It’s an annual thing for both the Historical Society and our family. On Saturday, the 16th of August, we headed out to New Haven to attend the open house. The exhibits really have not change too much over the last few years, I believe the former Norfolk and Southern (nee Norfolk and Western, nee NKP) SD9 was the last major piece of equipment the Historical Society has acquired. What has changed is the level of organization displayed by the volunteers who make all of this happen. The overall feel was much more open this year and there was plenty of space for the throngs of people who make the journey to see NKP Berkshire 765 up close.
Speaking of NKP 765, this massive “mainline steam” locomotive is always the star of the show and if you want photos of it without countless strangers in view, you had better get to the society’s shops well before the open house begins at 10 am.
Inside the shop, Lake Erie & Fort Wayne #1 (leased from the Wabash) is undergoing evaluation and cosmetic restoration. This locomotive was built in 1906 for the Wabash for whom it operated until 1954 when it was leased to the Lake Erie & Fort Wayne, it was among the last Wabash steam locomotives in operation. This locomotive was finally retired in 1957.
The caboose train is always a very popular attraction, with a surplus of anxious riders backed up for quite a distance waiting their turn. Smart timing can result in a ride in the cupola of NKP caboose #141. Fortunately, this year, we got there early enough to be on the first ride of the day, which meant that there was no competition for the cupola and I was able to secure the best seat in the house for both the outbound and return trip. My two oldest children sat opposite me on alternating portions of the trip and they had a blast.
NKP #141 is pretty much fully restored, the cupola is very nicely done. Seat belts would be a nice touch on a fast freight being pulled at 70 mph, or more, by one of the massive Berkshires. At the slow pace of the caboose train I wasn’t worried.
Looking out to the rear of the caboose train over to top of NKP bay window caboose #451, a marker lamp is visible in the upper right of the photo. Some of the Historical Society’s equipment gets moved out to these sidings for the open house and storage.
A parting shot of the caboose train, on a return trip, as it crosses a gravel grade crossing on the Historical Society’s property. When operating the caboose trains the Historical Society must function as a railroad so on these shoving moves crew members must be posted on what is now the front of the train and the horn must be blown on approach to the crossing. These volunteers do a great job and put on one heck of an event.
If you are interested in more information about the Fort Wayne Railroad Historical Society please visit their website, http://fortwaynerailroad.org/
Remember, they are open most Saturdays and Sunday from 10am – 4pm. If you visit during a non-open house you will get a better idea of their day to day work and see some of their restoration projects up close.
I’m a bit late in extending the invitation this year but, if you’re in the area of North East Indiana or North West Ohio this weekend, you should stop by the Fort Wayne Railroad Historical Society for their annual Open House. Fun can, and will, be had by all. The key attraction is world famous former NKP Berkshire 765, but there are many more things to do like tour their shop and enjoy a caboose ride (advertised as 1/2 hour in duration this year). Admission is free, train rides are $4 USD per person. If you need directions or more information check out the link below:
Minitrix (Roco) 50 Foot (PS 2) Covered Hopper –
According to the sources I could find this car is most likely meant to represent a Pullman-Standard PS-2. I am really not sure what Minitrix marketed this car as because mine did not come with its jewel case. From what I can tell B&M did actually own around twenty 50 foot, 100 ton PS-2 covered hoppers, so good on Minitrix for slapping blue paint and a B&M logo on an appropriate car. I couldn’t find a photo of a B&M 50 foot covered hopper in blue dip but I did find an honest to goodness real life photograph of a blue dipped 30 foot, two bay B&M covered hopper, it seems blue dip could very well be prototypical for this car… but I doubt that. The road number “10056” is a complete fudge as B&M’s PS-2s were numbered 5700-5719 but Minitrix seems to have had a thing for ending B&M road numbers with “56”. In addition, the build date on the car is in the 1940s and the B&M cars would have been built in the 1960s but who are we to judge early N scale manufacturers?
These cars aren’t horribly rare and they were actually imported by a few companies so it is easy to find them on the auction sites, prices should probably be less than $10 USD delivered. Being Minitrix this car has the typical (for the era) white lettering and blue dip paint.
I am no expert on freight cars and I am certainly no rivet counter but I am led to believe that there are some detail issues on this model which hurt it prototypically. I am not overly concerned about that myself but someone looking for a more accurate model might was to look elsewhere. There are far better offerings on the market these days and I don’t think accuracy was a big deal in the early days of N scale, the pioneers were more interested in getting locomotives to run consistently. However, if you are like me and you run vintage N scale equipment, this car will add some variety to your consists.
As stated above, B&M owned around twenty Pullman-Standard 50 foot, 100 ton PS-2CD covered hoppers numbered 5700-5719. I am not sure why the railroad only purchased twenty or what commodities the cars were purchased to haul. These days, when entire mile long trains can be made up of only covered hoppers filled with grain, it seems a little odd to own so few… at least to me.
