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Modeling the 90s

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Modeling the 90s
Posted by DavidH66 on Friday, May 11, 2018 2:33 PM

I plan on having my railroad set in the 90s, I'm wonderring what are some good ways besides period correct rolling stock to make the layout look period appropreate?

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Posted by xboxtravis7992 on Friday, May 11, 2018 2:48 PM

Rolling stock though really does sell the 90's. It was the last grand age of merger's; were CNW, SP & DRGW equipment had all joined the UP fleet, Conrail was being split up by CSX and NS, and BN and ATSF flew together under the new BNSF banner! Correct rolling stock is a must for the era.

But if you want more than just rolling stock suggestions, you could also run trains such as MOW work installing new fiber optic cables (SP ran a lot of trains to lay cables for SPRINT before the merger with UP). 90's got a distinct style in pop culture too, so if you have an urban area maybe put up some billboards advertising Friends or Seinfeld or some other 90's TV show to help date the era. 

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Posted by mbinsewi on Friday, May 11, 2018 3:05 PM

Not all of your locos need to have ditch lights.

In my area, the spartan cabs seemed to out number the wide cabs.

Cars and trucks from the 80's would still work, even some from the late 70's could be found, like pick up trucks.

TOFCs varied in length and type.  Remembering some trains in my area of WI., TOFC trains were kind of a hodge podge of different cars, along with some COFC arrangements.

Some of the earlier cars for container stack trains had the big "bulk head" thing, and I think they all were pretty much 40' or 20' containers.

I'm trying to think of things I seen watching the WC, from start-up in 87, and into the 90's.

Mike.

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Posted by j. c. on Friday, May 11, 2018 3:10 PM

don't forget unit coal trains. 

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Posted by ROBERT PETRICK on Friday, May 11, 2018 3:14 PM

Automobiles are a good way to show specific time frame. Not sure whether they fall under rolling stock.

Robert 

LINK to SNSR Blog


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Posted by mbinsewi on Friday, May 11, 2018 3:45 PM

A couple of things to ad to my list,

The WC used gons with "H" beam bulkheads for pulp wood.

I seen more lumber loads on bulkhead flats than the center beam flats we see today.

If your doing anthing Amtrak, that could get real rolling stock and locomotive specific.

Maybe 3 crew members in the cab?  and most didn't wear reflective clothing.

Box cars from the 60's, 70's and 80's seemed smaller, and would still be seen in service.  Some are yet today, (not sure about the 60's) and they really stand out when your watching trains today.

You shouldn't need to worry about DPU's, just add more to the head end, and if helpers would be needed, they would be manned.

Remember my experiences are in the upper midwest, not in any mountain areas.

Maybe I'll think of more for later.

Mike.

 

 

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Posted by dknelson on Friday, May 11, 2018 3:51 PM

Cabooses largely - but not entirely - gone.

If my own railfanning photos are an indication, there is a sizable difference between the early 1990s and the late 1990s in the amount of graffiti on freight cars.

Dave Nelson

 

 

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Posted by mbinsewi on Friday, May 11, 2018 4:05 PM

Wait!  Before I rest my brain from all of this thinking and remembering, and start to enjoy a Friday evening,

That big beautiful hunk of locomotive called the GP30 was still pulling it's share of load in the early 90's,

And those BN "tiger stripped" GP50's ?  What a site, as 4 of them, all freshly painted, handled container traffic.

I gotta rest!  Drinks

Mike.

EDIT:  Wait, I think the BN thing was more in the late 70's and 80's, never mind.

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Posted by G Paine on Friday, May 11, 2018 4:14 PM

Businesses are another way to set the timeframe. While buildings can date from the late 1800s onward (at least in the Northeast where I live), what is in them can be updated. Fast food, well known drug store chains, grocery stores, mini-malls, etc will set a tone. Summit USA has a line of modern buildings that can be set amoung the older ones, as well as modelized older style structures.
http://www.summit-customcuts.com/index.html

There have been a number of articles in MR about layouts set in recent times.

George In Midcoast Maine, 'bout halfway up the Rockland branch 

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Posted by jjdamnit on Friday, May 11, 2018 4:33 PM

Hello all,

When I think of the '90's what I picture are all the colorful and sometimes premature merger paint schemes.

The "S.P. Kodak" markings spring to mind. 

The possibility to freelance mergers and create "what if" railroads, patchovers, heralds and color schemes.

Movie marquees and billboards advertising movies and "quirky" products of the time.

Hope this helps.

"Uhh...I didn’t know it was 'impossible' I just made it work...sorry"

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Posted by BigDaddy on Friday, May 11, 2018 5:09 PM

We are not supposed to talk about this, so i will call it by it's modern name TAGGING

Fortunately I don't have to deal with that in the transition era.

