The Real Reason Railroads Exist
Hauling freight is how railroads make their money, no matter how much we may love passenger trains. Making money is why– and how– railroads continue to operate. In the model world, this basically means that you can never have too many freight cars.
I have a growing roster of freight equipment, and I’ve been trying harder to make it realistic (i.e. use cars that actually existed on the Rio Grande and successor roads).
I run a mix of freight cars from all the major manufacturers. There’s enough cars to represent the typical Moffat traffic during each era. As the line was dominated by coal traffic from the 1970s on, I have a LOT of coal hoppers: a 27-car CSDU/CSUX train, a PSCX unit coal train (Public Service of Colorado), a fleet of D&RGW quads, a few dozen aluminum cars for modern-era operations, plus a number of UP, MP, and C&NW cars. However, one must have a lot of freight cars for the manifests, so there’s a large stock of those from many different manufacturers.
(By the way, a 27-car coal train with a few locomotives and a caboose make for a HUGE train on a garage-sized HO layout! )
|Here’s a Thrall coal gondola from Roundhouse, lettered for PSCX. I created the artwork for the decals and had them custom-printed. The coal load is also homemade, using real coal. I did these cars before the factory-lettered cars were available. I’m also modifying some Walthers Bethgons for the same purpose.|
|I scratch-built this lumber load for a UP bulkhead flatcar. It was one of my earlier such projects, and turned out decent.|
|One of my Rio Grande quad hoppers from Walthers. This class of car was the signature coal hopper in the last decades of the Rio Grande. I changed the factory numbers on my fleet so they’re not all the same, and have repainted/decaled several cars. I also create plaster-cast coal loads for these, decorated with real crushed coal. Total fleet is north of 20.|
|Here’s a modified quad. Circa 1990 and forward, a number of the Grande’s Great Steel Fleet were relettered with a simplified scheme. The billboard logos were painted over (it’s quite obvious on some of the real cars). Note the weathering, which 16383 above had not received at time of the photo.|
|UTLX tank car from Walthers. I have several similar cars, and they’re a pain to build. It’s even more of a pain trying to keep the parts attached! Sure look nice, though. Thankfully they now make these ready-to-run.|
|Front Runner spine car, from Front Range. I have several of these two-axle cars, to support my mid-1980s piggyback operations. The Preferred Pool trailer is from Con-Cor, with added paint.|
|Insulated 62′ boxcar (beer car), an Eel River kit. These are some of my most detailed models– I now have five. The Grande ran many of these cars on the Moffat in the 1980’s and 1990’s, hauling beer from Coors to the western market. If you ever build your own, add weight!|
|Here’s a BN steel coil car. This type of car made frequent transits across the Moffat line– and still does.|
|Something different: a second-hand woodchip gondola, formerly BN and now owned by Greenbrier Leasing, numbered GBRX 34459. The oxidizing is severe on these old cars. See here for a view of the prototypes. I had fun experimenting with the weathering process.|
|Another well-weathered woodchip gondola. This one is ex-Northern Pacific, now GBRX 34678. These cars serviced the pulpwood shipper in Montrose, Colorado.|
|Here’s a SSW covered hopper, basic Athearn kit. I weathered it extensively, so the realism pops (and hides the otherwise-crude detail).|
In the 1970’s and 1980’s, the Rio Grande offered trailer-on-flatcar service for the City Market grocery chain on the western slope. I’ve kitbashed a couple of trailers to represent these, creating the artwork myself and printing the decals.
There’s a lot more equipment in the fleet, some of it highly unique; occasionally I will showcase something here. Check back for updates.