31 March 2024

7th Street Shops - Rails Flanges & Gears Post 17

Friday, November 17, 2023

Throwing Curves

The subjects of this post are two HO examples of the 4-10-2 "Overland" type with 3 cylinders built by Alco in the 1920s. More to the point it is about what can happen when models exceed the parameters of the layout they are expected to operate on.

In the early 1920s several railroads purchased Alco's new Overland locomotive. In the early 1970s Westside Models imported the U.P., S.P. and iirc A.T.& S.F. versions

WSM U.P. 4-10-2 running DCC & chassis of raw S.P. loco is ready to test
Westside's G-file 24 for the S.P. version inferred the models were made to go around curves sharper than expected. Not so specifically the pamphlet stated that though the wheel base was long the model could  "...squeal around pretty tight curves found on medium and club size layouts". A seasoned modeler would likely realize the implication was toward the mainline of a layout where the broadest curves would be found. After all, any radius can appear on any layout big enough to use it. But someone relatively inexperienced might come away with an impression that would result in disappointment.

Fifty years ago the tightest HO radius could have been as little as 12" but typically it was 15" to 18" inches. Not much has changed except perhaps that there are fewer club layouts. Regardless, G-file 24 (and all of the G-files) should be taken for what they were; advertisement. The 4-10-2s may be able to negotiate some "pretty" tight curves but the true minimum radius is the tightest curve a model can negotiated without any issues.

Furthermore, modelers today enjoy a plethora of  large, mass produced models that are engineered to negotiate ridiculously sharp curves. A Rivarossi Bigboy, for instance, may well go around an 18" radius - I don't know - but to someone not familiar with the greater precision hand-crafted models of Yor it may be natural to assume negotiating really tight curves is universal to all models.

The owner of the 4-10-2s made statements to that affect. He has large plastic models that run thru his 24" curves. What would he expect? To him, the 2 models should run the curves and he was genuinely disappointed when they would not. 

These are very heavy machines that are more inclined to force their way thru a curves than to jump the track. That of itself was deceiving and veiled what was really going on. The model was built by Katsumi, still one pf the best builders of all time. It was the importer who wrote the G-file that failed to be more concise.

Both raw 4-10-2s would go around the 30" S-curves on our test track. They would go around but they didn't like it and we would not presume that to be a proper minimum radius for the models. Sadly, even after all that we've done to 8806 we have little expectation it will run on the client's sharpest curves. 

30" S-curves of 7th Street Shops test track

When they published G-file 24 WSM didn't anticipated the general impact DCC would have on brass models. DCC has revealed how forgiving DC is of electrical shorts. DC power is only seriously effected by a shorted condition; where there is a constant continuity below a certain threshold of resistance. For example, there is a manufacturing flaw, almost never detected by DC, that will consistently shut down a DCC system. A model with a shorted insulated driver is inoperable with DCC because the system safety will immediately "smell" it - even above a million ohms of resistance. Fortunately, shorted drivers are usually easy to fix but if you don't know to look for them you may wind up setting the model on the shelf.

The raw DC 8806 tested acceptably on the 30" S-curves but after DCC was installed it consistently shut down the system every time the model backed into a curve to the left. To find the problem I start a process of eliminating the usual suspects. The tender, pony truck and trailing truck were removed in succession to narrow the scope of investigation. The model continued to short in the same manner nonetheless. Since the brake shoes are all plastic it began to look like the short was somewhere in the insulated drivers. However, testing had already established that none of the insulation was at fault. It seemed the only answer was that one or more of the tires was able to contact the frame. I ran the model in the dark to see sparks but none were observed. I tried to insulate the frame from the backs of the drivers. That didn't work.

Gear box disengaged to allow free rolling thru the curves
When you've answered all of the questions and still come up short (yes, a bad pun) then there is a question you have not asked. That meant tearing down the entire frame to the drivers and side rods. When the valve gear frame was removed from the engine frame the problem suddenly seemed obvious; the flanges of both front drivers were intermittently contacting the valve gear frame. The insulated driver would create a dead short when that happened and it happened in a left hand curve where the driver was forced against the frame. A bit of filing to prevent the tires from ever contacting the frame was done and it seemed promising that the issue would finally be resolved. 

More or less confident (or at least hopeful) I reassembled the entire engine with the trucks and tender. The problem was finally fixed... Right? Nope. Once again, as the model entered a left hand curve the system shut down. Well!!

At this point it was clear that I was dealing with several shorts; a condition that is not very common. 

With DCC 8806 running the S.P. chassis is ready to test for shorts

Again I began eliminating parts of the model that were likely to cause trouble. First was the tender. Then I removed the pony truck. Yet each time the model approached the curve with the trailing truck leading there was a short. However, for the first time I saw an arc where the insulated wheel of the truck came into contact with the engine frame. Now it was additionally clear; WSM's Overland types required a minimum radius greater than 30". Apparently a "pretty tight curve" on a club size layout is on the order of  36". With a natural minimum radius well above 30" it is concluded that I was not fixing the faults of an otherwise nice model, I was modifying the parameters of an already nice model!.

