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The ”Modern” GM&O Water Car

The following article is based on using the InterMountain Railway Co. HO scale milk car kit (#43299 - undecorated) as a starting point for an accurate model of this prototype.  Click on the phot to launch a page with a larger photo. If printing out these larger images, set the printer to ’landscape’ (i.e., horizontal) format.  Complete artwork for the GM&O M.O.W. Water Car lettering is available as a JPG file which may be downloaded for personal use by right-clicking here and selecting ’Save Target As’.  Print out page as above.  To contact InterMountain go to their website at:  www.intermountain-railway.com

Like many American railroads, the GM&O was stuck with a lot of excess steam locomotive related equipment once the dieselization process was complete.  Although many of the retired steamers met their final dispositions at the end of a cutting torch, the tenders of these engines were ideal to serve their roads in various capacities.  These old cars were used in diesel-era service for carrying sand or fuel such as ex-IC no.X553 (left) and the ex-CB&Q six-axle tender shown (below), but the most widely used   application for these cars was to employ them in Maintenance of Way service as water cars for the crews when out on the line for extended periods.

The water then could be used for drinking, cooking and possibly, bathing.  The cleanliness of the water, however, would have been a problem due to the age and questionable conditions of the insides of the former tenders.  It is unknown if cars such as GM&O nos. 66066 or 66143 (below) were ever thoroughly cleaned and lined, or received a stainless steel tank, but given the lack of concern for MOW crews by the railroads 50 or 60 years ago, it is highly doubtful.

By contrast, car companies such as the Pfaudler Corporation had been using a specifically developed tank car for the transportation of such easily spoiled or contaminated liquids as milk or orange juice for years by the time the GM&O decided to upgrade its MOW water service.  These 40 ft cars contained interior stainless steel tanks that could be pressure cleaned at very high temperatures, leaving them in a high state of sanitary readiness, unlike the rusty old tenders on the GM&O.

In early 1971, the GM&O purchased 21 of these unique cars.  It is universally accepted that they were purchased solely for MOW use, but there are reasonable arguments to the contrary.  The first is that these cars came to the GM&O fully equipped with steam lines for express service, which would only apply to use on passenger trains.  Secondly, they received immaculate paint jobs unlike any other pieces of MOW equipment on the GM&O.  The paint was of much higher quality, and with a slightly deeper color leaning more toward a melon color than the usual dull MOW yellow.  The roofs were masked and painted silver, while all grabs were painted yellow.

In fact, the paint job was so well applied that those cars not scrapped or painted orange through the Illinois Central Gulf years (1972-1987) retained their appearance beautifully, while their original GM&O reporting marks remained clear and legible.  As far as anyone can recall, however, these cars were never used on either a GM&O or Amtrak passenger train.  Each of the new water cars were shopped, painted and repacked at Tuscaloosa, Ala. during 1971.  From there, the fleet spread out to all corners of the GM&O on MOW crew trains.  The last known car to still be in 100% GM&O paint was no. 66180, located at Cairo Jct.  It remained near the old GM&O-IC wye until sometime around 1998 when it was removed and presumably cut up.

While no. 66180 may have been the last of these cars to wear GM&O work train yellow, others lived on in various other schemes for successor roads.  The ICG painted many of the cars orange with silver roofs, numbering them in their MOW 1006XX series.  The paint jobs from car to car weren’t quite as consistent as during the GM&O regime, but this may be attributable to the various painting “eras” the ICG endured, and the simplification of the ICG paint schemes as time went by.  From the ICG, the few remaining water   -cars stayed on the “new” Illinois Central in 1987, or went to ICG “spin-offs” from 1985 to 1987. Furthermore, while some of them were retained for potable water service, others were refitted with diesel engines and became known as “power cars”.  The power cars on the IC and Paducah and Louisville were fitted with exterior roof venting and large air intake grills to accommodate the engines.

Illinois Central no. 100641 was painted in the two-tone gray MOW scheme the IC went to after re-forming.  It carried the “Death Star” emblem, and was really a very striking car.  It was usually stationed at Centralia, Ill. before going to the Illinois Railway Museum  sometime around 2000.

P&L no.10 was re-painted beautifully in silver with a broad red and black stripe across the car once it was re-powered for its executive train. The most likely scenario for the car was it being used as an auxiliary power source when the train was cut away from its locomotives. One interesting note of all the examples of this car offered is that whether they were in GM&O, ICG, IC or P&L paint, they retained their roof walks.

Finally, A Model!

This car was impossible to model until now due to the uniqueness of the prototype.  There was simply nothing on the market to even use as a starting point, and the trucks existed nowhere.  Intermountain Railway Company of Longmont, CO. recently introduced an HO-scale reproduction of the modern milk car that is 100% correct for the GM&O water car.  To reproduce the exterior of the latter day “power cars”, one has to only add the roof features and some side venting seen in the photos of this story.  The best paint match for a GM&O car in either the ICG or later eras is Floquil reefer yellow. It accurately reflects the faded color of the car as it toiled from the 1970’s to the 1990’s.  ICG cars can be painted in reefer orange, and then given a gloss coat for a freshly painted look, or dull coated to reflect years of use.  The car body of the two-tone gray IC car actually looks more slate blue than gray, while UP gray might serve well for the roof.  The P&L car can be painted with straight forward silver, red and black to accurately depict this paint scheme.

Alton-Rebel Prototype Models released this kit in four versions (two in GM&O yellow, one in ICG orange, and one in IC two-tone gray), selling all models produced.  ARPM has provided the graphics from this project for posting with this GM&OHS web feature for those that missed out on the exclusively run cars.  The graphics are offered as a JPG for downloading, printing out, and creating what decals you may wish to for personal modeling needs.  Any commercial application of these graphics is prohibited without written permission from Alton-Rebel Prototype Models.

Addendum (5/7/2012) -- An example of this car (no. 66182) resides at the Bluegrass Railroad Museum in Versailles, Ky.  Volunteers that wish to assist in its restoration may contact the museum.  Thanks to BGRM volunteer Chad Cowan for this information. 

For a photo of the car, go to: http://bgrm.org/#/freight-continued/4534894831