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Overton passenger cars ?

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Overton passenger cars ?
Posted by WBFLine on Wednesday, September 02, 2009 11:34 AM

 

Hello all

I have a O-Scale layout made up of virtually all MTH product including their DCS system and about 75 ft of track with several switches and sides.

Typically I am very much dedicated to keeping things as prototypical as possible and have done so as best as possible for my dedication to an late 19th century era for a branch near where I live in CT which at one time was called the Danbury & South Norwalk.

For this I have several late 19th & early 20th century steamers, passenger and freight cars and they all run and look great.

Aside from that though for more fun I was looking to get a more early 19th century train and consist but unfortunately as my set is all O-31 curves I cannot run to much. As well I only want to use MTH products as mainly I know them and feel there a good value plus I have the DCS system.

So given this I can’t go with things such as their Premier engine lines or any of their nice premier Woodside passenger cars as they are at least O-42

But from what they do have to offer in the RailKing an Rugged Rail O-27 stuff I think I will be going with one of their 4-6-0 Ten Wheelers and one of their old Overton passenger sets and while I know those aren't necessarily exactly prototypical, they are about the closest looking thing I can get to that era specific type of look that I would like to display that could work for me.

The only thing is I have been trying to do some research on these Overton cars as my prototypical brain just has to do that and aside from the fact the so many people seem to make models of them I just really can’t seem to find out much at all about the real ones.

From what I can see, even though there are a ton of them being modeled, they actually were only made for the Sierra RR Angels Camp Branch which I can’t seem to find much info on but apparently they were specifically made and only used for that branch as it was so windy but then they are so much modeled as they can to be viewed as very era prototypical due to their use in the movies.

Other then that though I can't seem to find out squat about them. 

So if anyone has any links or info to any real history about this branch and even better on the Overton cars themselves I would greatly like to hear about that.

The last thing I wanted to question about is, in virtually all the non MTH models I have seen, the Overton cars seem to have the very typical high raise vent section in the center of the roof.

But with all the MTH sets (of which there were quite a few) they all have pretty much flat roofs with fairly high stove stacks on each end and I wonder if anyone could tell me more about that.

Given that all the others seem to have the raised vent roof but MTH has the flat I’m thinking the MTH ones are not correct?

Thanks to all for any help.

 

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Posted by IRONROOSTER on Wednesday, September 02, 2009 12:22 PM

Overton cars have come to mean short, open platform, truss rod, clerestory window, Olde Tyme passenger cars.  I am not sure how close any manufacturer is to the prototype.  Given that I have never seen any actually decorated for the Sierra RR (although someone may have), but have seen them for numerous other railroads, who never had them, I am not sure it matters.

Enjoy

Paul

If you're having fun, you're doing it the right way.
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Posted by Sperandeo on Wednesday, September 02, 2009 1:27 PM

As Paul said, the name "Overton" has become a generic term for "old-timey" short passenger cars. It's really meaningless as far as actual prototypes. There were no full-size "Overton" passenger cars. If you really want to learn something about the development of passenger cars in the 19th century, read The American Railroad Passenger Car by John H. White.

So long,

Andy 

 

 

Andy Sperandeo MODEL RAILROADER Magazine

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Posted by Robt. Livingston on Wednesday, September 02, 2009 4:46 PM

I second the recommendation to obtain White's passenger car book. Every serious student of passenger cars should have a copy.  It covers the gamut from the first wagon-like vehicles to the stainless steel Budd designs, and is based on original research.  The guy who wrote it was the Curator of Transportation at the Smithsonian. 

And if you don't already have it, I also recommend Connecticut Railroads, an Illustrated History by Gregg Turner and Melancthon Jacobus (Connecticut Historical Society, 1986).  It has a chapter which covers the Danbury and Norwalk;  I doubt if that obscure RR is written up anywhere else.  A few photos of passenger cars show them to be typical of 1870's-80's design, which is in the Overton style.  However, the Overton cars were very short, while the Danbury and Norwalk cars look a bit longer.  But, close enough for many of us. 

 

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Posted by WBFLine on Wednesday, September 02, 2009 5:27 PM

Hey guys and thanks for the replies.

Actually I already have John Whites book which I got from the Danbury Train Museum and although I they only had volume one, thankfully that volume covers most of that era.

Unfortunately that is one big book though and not an easy read either so I hardly have the time to read it but I did just skim though it but I don't know if there is any specific info on the Overtons but I will take a closer look through it.

As far as any info in the D&SN stuff, thanks for the tip on that book the CT RR by Tuner Robt. Livingston as I've never herd of that one but I do have and actually have read (well most of it anyways) “In the shore lines Shadow” by Peter Cornwall which is about the most definitive book you could get on this line.

As well I have done other research and as far as I can tell the only mid 19th century engines they used were 4-4-0 Americans which MTH does not make in the RailKing line. They do make the 4-4-0 Generals but they are so short and funny looking and IMHO aside from having the right wheel config, they actually look less like an American then the Ten Wheeler does.