After I fixed the final short in the pony truck the model was able to negotiate the 30" curves without shutting the system down. I contacted the client with an additional large bill that was solely the result of an expectation beyond the parameters of both model and layout. We decided to return the models and see if 8806 would go thru the 24" curve. I also retested the unpainted model. (I had since reinstalled the drawbar in order to return it with the 8806). As it rolled thru the curves I found that now it tripped the system when the boosters on the truck contacted the drawbar pin. 

When frame backs into a left-hand curve, the system safety trips
The point of  this discussion has been to stress the need to establishing the parameters of your planned layout  before any track or roadbed is constructed. Establish these parameters and then recognize the importance of adhering to them. Consider models you may want to the future. Conduct simple field tests or at least consult fellow models to get as close to reality as you can. Consciously establish what you want in a layout, fit that to the limits of your resources and then review them should new interests arise. Be willing to say no or even rebuild the layout. The money and disappointment you may save could be your own.

When I switched to Sn3 and began to plan the first layout I gathered examples of the engines I intended to use. Then I laid temporary curves of various radii and established a minimum operational radius. This, along with a minimum turnout angle, would be among the governing parameters of any Sn3 track plan. 

The moguls and consolidation I would use were alleged to handle 22" curves. Unfortunately, such claims did not work for an operational minimum. Overland Models suggested 22" curves (iirc). That might seem reasonable since the Sn3 models are nearly the same size as larger HO models of the same types. Well, of course they should run around a broom handle! But they don't. My minimum radius turned out to be 30" not 22" and my sharpest turnout became a no. 7. If I ran the big K models that P-B-L offered the minimum curve would be 34" even though they suggested 28". The mechanisms may actually negotiate those curves but that is not all of the considerations. I came to realize that it is better to give up a little real estate for better operation than to try to shoehorn every whim into a few square feet. Knowing what the layout can handle and using models that are within those bounds seems best for fun and satisfaction.


7th Street Shops - Rails Flanges & Gears Post 16

Tuesday, July 4, 2023

The C&S Connection - Part 10


Events happen at every instance everywhere and are instantly gone in the light of their moment; like each frame of an eternal movie. The events are not history; they are event. And then they were events. They continue to speed away from us at 186,000 miles per second.

History is the narrative of events; tales of what was, what happened. The narrative always lacks detail. To be a complete description volumes of story would have to be written for every single second that occurs.

So. We don't do that. We can't. Instead we accept the highlights as a complete picture. 

History is a story and the historian a story teller. We hope the story teller is honest and his information is honest because we must trust him. None of us were there for most of what has happened. Most of what we know about the past came from narrators and their narration from other narrations. Even what we do witness is subject to our limited senses and perceptions. It's pretty astonishing that we know what we do know (or think we know). Maybe we don't really know? It is very difficult to actually tell the whole truth. The true historian will protect the truth as much as he can.

1989 the C&S Connection Catalog
The C&S Connection sort of evolved. There was never specific intent or plan to start a business. I wasn't looking for fame or attention or wealth. I was looking for honest, objective information that clearly was not readily available. I wanted information that would help me create scale replications of those things I had missed from the past. I did not want to just regard my models as models. Somehow I recognized they were a means of connecting to the past that so intrigued me.

The first modern Colorado & Southern freight cars I scratchbuilt were the box cars featured in Part 9. By 1984 what I knew about C&S equipment came primarily from third person information such as Harry Brunk's fabulous series on the Union Central & Northern. I had a few books and perhaps a few drawings. I'm relatively sure the Steel Under Frame car (8216) was the first of the three that I built. 

The Grandt Line kit of the SUF used for the 8216 and the SUF metal castings for the Model Masterpieces coal car helped codify this truth about the C&S roster; the only significant difference between the same class (box, coal, refrigerator, stock) of cars were the body bolsters. There were other differences of course, but this was the consistent, definitive component. The models that won at the 1986 Convention were entered with the interest to suggest this conclusion.

The Grandt Line SUF kit certainly made the Type III car the easiest to complete. We owe much to John Maxwell, and others, who's detailed field notes of the under frame and preservation of the railroad's erection drawings made the kits possible (I don't know specifically where Cliff and the boys got their information). The body bolsters of the other 2 cars were a different matter. There were (are) railroad drawings that at least included general information about those parts but I was not aware of them at that time. I worked with what I could find.

My determination was to build a large fleet of modern C&S cars of all types and classes but the prospect of making each bolster one at a time became a sobering thought. There was an articles about Cerro Bend (low temp white metal) and a spin casting machine built from a Mix Master kitchen appliance. That inspired me to work toward mass production of parts I would need.

I made the masters out of plastic. I built a spin caster out of a similar machine and began learning to create RTV molds. However it soon became clear that reading about something that complex and actually succeeding at it wasn't so simple. My experience became a lot like trying to squeeze an inflated balloon into a cubed shape. Try that sometime. I consistently got inconsistent results.There is a craft to the process that can eventually be had but that's the hard way.  I needed an expert willing to share a few "secrets".

