Monday, October 26, 2015

1954 Santa Fe Extra 255 West in N Scale

Todays posting is of a Santa Fe freight train westbound to Los Angeles.  Extra 255 West is led by an ABBA combination of EMD F7 Locomotives, each boasting 1500hp.  The train number is taken from the locomotive number.  Most Santa Fe freight trains ran as "Extras". 
 Extra 255 passing Desert Cement outside of Needles, California.
Desert Cement

NYC boxcar originally purchased in the late 70's, one of the first Kadee N Scale releases.

Caboose 1790 brings up the rear of Extra 255.

Most westbound trains, both freight and passenger, fuel up in Barstow before finishing their run to LA or Richmond, CA.
ATSF 90000 was the only center depressed flat car of the class.
Two Union Pacific gondolas with tire loads (from Hays Bros.)
Maximum use of space with six tractors on a 50' ATSF flat car.
 Hays Bros. pipe loads in an SP gondola and a WP fishbelly gondola.  Both cars are from Micro Trains.

A video of this train can be found on YouTube at:

Thanks for tuning in to the Needles Division.

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

1954 Santa Fe Fast Mail Express #7 in N Scale

Beginning in 1915, The Santa Fe Railroad daily ran express freight trains, Nos. 7 westbound and 8 eastbound between Los Angeles and Chicago. These trains were routed on a passenger schedule.  The railroad also had a contract with the government to handle all mail within its territory, no matter how much.  The same went for express freight.  The railroad had to provide transportation for various sized carloads.  Santa Fe also handled various express cars from other railroads, as well as their own RPO's and mail cars.  Thus, no two trains were alike.
Today's #7 Fast Mail is led by EMD F3 ABBA #16, which have been upgraded to F7 specifications.  Total horsepower is 6000. (The video has F7's leading). The models are Kato first generation units, upgraded with Phase III frames and motors (for quieter and smoother running).  They also feature "Farr" stainless steel grilles from JnJ trains.
Following the F units, we see a 50" Express Box car (Con-Cor) custom painted and a custom Santa Fe kit car (mfg forgotten).
Two Micro Trains 50' Express Freight cars.  It is probable that these cars would have received the simplified express cars paint scheme by 1954, but I included the just because they look so cool!
 REA refrigerator car from Micro Trains.
 REA 40' refrigerator car, maybe Intermountain.
 Baggage car from 3432 class cars.  From Kato.
Santa Fe owned ONE of these cars, an upgraded truss rod, wood sided car, with steel plates covering areas where there were once windows.  A major rebuild if ever there was one.  Atlas chose to manufacture these cars in quantity in N Scale! (I, of course, have several.)
Custom built from M&R sides, ATSF 1982 represents one of many horse express cars used to transfer race horses from tracks throughout the country.  Painted grey with silver lettering.  One of my favorite cars on the Needles Division.
Custom painted NYC baggage car.  The shell is from Con Cor.

Heavyweight RPO 65 is a Pecos River Brass model produced some 30? years ago.  Custom painted.  Found on Ebay in the nineties, I paid a premium price for my four RPO's and was glad to do it.  I modified the trucks for smooth operation. Very rare car.
The prototype was manufactured in 1924, with two 4-wheeel trucks covering a 60' 8 1/2"' length. These two cars are true Railway Post Offices, authorized by the Federal Government.
Custom built from M&R sides on an Atlas (Rivarossi) frame, ATSF 2028 is a baggage and mail car.  The prototype is from the ATSF 2000 class heavyweight all steel baggage and mail combine.  Built as a 70' car in 1927, it rides on 6 wheel trucks.
Santa Fe baggage 1827 is shown here in  a rarely seen "Scout" paint scheme.

70' PRR baggage from Walthers
Custom painted and decaled ATSF Fe-24 Express car from Micro Trains.  Note that the Cross Herald does not have a black background.

Two Atlas baggage cars
By law, a rider car was needed for any passenger traffic.  The prototype combines 2602-2608 were converted from Buffet-Library cars between 1937 and 1940 specifically for the Fast Mail Express.

You can view a video of this train on YouTube at:

Friday, August 7, 2015

1954 Santa Fe Extra 102 East in N Scale

Today's posting is of a Santa Fe Eastbound freight led by a four unit set of EMC FT locomotives.  This set of diesels are permanently coupled via a drawbar and thus referred to as a single locomotive, number102.  Individually, they are 102L, 102A, 102B and 102C, although in 1954 there were no exterior markings referring to the letters, and no markings at all on the "B" units.
The diesels were built by Electro Motive Company before being absorbed by General Motors and becoming a division of that company (EMD).  EMC considered (2) two unit sets of 2750 hp  back to back a single locomotive (A-B-B-A).  Interestingly enough, the name "FT" is derived from "Freight-Twenty-seven hundred HP" total.  

  The units were delivered in 1941. In 1954, FT 102 sports a modified "Catwhisker" paint scheme, cream yellow and blue, and red pin stripes on the nose section.  There were many variations to this paint scheme.
Here we see a couple of Bulkhead flat with steel fabrication load.
D&RGW flat with machinery load and a ATSF empty flat car.
Two loads of spools of heavy duty wire of some kind.
Standard Santa Fe caboose with conductor on the platform taking in the scenery as it travels past Desert Cement.
You can see a video of this train on YouTube at:

Thanks for your interest!

