26 May 2024

Shifting Gears - 7th Street Shops Nuts & Bolts Post 25

Let's shift gears. Let's talk about 7th Street Shops operations. Generally, this blog is never going to be a "How To" center on how to do stuff. I may from time to time share some ideas about what we do but it isn't an objective to comprehensively teach anyone any of it. However, I've always intended to demonstrate results expressly for the purpose of establishing confidence in our services. This is also the place to discover more about our company as the last 2 dozen posts have hopefully demonstrated.

Art Lort's HOn3 K-27 (paint & lettering iirc) 2010

7th Street Shops will be 15 years old this summer. We started the business at the encouragement of a few fellow modelers in the Denver area after the technical field I was in dried up. 

By July 2009 I was pretty much out of money and was rather cornered financially. My good friend, Patrick Tillery, who happened to modeled D&RGW Sn3 (code for P-B-L),  encouraged me to customize and repair model locomotives - particularly his. I had already been doing that sporadically for a few friends around the metro area so he was quite confident in my ability and supplied numerous jobs for years thereafter. Thank you, Patrick! (Some of you may know him as one of the mail order guys at Caboose Hobbies and the remake of that famous store that took its place). Vicki built our first website, the stellar "7th Street Shops" with the classy C&S Freight Car Red and Teal theme and I announced our debut on the several chat groups I belonged to. Thus - BOOM! - things took off. 

Bob Axsom's Sn3 B-3b (paint and lettering) 2008

Being an Sn3 modeler myself we naturally got a lot of S scale business but we also had plenty of  HO, HOn3 and a few O and On3 jobs as well. Initially, most of the work centered around painting and DCC installation but we were already well equipped to work "under the hood". It wasn't long before our interactions with NorthWest Short Line (under new ownership) developed into a scheme to escape the high cost of Denver. We moved to Hamilton, Montana. That was where the new owners, Dave and Lynda Rygmyr, had move NWSL a few years earlier. We did this on our own nickel in September 2010 with the agreement to work as a non exclusive subcontractor to NWSL. We continued 7th Street Shops but spent part of the day at their location repairing what ever models came thru the door.

HOn3 Mason Bogies (L-R) Balboa & PFM Bruce Jackson - 2009

It was at this point that we began to develop some of our little quirks ("odd behavior" as one former client put it); peculiarities on how we conduct this business.

It wasn't long before it became clear there were some things we should never do. How did we know we should never do them? Because things never turned out well for us and, in fact, we have gotten stuck, repeatedly, and lost money in the process.

One of the first things we learned was that "plastic" equals "disposable". Plastic models are, for the most part, consumable "goods" and our view is that you are better off throwing them out when they break than to try and fix them. There is very limited opportunity to make money repairing plastic. Perhaps a more succinct way to describe this is that if the client can buy 2, 3 - half a dozen - of the same model you are repairing you probably should decline the project. We learned that lesson fairly hard and fairly quickly! 7th Street Shops takes a very limited scope of plastic and die cast models.

Penny's S2 - HO (Paint, Weather, DCC Sound) Kevin Barr 2010

We also found that HOn3 brass was a losing proposition. It appears that, to a certain portion of the hobby community, smaller is cheaper (easier) to fix. After all, that's why the importers of HOn3 brass didn't charge as much for those smaller models... right? Wrong! There are many more HOn3 modelers that S and O scale modelers and even less of those who model narrow gauge in those scales. Therefore the importers of HO narrow gauge could spread costs over many more copies of a model and still make a profit. Larger, not so difficult to manufacture scale models must nevertheless carry the costs of production in fewer copies.

There is also an apparent equation of "thrift" to HOn3. This misconception seems to sway certain modeler who want it all for less. Of course, not every modeler of 1/87th scale narrow gauge has this mentality but compared to other scales a disproportionate number do. Smaller is not cheaper and it certainly is NOT easier to fix. In the heyday of HOn3 brass the builders were very proprietary. They had to be in order to fit the oversized technology into models with very limited internal space (in order that it might at least act like it ran). This required a bit of innovation on their part and a fist full of non standard headaches on ours. In many cases the otherwise typically replaceable parts simply did not exist. Then the option was to find exact replacement parts (by robbing another like model) or inventing your own equally proprietary version of the mechanism - which would cost a lot more than simply finding another running model.

2 HO GN O-1s (Power, Paint, Weather, DCC Sound) Kennedy 2011

We DO NOT work on HOn3 anything... not even for "fun".

Speaking of fun, we do not do this business for fun. It is true much of it does have an element" of fun" about it. But we are in business to make money ("oddly" enough). I realized a long time ago that model railroad customizing and repair is not an end to itself. If we cannot make enough money to make this JOB worth our effort then we will not do it. Yet there is an apparent misconception about that as well.

No! NO! NO! NO!! Plastic HO Bowker - 2011

One evening I got a call from a potential client who became rather disconcerted at the idea that we would charge him a lot of money for what he wanted us to do. He rebuffed with the argument that because we were having fun (his own assumption) we should not charge so much. Apparently fun is its own reward. I kindly refused to take his work and hung up.

