InterMountain USRA Composite Gondolas

Discussion in 'Freight Equipment' started by yardmaster, Dec 22, 2007.

  1. yardmaster

    yardmaster Administrator Staff Member Administrator Supporter

    Folks -
    As I was looking through some old MR articles I'd razored out, I ran across a product review from 7 years ago on the aforementioned product. The article notes how the SL-SF purchased 1,000 of these cars.

    Looking through the '43 Official Register, my best guess for a match is the 50399-51927 series (945 total). Can anyone validate or clarify?

    If memory serves correctly the 85000-85999 series gons were rebuilt USRA composite cars with side doors?

    Looks like a good, affordable steam-era car assuming they've not been discontinued and/or can be found.

    Best Regards,
  2. meteor910

    meteor910 2009 Engineer of the Year Staff Member Supporter

    Chris - Today I received two of the Walthers Proto 1000 Frisco USRA 50-ton drop-bottom composite gondolas, SLSF 85851 and SLSF 85899. These are a new release of the earlier P1K car that came out about 3-4 years ago in C&O and CB&Q colors, as I recall.

    Check the Walthers web site: item numbers are 920-237053 for the pair, 920-37053 for one - $20 for the pair, $10 for one. The single car is SLSF 85825.

    They're OK, not great, but OK. It's a die cast body, so all the grabs, etc, are cast on, but detail is pretty good otherwise. Graphics are OK as well - the font is a little too thick, but I always complain about that! I thought they ought to have a black background in the coonskin, but my one pic of this car shows it as Walthers has done it. My car diagram shows the cars having Andrews trucks - Walthers has them riding on some type of Bettendorf. They were built in 1919, SLSF 85000-85999.

    Over the years, 1934-1940, many these cars were rebuilt - some with side dump doors but still with wood siding, some with steel panel sides, and some with steel panel sides with side dump doors. My car diagrams don't show what truck rode under the steel side rebuilds.

    Picture attached is from the Walthers on-line catalog on their web site.

    Ken |-|

    ps#1 - These cars are not the same as the earlier Walthers kit of this car that was released about ten-twelve years ago. That car was lettered SLSF 50374, and it had a "Frisco Lines" coonskin with a black background.

    ps#2 - Somewhere around here, I have the Sunshine Models data sheet on these cars from their steel side rebuild version kits. That should provide a good history of these cars and all the varieties. Martin always does a good job on car history.

    ps#3 - I found Martin Lofton's data sheet for his Sunshine Models Kits 12.1 and 12.2, the SLSF steel panel rebuilds of the USRA 40ft gondolas, with (12.1), and without (12.2), side dump doors, respectively. Martin states that none of the Frisco cars in the series SLSF 85000-85999 had bottom dump doors, hence the reason for rebuilding them with side dump doors. Thus the Walthers car is in error on this point, since they do have bottom doors. Martin also notes the cars generally retained their Andrews trucks, so the Walthers car will need a set of P2K Andrews trucks added to be correct on this point. The pics on the instruction sheet also show the cars with "Frisco Lines" coonskins, both with and without the black background.

    Attached Files:

    Last edited by a moderator: Jan 2, 2008
  3. yardmaster

    yardmaster Administrator Staff Member Administrator Supporter

    Good info and great review, Ken. I'm thinking this is an affordable must-have for a steam-era or later Frisco modeler.

    I pulled out the reproduction 1943 Official Register. I'm still learning to read all of the notes correctly, but if I'm on notes that 85851 was one of 175 of the 85000-85999 series equipped with 6 side doors. Neither 85899 or 85825 seem to have had any side doors.

    I met Joe Pennington once years ago at a McDonnell-Douglas swap meet. I'm thinking he was selling some side door resin castings for these gons? Hard to remember from that long ago, especially when I was even more clueless on freight cars! I wonder if some could be easily scratchbuilt if one choose to do so?

    There are probably not that many (myself included) want to pick that many nits, but I reckon it's good info for those more particular than I.