The train from Central City at Black Hawk 1-1-87

Don Meeker, owner of Model Masterpieces, was one such expert; the white metal parts in his kit were impressive. (The SUF coal car in part 5 was one of his kits.) Don graciously shared his greatest "secret" - go see Jim Haggard. The Haggards owned Builders in Scale and they had a complete casting shop. They used High Temperature Vulcanizing rubber to make the mold. Wonderful! But, none of my plastic masters would survive the vulcanizing process.

I knew how to work and solder brass so I set about remaking the masters. At this point I realized I was going to need to go commercial to fund the project. It also vulcanized (yes, a pun) my resolve to make the patterns as accurate as I could. That meant I needed better information.

On the first of January, 1987. my then-wife and I made the trip to Central City to investigate the Type I coal car, 4319. It had been there for years, so we headed to Central City. But the car, engine 71 and combine 20, were not at Central City; They were at Black Hawk next to the North Fork of Clear Creek.

Four foot Archbar truck and ASF cast Bolster
It is very rare for any place in Colorado to be warm on the first day of the year, except perhaps in the local bar. We did not go to the bar. Instead, while I crawled around under a wooden coal car with a camera, scale, tape measure and sketch pad, my then-wife waited in the truck - where the heater was. I am cold-blooded native Coloradoan; the cold did not stop me. (My then-wife was from Iowa. Besides, she and I had survived the great Christmas Eve blizzard of 1983 in a feed store. I was intrepid - she sat in the truck.)

I probably spent more than an hour crawling around between the rails, under the side sills, and the frame in general. (I didn't have time to investigate the whole car.) Yes. I sat Indian style on the ties with my head bumping on the center sills and tried not to get too entangled in the truss and brake rods. I snapped views over the brake beams and record the details of the body and truck bolsters. I spent time just absorbing how that car was put together. The payoff was well worth the overcast cold, intermittent snow and biting gusts.

Cast frame bolster resting on the Archbar truck bolster

The coal car confirmed much of  the vague notes and drawings and added much more about the details of the part. In turn, the investigation could be reasonably projecting onto the Type II bolster. 4319 revealed that the cast bolsters were more than just hunks of metal under the car. They were contoured and fluted with truss rod pedestals bolted to them. It was clear that they were cast for a very specific wood frame. Along with the bolster was a matched 4 foot archbar truck also from ASF. Likely, the truck was already commercially available but the bolster may not have been. The brass master I developed from my investigation reflects the actual parts I found under the car and a drawing of that part appeared in Feb. 1995 Outdoor Railroader. It is also available from 7th Street Shops as part of the complete drawing collection.

Brass masters for Type I cars parts

As I completed the O Scale patterns, Builders in Scale began generating castings and I developed a catalog and information booklet that I published in 1988. This booklet described how to built the cars; ostensibly in O scale but just as easily in any other scale if proper parts could be had. "Information Source - One" was meant to be an ongoing publication, as in Information - Two, - Three, etc. But only the 30 or so copies that I published have ever existed. 

Type II castings and masters (alternate strikers)



Caboose Hobbies and Coronado Scale Models were the first to carry the C&S Connection parts. In all, 19 unique patterns were produced. All of them were white metal except the 2 styles of Murphy metal roofs. Those were cast first in epoxy and then Urethane. 

Being a professional drafter it was only natural to assimilate the information into technical drawings. These were and are the most enduring and perhaps valuable asset of the C&S Connection. I have no way of knowing (since I made the information openly available to other commercial ventures in the hobby). The influence they have had on the popularity of the C&S option for the narrow gauge hobbyist is also unknowable. The drawings have been used extensively on the industrial side and several kits have been developed thru a variety of manufacturers over the years. One importer has used the drawings to commissioned a RTR model. Thru the C&S Connection I produced artwork and worked with C-D-S Dry Transfers to have lettering sets made in all scales for the earlier trade marks of the railroad. This included the 1898 St. Charles Cars and the "The Colorado Road" herald.


The trucks are S scale which is my preferred ratio to work in these days. From left to right are the Rigid trucks supplied with St. Charles Type cars (including the 25 box cars built at the Trinidad Shops in 1897). The ASF built Stock cars were also supplied with this style. Note that these are not archbar trucks since the bolster is trussed to counter sagging. Next to the St. Charles set are the 4 foot Archbar trucks for the 1902 - '07 Type I cars. 4319 for instance. Finally the Bettendorf style of truck with cast components and inside hung brakes on the right. The light colored metal parts are the C&S Connection casting

When the box car article was published that spring (1987) I suddenly had piles of unsolicited mail. Among those that began to write were John Maxwell, Ron Rudnick, Rick Steele, the Schwedlers and many others. Suddenly there was a wealth of information, much of it copies of actual company documents. The flood included photographs from John, Richard Ronzio Richard Kindig, Phil Ronfor Mal Ferrell and eventually even ACF with prints of the St. Charles Refrigerator. 

Suddenly the entire spectrum seemed arrayed before me. I went to work.


7th Street Shops - Rails Flanges & Gears Post 15


Tuesday, June 27, 2023

The influence of Contest Success - Part 9


Collection of On3 Colorado & Southern freight cars as of summer 1986

The above photo was among the first model photos taken with the Omega view camera. After selling the Mamya 645 (120 film) I purchased in 1981 I mail ordered the large format camera in the summer of 1986. 