Below is a list of the few plastic (or die cast) models we will accept at 7th Street Shops for certain tasks.


HO U.S.Military Railroad (custom painted and lettered ) everyone of them BRASS - Phillip Villanova 2010

Die Cast. HO; MDC Box Cab (Stanton Drives) and Shay (regearing). S scale; Rex Models.

Plastic. HO Bachmann Shay (truck regearing only). On30 Bachmann Shay, Rail Bus and Rail Truck (regearing only).

Link to 7th Street Shops;




01 May 2024

Pictorial Suppilment to Cinder Car - Post 24


The uncommon view; St. Charles 1897 coal car frame and all St. Charles built cars 1897-1900
Not a lot of reading this time; details of the model are the focus. In the old days, you read articles like this on a printed page. The photos were printed and the resolution  (called screening) were immutable. You could not blow them up. The photos shown here were shot on 4"x 5" film whereby "resolution" is called grain. This makes the photos many times denser in terms of grain than say 35mm film; of the old days. In other words, you can enlarge the prints much bigger before graininess is apparent. I can crop a very small portion of the negative and still blow it up many times greater without loosing much detail to grain.
I have just one request of those who have read and followed this series; Build Your Own Car! Model railroading is a multifaceted hobby. But at its core is the craft of doing! Build.

Detailed layout of the 8"x8" N.Y. Air Brake system

The "B" end of the car

 End beam details including brake retainer valve
Detail of the inside cross brace


The "A" side of the car
Detail reflecting the original car where side stales had been attached


Model assumed the coal was re lettered C&S prior to conversion

The frames of the cars were not rebuilt; only the boxes were revised and a false floor installed. This is indicated in the model by bolt holes in the side sills for now removed side stakes. The model was reflective of how it may have looked in 1903.

Note lettering, ship-lap flooring and hinge/dog


3D model 1897 coal, 3D printed for The Cimarron Works, 2009



There is no better way to understand something than to take it apart and put it together yourself...
Making with your hands is thinking.

23 April 2024

Model of On3 C&S cinder car 04085 - Post 23

Colorado & Southern 3 foot gauge 04085 scratch-built in 1/4" scale, spring 1990

It's been 34 years since I built this car and I sold it in 1996 along with all of my On3 collection. I am grateful that I had the foresight - or perhaps divine inspiration - to photograph most of the models before hand. It all happened rather quickly and I simply stepped out of the hobby for good, I thought. My collection of railroad paraphernalia and books went to a number of folk but most of the models went to my friend, Doug Heitkamp. He in turned brokered them at shows and events. I've seen a number of the freight cars since but I have never seen this car, the flanger or outfit car.

The model was just under 8" long. It represents the car in 1903

I've already related that I recalled the inspiration for this project came about  but remembering how I built it is still foggy so I pulled out the August 1991 issue of Model Railroader and reviewed the rather general description of the car's construction. I'll leave most of that to anyone compelled enough to find that magazine.

The article includes the drawing of the prototype that I created from the parent of the drawing I'd already created in Nov 1988. MR required a specific style of drawing that was developed by J. Harold Geissel. I did this by tracing the 1988 drawing and submitting that along with photos and text but I also made a Mylar copy of the article drawing for my own records. I still have that too.

The original (parent) drawing is included in the C&S Connection. All 10 of the plan sets are still available as one collection from 7th Street Shops. The individual sets are not sold  separately. Contact us through our website to request the price or order the set. You can be sure the drawings are far more detailed and informative than the MR drawing.

The dump doors were fully functioning

O scale masters in brass and a casting

Only the brake gear did not work on the model

At the time I built the On3 model I was developing 1/4" scale product for C&S freight equipment. I built the masters in brass, then sent them to Jim Haggard of Builders In Scale to make molds and cast them in white metal.

The photo above left shows the brass masters for the bolsters and striker blocks that were used to build this car and other cars I built where they were appropriate. They belong on all of the St. Charles car types that were built for the UPD&G or C&S. In the background of the photo are a pair of Rigid style trucks along with double plate bolsters in S scale. The trucks were produced by The Cimarron Works and are now sold thru Precision Scale Vintage. All of these were the result of long hours I spent researching, drafting, and building models.

The hinges and dogs (or hinged/dogs) for the swing doors of the Cinder car were made up of 20 plus separate pieces of brass all soldered together and then assembled to the car. The trucks were offered by Portland Products and are no longer available. (There may be The Back Shop versions available from Keith Wiseman.) These were very nice brass castings that were fully sprung. I use3d them on many of the models I built where those trucks were appropriate. The brake rigging of this model was fully in place and could have actually bound the wheels if I had taken the time to make them operable. Nearly all of the detailing parts were available at the time and I tried to use brass and solder every place that I could. 

