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Prototype Description: Double-stack container trains first hit the rails for regular service in 1981. The Southern Pacific Railroad had developed the idea to provide service for the Sea- Land maritime shipping company. SP's pioneering double-stack service let Sea- Land's containers take a shortcut from the west coast to the Gulf of Mexico bypassing the Panama Canal. From prototype car to production order, the SP spent a little over four years on the double-stack development project. The SP's double-stack cars featured unwieldy bulkheads on each end to prevent the loose top container from blowing off of the car. A new group at Greenbrier Intermodal designed a similar bulkhead car, even as other companies were starting to leave the bulkheads off of their stack cars. The support for the upper container came from inter-box connectors (IBCs) which had been used for years in oceangoing container shipping. Greenbrier and their car builder, Gunderson, wanted to get in on that market, and did so with their Maxi-Stack cars. But there was another new market out there: developing a single, two-truck stack car. Almost all of the existing cars in service were articulated, with the exception of one SP prototype car.
David DeBoer, a co-founder of Greenbrier, had been seeking to fill this single-well stack car niche, despite the "intermodal experts" at Trailer Train Corp. insisting that the only single-well car that could ride smoothly was a European-style 2-axle car. (In fact, it was DeBoer who wrote the reference book I used for much of this background. His Piggyback and Containers is a highly recommended read, and it was my first review item for MRN.) DeBoer sought advice from his retired former boss at the SP. This pitted the Doubting Thomases at TTX up against Bill Thomford, who had developed the SP's double-stack prototypes. Thomford laughed off Trailer Train's existence, pointing out that his own single-well, two-truck stack car had a million miles of reliable service under its belt. DeBoer went back to Greenbrier and the company got to work designing the car that TTX said was doomed to failure.
In 1990, Gunderson turned out the Husky Stack. Test engineers proved Thomford right, and the cars tracked perfectly. Trailer Train ended up reversing their initial claims and ordering 150 Husky Stack cars built with 48-foot wells in 1991. The Burlington Northern also ordered 75 cars and other buyers lined up later. The original 1991 model cars are still going strong for many different owners, including Trailer Train.
Husky Stack development has continued today, with the introduction of 53-foot wells and the "All-Purpose" Husky Stack, with trailer hitches on each end. In Greenbrier terms, the car is named the HS53 for the 53-foot well version, making our Athearn model a HS48.
Road Name History:
The railroad was founded as a land holding company in 1865, later acquiring the Central Pacific Railroad by lease. By 1900 the Southern Pacific Company was a major railroad system incorporating many smaller companies, such as the Texas and New Orleans Railroad and Morgan's Louisiana and Texas Railroad. It extended from New Orleans through Texas to El Paso, across New Mexico and through Tucson, to Los Angeles, through most of California, including San Francisco and Sacramento. Central Pacific lines extended east across Nevada to Ogden, Utah, and reached north through Oregon to Portland. Other subsidiaries eventually included the St. Louis Southwestern Railway (Cotton Belt), the Northwestern Pacific Railroad at 328 miles (528 km), the 1,331 miles (2,142 km) Southern Pacific Railroad of Mexico, and a variety of 3 ft (914 mm) narrow gauge routes.
In 1929 SP/T&NO operated 13848 route-miles not including Cotton Belt, whose purchase of the Golden State Route circa 1980 nearly doubled its size to 3,085 miles (4,965 km), bringing total SP/SSW mileage to around 13,508 miles (21,739 km).
By the 1980s route mileage had dropped to 10,423 miles (16,774 km), mainly due to the pruning of branch lines. In 1988 the Southern Pacific was taken over by D&RGW parent Rio Grande Industries. The combined railroad kept the Southern Pacific name due to its brand recognition in the railroad industry and with customers of both constituent railroads. Along with the addition of the SPCSL Corporation route from Chicago to St. Louis, the total length of the D&RGW/SP/SSW system was 15,959 miles (25,684 km).
By 1996 years of financial problems had dropped SP's mileage to 13,715 miles (22,072 km), and it was taken over by the Union Pacific Railroad.
Read more on Wikipedia.
Unlike many of their contemporaries which contracted with European firms to produce their products, MDC made their own toolings. They made several popular body styles and produced them for road names that many other vendors (even Micro-Trains) wouldn't touch. This made them popular with modelers. Also, their un-assembled "kits" permitted a lower price point so they were popular with "runners" as well as "modelers".
Of particular interest was the attention given to modern 50 foot steel boxcars. They made some attempt to accurately mold the differences into distinct models to represent each of the major prototype manufacturers products. They have distinct toolings not only for the different products from FMC, BFF and PS, but also multiple models for each of these manufacturers including "standard" vs "Youngstown" doors and "waffle" vs. "rib" sides. In total they produced 13 different versions of the 50 foot steel boxcar.
Item created by: gdm on 2017-01-25 11:33:49
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