Friday, November 2, 2018

Central Pacific 564 - A Review

The finished Central Pacific boxcar with Bitter Creek Allen trucks. 
When the Central Pacific was in its infancy, it purchased 25-foot boxcars with a capacity of 15 tons. The traffic on the railroad quickly telegraphed its need for higher capacity cars and, in the 1870s, 28-foot cars became the standard with 34-footers later on in the century. The little 25-footers lasted for quite a while (a few hundred were on the 1895 roster) with some lasting into the 20th century.
     My model was built from a Bitter Creek Models ( kit. Laser-cut underframe, ends, side and roof comprise the kit with plastic injection-molded parts for brakes, bolt castings, etc. A basswood frame and ends form the basis of the car with basswood strips comprising the roof sub-frame. Thinner, laser-cut sides, end pieces and roof are glued onto the frame pieces. Enough pieces are supplied so that either cars from the 1870s and the later 1880s rebuilt cars can be built. The roof comes in a style representing the original metal-clad roofs and also the later wood roofs. Supports for the running board slide into slots in the roof which simplifies this tedious task.
     The instructions are very clear with several illustrations so that is little doubt as to what needs to be done at each step. Lettering diagrams are provided so that the kit's decals can be applied accurately. There is enough decal material so that a car from the 1870, 1880 rebuild or the 1891 renumbering can be built.
I built my car to reflect one which had lasted from 1870 and had not been rebuilt but had been relettered during the 1880s. An interesting note is that these cars were lettered with even numbers only. Flat cars were odd numbers only. The reason for this escapes me but it was common at the time. Perhaps it was for a quick identification of a car type when referring only to paperwork.
     Trucks and couplers are not included in the kits. Bitter Creek makes some very nice Allen/California swing motion trucks (P/N T-29) which are suitable for this car. Also available are CP/V&T Kimball trucks (T-30) and Light Thielson 15-ton trucks (T-32), any of which would be suitable. Bitter Creek also has several other nineteenth century trucks, many of which have been remastered and look very nice. Kadee 711 couplers were used.
      The boxcar kit is Bitter Creek's P/N K-20 and retails at $25.00. I recommend it highly as a well-researched, well-designed kit suitable for any nineteenth century railroads.

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