Underside detail was complete and accurate to the prototype

On the other hand, I cut the wood parts as close to exact historical sizes as I could get using a small hobby saw and a block of  basswood. Typically, I used commercial lumber cut for other scales and often these were very close to matching prototypical lumber sizes. But not this car. By early 1990 I had been cutting much of my own (scale) lumber anyway because there was very little available with the kinds of compound cuts found on wooden cars; such as ship-lapping for floor boards. Therefore I had already developed a bit of skill in this regard.

C&S Freight Car Color found in 1006

I assemble the car and painted it in a faded version of C&S freight Red. At the time my formula was 1 parts Floquil Box Car Red and 2 parts Caboose Red.

Bench in the caboose with red paint under the lid
In 2010 just before Vicki and I moved to Montana Fred Hutchison and I went to Silver Plume to photograph and measure C&S 1006, the caboose on display there. We found someone who could let us into the interior. While snapping shots and measuring I happened to lift the lid of the bench and discovered that there was old paint underneath.There is no way of knowing when it had been applied but it is possibly it had been there since 1908 when the cars were rebuilt and modernized to a Common Standard. From that bench paint I have formulated perhaps a more accurate C&S freight color that I use today.

Again, how I painted the Cinder car is described in the MR article. It was all done with a Badger 100 airbrush and Floquil colors. This included the weathering. Into my C&S Freight color I mix a few drops of Foundation to fade the red a little and there was some weathered black involved to dirty up the car.

Best of Show, 1990 Rocky Mountain NMRA

When I finished the car the 1990 NMRA Rocky Mountain Regional Convention was still ahead later that summer. It was a wonderful time and the first time I met long time friend Harry Brunk. I entered 04085 in the contest. At the end of the event (this was the first NMRA  convention I had attended) my then wife came up from Colorado Springs to attend the awards ceremony. 

As we sat together I became more and more anxious. I had invested an enormous amount of time into that model and felt it was a good job but I didn't know what to expect of it. I had won contests before but they were all popular vote. Of course this contest was different because it was actually judged by people who had a great deal of merit. Furthermore the car was of an obscure prototype and I didn't know if that would have any bearing on the judging. I expected the car to do something.

Merit, Plaque and Ribbon details

There was an incalculable amount of time just researching the prototype cars involved in creating the model. There was the culmination of information translated into detailed drawings.There was the gathering of parts - even creation of parts not commercially available. I am, to this day certain, there was no other model of this prototype before this model - let alone knowledge to the extent that a model could have been accurately built until all of this effort had been invested.

You may then imagine as each category came and went without mention of 04085 what I was starting to think.

Then as the last award came up - Best of Show - (I didn't even know there was such an award) they began describing from a point of detail and craftsmanship, a model that missed a perfect score by only a few points - and that because of a few commercial parts.The winning model of the show was the C&S Cinder car.

OMI U.P. Caboose donated by Caboose Hobbies

I don't have the model anymore. I hope it is in a glass case somewhere. But I still have the satisfaction that it inspired many models, a few manufacturers and one importer.

The trophy came from Caboose Hobbies of Denver. They mounted an Overland Models HO brass caboose on it and an engraved plaque. Many years later I had 7th Street Shops paint the model in the proper Union Pacific livery, add real glass to the windows, Proto-87 wheels to the trucks and completed it with Sergent couplers.





17 April 2024

About C&S narrow gauge cinder cars - Post 22

 In his discussion "C&S Cinder Cars" Hol Wagner Jr. wrote;

  "In May 1900 the C&S, then still occupying the UP’s 40th Street shops in Denver, converted three of the railroad’s 4000 series narrow gauge coal cars, built for the UPD&G in 1897-98, into side dump cars. ...    "Sometime during the fall of 1900,.. the C&S was approached by a potential customer in Leadville with a proposition that would result in a revenue-producing use for the cars, and soon the conversion of five additional cars.  

Reports from Leadville’s Carbonate Weekly Chronicle:

December 3, 1900:  “The new shaft of the Cloud City company ... is on Lot 1, Block 29, Stevens and Leiter’s addition, at 310 Hemlock street..." [This was four blocks south of the C&S passenger depot and just west of the C&S tracks - Hol]
December 10, 1900:  “A new feature in Leadville mining is the proposition of the Cloud City Mining company to ship all their waste out of the city to be dumped... Arrangements for the transportation of such material is [sic] often made with the railroads at little or no cost to the miners, as the dirt is used to strengthen the grades.”
January 28, 1901:  “... A trestle is run to the railroad, about fifty feet distant, and all the waste dumped into railroad cars and hauled away...
March 4, 1901:
“...  The Colorado and Southern people say they have places for tens of thousands of cars of dirt, and the reason they can haul it away for practically nothing is that they are thus saved the expense of employing men to load the cars.  The gondolas in use are all of an entirely new pattern...
July 22, 1901:  “The Penrose (another mine nearby) has adopted the system of hauling away its waste that was found to work so successfully in the case of the Cloud City... "

"And so, at the end of 1901, two mines in downtown Leadville were utilizing the six dump cars then available, and two more cars would be added to the small fleet in April 1902.  By 1905, however, when a ninth car was added, their revenue producing days would be over and the group would revert to cinder and other company service under a new set of numbers: 0100-0108...." Hol Wagner Jr.

