Adding to the Fleet


Three more box cars have been decaled and a final gloss coat has been applied. These have been built and in service for awhile. They went through the paint shop a couple of months ago. Next week they will receive a flat coat and start rolling through the Weathering Factory. Click on any image here to review a larger size.

Continue reading “Adding to the Fleet”

Digital image resources

Madison, NJ, 1913.
Madison, New Jersey, 1913. Click here to view the original scan.
This image is from the Erie Lackawanna Email List Photo Archive.

The last couple of posts have focused on resources available here on the blog to assist modelers with a focus on 1920s and 1930s freight car fleets. While enjoying my morning coffee, I was reviewing images on a photo archive and realized how much I’ve learned from this resource and realized it hasn’t been promoted as much as other sites. There are great photo archives available on line with thousands of images that date to the first four decades of the Twentieth Century. The Library of Congress has a Mother Lode of images, many of which have been enhanced and posted at the Shorpy site. Several cities and libraries have extensive online digital archives; the Denver Public Library, Historic Pittsburgh, Cleveland Memory Project, West Virginia History on View, and the Vancouver Public Library, to name a few.

The Erie Lackawanna Railroad Historical Society has been posting several images a day from an extensive negative collection for the last few years. The images were taken in the Teens by a company photographer to document accident scenes and places along the right-of-way. Many images capture the railroad traversing a rural scene, while others show the hum and bustle of a small town or larger city. Vintage freight cars can be seen in many of these photos, along with vintage signs, homes, commercial structures, and industries. For a modeler of the Teens through the 1940s, the images are pure gold as they are filled with details that can be implemented along our model right-of-ways and towns. The images are like a window back in time that offer a glimpse of  homes and small industries before they were leveled as towns grew with population increases. It was a time when the railroads were moving goods to serve communities and transport people to places near and far. Anytime I view images like these, an old indie rock tune, “Places That Are Gone,” by Tommy Keene starts playing in my head.

The details seen on many of these images inspire our hobby efforts no matter the scale, era, or gauge of our model railroads. I encourage you to visit the Erie Lackawanna Photo Archive regularly and make new discoveries among these century old photos.

Hallstead, Penna., 1913. Click here to view the original scan.
This image is from the Erie Lackawanna Email List Photo Archive.

What is one of your favorite digital image archives? Share your comment and a link in the section below. Please follow the instructions so your comment can be posted. All comments are reviewed and approved before they appear.


Another resource update

A few of the plastic HO scale freight car models in the Wheeling Freight Terminal fleet.

I started this blog in May 2009 after moving to a new home and city, and starting a new layout. I had been focused on modeling 1926 since 2005 and met a few other railroad modelers with interests pre-dating World War Two and the Depression. At some point in 2012, a discussion about HO scale freight cars led to creating a guide to plastic freight car models appropriate for a 1920s layout. These discussions ended up as a separate page here which has become a resource for many people who model the 1920s and 1930s. Over time, this resource page has become one of the most visited pages and posts on this blog. Each week when I check the blog statistics, the guide to 1920s era freight cars is among the top five.

As it has been a few years since the page was launched, it was ripe for an update. There have been some new models from Broadway Limited, MTH, and Tangent, as well as a sweet announcement from Rapido. There have also been changes as Red Caboose was bought by Intermountain, so a few notes have been added. The updated page remains at the same location. You can also find the link in the menu along the right side of the main blog page. I think we are set for another couple of years.

Post a comment below and let me know what you think. What is missing?

USRA freight car data


In 1917, the US government formed the United States Railway Administration to control the nations railroads during World War One. In that process, several freight car designs were approved and 100,000 cars were built and assigned to many US railroads. These five USRA freight car designs ushered in standardized freight car design for many railroads and made up about four to five percent of the overall national freight car fleet in the 1920s and 1930s.

Models of these prototypes have been available in several scales for model railroaders. The USRA freight cars have been frequently noted in the hobby press and several articles have been published over the years. Many of these articles reference a 1973 historical summary published by James E. Lane. This has been out of print for years and many of the magazine articles that referenced Lane’s work are also out of print.

As a resource for all model railroaders, I have transcribed the data from Lane’s work into tables for easy reference. This is available as the USRA Freight Car Assignments page of this blog for easy access. The information presented on that page reflects the USRA assignments which differed from the original USRA allotments. Read through the opening paragraphs to gain an understanding of these terms.

I hope readers will enjoy these details and use the USRA Freight Car Assignments page to further their prototype modeling efforts.

Outbound freight

The freight house with a number of outbound cars ready to pull.

On recent operating session blog posts, I’ve mainly covered freight car movements from the inbound yard to the freight house or team yard. For some recent sessions, I’ve been playing around a little with an online function to assist in the outbound freight car destinations. So far, it’s been working well.

Continue reading “Outbound freight”