Tag Archives: Southern Pacific

Site seeing – March 06 – Bruce Petty’s Glendale Freight house Module Redux edition

In a post on January 18, 2017 I made mention of Bruce Petty’s excellent module of the end of the Union Pacific’s Glendale Branch and the freight station located there. Bruce’s Module is 5 feet (1500mm) x 18 inches (450mm) but to my eye looks much bigger because of the great use of the space he has made. There is no crowding, no feeling of busyness, only the feeling of a warm summers afternoon in Los Angeles sometime during the 1960s or 1970s. This small scene is evocative and places you immediately in the place and time, even if that is coloured by your chosen time period.

The majority of my layout designs fit into an 8 foot space Bruce’s layout module with the addition of a 3 foot fiddle yard fits right in the space available and would make an excellent display or exhibition layout. More importantly it would fit with any time period from the late 1940s – early 1950s (when I believe that the freight house was built) through to the mid to late 1980s when I believe the freight house fell out of use.

As I said in the previous post I’ve pondered over how to use Bruce’s track plan in other ways. I’ve even worked the design up into a 1/12th scale model to see how it might work. I’ll come back to the alternative in my next post; for now let’s revisit Bruce’s excellent module.

A closer look at Bruce’s module

While this module is a part of Bruce’s larger railroad forming the end of the UP’s Glendale branch it can also stand alone as a layout in its own right. At its heart it is an Inglenook layout. Each of the freight house roads can take two 40 foot boxcars against the dock. For those of you interested in modelling this layout at a later stage it is highly likely that the Freight station never hosted more than 2 x 50 foot boxcars at any one time. If it did so then they would be placed on the right most track with the second car either unloaded directly into trucks as shown in Photo 1 above or set off spot on the left most track and switched out once a suitable space was available at the dock. Lots of switching possibilities here.

Of particular note in the photo above is the connecting piece to the rest of the layout. I like this little yet important touch. The wooden insert which allows the module to join the layout has been disguised as a typical UP/SP bridge. Very smart and ensures that the layout and the module appear to be a single whole and not something that Bruce built later on.


Operations on this layout would be pretty good too. As we’ve discussed before on the blog Inglenooks are completely prototypical and often used by railroads in tight places. Operating with a locomotive pushing in – pulling out switching focuses on the industry or industries served. The longest track on Bruce’s layout I would use as my switching storage and sorting track. The incoming train pulling outbound cars before spotting them on the long track. Cars would then be switched according to requirement on the remaining two car tracks at the docks. Any cars from those pulled needing to be spotted back at the dock could then be spotted before the locomotive crew pick up the remaining outbound cars and head back across the bridge and back to the yard. And here endeth the session.

Short, clear, easy to achieve, enjoyable and within the 30 minutes to 1 hour per day play time that a small layout should give you. Whether you use a single person (driver/engineer only) or two person (driver/engineer and conductor) crew to do the work the time taken will remain roughly the same. I prefer a two person crew simply because it makes the play time more fun when family or friends get involved.

Hope that this revisit has been of some use. If you like the blog don’t forget to Like and Subscribe. PLease comment if you are looking for more information on layout designs or on the designs I’ve previously posted. And of course take the time to visit the “further reading and resources” links below.

Further Reading and Resources


Site seeing – January 18 – the ‘Perfect Storm’ but in a good way edition

I’ve had an idea for a small layout, running around the mouse wheel that I use for a brain, for a while now. What kicked the idea off was a 2013 plan published in the Model Railroader for the Glendale Freight House that Union Pacific built there during what I ‘believe’ was the early 1950s. Bruce Petty has already built a layout based on the real location and using the UP freight house in Glendale. Let’s take a look at that first to see where we start from.

Site 1: The Union Pacific freight station drawings

Step one of this plan is to get a copy of the plans. They are available for logged in users on the MR site by clicking the link above.

Modellers in HO scale will need to enlarge the drawing substantially (which is doable at a local copy store)to be able to build directly off the drawing.

Big thanks to my next site owner for the idea about doing that. He uses the protective sleeves (clear plastic ones) to build on.

The model once completed using liquid polystyrene cement does not stick to these plastic sleeves and Bruce simply lifts the completed side of the model off the sleeve. Plan protected, model free, what’s not to like about that? I just wish I’d thought of that all these many years later. I did mention that I have a mouse driving the wheel that powers the mental machinery, right?

Site 2: Bruce Petty’s LA River Railroads site

Bruce’s website is a trove of information on the railroads of LA. His layout looks fantastic too. Of most interest to me was his article on the Glendale freight house build which you access from the link above. Well worth reading the entire page and taking in the method of building it. Clever, clever man!

This building rests on his Glendale module. When speaking to him via email earlier this week he told me: “… the modules for my layout are 18 inches wide and 5 feet long. If I ever move the layout goes with me easily taken down. All structures
and small detail parts come off the layout. On the Glendale module only the loading dock stays as it is concrete. No big deal to take this module down off the shelf brackets, it’s the end of the UP Glendale Branch.