Note: click the link to see a map that shows the lot described as the location of the shaft 310 Hemlock Street Leadville CO - Search (

At C&S Freight Depot south down what would be Hemlock St

Many years ago, someone - perhaps Hol - sent me an electronic copy photo of a standard gauge side dump car. It was not a C&S car and it was not of a post 19th century vintage. Unfortunately I have not been able to find that file; yet I recall that the car was strikingly similar to the C&Sng side dump cars.  

[The direction of the two views at right  are southerly, toward the locations of the Penrose and the Cloud City Mining Co. mine. That mine I've not been able to identify by name but may have been the Bison.

In the upper view, the C&S depot was behind the buildings at the end of the track from the lower left corner of the photo. Hemlock St. was on the other side of the Freight Depot.

At C&S Leadville Depot S.E across what would be Hazel St

In the lower photo the R.O.W. of Hazel St. was under the freight cars. The R.O.W. of Alder St., which was one block east of Hazel, passed through the location of the Penrose mine; about 4 blocks south of the Depot. This was looking up Lost Horse Gulch and the ridge in background of both photos was Carbonate Hill. The mine head behind the pole may have been the Wolftone.]

 "Why would the railroad take nearly new cars and convert them to non revenue service?"

Let us not assume that "side dump car" necessarily meant "cinder car". The railroad listed both dump and cinder cars for their standard gauge (C&Ssg). There were 6 cars prior to 1904 numbered 036 - 041. But neither narrow gauge (C&Sng) dump nor cinder cars appeared in the nationally published "Official Railway Equipment Register" (O.R.E.R.) monthly until late in 1904 - after the ng dump cars were numbered 0100-0107.

Non revenue (outfit) cars were nearly always derived from older, less capable units that may have been nearly worn out and that were often about to be replaced. In particular, the Peninsular cars were 15 years old with an inferior load limited of 40000lbs. They were still in fair shape but not as capable as the 2 - 3 year old St Charles coals with 50000lbs capacity. Surely the Peninsular cars would have been plenty capable to haul cinders. The new cars were used because they had a superior capacity; perhaps well more than cinder cars would have required.

We may not recognize the details of the railroad's logic but it isn't an unreasonable idea. Well, sure. But. There was that pesky zero that assigned them to the Maintenance of Way department. Why?! To answer that, we need a reasonable explanation with a fair certainty of actual circumstance.

Perhaps by examining the key points of the 1900 -1901 Carbonate Weekly Chronicle we may find a hint or two. First, only 3 cars were converted in 1900. This seems a relatively low expectation for what ever the purpose the cars were intended

Next, the Carbonate Weekly Chronicle reported that the Cloud City Mining Co. approached the railroad 7 months after the 3 cars were converted. The report implies the mining company implored of the C&S - and that may be true - but how coincidental is it that the C&S already had 3 cars on hand? Is it possible the railroad was the true initiator of the general idea described by the newspaper? Perhaps the Cloud City Mining Co. adopted the idea after some promulgation on the part of the Railroad?

We further see that not only was the railroad willing to haul this waste material away at a minimal fee but that they would put it to use. In fact, it seemed to be a selling point on behalf of the railroad with perhaps veiled hopes more mining companies would subscribe to the service.

When one spends hundreds of hours reading through old railroad documents it is difficult to miss the impression that they never let a single penny slip away; the C&Sng needed that waste material. The newspaper more or less quoted the railroad as much; "The Colorado and Southern people say they have places for tens of thousands of cars of dirt". Profit enough, as it were.

But wasn't the railroad already mostly built? Mostly.

When the Denver South Park & Pacific built the road in the 1880s they were naturally in a hurry to reach the great mining camps of Colorado. To expedite their efforts hundreds of trestles were built. Trestles were ideal for this kind bee-lining railroad construction through rough terrain (especially covered in timber). They were quick to build and relatively cheap. On the other hand, they were not so much durable. They needed a lot of upkeep and they were vulnerable to fires. 

Mountain railroading involved a lot of cuts and fills and there were many places where there was more filling required than cutting made available. However, the demand for filling a trestle did not exclude it from being used; the railroads often took their time about filling. After all, the train didn't fall down just because bents and cross members were exposed. Not surprisingly, it could take years to fill a trestle.

Cut at Windy Point near Breckenridge CO

What might cause that to happen? Tactically speaking, lack of fill material. But there were other, perhaps more strategic reason. For instance, between 1883 and 1893 the South Park and subsequent companies were owned or controlled by the Union Pacific. The U.P. was notorious for taking a lot out of a subsidiary but not imputing so much to improving it. Filling trestles may not have been a pressing issue in those days.