Atlas (Roco) Single Dome Tank Car: Gulf Oil –
Here is another early N scale model which, while not B&M, I just had to buy. I really like tank cars and I feel that I don’t own enough, both my vintage and recent/current production fleets are largely 40 and 50 foot boxcars. Gulf, of course, is a widely known oil corporation and the “HOKX” reporting marks apparently originated with Hooker Chemicals but now represent Occidental Chemical Company. By my count Atlas released at least three other A1G (1) tank cars with this reporting mark and road number but only one is a Hooker Chemicals car (2).
While it appears that a number of single dome tank cars were marked for private oil companies, I couldn’t actually locate a photo of a car marked for Gulf Oil. Interestingly however, Gulf Oil single dome cars appear to make popular models because I found examples in all major scales across a wide timeframe. Most models I could find use “SHPX” reporting marks so I am a bit uncertain whether any real life Gulf Oil tank car bore the “HOKX” reporting marks. This non-pressurized general purpose tank car is an appropriate type for moving petroleum products, so it is completely within the realm of possibility that some were marked for Gulf Oil in real life.
Regardless, finding one of these Gulf Oil cars in good condition can be hit or miss. While not overly rare, one in good-new shape with the jewel case will set you back some (I am pretty sure this one came in at around $15 USD delivered). If you are an A1G collector then you have your work cut out for you with these early tanks cars, they aren’t cheap and there are quite a few to track down. For my purposes, just one or two oil/gasoline cars will do and this Gulf car fits that bill.
Non-pressurized single dome tank cars were commonly used to transport petroleum products, like oil and gasoline, as well as other commodities like corn syrup, etc. Cars bearing the name of a major oil corporation like Gulf were sometimes owned by a third party and leased to the chemical producer, this practice leads to reporting marks which often differ from the company name on the car and is still common practice to this day. I couldn’t find any specific information about cars of this vintage used by Gulf Oil, or what reporting marks would be appropriate, but the type of car is certainly correct for transporting the types of commodities Gulf would be moving.
(1) Abbreviated as “A1G”, Atlas’ 1st generation of N scale production basically lasted until the late 1960s and early 1970s. There is an excellent A1G website/resource to be found at: http://www.irwinsjournal.com/a1g/
(2) Within the A1G timeframe Atlas also released a single dome tank car produced by Rivarossi, which had a different shell and was classified as a “chemical tank car”. The Hooker Chemicals car was produced as part of the Rivarossi chemical tank car variation.
Bev-Bel (Life-Like) NE Style Caboose –
As far as I can tell, this Bev-Bel model is only the second factory decorated caboose to be released in N scale, and this was the first with Rapido couplers (1). Unlike most “early” B&M N scale equipment, this caboose is not blue dipped but rather an interesting combination of red body with a black roof. There is a little comedy here because B&M does not appear to have owned any NE style cabooses until very late in the 1960s and they purchased those used from the defunct Lehigh & New England. Here’s the kicker… B&M had them all painted in a variation of the blue/black McGinnis scheme. So we have a situation where a blue dip would have been more realistic than the red/black scheme chosen by Bev-Bel. The car number 104847 does not line up with any B&M caboose number I could find and would be out of date by the time these NE cabooses were acquired from Lehigh & New England anyway (2).
I didn’t pay a lot for my examples of this car, both were less than $10 USD delivered and I consider that a bargain when you take into account that Walthers recently re-released this Life-Like caboose with minimal changes for over $20 USD street price. The paint scheme and road number are total fantasy as far as I can tell but, if you wanted a factory decorated caboose for your B&M trains in the early 1990s, you really needed one of these. I have found them for sale in a Bev-Bel B&M Minute Man set, with the Bev-Bel “F7” I discussed earlier, but I am not sure if Bev-Bel made them available as a separate item as well. These days they are fairly common on auction sites and range in price but anything more than $10 USD is probably too much.
There were some tradeoffs with this model but I commend Bev-Bel for getting the ball rolling on factory decorated B&M stuff in N scale; until the Life-Like BL-2, Bev-Bel really carried the torch for B&M modelers. Timing wise, this caboose appears to have been released around the same time as the Bev-Bel (Life-Like) “F7” so it probably dates to around 1990 or maybe a little later. If you find one at a decent price you should pick it up, the NE style caboose is quite good looking and if you are interested at all in N scale B&M this model makes an interesting piece, you can always swap out the trucks if you use knuckle couplers.
As I mentioned earlier, B&M purchased their NE style cabooses from Lehigh & New England when that road went bankrupt in the late 1960s. Although I am not clear on the exact details of the cars purchased they appear to have been from the following L&NE groups; 574-578, 571-573, 561-567. Sources vary in detail but the cars purchased by B&M had steel frames and either wood or steel bodies.
(1) Micro-Trains released a B&M wooden caboose (MTL50140) in the late 1981, even though only Rapido equipped Bev-Bel B&M locomotives were available in B&M at the time (the time frame is fuzzy but the Bev-Bel (Bachmann) GP-40 might have been available, the Bev-Bel Atlas/Kato RS-3 was not available until a year or so later). It’s always possible that no factory decorated B&M locomotives were available in N scale when Micro-Trains released their caboose.
(2) B&M apparently numbered the ex-L&NE cabooses C-90 through C-99, which was in step with the new-ish caboose numbering system of the time.