My then wife and I use to go out several times each year on various trips around Colorado; camping, exploring and of course, shutter buggin'. When I had the Canon F-1 (35mm) I practiced bracketing (burning lots of film with varying exposures) in order to collect a few excellent shots. I upgraded to the Mamya and began taking the time to set up each frame for the results I wanted. This, of course, tried my dear wife's patience (she was still using 35mm) because she could shoot half a roll to my 1 frame. But my interest continued along this practice to the point I felt the "need" to converted to the 4"x5" format.

The 3 box cars in front of the collection above were entered in the popular vote contest at the 6th National Narrow Gauge Convention in Denver that September. Photos of the contest winners by the Gazette staff photographer (Bob Brown) appeared in the Nov. / Dec. issue, 1986 . The box cars were included because they were award 1st place in the freight car category. That win was my first success in any Model Railroading contest. That win also initiated another first; I was invited by the editor of the Gazette (Bob Brown) to write an article about the cars for the magazine. Naturally, photos were required.

All of the photos shown here were taken between September and November 1986. The Article was completed and sent to publication on 25 Nov. according to the note on the original manuscript. At that time we lived in Colorado Springs at the North Wasatch address.

I would eventually write 5 articles for the Gazette, 2 for Model Railroader, the freight car text in the R Robb Grandt book "Narrow Gauge Pictorial No. 8" and a host of articles in less known publications including, finally, a piece in the On30 Annual for 2014. This contest was indeed a game changers

Again, none of this is meant as boasting. It is simply the resume of the enormous foundation of experience upon which 7th Street Shops has been built. 

The models shown in the above collection represents a substantial investment in time. The San Juan Car Co. owned by John Parker would later use the drawings we produced under our brand, "the C&S Connection", to produce their O scale kits of the Type II box cars. That was perhaps 1990 but in 1986 the only way to obtain most of the cars, in any scale, was to scratch build them. In addition to accurate information, the point of "the C&S Connection" was to produce parts, such as the roofs, to reduce the time it took to make accurate models.

This brings up a particular point I've talked about for years; the idea of investing time in the "Doing"...

"doing: the act of performing or executing: action that will take a great deal of doing." - M. Webster

That is the clinical definition. The comprehensive definition of  "doing" model railroading, in particular scratch building, would take volumes. Or maybe a hyperactive blog. "Doing" scratch building would include information gathering, conversion of that information into practical presentation such as drawings, timeline charts (to register details to relative eras) and other text, designing and generating parts not readily available, planning out the best way to build the model and executing all of it to produce the actual scale model - yeah, and y'all thought this was just a hobby! 

The term scratch building came out of the early days of the hobby when you couldn't even buy rail let alone track. Early model railroaders were often professional machinists."Scratch building" today has a rather diluted definition of what it was in the old days. There was no computer aided drafting, virtual modeling and rapid prototype printing. You did it with physical capability and a mythological "power" which seems almost extinct these days called CRITICAL THINKING.!

In this day of instant everything, it seems "doing " turns out to be more pursuing than doing. We pursue instant.gratification as if we are practically, almost always, out of time. We've developed a mindset of the Time-Money continuum. We continue to spend more money just so we don't have to spend more time.

When we do build models we often build from kits where all of the parts and the thought-out convenience of how to put them together are provided for us. Of course, what's even better is when some 3rd world high school girl puts it together. Now it r RTR - ready to run; for you! The soul of this hobby has always been in building models; and even trees are models on a layout. Running trains is a reward of the "doing". Not the doing itself. If you want to play a game pull out your palm-god and have at it. But to experience model railroading; indulge in the actual craft of doing a model. The rewards of that are enormous and addictive.

Trophy awarded to the Box Car entry

After observing both local contests and the 4th N.N,G. Convention, I came to realize that popular vote contests were a matter of eye appeal as much as technically correct detail. Of course, the detail was intrinsic to convincing the viewer that this was an authentic representation (which most observers were clueless to prove anyway). Therefore it became clear that the appearance had to be striking, appealing and convey a sense that the viewer was about to learn something. 

Therefore I entered the cars as a group on a display that beckoned more attention; it was engaging. The use of a mirror under each car on an elevated track enabled the viewer to study the underside of the models without touching them. Each mirror was labeled so that the viewer would see that each car had a technical message that both related it to the others and yet set it apart. In spite of the gimmickry, knowledge was to be had for the taking. That made the display valuable to the observer. Apparently there was substance to my reasoning.

How the contest entry appeared on the display table

 The photo to the left shows how the cars were set up on the contest table and more or less how they appeared in the "Gazette" review. On the left 8074 represented a group of cars built by 1907 that used the same components / technology as the 1902 coal cars except with 9" side sills. A couple of box cars were built 1903 - '06 with 12" sills but these were probably considered "over built" since the enclosed box above the frame would have been structurally superior to the open top box of a coal car. That translated into a waste of material and therefore a waste of money, And money - making it - was the sole purpose of the railroad. How the contest entry appeared on the display table

A clearer view of each frame type

The Type I cars (coals, flats and boxes 1902 - 1906) used cast body bolsters provided by American Car & Foundry (ACF). They rolled on ACF 4'-0" archbar trucks.The 8074 showed how the bolster, meant for a 12" side sill, was fitted to a 9" side sill by sandwiching a 3" block between the bolster and bottom of the sill.