Then the railroads collectively went into receivership where only the bare minimum would have been attended. What happened at the close of 1898 was that Colorado's dearest home grown railroad finally came home. It was once again "The Colorado Road" and Frank Trumble (receiver and president) and company were determined to live up to that name. Therefore it is not improbable that all of those half dressed trestles and other R.O.W. issues had to be addressed!

 This trestle was being filled in the mid 1880s near Climax CO.

The Cinder cars were not cinder cars - not at first. They were property improvement tools - outfit cars, they called them - and when the heads of the road noted all of that "fill" material piled up around mines and homes it is not unreasonable that they saw a ready source of material they needed to finish the grade. Nor can we dismiss their awareness of the applicability of side dump cars for this project.

Of course, a documented narrative of what I postulate has not been found; not to my knowledge. 

This all happened in less than 2 year2. By the end of 1902 it seems the partnership with the mines petered out. We only know of 2 mines that disposed of tailing material in the fashion described here. Perhaps misfortunes befell the mines that the railroad serviced. Perhaps the Railroad accomplished its improvement and no longer offered the service economically. In which case, where would the waste rock have been shipped too - an increase in cost notwithstanding? 

For whatever reason, after 1902, when the last 2 cars were converted they were all returned to non-revenue service. In support of this logic are the notations in the 1899 Renumbering Schedule that stated the 1902 cars (04003, 04019) were built for the great South Park division point, Como. They were the last modern ng cars rebuilt as cinder cars for many years. In 1905 the railroad added one more car and interestingly it was an old inherited car that was second rate in capacity. This would make sense as cinders don't weight as much as hard rock tailings. 

C&S Cinder Car 0206 at Como in 1931

In 1908 the Chicago Burlington & Quincey acquired the C&S. This adoption brought the railroad into association with the CB&Q's Black Hills narrow gauge line. In 1911, the "Q" inquired of the C&S about available coal cars for use in the Black Hills. They needed ore cars with "dump" capability. The C&S responded with 50 coals that had been built in 1907 - '08. The "Q" leased the cars and paid for the conversions of 4 dumps door per side and sloped floors similar to the 0100 series.

However, by 1916, 10 of the cars were returned to Denver and 9 of those were numbered 2000 - 2008. The "Q" apparently bought 15 of the cars outright but the rest may have been sold to an equipment broker. The 9 cars that were numbered 2000 - 2008 were renumbered 0200 - 0209 in 1920.

Como 1936; on right a 0100 series perhaps next to a 0200 series

Generally, little information has been found about the 0100 series cars, especially later into the 20th century. The most notable news of the cars came as the end of narrow gauge operations approached. All nine of the 0100 series cars survived until 1936. In Nov. of that year 0103 was destroyed at Climax; presumably in a wreck. In 1938, after the R.O.W. was torn up across the South Park, all of the remaining cars were scrapped except 0104. It wasn't until 1943 when the Leadville to Climax line was standard gauged that this last cinder car was finally dismantled. It was built by St. Charles prior to June 1898. In Aug. 1943 it was 45 years old. 

Many of the narrow gauge freight cars were sold (or surrendered) to other companies. Most of these have been disposed of but a small number still remain. Several old survivors have made their way to the South Park Rail Society at Como, Colorado. That includes the 1902 coal car, 4319.  The Society has nicely restored the car with some of the parts from reproductions. 

But when 0104 was scrapped it was among the very oldest cars on the line.

4319 at Black Hawk 1987. Currently at South Park Rail Society
Hol Wagner Jr.'s contribution to the history of this railroad must be honored. His electronic book "C&S - the first 10 years" is the accomplishment of a lifetime. I once printed most of it - as it was still in progress - and it stood over 2' tall (printed one side). Hol's commitment included years of sitting in the midst of dusty railroad records at the Colorado Railroad Museum reading original records and typing the enormous manuscript. 

Of course, Hol's contributions are not the only sources I have... most of the old guard have been gone a long time. But I remember who they were.

10 April 2024

About C&S narrow gauge cinder cars - Post 21

C&S 72 perhaps pushing several such cars into position 1901-1902?

If you've read this blog through you've probably encountered the Colorado & Southern narrow gauge cinder cars. (See; 7th Street Shops - Rails Flanges & Gears Post 12 and Post 20). No doubt historian patriarchs were aware of the cars but only in the sense that they encountered them in overall equipment listings; "Oh, by the way the C&S had some narrow gauge cinder cars..."  

None of what you read here has been published in any of the major historical tomes about this railroad; not from the Rocky Mountain Railroad Club, the Colorado Railroad Museum, not from Mal Ferrel or any other similarly well known volume. Some of the magazines have since touched on the cars but not to the degree you will find here. At least not to my knowledge. 

