounted for 23% of their 40' single sheathed box car fleet. Like the Santa Fe cars, they were long-lived, with only 19 fewer cars in 1956, and 316 still in revenue service in 1965.


These are the first four cars of this project:
  1. ATSF 124000-125999 Bx-11 class
  2. ATSF 126000-129499 Bx-12 class
  3. ATSF 135000-135999 Bx-13 class
  4. RI 141000-142999 series tall Pratt truss box cars
Each car will be available with either KC or AB brakes, accurate painting and lettering as appropriate for the era, and correct details for each class including roofs, strapping or tension rods applied as per prototype photos, but for those with fewer than 4 applied the remainders will be provided in the box for the modeler to apply, if desired.

As noted previously, these will be HO scale injection-molded plastic models, available ready-to-run or as kits, and parts available separately.

An old MDC model superficially resembles the Bx-13, with lots of inaccuracies, and only the Bx-11, 12, 13 class cars have been produced as excellent resin kits by Westerfield. The RI cars were produced as resin kits by Sunshine. Otherwise, no plastic, or even brass models to our knowledge, have been produced in HO scale of these important prototypes.

We should also mention that we are working with the Santa Fe Railway and Historical Society to ensure that the models are as accurate as possible. But we also know that there are lots of experts out there that love to talk about their passion. We love freight cars, but we certainly don't know everything. If you think you have information or photos that will help make these models better, then contact us. We love talking trains and freight cars. And come see us in person at Cocoa Beach and Springfield.

Thursday, December 12, 2019

Project #1

OK, it's time to get to some announcements.

We're fans of the Sunshine Models approach, where Martin would select a given prototype and produce many variations of the cars. Westerfield also takes this approach, and just announced a bunch of cars I like - Santa Fe Fe-Q/R/V Channel Side Automobile Cars (although I think they were off the road before my era...have to do some checking).

Most companies producing RTR plastic cars will do one specific car, or maybe a couple of variations. They'll add another variation or two for a second run, and continue to do that as long as sales are good.

However, there's a downside to this approach. Sometimes the sales aren't strong enough to warrant a second run, so those variations don't get produced. Because of the cost of tooling, it's also not uncommon for more obscure variations to not be offered.

We are approaching this with the intention of doing all of the variations we can in a single run. There is no intention to do a second run, as we'd prefer to work on new projects going forward. This will be a now-or-never (or find it on eBay) release.

Furthermore, we're producing these with modelers in mind. So you will be able to purchase these as RTR, undecorated kits, and also parts. We are even investigating the feasibility of decorated kits. Undecorated kits will come with all of the parts for a particular body core.

To give you an idea of the scope of the project, we'll start with a list of some of the major parts we think you'll be excited about. All of these will be available for purchase separately:


  • Dreadnaught: 3/4 (indented) plus extended height variations with a blank panel, or an extra corrugation; and 4/5 
  • Hutchins: 4+1 rib; and probably a 4-rib variation too

40' Roofs

  • Hutchins Dry Lading
  • Murphy Outside Metal
  • Murphy Rectangular Panel
  • Murphy Solidsteel

Although some of these parts (such as the brake appliances sprue) will most likely be used for future models, there is no guarantee of a re-run of any of these parts either. In general, the factories don't like to pull one piece of tooling from a project to run some extra parts. The preference is to do an entire run of models, plus some parts.

And for the first of several prototypes that will be part of this project, I'd suggest that you take a closer look at my last post. If you haven't already figured it out...

Thursday, December 5, 2019

NH I-2 #1300 at New Britain Station

New Haven I-2 class #1300 at New Britain Station c1946. Another fantastic photo by Kent Cochrane. Note the wrench leaning against the line pole.

Wait, did I post this on the wrong blog?