As well as far as any coaches I think the ones that are most in line are the MTH Premier Woodsides but again, there kinda no good for me as they are O-42 curve at best plus given their size, I think they may be a hair above scale with the rest of the cars I have.

All in all this pretty much is why I’m not really looking at a true prototypical 19th century things but at the stuff I mentioned and only plan to run it as a novelty, so as such, I really don’t need to research anything specific on this for that era in relation to my road, but I would like to know as much as I can about the Overtons so I can at least not sound ignorant if I ever have to explain anything about those.

 Again, thanks for the tips so far though guys.
 

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Posted by richg1998 on Wednesday, September 02, 2009 8:12 PM

 Only two 34ft were built for the Sierra Railroad. MDC coined the term I believe some years ago. Overland is what they use for the 50 ft. Search the archives for overton.

Rich

Some heard Trains when brains were handed out and have been on the wrong track ever since.

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Posted by Sperandeo on Thursday, September 03, 2009 8:46 AM

Don't waste your time looking for the term "Overton" in White's book. At the risk of repeating myself, there was no such thing as an actual "Overton" passenger car. Rich is correct that the term was coined by Model Die Casting/Roundhouse for a line of model railroad cars that unfortunately represent no known prototypes.

So long,

Andy 

Andy Sperandeo MODEL RAILROADER Magazine

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Posted by WBFLine on Thursday, September 03, 2009 9:16 AM

Oh well their you go, I would have to say that statement now clears things up more then anything else I’ve read and now I understand the previous posts I read a lot more.

But I still wonder then what would best represent those Sierra Angels Camp Branch cars?

Or is it just a matter that they were basically just about as much the same as any other car of the era but just were 34 feet?

Since it was MDCR that cast this name was there another name that was used to describe that car before they named it that?

Does anyone know of a picture of any of them? So far the only one I’ve found was a virtually decaded one that was barely recognizable as a car.

Does anyone know what company it was that built them?

As well again if anyone had any links to the history or layout of the branch too that would be really great.

Hope none of that is sounding like I’m not hearing what has been said or unappreciative of that but I am still kinda of hoping I can find some of those things.

Thanks for all the help.

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Posted by fwright on Thursday, September 03, 2009 9:21 AM

IIRC from the plans and photos I have seen, the Sierra Railway cars were about 34 ft long.  They were a combine and coach set used only on the Angels Camp branch where the short switchback tails limited the car length.  I believe 2-3 sets of the cars were built, in the early 1900s.  The cars had celestory roofs and open platforms.  I do not recall the details of the ends of the roofs - most likely they would have been bullnose, not duckbill, given the build date.

The MDC 50ft Overland cars are much more typical of late 19th Century passenger cars than the 34ft Overton.

The flat (monitor) roofs were used earlier in the 19th Century.  IIRC, celestory roofs didn't start being used until the 1870s or later.  By 1900, vestibules were replacing open platforms, even on wood cars.

just my memories of what I have read

Fred W 

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Posted by WBFLine on Thursday, September 03, 2009 9:51 AM

Hello Fred and thanks for the reply

And btw and I don't know why I didn't find this before but I just found this page:
http://www.parks.ca.gov/?page_id=24429

fwright

IIRC from the plans and photos I have seen, the Sierra Railway cars were about 34 ft long.  They were a combine and coach set

By any chance Fred would you happen to know what number of these cars were typically used?

fwright
The flat (monitor) roofs were used earlier in the 19th Century.  IIRC, celestory roofs didn't start being used until the 1870s or later.

So it sounds like the flat roof MTH units may have been modeled after the earlier 19th century cars?

But from what I'm gathering, did the 2-3 sets of the Angles Camp branch 34ft cars ever have flat roofs? 


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Posted by Robt. Livingston on Thursday, September 03, 2009 10:37 AM

 Flat roof passenger cars (actually with a flat arch) were generally not rebuilt with clerestories, although there might be exceptions.  The early, flat-arch roofed cars tended to have wider panels between the windows.  Passenger cars with flat roofs were generally built through the Civil War; the next evolution was a flat roof with a raised clerestory, which might have pointed (boat tail), rounded, or flat ends.  These cars did start appearing during the Civil War.  The next evolution had the ends of the upper roof faired into the lower roof with a convex to concave surface (duckbill), which then developed into the bullnose, with a convex curve.  It was natural to design the clerestory over the passenger compartment only, without continuing it over the end platforms, as there was no need for light and ventilation on the open platforms; however, it was soon found to be easier to build a full length clerestory without a complex joint at the ends.  This remained the standard shape until the last clerestory, all-steel cars were built.  By the time the bullnose clerestory evolved, the windows had increased in number so there were only narrow pillars between them.  The reason for the shift from flat-arch roof to  clerestory was to increase natural lighting and ventilation in cars that were heated by stoves, and lit by oil.  The clerestory actually weakened the structure of the car, as well as adding top-weight and cost.  That it continued well into the all-steel era is testimony to the tradition-bound mentality of car builders. 

