To paraphrase Vane Jones, "Knowledge is of little value until shared with others."

Sunday, November 18, 2012

A Comparison of NSL Merchandise Dispatch Paint Schemes

Part of this post was an email I sent to some of my friends. One of them commented the info should be posted in my blog. This gives me a chance to get into a favorite idea of mine - comparing models of the the same prototype car or series of cars.

Looking at someones model gives you a chance to look deeper into the interest and interpretation of the prototype by the modeler. After all, the finished model is the representation of what the prototype looked like to the individual who made the model.

Maybe it's time to get out of the esoteric and back to real life. This is a comparison of the North Shore Lines (NSL) 203 to 214 series of express cars. Just so there is no confusion these cars were also called Merchandise Dispatch (MD) or merchandise cars.   

Everyone has looked at both black & white and color photos of NSL cars. After a while some of the paint schemes become blurred in our minds. We can all recall the paint scheme of the cars we have seen running or in which we rode many years ago.

The NSL's MD cars present an interesting study. Many years ago O scale kits were available to build the 203 to 214 series - the 4-baggage (1 at each corner of the body) door style or the 215 to 239 - the 2-baggage (center) door version. I obtained 2 of the 4-baggage door kits with the idea of running them in a train. Why I didn't get 1 kit of each version is lost to the past!

Two events happened within the past week which caused me to get into the topic of comparing the paint schemes of similar models. These were the 2012 TrainFest in Milwaukee and a "Trolley Nite" held by one of the local fellas, Terrell Colson. As we go along you will see how these 2 events came into "play".
Starting with the "Trolley Nite", one of the attendees, Ralph Nelson, brought his NSL MD cars. This models were 1 MD car pulling 3 refrigerator trailers.
Ralph's models were painted in dark green with gold lettering. In the early 1900's before Insull's take-over of the NSL, when the North Shore set its goals on being a major intercity railway all of its equipment was painted in a dark green with gold lettering. Both the passenger and MD cars were paint this way. The 1st 2 photos were taken on Terrell's layout.
This is the complete train of Ralph's models. Of interest to note, early NSL trains ran without headlights.

Sometime in the 1920's after Insull took over, passenger and MD cars were painted orange with maroon trim. The lettering on the cars was the same. The next 2 photos are my models taken on my layout.

After the depression set in, all service (passenger and freight) was hit hard. As revenues dropped, the NSL looked for ways to reduce cost. One way was to cut the cost of repainting equipment. Since the MD service had been reduced to almost nothing, the paint scheme of the MD cars was reduced to all orange with black lettering. This is the paint scheme which lasted until the end of the NSL in early 1963.
Don't ask why I painted one model in the orange and maroon and the other in the all orange. I've forgotten! The other question I ask myself is why didn't I get one of the 2-baggage door kits back then. 
There are both of the O scale kits available on EBay. I have enough other models to complete so I will not be increasing my roster of NSL MD cars.
The other variation on the MD paint schemes is the WW II red, white, and blue "Buy U.S.War Bonds" scheme. The preprinted sides were available in an O scale kit form, I think.  Some how this paint scheme didn't appeal to me back then. However, it does look good to me now! Times have changed!
To complete the paint schemes, here is Eric Bronsky's HO model as it appeared at the 2012 TrainFest.  The photo was taken as the model sat in a siding on one of the many modules of the Northwest Traction Group.  Someone I know has one of the O scale models of the "Buy U.S. War Bonds" car but I don't know who it is. I've searched my photo files without any luck.
Thanks to color photography, or today it should be called electronic photography,  the various NSL paint schemes used on the MD cars can be seen. I hope you have enjoyed the comparisons of the color schemes as well as the models.
As you look at the models think of them as the representation of what the prototype looked like through the eyes of the individual who made the model.


Thursday, November 1, 2012

The Tale of Two Fives

In 1946 the Aurora Elgin & Fox River Electric Company pulled down the trolley wire and dieselized. The Elgin State Hospital and the Kerber Packing Company were customers of the electric line and still required railroad service.

A General Electric 45-ton diesel locomotive was purchased to serve these remaining freight customers. The locomotive was numbered No. 5. A diamond shaped logo was painted on the side of the locomotive along with the railway's name and the locomotive's roster number.

Over the years small diesel locomotives were made and imported in brass for the O scale market. There were 44-ton and 70-ton models. Then, a few years ago Rich Yoder imported a 45-ton model in brass.

This was it! Rich Yoder had made and imported other freight cars which I owned. They are extremely fine models for the cost. The new 45-ton locomotive was also a star! It runs well plus the detail is all there.

This is the model, when just like the AEFRE, my trolley wire comes down, and a small layout with a few freight cars can be made to keep me occupied.
My model is painted and lettered for the 1946 era.
No. 5 pulling one of Rich Yoder's High Walkway Tank Car and a pink Chateau Martin express car.
Don Bruno also purchased a 45-ton model. He wanted his painted and lettered for the time when the AEFRE stopped freight service and became a Trolley museum.
No. 5 is pulling a Rich Yoder Mathieson Dry Ice Car.

Some comments about the 2 models are warranted. The decal used on the 1946 version of No. 5 was available from Walthers in both HO and O scale.  Years ago Walthers had many interurban decals available. Some were small runs. The small run decals were packaged with hand-written labels while others were packaged in typed labels.

For the newer era No. 5 Paul Mayer of Shore Line Decals made the decals. A link to  Shore Line Decals appears at the bottom of this page.

Paul has a drawing of the 1946 era AEFRE decals and potentially can make these decals upon request. I believe Paul can make both of the diesel era AEFRE decals in HO scale also.

If you scrutinize the under bodies of both No. 5's you may notice they do not match. In assembling the models, one has the under body reversed. 

The models run smooth and without any problems when operated straight out of the box. However, they ran faster than the prototype. For this reason I wired the 2 can motors in the hoods in series. Now both models run smoothly and slow! 

Both models have 2 horns, one on each hood. The prototype probably has only 1 horn. For the O scale models, HO scale horns were used. On the prototype the horns are small!

Finally for Don's model, the newer era, I had problems painting the louvers in the ends of the hoods in the alternating black and orange. Don instructed me to paint the louvers all black.

To give you an idea of Rich Yoder's attention to detail here is the interior floor with the operator's controls and seat. There is only 1 operator position next to the side window of the cab even though the locomotive can be operated in both directions and where the operator may have to move from one side of the cab to another to see the trainmen on the ground assisting in the operation.

Here is the operator "glued" in his seat using a generic "DAP Kwik Seal" adhesive. The adhesive is white now but will cure to a clear which is hard to see.

Rich Yoder has sold out of the O scale 45-ton locomotive. They will show up on EBay or train meets.

If you desire to see the actual prototype No. 5, visit the Fox Valley Trolley Museum  . After enjoying your visit and perhaps a ride you can become a member.