PANAMA CANAL RAILWAY
Who would’ve thought that a railroad in a Central American country, Panama, would be partially owned by an American based Class I railroad, the Kansas City Southern. As it turns out, the KCS and the Canadian Pacific RR recently combined to form the first and only single line rail network connecting North America, the CPKC.
The Panama Canal Railway parallels the Panama Canal and primarily transports containerized cargo between the Pacific Ocean and the Caribbean Sea/Atlantic Ocean. For those modelers interested in intermodal container operations, modeling the Panama Canal Railway in HO or N Scale could be interesting.
About two years ago, a ship passing through the Canal lost its steering and crashed into the bridge used by the Railway. The railroad was out of service for five months until the damage was repaired. In the photos below, if you look to the left you can see the concrete supports that replaced the damaged bridge supports.
The size of the ships traversing the Canal is truly mindboggling. This ship was transporting 5,000 automobiles from the Atlantic side to the Pacific, probably to Asia.
Several years ago, I visited an exhibit in New York City on 44th Street just off Broadway called Gulliver’s Gate. I brought two of my grandchildren with me to experience this exhibit, because it was truly an experience. Gulliver’s Gate consisted of a huge display of various scenes and locations from around the world, with model trains and structures, built in HO Scale. One of the additional features of the exhibit, for an additional charge, was to do a 3D printing individually of each person in my group in HO Scale and incorporate the completed figures in the exhibit and on my home layout. I thought that was kind of cool. However, before I could get the rest of the family 3D printed, the exhibit closed down.
But along comes an outfit, CatzPaw Innovations, LLC (www.catzpaw.com) based in Georgia. You provide them with a photo and height/weight measurements of the individual(s) and CatzPaw converts these to a painted HO Scale figure(s). The CatzPaw team, Sherri and Yolanda, work with you until you are satisfied with the completed product. So, because of CatzPaw, I now have all fourteen members of my family, grandkids, parents, and grandparents, represented on my layout. I know that when they visit our house, they love to look at the scene. Hopefully some or all of the family will develop a greater interest in model railroading down the road. Just a few photos below as the family watches from a dock on my layout.
Building a Resin Butter Dish Milk Car
By: Henry Kramer
Several years ago I moved to the Hudson Valley in New York State. Soon after, a friend of mine invited me to join the New York, Ontario and Western Railway Historical Society. Since I had never heard about this railroad, I went to one of their meetings to check it out. It turns out that the O&W had a long history serving the up-state New York region.
Briefly, the New York, Ontario and Western Railway started out as the New York and Oswego Midland Railroad, running from Oswego on Lake Ontario southeast to the New Jersey border at Unionville. It ran into financial problems and in 1880 was reorganized as the New York, Ontario & Western Railway. After the reorganization the O&W expanded its operations from the Hudson River westward to Lake Ontario. During its long life the O&W was never financially stable. It operated in rural mountainous areas making construction costs high and industry density low. Throughout its life the O&W depended upon three main income streams; coal, passengers, and milk. As these revenue streams dried up the railway was unable to replace them with profitable alternatives and was forced into bankruptcy. On March 29, 1957 it ceased operation and liquidated its assets. (For a complete history of the railway visit the Historical Society website at www.owrhs.org.)
There was an article in the July 2020 edition of the NMRA Magazine titled Borden’s Butter Dish Milk Tank Cars that I found very interesting. The article mentioned that these unique cars ran on many northeast railroads including the O&W. Additionally it mentioned that resin kits from Funaro & Camerlengo were still available. In the past I have enjoyed building several F&C resin kits so when I discovered that one was available on eBay I purchased it.
The kit I purchased must have been a newer version from the one mentioned in the NMRA article. The tank in my kit was fully formed and the detail parts were good quality. I did replace the trucks that were included in the kit with Bettendorf 33” trucks from Kadee. I also replaced the cast brackets with .012” Phosphor-Bronze eye bolts from Barker’s Trains. Finally, in order to get the correct coupler height I used underset shank couplers from Kadee. All of the F&C kits I have built had required using either underset shank couplers and/or adding several washers to the trucks in order to get the correct coupler height. The instructions were not particularly detailed but complete enough to build the kit. The only problem I had was with the underside brake detail. Not being familiar with rail car brakes the instruction statement “… add the brake details with as much piping as you choose to add” was not particularly helpful. Around the mid 1930’s the Borden company started building cars employing a cover, complete with doors and fittings over tanks already fastened to the floor. The cars had the appearance of a butter dish or inverted bathtub on a flatcar. Only a limited number (about 35) of these cars were ever produced. An additional unique feature of these cars was a vertical aluminum fin down the car’s center. These fins were later removed, except on the ends, as Borden’s contribution to a scrap metal effort at the beginning of WW II. The cars carried BFIX reporting marks and were used in Chicago and New York area operations of the Borden’s farm Products Division.
During the car’s life it appeared in three different paint schemes. The red cars started to make their appearance in the latter part of the 1940s. By 1960, only 22 of the originals remained, finishing out their service lives in Borden’s chemical and glue divisions.
Since I am not a stickler for historic accuracy I elected to purchase and build a red Borden car for the simple reason that it would stand out. I also added the top fin for the same reason even though the red cars never had one. Overall, I found building this car to be very enjoyable and am very pleased about how it turned out.
Funaro & Camerlengo kit instructions
New York Ontario and Western Railway Historical Society’s website at www.owrhs.org
Borden’s Butter Dish Milk Tank Cars by George Dutka. July 2020 edition of the NMRA Magazine
Milk Run! The Story of Milk Transpiration by Rail by James A. Kindraka. January/February 1990 edition of Dispatch