Wednesday, 18 January 2012

Changing the Era

I consider era as part and parcel of the whole layout planning gig. The choices we make about these things all have an affect on each other. So when one chooses the location it determines the railroad's infrastructure, and of course the locomotives, and the freight cars that we all love to model. Therefore I have been  paying some attention to the freight car roster for my layout, and as you have all probably guessed by now, I'm a bit of a freight car addict.

In my opinion a great majority of the time spent modelling will be spent making freight cars as you need more than one per locomotive that you own. So, as a consequence the choice of freight cars will have an impact on the veracity of the era that one is trying to portray.

My initial plan was to model 1948. As I would I get to run locomotives #450 and #459 without generating any anachronisms. It also meant that the Suydam coach I have of the 737 series wouldn't have to have its roof modernised, as several were still running with their original ventilation and heating equipment, after 1950 they were all modernised with forced ventilation.

However, I had a bunch of nice Kadee PS-1 box cars that have 1951 built dates on them.

What to do? I like the cars. The models are exemplary, and there is a substantial dollar investment to account for, which means I'm not inclined to sell them at a loss. Easy answer is of course to change the date the layout is set in. So, I moved my era to 1951, but now locomotive  #450 becomes an anomaly. I can just about get away with the 737 series interurban as the last one was modernised in October 1950. Okay, who am I kidding, it too become an anachronism?

Then there are the Silverliner cars. If I am modelling 1951 I get the bonus of now running the first of the Silverliner conversions. So every cloud has a silver lining!

I then pottered off thinking nothing more until today about the era, but then an idea struck me. Why am I fixating on 1948? Yes I know it's to do with locomotive #450, but given the location is freelanced I could easily rationalise the anachronism of #450 by saying it was kept as there was still work it could usefully do at Burnham Yard. Pretty close to the reason it was scrapped for in real life, in that this locomotive worked down on Montrose Avenue switching flat cars for the North Shore's trailer service, which was abandoned at the end of 1947.

So I thought to myself, what era would I like to do?

The 1950s are quite attractive in that the later motor cars started to have fins and get interesting. Also, the North Shore wasn't abandoned until 1963, so I could even push the date slightly more forward. Thinking about it, I'm not sure I want to run representing the last three years when the line ran under the increasing threat of closure, its just not a happy place. Also, the Chicago Aurora & Elgin was abandoned in 1959, and this is one of my connecting railroads for my fictitious what if scheme.

So 1959 it is.

This opens up certain choices for freight cars, which is a good thing. Bad things are having to modernise the roofs of one or more of my 700 series interurbans, as I know that there were only a handful still running with original roofs by 1959.

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