The iconic historical accounts were focused on overall strategic level history. Only in the photographs was there any insight into the tactical day to day operation and details of the equipment. Modelers look at the pictures. Subsequently it seemed there was always a Pictorial or Pictorial Supplement. If you sought to know details that's what you did; photographs. Photographs are great but they are always limited to what is there in that briefest instance - nothing before or after. The photo above, for instance; locomotive 72 is pushing a rather odd car that only shows up in its original configuration in this photo. Fortunately it has a readable number on it. But without more information nothing further can be said except that (presumably) the engineer and fireman in the cab and perhaps a brakeman on the running board were looking at the camera. (The fact that a brakeman or switch-man stands ready suggests a shuffling operation in progress.)

When you are both historian and modeler it can take years of deep digging to answer enough questions to understand what a photograph may have to say. That information may be the critical point that results in the building of the model. In this and perhaps the next few Posts I'll share what I've learned about the cinder cars and about the model I built in 1990.

This study began when I became intrigued by the car in this photo. I'd seen the nomenclature "cinder cars" in various rosters. Cinder cars seemed uninteresting so I paid little attention. Then in the late '80s my friend Dick Kindig loaned me 100s of prints and slides to copy. Among those photos was very early C&S 72 and this car. Then it became interesting - but I knew nothing about it.

Berlyn Loco Works offered RTR On3 Cinder cars
They were hand built in Korea and offered in the early 2000s

Another friend, John Maxwell, was also sending many railroad documents that included a copy of Folio No. 27. This official document was detailed with a generalized drawings of each type and nominal data about all of the narrow gauge cars according to their serial groups. Certainly that was a bound forward but until he shared the Railroad's Renumbering Schedule of 1899 I still didn't have enough information to really understand the cinder cars. Receiving that hand written document opened up a very revealing and confident new perspective.

This then was the intrigue that started the forth-telling of an otherwise obscure series of cars that no one I know of ever even mentioned before. Nor to the best of my knowledge did anyone build a model. This study would culminate in award winning models, commercially built copy models, scratch and kit-built model in several scale and even a few magazine articles.

C&S 4038 at Blackhawk was built in 1897 as UPD&G 3952 


The history of the cinder cars began in St. Charles, MO in 1897. The St. Charles Car Co. built 50 modern coal cars for the Union Pacific Denver & Gulf Railroad. The cars delivered that year were numbered 3930 - 3979. They were built with low boxes made up of 3 boards per side. The bottom coarse was 12" while the top two coarse were 10" boards. The cars were supplied with 4' Rigid type trucks (with trussed truck bolsters). 

An additional 36 cars arrived in the first half of 1898. They were were exactly like the earlier cars and number congruently 3980 - 4015. The car in the photo at left was an example of the 1897 coal cars in 1910.

When the C&S Ry took over the railroads in Feb. 1899 the cars were repainted in the new company's "Roman" style lettering ("The Colorado Road" Herald). The renumbering of this series was itself interesting if not directly important to understanding the cinder cars. Units 4000 - 4015 kept their UPD&G numbers while all 50 of the 1897 cars plus 20 of the 1898 cars were renumbered above the newest cars of the entire batch. Therefore 3930 became 4016 and so forth to 3999 as 4085.

The Rigid type truck as on stock car 7064  - Poole

From under the bolster toward the Spring box - Poole
And over the axle; more clarity of the truss rods - Poole.

Presumably, cinder cars existed in some form prior to this "modern" series. Most likely such cars would have been ordinary coal cars assigned to the M.O.W. department. But such cars were usually older units perhaps in poor shape. After all, cinder cars mostly sat around gathering cinders and then occasionally venturing out along the R.O.W. to scatter the inconvenient waste or to hauled it away to some other means of disposal. 

 Why would the railroad take nearly new cars and convert them to non-revenue service? This is a question that has an answer as yet uncertain. We will examine events that may well establish that as a tentative answer.

There were 9 side dump cars built from ordinary coal cars. Eight of the cars came from the 3-board 4000 series coal cars described above. The 9th car was built from 4796, a 30' coal built by the Peninsular Car Works in 1885. 

Initially, the cars converted prior to 1903 kept their coal numbers but with a zero placed in front to identify the cars as non-revenue service types. Folio No. 27 listed all 9 car and averaged data about their construction. The information did include what revenue cars were converted to side dumps. But the most detail reference of the conversions is found in the Renumbering Guide. Here was provided specific dates of  dispositions and (important to our discussion) exactly when any conversions took place. From this record we can identify not just what coal became which cinder car, but also when it was converted and when to what number it became. Beginning in May 1900 coal cars 4000, 4001 and 4041 were rebuilt to cinder cars. In 1901 cars 4011, 4013 and 4085 were converted. In 1902 cars 4008 and 4019 were converted. 

Perhaps most telling of all was that the last 3 cars had notation that may hint at our question above. The 2 cars built in 1902 were specifically built for Como. That alone isn't much to go on but it was nearly 3 and a half years - in 1905 - that the last car was converted. This was the ancient Peninsular built coal car. It may seem nebulous at this point but as we examine the cars and the events surrounding them these details may lend support ro the reasons so far theorized about why the cars were built in the first place.