    Regarding the bottom doors - are they visible on the underframe from a side view? If not, sounds like a candidate for carrying loads on your subdivision!
  4. meteor910

    meteor910 2009 Engineer of the Year Staff Member Supporter

    Chris -

    No, the bottom dump doors on the P1K 85000-85999 model are not visible from the side. You can see them, of course, from the top on the car floor deck. I plan to install a sand or ore load in mine, so the doors will not be apparent unless you pick up the car and look at the bottom.

    I looked up all my SLSF car diagrams for these cars - there are several sheets in the series as there were several different rebuilds. The first SLSF 85000-85999 car diagram in the series is marked "original", build date of 1919, with no rebuild dates (as opposed to the additional diagram pages for the various rebuilds of these cars). This "original" car diagram shows and/or indicates no doors, bottom, end or side, and no rebuild dates. These boxes are either blank or x'ed out.

    Thus, as I just posted on the Yahoo Frisco site, my thought remains that these cars came originally with no bottom doors. Many of them were used in ore service in Alabama. The crews no doubt got tired of shoveling them out, so at the first shopping for rebuilds, 1934-1940 per the car diagrams, steel sides went on some, or most, of them, and many of these also received side-dump doors. Some other cars retained their wood sides, but also received side-dump doors.

    A fun detail mystery - Frisco trivia pursuit!

    Ken |-|
  5. gna

    gna Member Supporter

    I just picked one up at my LHS on Saturday. Here's a shot:


    You can see the bottom dump doors. I'll probably put a load in mine, too.

    I may buy the 2 pack and get all three cars. I'm just happy to get affordable, decent quality Frisco rolling stock.
  6. meteor910

    meteor910 2009 Engineer of the Year Staff Member Supporter

    I finished P1K USRA composite gondola SLSF 85851, and have it in service. I switched the trucks to the P2K Andrews truck with rib-back wheels, added Cal Scale air line hoses, switched the couplers to Kadee 5's, and, after trimming to the proper length, added a CM Shops sand load. I treated the CM load with a thin black wash to make it look real and not like a big blob of mustard. That worked very well. The load casting is a smidge too narrow, but when tucked down into the car, it looks fine.

    The car looks OK, but not great in my opinion. The Frisco coonskin bothers me the most. I might put on a "Frisco Lines" decal if I can find one that will match the size. The car also needs to be weathered - it is far too squeaky clean for an old USRA gon.

    I haven't decided yet if I will keep the second car from the two-pack, SLSF 85899. I also have two undec Intermountain kits of the same car to build. The IRC cars, when combined with Tom's Oddballs decals, will make a better looking model.

    But, I agree with gna - the P1K is a nice Frisco car for the price.

    Last edited by a moderator: Feb 11, 2008
  7. meteor910

    meteor910 2009 Engineer of the Year Staff Member Supporter

    FYI, here are two pics of the Proto 1000 USRA composite gondola, SLSF 85851, with only the modifications I talked about in my posting of last night added. The lighting was poor and you can't easily see the Andrews trucks on the pics.

    One other thing I noted about this P1K model since finishing it and putting it on the rails - it rides high. The Kadee coupler is about 10-15% above the Kadee coupler gauge. :(

    I'm going to try a couple of other brands of Andrews trucks to see if that makes a difference. These are P2K's.


    Attached Files:

  8. yardmaster

    yardmaster Administrator Staff Member Administrator Supporter

    Many thanks for the photos and review info, gentlemen. I'm presuming the "Frisco" coonskin sans lines is the only version they offer. My guess is that the "Frisco Lines" would've been correct for the receivership days but a guess it is nonetheless!

    Regardless, I concur with Gary...good, affordable SL-SF rolling stock is nice to have!

    Best Regards,
  9. meteor910

    meteor910 2009 Engineer of the Year Staff Member Supporter

    Looking at the pics I posted of SLSF 85851, the sand load looks mustard yellow, like a load of sulfur! That is from the fluorescent lighting over the model - I took the pics with no flash. The actual color of the CM load is tan sand color, darkened and highlighted by the wash I applied.


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