We tend to think of graffiti as a modern problem with taggers painting colorful trash on the sides of Hi-cube freight cars. But bored individuals have been scrawling doodles on available surfaces since long before the invention of language, let alone the rattle can.
I first saw a photo of one of the VGN auto cars in the box car collection of the City of Vancouver archives. Walter Frost made the image on 16 November 1952 and I thought it was a cool looking car with its rounded roof edge. Their website says the image is under copyright, so I’ll not post it here. But the following is a link to the photo and full citation. It has links to download a higher resolution image for your own personal use. I include it because it shows the full car.
I checked my 53 ORER, and saw that there were only twenty five of these cars on the VGN. Way too short of the one of 4800 foreign cars that I need to be a representative fleet on my nominal 400 car layout. So I didn’t think too much more about it until several days later, I was browsing the Jack Delano collection at the Library of Congress. Among all the neat shots of Santa Fe workers, vistas and trains were some detail shots taken in the San Bernardino yards. Among them were two consecutive images of a Virginian Automobile Car.
Full citation for this one is at http://www.loc.gov/pictures/item/owi2001022902/PP/ It is in the public domain and you can obtain a higher resolution JPG and very high resolution TIFF through the links on the page at no cost.
This next picture is what really grabbed my attention though. Some enterprising yard clerk must have had a soft spot for kitties and Alfred Hitchcock. I had to model this car.
http://www.loc.gov/pictures/item/owi2001022901/PP/ for the citation and links to hi-res.
Maybe it is too rare, but here I had two photos of this series in the west, bracketing my era, one of which was on my home road, ATSF, albeit in the LA basin rather than SF. But with the Ford plant in the Richmond inner harbor, I will need an above free running mix number of Auto parts cars, so there is the justification, backed up with photos, one of which is too cool not to try to duplicate. The hook was set, I’d taken the bait, but I had no idea how to land the fish. Then I saw a post by Eldon Gatwood on the STMFC list about Bowser. Needing about 14 PRR boxes and knowing that Bowser builds a LOT of Pennsy prototypes, I decided to give their website a gander. I was looking for PRR boxes and gons, as I will need a lot of both. They did not have much in stock, and most of that was in too new paint. But when I opened the X32 page, I was floored. In stock was the Virginian car that I had just been obsessing about. Serendipity! I ordered one before they ran out.
Given the humongous VGN fleet of 25, I avoided the temptation to model the whole shebang and just got one as a representative. I’m already stretching things by having one car or 4% of the VGN fleet when 0.02% is what is warranted if I stuck to the percentage of free rollers. The car should arrive next week, along with a PRR X32 and gon. Had to amortize the shipping costs. Now to find a way to duplicate that chalk graffiti. . .
Cameron Park, CA