The rebuilt 4796 was directly numbered 0108. Since the rest of the cars had already been renumbered to 0100 - 0107 in July 1904 this car was never numbered 04796.

4915 at Blackhawk (1902 plus) was an example of the car used for 0108 (4796)

In the title photograph the locomotive does not have the number on the cab. The photo was cropped for use here. Therefore the location of the number on the tender is not included. The view is likely prior to the Entwined Herald that may have appeared on 72's cab later in 1902.  The road used this emblem on several engines for passenger service. But not all motive power used it. The Herald on this cab was simply "Colorado & Southern" typically in gold leaf (which often does not show up well in photos) as was wont of newly repainted engines at that time. This disappeared when the Entwined C&S was applied the cab because the railroad sheathed all the cabs with metal as an upgrade. The 72 itself is only a few years old.

Next time we will get into the question; why rebuild new cars when plenty of inherited coals were available?


02 April 2024

7th Street Shops - Rails Flanges & Gears Post 20


Tuesday, January 9, 2024

Legacy of a Modeler Historian - Doug Heitkamp Part 3

In the Fall of 1995 Chris Lane and Paul Howald along with Doug Heitkamp, Klaas Gunnick, and myself launched the Colorado & Southern Narrow Gauge Historical Society. Paul was elected President, while Chris took the ardent task of Editor of the Society magazine, The Bear Trap. Doug, as well as Klass and myself were associate editors. Doug published at least 2 technical drawings and regularly placed ads for Design Tech.

The title photo of the April 1994 article by Doug - Kitts

The purpose of The Bear Trap was to share accurate information about the Colorado & Southern narrow gauge and modeling subjects thereof. The first issue of The Bear Trap (Winter 1995) included a center piece drawing of the Forks Creek tank by Doug Heitkamp. He provided a short description of the tank and a photo by John Maxwell.

The same issue included an article that described the C&S ng cinder cars. That article included photos of  Doug's 1/24th and my 1/48th scale models (04018 & 04082 respectively) The the C&S Connection had released a set of drawing of the cars (PK006) in 1988 and a description of the cinder car I built was published in Aug. 1991 Model Railroader. 

Interior detail of 04018 - Kitts




Underside detail of 04018 - Kitts
In the April/May 1995 Outdoor Railroader Doug described how he built his car. In that article he told how seeing my car inspired him to build 04018 and how the large scale model took him a year to build. The article is quite interesting and well worth reading if you can find it.
Details, 1:24th scale Cinder Car 04018 featured in April 1995 Outdoor Railroader - Kitts

The "B" end of the large scale 04018 - Kitts

I believe he saw 04082 when he and his family visited us in Black Forest CO in the spring of 1994. I probably supplied him with a copy of PK006 but it would have been the MR article that initially influenced Doug to build his model of 04018. A little discernment suggests that he was probably already working on the model before he actually saw the 1/4"scale model.

Doug's model won the Freight Cars 1st Place Award at the 1995 Valley Forge National Narrow Gauge Convention. I saw his model several times over the years and it is an outstanding example of Doug's skills. It is an honor to have played a part in its success.

C&S 04018 in "the Colorado Road" scheme -Kitts
In keeping with the mission of  The Bear Trap, to promote prototypical information, I told nothing about how the models were built. Instead I focused on the history of the cars. We brought the models together as companions to the text and visual reference to what the real cars were like.

So far as we knew at the time, they were the only scale models of the cars in existence. Doug provided a photo of his model taken by Jerry Kitts and I added one for the O scale model and a photo of 04082 for the cover of that issue.

DT Pilot model Reefer kit - Heitkamp

In the same issue Design Tech placed an ad for their new O scale C&S Refrigerator kit. The railroad built the composite or Steel Under Frame (SUF) reefers with hardware supplied by Bettendorf Axle Co.; they were the first SUF cars built by the C&S in Dec. 1908. The DT kit built into a modern car but the modeler could backdated it to an original 500 series car. This kit was an important addition to the products available to On3 modeling since at the time there had been no kit of the C&Sng reefers.

Winter 1995 Bear Trap

The kit was made up of cast resin parts - body and frame - but depended upon injected plastic part, such as the Grandt Line SUF kit and other commercial parts as well. For a short time DT offered the kit without the GL SUF at a reduced price. This was a consideration for those modeler who had already purchased the GL product.

In a later issue of  The Bear Trap Chris Lane reviewed DT''s Refrigerator kit. The review included a photo of Doug's pilot model. As with all of Doug's models it demonstrated his intense attention to accuracy and craftsmanship.
Winter 1995 Bear Trap

Michelle may still have this model but I have not seen it for a very long time.

Derrell's Conx 5 built 1987 - Poole

Recently Darel Leedy and I were talking about models Doug built over the years and his On3 model of Conx 5 came up. The prototype belonged to the Conoco Oil Company; oil cars had been run on Colorado narrow gauge systems since about the turn of the century. This was the tank that, until 1935, was likely very similar to Conx 14. But a wreck on the South Park in 1935 obligated the C&S to repair the car. They mounted the tank onto a retired St. Charles coal car platform. This made the car unique among narrow gauge tanks and naturally, modelers gravitated toward it.