The photo to the right may help clarify the differences between each type of frame. Practically everything above the frame was the same regardless of the frame type. In fact the classification by "historians" as "Type x" was never prototypical. The railroad never used the terms type or phase. They distinguished wood frames from composite frames but that was a pretty broad definitive. To the railroad a box car was a box car regardless of the frame and the only thing unique about it was the road number.

The C&S built all of its own narrow gauge freight cars after 1900. By the end of 1907 they had completed the first run of the type II cars as box, coal and stock cars. In the display 8192 represented a Type II car. The changes were a cast bolster designed for a 9" sill and the new cars rolled on cast trucks with inside hung brake beams. Both the trucks and bolsters were supplied by Bettendorf Axle Corp and the trucks were distinguished as the Bettendorf type. 

The only other change to the Type II house cars was the metal Murphy roofs. In the photo below the additional car simple underscored that the type II cars were originally equipped with the narrow ribbed roof as on 8216. The roof on 8192 was a rebuilt style, less complex and easier to maintain.

The additional car showed a Type II car with the original roof


 Finally, 8216 represented the Type III cars. The railroad began using a steel underframe "kit". BAC supplied the "kits" with trucks. The C&S first used this hardware on their new refrigerators since 1898. Twenty composite frame reefers were built at 7th Street (Denver) in late 1908 into 1909. The cars had wooden frames but the sills and stringers were smaller in dimension. This was because the wooden frame rested on top of the steel underframe. 

Most of the photos shown here and more appear in the March / April 1987 "Narrow Gauge & Short Line Gazette".

7th Street Shops - Rails Flanges & Gears Post 14


Sunday, June 4, 2023

Telling Tales - Harry Brunk Tribute 4


"Your time period is a good one. The mix of equipment, freight cars, gives you a chance for some real variety. The only thing you lack is the beartrap. (My thinking only, of course.)

  "To fit in a 28 foot boxcar in my number scheme worried me until I realized that was what 200 to 209 was for. 210 starts the St. Charles cars. Then I remembered, checked, and sure enough, the car at Forks is a shorter car, so it can't be numbered to go with your Sn3 model, as a visual record of historic note. But WAIT! the car on the ground at Black Hawk near the turntable is just right. Have had a desire to dress it, and the immediate area up a bit, anyway. It is in process even now. It will show remnants of block lettering, and the very weathered number 205, I think.
 "Which brings up a point for discussion. Just how much weathering should your railroad be displaying on a block letter monogrammed car? Always some latitude, even though the block lettering would be the newer scheme showing at the time you are modeling. Don't want a fresh from the shops paint job, or do you? Think of Bob's weathered UC&N car, and give me an idea how close or far from that would seem right to you. Now we both agree, weathering isn't regular or predictable across an entire fleet of freight cars, and we both have seen examples of even recently painted cars that really got the ---- beat out of them. I plan no extremes, however. Then, in the 1930s, Bob's car has had at least some touch up work done, all be it not too recently. I'm remembering some block lettered C&S coal cars in the late teens that showed weathering is darned near a matter of choice, as to extreme or otherwise. 'Course these were coal cars, but box cars were normally only slightly less prone to getting messy, some times. Seems to almost bring it full circle, to the point that anything could still be right. Let me know your own personal druthers.
  "Enjoyed the visit, talk, and all. But have a feeling the host could have toured the line, and gotten a little more out there for you all, even as fast as the time flew by."

Car (shed - lower center) was apparently a 26' car

This email was dated 28 May 2008. I left the car with Harry to letter UC&N when the 4 of us visited Little Colorado a second time. This email makes clear Harry was having fun figuring out how to fit the Sn3 box car into his Union Central & Northern scheme of things. He actually could have used his first choice - that 26' car at Forks Creek - shown in the photo to the left because my car was a 26' car. But I am happy with what he did just the same nor does it change the story one bit. And that is what is most important to me (see Pre-History Part 5).
This all came about because I had discovered a modern (Sn3) box car decorated UC&N on our mutual friend's (Bob Axsom) layout at some point before our second visit. I asked Harry before hand if he would give one of my cars the same treatment. He agreed and I hand carried a built up and painted "The Cimarron Works" South Park box car to Little Colorado on our second visit.
As a modern car Bob's Sn3 model could have been a clone of an active car on the UC&N or it could have been a vacant number that simply never showed up on the home road. I never found that out, Nor was I particularly looking for my model to somehow fit into the scheme of things at Little Colorado. That was and still is one of those special, unexpected gifts that came with the package. Harry was willing and seemed to enjoy sharing the magic of the UC&N and to extend it beyond its own physical bounds. I recognize and honor this UC&N connection provided to the Trout Creek layout even to this day. 

