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Odd imbalances in available rolling stock


Barry Ten

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  • RMweb Gold

Not so much a whinge, more a puzzle. I started buying Southern rolling stock around 2002, when I first started getting into America N. Since then I have tried to keep my eye open for all Southern related releases and have generally snapped up any that come my way. Over the ensuing eight years I have acquired quite a few different runs of box cars, ranging from 40 footers with roof walks, to the 60 foot waffle siders in my latest thread post. These are mostly from the likes of Micro-Trains, Atlas and Athearn.

 

Not knowing any better, I didn't realise until quite recently that the modern style of "Southern" marking, with the green "o" and "Giving a green light to innovations" slogan, is quite, well, modern - 1969 or later, I believe. The earlier style, with the older Southern lettering, and the roundel, would be more appropriate for layouts set in the 40s, 50s, and early-mid 60s. As this is the so-called "transition era", and supposedly the most popular among modellers, you'd think the earlier style would be the more popular one among manufacturers. Yet I've only managed to pick up a measly two boxcars in this scheme over eight years, both of which were from earlier releases. Anyone modelling the 50s or 60s in N is going to have to do a lot of repainting and decaling to get the right looking freight stock. And yet, the older style did hang around quite some time after 1969, so it's not as if those cars wouldn't have usefulness to modellers working in later eras.

 

I wonder if this imbalance is unique to the Southern? Evidence suggests that it might be, as my "foreign road" box cars include many transition-era designs.

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You find that to a greater or lesser extent with most of the transition-era roads. You also have to be diligent and grab things when they are available. Occasionally a manufacturer will do a run of different numbers in a useful livery, but usually you only get them in dribs and drabs. It does depend a bit on the perceived popularity of the road - I think Southern may be one of the less popular roads. Also, I think the popularity of 'transition-era' modelling in N-scale is biased more towards the end ('60s) due to the limitations of the available steam locos, so there are more late '60s cars produced than the earlier liveries.

 

I model PRR, and it is relatively difficult to find stock in particular transition schemes (not helped by the fact that the PRR freight livery changed a couple of times in the '50s to early '60s).

 

Walthers shows a couple of Atlas Trainman 50' Double-Door boxcars in Southern livery.

 

Adrian

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Several issues: "prototype modeling" is much less popular in N, so you won't get the variety of equipment you find in HO, especially filled out with urethane kits. The psychology is probably different: a prototype modeler will fawn over the style of brake wheel, which is more possible in HO, but it also enables him to ignore the big picture. But second, the 1940-60 era had less variety of freight cars in the first place, since covered hoppers became popular only late in the period. Flats, gons, 40-foot boxes, etc., were used for a lot more purposes. Unit trains only started in the 1960s. I would say that in both N and HO, it's possible to find Southern gons, 40-foot boxes, 50-foot boxes, 55-ton hoppers, green diesels, etc., but you sort of have to focus. But finally, the southeastern roads in general have been less popular than the northeasterns or the transcontinentals.

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BTW. If you want I can keep an eye out for Southern stock when I'm at shows or flea markets. The time frame is similar to mine, so I wouldn't really worry if I picked up something you didn't need/already had, since it would fit in with my stock.

 

Adrian

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  • RMweb Gold

Good points, gents. Adrian - yes, I hadn't really thought about the fact that N scale steam isn't as popular as in HO, but that must certainly be an issue skewing things towards the later end of the transition era (the Southern, of course, got rid of steam earlier than almost anyone else but that's a side topic). Thanks also for the kind offer to look out for stuff - much appreciated. PM on its way...

 

JWB: you're right about the southeastern roads being less popular, which is part of the attraction in a way - I didn't want to do UP or Sante Fe or any of the "obvious" ones, but I suppose I shouldn't moan about stuff being harder to come by. It could be worse, of course - it would be much more of a challenge doing Frisco or Virginian or GM&O, all lines that appeal to me...

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