Conx 14 and rebuilt 5 at Leadville 1941 - Poole Coll.
I once owned one of the 1/4" scale brass tanks someone imported many years ago for Conx 5 as well as others. I am not certain but I believe I sold the tank to Doug perhaps when he purchased most of my 1/4" scale models in 1996. This may have been the tank he used on his car. However, there were also resin castings of the tank as well.

Darel knew more about Doug's model than I did. I don't believe I ever saw the model but Doug talked about it and may have shown me a photo. According to Darel, someone commissioned Doug to build the model. Darel remembered that the car won a First Place award at one of the narrow gauge meets. After winning the award Doug turned the model over to the owner who took it home and shortly thereafter sold it. None of us remember who bought it nor have any of us seen it since.

Darel also recalled that Doug told him there was something unique about the model that he had intentionally done. This was a marker so that if he ever ran across a Conx 5 he would know whether it was the model he built. Darel could not recall what it was that Doug did for this purpose.

While I may have seen a photo of Doug's Conx 5 no one seems to have any evidence of the car today. I built a Conx 5 for myself in 1987 and I have a photo of my car that I share in proxy. I think Doug would be okay with that since the models were on par with each other.

Doug's "signature" of his model was intentional but he knew it was already sold so it is understandably why he marked it. I wasn't planning to sell my Conx 5 when I built there was no marking intentional. Nevertheless, I know something about that car no one else would know and I probably could identify the model should I encounter it again. I would expect this to be a rather common practice among custom builders.

1897 St.Charles box on Trout Creek Pass - Poole

The last model shown here is an S (1:64) scale, 7616 series, C&S box car that came from the Denver Leadville & Gunnison in 1899. Well, except that the car smacks of a St. Charles type box car.

As the number on the model stands, that car would have been one of 120, 30' box cars built by the Peninsular Car Co. for the Denver South Park & Pacific in 1884. The specific car was previously 24500. It became 7642 on 22 Jan. 1900. But, comparing Doug's beautiful model to a prototype sister, 7646, it becomes clear that they were not the same build. The model represents a much later build than the Peninsular cars. The 7642 has St. Charles Car Co. hardware that included Rigid style trucks. Note that the trucks on 7646 were one of the Union Pacific swing beam types. There are other differences between the model and prototype as well.

The 24 cars of the original DL&G 6500 series (that were built in 1897 at the Union Pacific Denver & Gulf  shops in Trinidad CO) were among what we call the inherited cars because they had to be re-painted from a previous ownership trademarks. In Feb. 1899 the C&S began renumbering the inherited cars. The 6500 series cars became 7722 - 7746 and specifically 6520 became 7742 on 1-15-00. The "The Colorado Road" trademark on the cars was one of the most distinguishing differences between the Trinidad cars and the 40 box cars (8026 series) from St. Charles Car Co in the fall of 1898. This new set came already marked with a different C&S Ry trademark. Perhaps this is one of the reasons the 7722 series was among the most obscure group of cars on the C&Sng.

Ex DL&G Peninsular box at Kokomo, CO - Poole coll.

Doug would have known all of this when he built 7642. So, notice that if the 6 on the model was replaced by a 7 the car would be completely correct to the prototype - even with the The "Colorado Road Trademark". I never asked him about any of this but it may be that a modeler who already had a propensity to mark his craftsmanship might intentionally pervert the number to make the model uniquely his, no matter who eventually owned it. And, in those days, who would have known what number the car should have been? My personal belief is that Doug knew what he was doing for his own reasons.

Doug's model is a superb example of his mastery of materials and technique. He described to me how he built it; all of the siding was taken from a commercial kit. However, he milled it on a Shirline machine to a thickness of about 1/3rd of the original material. There was no effort to match the sides to his model as intended in the kit. Instead pieces were cut and matched together as one might do with any sheet of scribed plastic. Doug gave me samples of this material and it is the typical light grey siding you would find in an Overland or P-B-L kit.


Sn3 7642 on loan, TC Pass layout 2008 - Poole
The purpose was to reduce a certain clunkiness of the commercial parts so that scale lumber could be used for the frame. Very likely Doug used the C&S Connection drawings and other information that were by then in his possession. (See part 2 of this series.)

To be sure, I wanted the model. I tried more than once to talk him out of it. Instead he graciously loaned it to me for use on the Trout Creek Pass layout. It served there for a few years until we moved to Montana. I am told that Michelle keeps it in a display cabinet along with a few other special things. And rightly so; it is an heirloom to be cherished.

Like most of the models shared in this post, 7642 was a First Place "Freight Cars" award winner at one of the Sn3 Symposiums. It may have been in 2001 at the meet in Denver.

My thanks to Jerry Kitts for use of the photos and and Darel Leedy for his comments