The TC line is more oriented toward the integrity of history nevertheless, it is - or was - a fantasy in its own right. The model railroads of the past are every bit History as the  12" to the foot scale types that are just as locked into the past as the UC&N. So far as I know - especially in 1:64th scale - only Bob's car and mine have this distinction. It very well could be that Harry did similar cars in HO but the Sn3 C&S community was and still is so small I believe I would know about any such models. 

This was the fate of UC&N 205 by 1932

In his message Harry describes how he arrived at the particular road number he gave my car. Thinking ahead he left the first 10 box car assignments (200 - 209) blank so that older box cars could show up on the layout as small shed structures. The 26, 27, and 30 foot cars that came to the C&S when that company was incorporated  (late 1898) are generally referred to as "inherited" cars because they came to the new company by way of several Union Pacific related roads between 1881 and 1898. Modern cars were built for and by the C&S between 1898 and 1910. By 1920 nearly all inherited cars were gone or at best set out as small "structures" scattered over C&S property. A few were sold to private citizens for the same purpose. Thus Harry provided the UC&N with a reserve of logical road numbers to represent this practice. Into that pool he reached to call on 205 as part of the history of the UC&N - what an honor!.
The Trout Creek layout was that portion of the C&S set in 1910 that I modeled. It was built with the intent to closely follow the historical narrative of the prototype. Inherited cars were still very much in abundance in 1910 and models on the TC layout were appropriately dated. This collaboration between 1930s UC&N and 1910 C&S unexpectedly created an opportunity of story telling. And is it not the story that gives life to our efforts? 


A few years (1936) later the car was more deteriorated
The Tale
Uncle Bender was a young Arkansan who took up adventure in Colorado around the turn of the century. He also took up a camera and a collection of photographs that he eventually passed on to his posterity; myself among them. In his collection were found a number of views of the Colorado & Southern narrow gauge dating from summers of 1909 and '10. He apparently spent the '09 summer in Buena Vista about 20 miles west of Trout Creek Pass. He  captured both Denver & Rio Grande and Colorado Midland trains as well but I don't have access to those photos.
He happened to catch an unusual sight at the wye located at Bath. By this time Bath (or Hill Top) was closed as a station. Heavy laden trains with several engines would labor up the pass from either direction and then cut off the helpers which were turned and send back to help the next train. But that wasn't what Bender saw on this day.
Uncle Bender caught 205 one 1909 afternoon at Bath

I should explain that Colorado narrow gauge roads typically owned and operated mostly their own rolling stock, Foreign equipment on their systems was not common but it did happen. There isn't any record why a UC&N car found its way the top of Trout Creek Pass. That isn't the story - lest we make something up. It was there that Uncle Bender recorded it on film. That's the story; at least part of it. Read on.
The car showed up at more than one location that demonstrated a certain presents over perhaps months - maybe longer. But eventually it made its way back home because we see in Bender's photos more than 20 years later little 205 relegated to shed status at Black Hawk, Little Colorado. Yes, in the 1930s after teaching school in Arkansas Bender returned to Colorado and ventured up Clear Creek Canyon,
What he witnessed was the changes put upon the railroads by the Interstate Commerce Commission that required the presents of greater safety equipment on all railroad equipment that could potentially cross state lines. Like the C&S, the UC&N scrapped or reassigned old worn out cars rather that refit them to the new requirements. And so the prodigal went home to be taken off of its trucks and set on the ground as a shed.

Better that - I guess - rather than being torched to recover the metal...

A few weeks later he caught it again at Longs Creek

That's the story; in all of its "excitement". Please enjoy Uncle Bender's photos - and more importantly join in my gratitude and honor in memories of my friend Harry Brunk.

30 March 2024

7th Street Shops - Rails Flanges & Gears Post 13


Friday, May 26, 2023

The Chalk Creek Toboggan - Part 8

In one of the photos of Buena Vista (taken from the Colorado Midland mainline east of town) I saw what looked like a flanger in the C&S yards. This was after the Romley layout I built in Parker (Part 5) had either been dismantled or was stored but I was still planning my 1/4" scale Buena Vista Romley layout. I kept busy building rolling stock. The flanger was one of those distinctly Chalk Creek items I watched for; spying it in the yard was what compelled me to build the model. I also found the drawing of a similar Denver & Rio Grande flanger by J.C. Benson in the Mar/April 1980 "Narrow Gauge & Short Line Gazette".

Completed On3 Model of C&S 016 - Poole


There wasn't and still isn't any kit for C&S Flangers (there were 2 standard gauge cars as well) in any scale so far as I know. If I wanted the car I had to scratch build it and that meant the usual challenges with such projects. The biggest issues were detailed plans and how to come up with viable hardware pertaining to the plow and mechanism. I solved the second problem by using a Durango Press kit of a Rio Grande Southern Flanger (01 as I recall). The first problem took a little more diligence. I started with the drawing mentioned above and using the few photos available redrew the differences as far as I needed in a new drawing.

Is the model strictly accurate? No. Some things had to be presumed and some things I know now were not clear then. Overall, however, I believe the model is convincing. It does not look like either the R.G.S. model from which I borrowed parts or the drawing which I used as a starting point. It looks like a Colorado & Southern flanger.

