Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Building a WWII ATSF fleet

I model 1944 and the westernmost end of the Santa Fe in the Bay area.  I have been doing a lot of research on the Valley and SF Terminal divisions, but this post is applicable to anyone modeling the war years.  How do you get a representative fleet to run on your pike?  I've been a student of Tony Thompson's blog on the SP and he has posted many ideas applicable to building a realistic sample of cars.  Tony models 1953, a few years after my time, but his techniques are applicable to my era.  His layout is a good size for his location in Berkeley, but is a branch line and smaller than what I hope to build for Time Table & Train Order operations.  I have adapted his methods to my planning and obtained the Westerfield January 1945 ORER ($22 + shipping from their website )  This is a more convenient format and closer to my era than the April 43 and October 45 hard copies I picked up at train shows years ago.  I printed the ATSF pages and marked them up with notes from Larry Ochello's live list and the other volumes in the ATSF reference series.  Not something I care to do with my originals.  After a few days of work, I had a hard copy that included all of the ATSF/SFRD freight car classes, their numbers, dimensions and number of cars.  I transcribed all that info into an Excel workbook which I posted on my Google drive at

This is a work in progress, the freight car tab is a complete transcription of the Jan 45 ORER entries with added fields for the ATSF class.  The Refrigerator car tab has all the cars, classes, and numbers, but lacks the dimensional data which I have yet to enter.  The summary tab has a listing of cars by class for each of the Santa Fe car types. The numbers to the left of the designation are the actual number of cars from the ORER.  The number just to the right of the designation is the number of cars needed to build a scale fleet based on 1 model per  250 ATSF cars.  This can be changed by altering the value of cell V1.  As it is, the number of ATSF/SFRD cars would be 257 if I followed the plan.   You will note the dimensions are all in feet with two decimal places.  The Eng-Dec tab has a table that I used to enter the Feet-Inches (English) measurements found in the ORER as decimal feet. There are 96 unique decimal equivilents to a foot divided into 1/8 inch increments.  Using decimal feet makes the tables much easier to sort.  The Significant Groups tab is derived from Richard Hendrickson's Warbonnet article and Peter Aue's updates.  It too is a work in progress and currently only has the house car info.

I will update and revise the spread sheet as I have time, meanwhile, it is usable as is.  I figured out how many of the current Shake & Take end sets to order using the info to look up the number of Bx-28 and Bx-31 cars I would need, which works out to one of each.  I will need one of the forthcoming Bx-32, two of the Bx-33 and six of the Bx-36 sets.  I hope someone redoes the "Buy War Bonds" decals that came with the Sunshine Bx-36.  That is just too cool and timely for it not to appear on its way to the San Francisco Port of Embarkation. More to come.

John Barry
Cameron Park, CA

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