The Sierra Rwy. coaches were most likely built originally with bullnosed clerestories extending out over the end platforms, judging by the appearance of the windows and other details which suggest late 19th C. practice.  I found a clear photo of Sierra Rwy combine #5 in Beebe and Clegg's The Age of Steam (p. 146) which shows it had only four passenger windows, with narrow pillars, a one-window space, then a three-panel baggage door which appears to be about 4' or 5' wide. The whole car looks VERY short, maybe 25' long, if that. 

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Posted by richg1998 on Thursday, September 03, 2009 10:42 AM

 Below are some links from a 'Net search for "sierra railroad angels camp cars".

http://www.parks.ca.gov/?page_id=24429

http://shortlinemodelers.com/sierra-railways-angels-branch/

Rich

 

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Posted by WBFLine on Friday, September 04, 2009 7:02 AM

Hey guys

Thanks for all the help guys, its funny now that I am not using the term Overton in the search engines but more the Angles info, I am coming up with a lot more of the info I was looking for but thanks so much for all that I have learned from you guys here.

Kinda really makes me wish I had found this form back when I was doing more research on the stuff I have so far.

I tell you this is one interesting topic though how one little line and railway via Hollywood and then the train makers has essentially created something that never really was what you would think it was if you only knew of it from those two things.

It also sounds like the MTH cars having no celestials at all and being called Overtons but still being short, are really even a more departure from the trueness of that.

In from what I see, it seemed that awhile back MTH was on a bit of a Civil war to late 19th Century kick that they seem to, aside from the late 19th Century engines maybe, have abandoned for the time being. My guess given from what you guys have taught me is that since they were doing a good amount of other more specific Civil War and to that point stuff, they may have decided that the flat roofs kinda coved the most of all worlds.

As well just like from what I’ve pretty much seen of the other producers, every one of them is the same car but just with a diff paint whihc I'm sure has something to do with things. But its also a little disappointing as the real Angle line seems to have had a combo and what even seems like a little passenger caboose from some of the pics I’ve seen, which would really be cool things to have if they made them.

But as I said, as this train is going to be more of a novelty, I think, and especially as I really don’t have much of any other choice, that the dedicated prototypical purist in me can over look this but it’s still great to know the real facts.

Again thanks for all the help an info guys.

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Posted by WBFLine on Friday, September 04, 2009 7:23 AM

I tell you the one last thing I'm kinda curious about is I wonder how many cars they would have pulled?

From the few pics I've seen it seems almost like there may have been only one or two.

Believe me as a person with a windy O-31 curve track I can certainly understand the mechanical issues a longer car can cause but with any real train the more passengers you could get per operating engine and run, the more money you could make, so it would almost seem logical that they would just run more of those smaller cars to make things just as much as if they had less but larger cars.

I guess there is a lot to consider though if the engines were a lot smaller as they probably were for the same mechanical reasons and as well I’m sure that run must have had quite a bit of short but steep grade rises too but also as they seem to have had so many left over for the movies out of only two or three consists produced, that it would make sense that the number of those cars could have been quite a few.


 

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Posted by fwright on Friday, September 04, 2009 10:31 AM

 From the links given, the Sierra Railway passenger service on the Angel's Camp was mixed service.  Doesn't look like there were enough passengers for more than one small coach and one very small combine.  Mixed service was actually quite typical for rural America.

The overall train length limits were dictated by a combination of the grades and the switchback tail length.  There was no need for large engines because of the switchback tails.  But geared engines that topped out at 10MPH were needed for power on the grades in a short length.  The whole concept matched fairly well for the Angels Camp branch - train length, geared power, and track.  The short passenger cars allowed another  freight car or two in a given train that was limited in overall length, while still meeting the needs of the number of passengers carried.

I have had to do similar planning for my HOn3 Port Orford & Elk River Railway & Navigation Co.  Two switchbacks are needed to climb from the dock at Port Orford into the Oregon coastal mountains.  I've had to examine switchback tail length - which limits train length - vs locomotives to be used vs grade between the switchbacks.  I've come to the same conclusion the Sierra Ry did - I need a very short (30-35ft) combine for passenger service to the mill and logging camp and still have room for 2 empty log or lumber cars on the switchback tail.  A drovers caboose would also work.  This assumes geared power for short length and grade climbing ability (6%).  The 3 cars are all the little Shays can pull up the grade, anyway.

yours in having fun

Fred W

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Posted by Yosemite Mules on Monday, June 23, 2014 11:28 AM
MDC made 34' Overtons but the SRR cars were 28'. Dan in CA.
ACY
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Posted by ACY on Monday, June 23, 2014 4:31 PM

It's not my prototype, but Selley produced white metal HO kits for the Sierra short coach and combine in the 1950's.  I don't think I've ever actually seen one, except in Selley's ads, and I don't know how accurate they were.  Since they were white metal, the completed cars probably weighed a ton.  If those patterns exist today, I wonder whether they could be used to create a resin kit.  And maybe they could be stretched to a more conventional length by grafting two cars together.   Anybody know who got Selley's patterns?  Was it Bowser?

Of course, this doesn't help the O.P.  He is into the big scale.

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