As built by the D.L.& G. in the mid 1880s, all 4 cars used what we call the B Type Union Pacific Swing Beam truck. That was much the standard of the South Park freight roster at the time the flangers were built. When 015 became the Leadville flanger in 1936 it was re-equipped with ASF 4 foot archbar trucks used on the 1902 Type 1 coal cars. By 1936 these would have been surplus as many cars were scrapped at that time. I purchased the Swing Beam trucks from Coronado Scale Models.

Note that there are no brake beams on the front truck as there was no means of connecting to the brake linkage behind the plow. Also note that there is a brake cylinder used to actuate the blade from the locomotive. Therefore, the cars had 2 air lines and 2 glad hands on each end. None of the prototype photos of 016 suggest it had the tool box on the front deck like 014 and probably 013. Other detail differences might be square targets on the "older" cars - 015 & 016 

The following photo essay may be helpful, in a general sense, on how to develop just about any.wood framed or wooden railroad car. 

Commercial scale lumber was cut for frame parts

Wood frame parts assembled in a plastic jig

Perspective view showing more end construction

Single needle beam with 2 truss rods

Weights added before floor boards were installed

Form-up of the train air line with other detail

The train air line ran exterior of the frame

Plow installed. Grandt Line couplers

 Plastic "square" to plumb handrail stanchions

Special jig to form the side steps from brass strips

Four sill steps ready to install

Top detail of the nearly complete model

Bottom detail



Sheet brass cut for plow wings and final details, paint, lettering and weathering.

In O scale the car is just over 4" long. This packed a rich amount of detail into a very confined space. The car won Second Place in M.O.W at the 9th National Narrow Gauge convention at Durango, CO in 1989. It was also part of the consist of a train that won first Place at the 12th National Narrow Gauge convention at Colorado Springs, CO in 1992.

Spike from RGS Ridgeway yard

016 was part of a C&S work train entry


7th Street Shops - Rails Flanges & Gears Post 12

Friday, May 19, 2023

Tribute - Harry Brunk 3


The other day I was reviewing old emails from Harry and realized a few corrections were in order. There was also more information about some of the subjects that I discussed previously. 

First, the dates the four of us visited Harry were a little earlier than I had remembered. Casual references in email conversation indicates our first visit was in early summer 2006. Our second visit was probably in early summer 2007. Harry and Bob Axsom were old friends and Bob spent his time during visits taking many photos of the Union Central & Northern. After both visits he had accumulated a large number of views that he used to develop the slide program from which most of the layout photos shown came from. The program on the disk he gave to each of us was dated 16 Jan. 2008.

Harry's Cinder car 0105 was scratch built for the 1930s

Harry sent the following email on 1 Sept. 2007 (a few months after Bob Axsom, Daryl Leedy, Mike Pine and I visited the second time). Harry wrote;

  "FINALLY... the Rio Grande Ltd. C&S cinder car that Eric Bracher sent me has been finished. As you know, he (like I did with my scratchbuilt car,) used your plans from that slick MR article you did some years ago.(Aug. 1991 MR). Also, as per your recommendation, did some reviewing of how C&S re-lettered cars over the years, and made some changes on the scheme I had on my scratchbuilt version of the same cinder type.
"...You may or may not remember I'd lettered my car (UC&N 0105,) in block lettering to sorta go along with the correctly done type two model I'd scratchbuilt of 0206. You thought the first cinder cars had probably never been re-lettered in block style, and I just recently realized you were seeing a thing or two there that I'd missed... They only lettered or re-lettered in the newer styles they went to when or if, a car series was weathered badly enough to desperately need it. The first 0100 series wouldn't have needed it by block lettering adoption, but much later... mid '20s maybe, they possibly did. So both 0107 (Eric's kit car,) and 0105 got one of those quickie lettering jobs the C&S did in the '30s.. Both these cars do however have the up to date stirrups and hand grabs, as fits an early '30s version of the C&S. So, the block lettering came off my 0105, and both 0105 and 0107 got the UC&N and numbers in Roman on the upper left hand side of the cars. No other stenciling shows, except for end initials and numbers, since the C&S had let all that go on 0206 by that time...
  "Also, instead of just being window dressing on the siding at Forks Creek, my three cinder cars are now in operation. This whole thing was kicked in gear after I rebuilt my cinder pit at Silver Plume, a month or two after you guys paid a visit to the UC&N..."

Berlyn Locomotive Works import

I believe our discussion on the cinder cars began during our last visit when I notice the cars on his layout.

I had long forgotten that Eric produced an HOn3 kit of the cinder car for his Rio Grande Models line. I never solicited anyone to make kits of the cars I researched, however, when it happened  - and it has  many times - it is very satisfying to know others have gotten enjoyment out of  the work such research takes. Theo Berlyn imported an O scale model of the cinder cars as well.

The U.C&N herald had an extra figure and Harry neatly put the "C&" on his coal cars where the "&" in "C&S" was. That would have split nicely in the center of the car sides had he chosen to do so.