Essentially the layout is an Inglenook (and exactly as the original). Bruce says that just like the original “… it gets switching crews from Southern Pacific and Union pacific. It’s a fun module to switch on and I can take it to shows.” What more do you need?

In the next post I’ll be taking a look at how I’d like to model this location as a stand alone layout. I’ll be taking a slightly different tack to Bruce’s excellent representation. I’ve been thinking about using an interesting technique to cover off the gaping hole in the wall exit to the fiddle yard that ought to work perfectly for this design; and all in 8 feet.

Additional resources:

Bruce has kindly provided me with images of the layout module. My thanks to Bruce for his kindness in being so willing in talking to a stranger and being willing to take photos of his layout especially for me to share with you.

All included images above are copyright of the creator and author: Bruce Petty. Used with permission on Andrew’s Trains.

The Happy 18th (Big Girl) Birthday Post

18 years ago today, we were lucky to be gifted with a wonderful little girl.

Southern Pacific NW-2E No. 1303
Southern Pacific NW-2E No. 1303 – Copyright Andrew Martin 2005

She’s not as little and has accomplished so much in her life this far. I am proud of her for the strength shown and the growth she has achieved. I am humbled by her achievements and resilience. Great way for a dad to feel.

So despite teenage angst, and troubles with tribbles, she’s still as much of a gift today as she was 18 years ago. Happy Birthday Bella!

(Note the obligatory railway content)

Site seeing – February 25 (It’s the Southern Pacific edition)

My long-suffering, patient and very lovely wife of many years is from the Lone Star state. My first train experience in Texas was in late 1997 just after arriving in the US. After pulling into a little gas and go station to get a soft-drink (soda) for each of us and something for the car on Airport Boulevard near Highland Mall.

While sitting in the car after filling her up, the Longhorn RR’s GP9 pulled up right behind the store (the little gas station is gone now, but it sat between the rail line and Airport Blvd), the crew got off and bought themselves a soda before remounting and chugging off up the line back toward the yard at McNeil.

It is not a bad way to be introduced to North American Shortline railroading. Being less than 10 feet away from the loco and it’s train was mesmerizing. I think the crew even waved as they walked by. I do however digress, onto today’s site of interest.

Site 1: The Texas and New Orleans, Southern Pacific Railroad slide show

The Southern Pacific gobbled up a lot of other railroads in its time, before being consumed itself in 1997 by the UP. Among the most interesting legacies of the constituent railroads were the station and depot buildings whose architectures varied widely, depending on the local flavour. Among my favourite SP depots is the San Antonio depot. While not shown in this set I have some colour photos of the San Antonio depot during an open day showing the stunning stained glass window above the depot stairs leading up to the first floor. A wonderful Spanish Mission style depot it is only one of the eclectic mix shown in the set above.

There’s more than just depots and other buildings in this lot though; there are also lots of locomotive pictures, location pictures and more, and the most of them are in glorious black and white. I hope that you enjoy.

Site seeing – 24 February

It’s been a busy month here at the HVL. Unfortunately much of it focused on the business of making a living and not making trains. A necessary evil, I am sure that this too shall pass. Now off to the races.

Site 1: Brian Moore from Plymouth, UK – Quisling, CA

Brian has a set of images that are growing of his HO scale modules over at his Flickr site.

Second Street and Main Street crossing
Second Street and Main Street crossing

There’s 70 images in the set so far, and some great modelling to view as well. Enjoy.

Site Seeing: December 14

After I reblogged Rails West’s San Fernando Valley Branch post on December 7th I took a look around the web to see if there were other sites that had information on this very interesting branch line. Luckily I found one. I could not find a SPINS book in my stash of SP paperwork to cover the area however you could certainly find this information from many of the online dealers (found at the last link) today.

There’s a week’s worth of information here and I hope you enjoy reading through it all.

Site 1: Burbank Branch Industries, 1981

Bruce Petty’s website has some really fine information (including lots of photos) of the branch in the early 1908s that would of interest should you decide to model the branch or one just like it. It includes the names of the industries served and the car lengths of the spurs.

Site 2: San Fernando Valley Freight Station Photos

Another of Bruce’s pages this time with photographs of the freight stations along sections of the line. Nice if you wanted to model any of these buildings specifically.

Site 3: Bruce’s layout page

Bruce has a model railroad covering a portion of the branch that was featured in the 2007 Great Model Railways (Kalmbach Publications). Take a good look around and take a look at some of the links on the page for the modelling articles there. Really goo stuff.

Site 4: CLIC, SPINS, ZTS: Zones, tracks, spots Identification

Some solid information on the different forms of track and spot identification. Main site is in German but the page is written in English.

Site 5: An overview of SPINS and the TOPS system that underpinned it

A great site with a huge range of detail and links about the SPINS system and the TOPS system. And yes UK modellers that is the same system BR purchased from the SP in the 1960s.