Friday, June 12, 2015

1954 Santa Fe Extra 239 in N Scale


F7 ABBA Extra 239 eastbound over a dry wash in the Mojave Desert, working that 6000 horsepower.  Most Santa Fe freight trains ran as "Extras" in the 1950's.  The train was numbered after the lead locomotive in the train, thus Extra 239.  And, of course, a YouTube video comes with this blog.

The video is located on YouTube at:


Because 1950's freight trains usually consisted mainly of 40' or 50' boxcars, with an occasional tank car or hopper, I decided to show you some of the unique cars in the consist rather than every car in the train.

From Fox Valley Models, a Milwaukee Road long ribbed box car, "Route of the Electrified Olympian" slogan.  Nothing done to it yet, just a unique boxcar from the MILW.
Here we see three Micro Train 50' gondolas, each carrying a load of pipes.   All three gondolas are heavily weathered and the pipe loads are from Hays Brothers.
Micro Trains  50' flat with load from Chooch Enterprises.
Two more MT 50' gondolas with rolled steel loads.  These loads also come from Chooch Entp.
Stock MT 50' boxcar.  Mildly weathered 
Baltimore and Ohio USRA Steel Boxcar with overlapping flat panel roof, lightly weathered. 
Three Texaco 36' tank cars from Micro Trains.  Weathered with rust colored accents along the top of the tank car cylinder. 



Thursday, May 7, 2015

1954 Santa Fe Chief #19 Westbound in N Scale

 Today the Needles Division goes back in time to the transition era of railroading.  Most railroads were in the middle of converting from steam to diesel power, and facing a severe decline in passenger service, due to competition from autos and planes.  Over the next several months, I will try to show you how the Santa Fe Railroad may have looked in year 1954, as it tried to keep passenger trains as well as freight trains, loaded and running on time.

The Chief

Due to reduced passenger volume in the early 50's, the Chief was now required to add chair cars to the sleeper cars the train had historically carried exclusively.  Transcontinental traffic (from Washington, Baltimore and New York) was transferred to the Super Chief.  The Chief ran in this basic format until the late fifties when high level cars replaced most equipment. The Chief  ran from Chicago to Los Angeles, and vice versa.
The order of cars was very important.  Baggage cars at the head end, followed by a baggage dormitory lounge car, chair cars, lunch counter diner, diner, bar lounge, sleepers, and observation.
The equipment varied with each season, but a 1954 Chief would look something like this:


The Chief was powered mostly by EMD F7's or upgraded F3's, in an ABBA arrangement.  This provided 6000 horsepower for the14-18 car train.  Kato models.

The first car following the baggage cars is the Pullman built Baggage Dorm Lounge, no. 3479.  This is the only car in the consist with the vestibule in the rear, for accessibility to the lounge by coach passengers.  The dormitory section was for the crew.  Remember, some of the crew servicing the passengers remained with the train for much of the trip.  The BDL is from M&R sides on a American Limited frame, the four chair cars are from Kato.

Following the 3-5 chair cars would be the lunch counter diner, number 1505.  Santa Fe was one of the few railroads employing the LCD.  This Budd car was built especially for the Santa Fe and primarily designed for use by coach passengers.  The model is from Pecos River Brass, with scratch built interior.

 The Budd diner, number 1490, followed the LCD as it was primarily designed for the sleeper car passengers, the sleepers being in the rear of the train.  The model is from Kato with four kitchen windows added by the author.

Following the diner you find the bar lounge car, the Pullman made 1345.  This is where those passengers in private rooms can mingle with the other passengers and have a refreshing drink.  A car of this type is necessary for cross country travel.  The car is made with the M&R/American Lmtd. combo.  The 10-6* Sleeper "Palm Top" is from Pullman and is a Kato model from the Super Chief set.

The second of five sleeper cars is the popular 4-4-2* "Mojave" manufactured by Pullman Car Co. in 1938 for the Super Chief.  The model is the mating of M&R car sides with American Limited sub frame and trucks, with Kato wheel sets.

Next is the 1938 Pullman 17 Roomette* "Paria".  Again, a M&R/American Lmtd. custom build.

The final two cars are an 8-2-1* Budd sleeper "Isleta" built for the 1937 Super Chief and the Pullman 4-1* sleeper "Puye" built in 1938.  The Isleta is from the Oriental Limited 1938 Super Chief brass release from many years ago.  The Puye is a Bedroom Lounge Observation.  A modified Atlas car, it is a  model release from the 1970's (still available today!).

10-6                10 Roomette--6 Bedroom
4-4-2                 4 Compartment--4 Bedroom--2 Drawing Room
17 Roomette    17 Roomettes--1 Section (for Porter)
8-2-1                  8 Section--2 Compartment--1 Drawing Room
4-1                     4 Drawing Room--1 Bedroom

More definitions later. Many more trains throughout 2015!

For a video of this train on YouTube:


 Thanks for visiting the Needles Division!

Monday, February 16, 2015

Needles Division 1954 Trailer

I have posted a short teaser video on YouTube with a view of upcoming pix and 1954 Santa Fe RR videos to be published over the next year.  I am currently working on sound effects and I will attempt to combine some current unpublished videos with Diesel sounds.  Hopefully, this will happen soon.?

In the meantime, take a look at a short video of upcoming releases...