C&S 0107 was originally U.P.D&G. coal 3999


"... Regarding my cinder car fleet, I have now taken and filed some photos, and will now attempt to send two of them to you, attached to this email.
 "0105 is my scratchbuilt version that for years incorrectly sported block lettering. 0107 is the built up version of one of Rio Grande
(Models) Ltd's kits. Eric Bracher sent it assembled to help me make exploded drawings for his instruction sheet to be included in the kits. Note the side sill is considerably too deep, but to correct it on the assembled car would have required major surgery, and the car is too well done otherwise, I think. Anyway, the lettering, and the detailing, has been rendered as we think the were in the early 1930s. Right? Hope so".

UC&N Block scheme on a C&S coal car

This email came to me (with the photos of his 3 models) on 3 Oct. 2007. I can't speak to the HO version of the car by RGM since Eric never consulted me on that project. The side sills are not called out in the drawing that appears on pages 86 / 87 of the noted MR issue above. The sills were probably the same size as the Type I (1902 built ) coal cars. The measurement of 4319's sills were 11 7/8" as I recall - having actually measured them one New Years Day. (Cold!!)

The following discussion may shed a little light on the topic of reverting the U.C&N to C&S (which it absolutely was except in name). Again this was discussion that came up during our visit in 2007. The email is dated 28 April 2008. It doesn't actually take into account that part of the discussion I have already related in an earlier post but it does add dimension to the topic (see "Tribute - Harry Brunk 2").

Left is the RGM Kit (0107) - 0206 is a Type II car

" ... I remember your philosophy about limited grab irons, and how that made me feel better after  suffering through all my boxcars with the full array for the '30s. The same reason you like fewer of them is kin to the reason I hang on to my Union Central & Northern lettering and numbering scheme. Whole lot simpler to only have to decal three car numbers, and I don't have to worry whether a given number for my steel frame boxcar series has to go on a car with narrow or wide ribbed roof, or one of the rare wood covered roofs. Oh, them thar folks are out there that LOVE to point out such things if they can prove it, and catch you with a wrongly numbered car with the roof you modeled. 'Course, you're very familiar with such minor problems like that...
 "...Havin' fun can take so many tracks in this hobby, its too bad more folks don't get the message. Workin' on it."

Harry was one of the nicest guys you could meet - I've always sorta taken his comment; " 'Course, you're very familiar with such minor problems like that" as a polite little jab back at me because I had upon occasion pointed out things concerning C&S-esque model freight cars that were contrary to the prototypes. Not about roofs, as I recall, but more fundamental issues such as, when cars were built and the frame technology that dictated the car building activity of this railroad.
He references my long standing penchant for modeling the pre ICC regulations that more than doubled the number of grab irons on freight cars after 1911. That isn't the only reason I like the earlier periods. I do loath the tedious task of installing grab irons. Harry is relating my impatience with grab irons to his
impatience (I gather) of applying decals - one digit at a time - characteristic of lettering sets for freight cars. Fewer numerals, fewer grab irons - yeah. I get that. But imagine the task of re lettering every model to match the prototype should one try to change a layout as advanced as Harry's.

In the following post, dated 30 May 2008. Harry responded to a few of the thoughts I shared with him about the world of Fine Art and its treatment of artists. His remarks reveal a little bit of insight into his own experiences as a working artist.
 " ...Too many years spent learning the hard way that even supposedly sure fire ways of doing it, weren't a sure thing at all. One truth stands out, and it works for Vegas gamblers and artists, and any salesmen... the more money you have already... the less you NEED the next move to succeed... the more likely you WILL succeed, and win big. A relatively well off bank president, who was a good friend was a case in point. He ALWAYS won big in our poker sessions. 'Course they weren't serious money games, but you get the drift. Saw the same thing amoung the artists that I showed with. One of the more successful was asked by a friend and fellow artist, just how you went about getting into one of the major big league art shows, as he had. Not being smartass about it, he said he noticed they actually came to him, after his own personal sales were doing so well he no longer really needed help.
   "In my case, supposedly having your art on magazine covers was a fast track item. Yeah, well with 11 Quarter Horse Journal covers, one Western Horseman cover, and a good western history book cover along with some lesser publications, I admit in some circles it helped the sales of my paintings. But getting in front or into those circles with any regularity wasn't a done deal. Made some big shows, and good sales, but the economy beat me up in between. Never got the war chest built up to the point that the next one didn't matter too much. I got close, but the bottom for the up and comers fell out just as things seemed to be coming together. Close, but no cigar...

I'll not burden you with much of what I said to Harry. What I will say is that the artist - who does all the work - gets very little return compared to the industrializers of art. Unless, of course the artist is an industrializer himself - like Thomas Kinkade. True art is contrary to commercialism because it is a language not a product. Anyway, I have sold a few pieces - and never saw them again! They are like children you send off to school; and never come home again. My walls are filled with some of them. I get more enjoyment out of them than what ever I might do with the money.
There is an excellent article on the Union Central & Northern in the May 1989 Model Railroader that includes a layout plan before it moved into "Little Colorado". That issue has a beautiful cover photo of U.C&N no. 65 at Idaho Springs. If you can obtain or have a copy, it is well worth reviewing for more of an overview of the layout and philosophy the went into creating the Union Central & Northern.
Next time we will talk about the Sn3 box car Harry lettered U.C&N for me. .