Why I carry a camera on every trip out and about

You never know what you are going to capture with your camera. Sometimes you’ll get a photo, and unprecedented access to things that you might never have believed would happen. Other times you manage to get a great series of photos just before a major event happens in the life of your chosen subject, after which event, things are never the same.

Just after we cam be back to Australia from the United States in 2006, my wife asked me why I bothered to take all of these photos of trams and trains. I told her that it was simple: “Today’s photo is tomorrow’s history”.

Over on the Rails West blog there are two recent posts that follow in just this theme.  Zip on over for a 1979 trip through the SP’s Hardy Street shops in Houston Texas.

Click the link to take you there: A trip to the Roundhouse…(Part I).

A Short History of the SP/SSW 40 foot Hi-cube boxcars and notes on modelling them

Originally posted on the old HVL Blog – August 10, 2010


The forty foot, 70 ton, Hi-Cube boxcars were built in the mid-1960’s specifically for high volume low weight cargo and were most often used in captive service between appliance manufacturers and distributors. They occasionally branched out into furniture and paper loads. Manufactured by Pacific Car and Foundry and Pullman-Standard ultimately their small size, and the load limitations this imposed saw them leave the rails in a relatively short time. Other larger boxcars from around the same era ride the rails when this article was being written.

The forty footers were a stop gap car. They allowed double (vertical) loading of refrigerators and freezers that still fit on the then current 40 foot door spacing of many warehouses. Within a short time, as new warehouses were built, and the older ones closed or rebuilt, 60ft High-Cubes, which could haul a vastly larger load became the norm. However, there is photographic evidence of the cars riding the rails until at least the beginning of august 1984. I have seen photos showing one of the cars in revenue use in the early 2000s.

Southern Pacific and Cotton Belt B-70-36 Box Cars

My interest in these cars is primarily the Southern Pacific (SP) and Cotton Belt (SSW) hi-cube box cars were all built to the same design by Pacific Car & Foundry in 1966 and 1967 featuring a 5001 cubic foot capacity, Hydra-Cushion underframes and 10′-6″ Youngstown sliding doors. These cars came to be nicknamed the “Ugly Ducklings” due their awkward  appearance.
Initially intended for appliance service, internally their dimensions were 40′-6″ long, 9’ 6” wide and 13’ high. This allowed double stacking of freezers allowing greater loads than regular boxcars. Up until their introduction the second layer of freezers were laid on their sides. This in turn led to problems with damage to the second layer due to train handling.Externally the cars had an overall coupled length of 45’ 5”, a maximum width of 10’ 8” and stood at their highest 16’ 10” above the rail height. It should be noted that the 1969 ORER shows the 11 SP cars one inch higher at 16’ 11”.

A roster of the class B-70-36 Hi-Cube box cars for the Southern Pacific (SP) and the St Louis Southwestern (SSW) or Cotton Belt is provided in Table 1 below:

Road    Number Range    Number    Load Specific Data
SP    659100-659111        12        DF-B loaders
SSW    36014–36026        13        DF, DF-B, Car Pac loaders
SSW    36027–36081        54
SSW    36082–36120        39
SSW    36121-36126          6

Total Cars: 124

Table 1: Southern Pacific Railway System 40’ High-Cube data

The Cotton Belt had one other set of Hi-Cube cars (SSW 36000-36013). These had been rebuilt from cars in the SSW 33850-33949 series built by Pullman-Standard in 1951. The roofs were raised and they were given new 10′-6″ wide by 11′-9″ tall doors. They were converted at Pine Bluff between December 1965 and January 1966[2].

Operationally the Cotton Belt (SSW) had the lion’s share of these 40 foot cars. It would appear that they were delivered in four different lots during 1966 and into 1967 and thus while consecutively numbered were given different listings in the ORERs of the time.

Modelling the 40 foot Hi-Cube

A word of caution

It should be noted that these cars were a minority car, and for the most part in captive service between the major white-goods manufacturers and the regional distribution locations hauling high volume low weight cargo. While used from the mid to late 1960’s they appear to have all be off the roster, or at least mostly out of use by the mid 1980s.

Having said that if you have a need for or want to model these cars the details below, which were found on the Yahoo! group “Railway Operations SIG” will be of assistance to you.


  • The cars manufactured by Pacific Car and Foundry for Southern Pacific (SP) and the Cotton Belt (SSW) match the Athearn exterior-post model. (#1950 40′ Ob Hi Cube Box Car – PC&F for SP 659100-659111; SSW series 36014-36126, both class B-70-36) failry closely
  • The Transco (ATSF), Maxson (CNW) and UP’s home built car match the Athearn plug door model; these also match the rebuilt cars of the SP. (#1960 40′ Plug Door Hi Cube Box Car – UP class B-50-4 appliance car)


  1. This data was sourced from the January 1969 Official Railway Equipment Register.
  2. Source: for more information please visit: http://www.railgoat.railfan.net/
  3. http://www.ho-scaletrains.net/id28.html (updates to the site have since rendered this link inoperable, check out the wayback machine for the link to see what was their)