 

 

 

Henry

COB Potomac & Northern

By the Chesapeake Bay

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Posted by csxns on Friday, May 11, 2018 5:20 PM

90's  was great in my area 30+- trains a day on the Clinchfield 10 of them branch off on the Charlotte sub at Bostic and the NS branch was running a train to PPG industries 7 days a week now things are bad.

Russell

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Posted by BRAKIE on Friday, May 11, 2018 9:50 PM

The 90s is tricky to model without some basic research.

As a example 90-95 no ditch lights,after 95 they started showing up.

You could still see CSX patched engines.

The word that must not be mention started showing up in the late 90s.

One could still see fallen flag cars including E-L.

There was still manned towers on the endangered species list.

Larry

SSRy

Conductor

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Posted by angelob6660 on Friday, May 11, 2018 10:17 PM

No body said what railroad you are modeling. What 90s is your selection, 1990-1995 or 1996-1999.

Pre 1995 no BNSF freight cars, few locomotives with ditch lights and modifications to the horn, nose and other replacements. 

During 1996 I saw Conrail freight cars that was carrying the new NYC reporting mark for CSX.

Amtrak new locomotive P40 with phase III paint. During this time period the Superliner phase III was getting repainted in phase IV. With the new delivery of Superliner II. F40 was still in service with new air conditioning and ditch lights.

Modeling the G.N.O. Railway, The Diamond Route.

Amtrak America, 1971-Present.

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Posted by mbinsewi on Friday, May 11, 2018 10:29 PM

angelob6660
No body said what railroad you are modeling.

Good point.  At least what area of the country he models.  The things I mentioned, as I said, were what I seen in the WI., northern IL., MN, and IA.

Mike.

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Posted by MidlandPacific on Saturday, May 12, 2018 7:46 AM

For Amtrak, more long distance service on more routes prior to ‘97 cuts.  More short distance service on new corridor routes, and for the late ‘90s, strings of MHCs for the mail and express business.  Lots of equipment changes: F40PHs being gradually replaced by P-40/42s, Heritage Fleet vanishing after the FRA edict requiring elimination of direct dump toilets.  Phase III scheme replaced by Phase IV.  

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Posted by chutton01 on Saturday, May 12, 2018 9:42 AM

Reflective conspicuity stripes:
Not mandated on rolling stock till 2005 - keep that in mind in your freight car purchases.
Mandated on truck trailers starting in 1993, and they spread to other truck types by the end of the 1990s.

AEI (& AEI tags)
Mandated by the end of 1994 for interchange, wiki claims 95% of the NA fleet was tagged.  ACI tags mostly gone by the early 1990s.

Refrigerator cars were kind of at a nadir, but new and rebuilding programs would be in the offering - no return of the ARMN reporting marks on rebuilds/new builds till the 21st century. The Cryotrans reefers would be around, but not yet rebuilt into mechanical refrigerators.

Hazmat tank cars required shelf couplers since the 1980s (I think double shield ends as well), but crude oil traffic was definitely no where near the level we say at the beginning of the 2010s.  Propane and LNG, OTOH, traffic was decent.

By the late 1990s, most passenger motor vehicles were basically "jelly bean" (i.e. early Ford Taurus) style or edge-designs (kind of what most sedans are now), or SUVs, Pickups, and Vans.  Cross-overs weren't too common yet (the debate on whether Cross-overs are simply sedans or, gasp, station wagons with SUVs trappings is left to the reader).  As always, top selling colors were black, white, silver, some sort of tan or brown, and blue.

If you plan a down town scene, and you want to model 1990s gentrification, easy - the sidewalks will be brick (or concrete molded in a brick pattern), with trees (semi-lunar cut-outs in the pavement by the curb), metal benches and trash cans in dark green, brown, or black. Don't forget the handicapped parking.
Speaking of gentrification, some of your big multi-story old factories will have become storage warehouses by then, a number being of the new self-storage concept.  Others will have become peforming arts, design centres, learning annexes, charter schools, and the like. Others as well will be abandoned hulks, covered in, well, you know what (actually, sometimes the "tagging" would be painted over with murals, often by children from the area schools).

I remember a bit more somber colors in terms of people's clothing (although for the general average person, styles were not drastically different from today, regardless of what the actors wore on the Fresh Prince or Buffy the Vampire Slayer).  OK, one thing is most women had seemed to give up on wearing pantyhose to the office by the late 1990s (sorry leg men), so paint your female commuter's legs their own skin color (better yet, paint boots - uggs seemed everywhere by the late '90s for women). On that topic lots of guys wore shorts & timberlands thru-out the 1990s. BTW, can you paint the "plaid" design of a lumberjack shirt, used as a "jacket" over a black t-shirt, with dark jeans and sneakers? Good, you can model a mid-90s "grunge" wannabe (i.e. the young males who didn't follow rap or country).

Of course, the most drastic change from then is I went from a happy young guy to a grumpy middle age man who writes too much of this nonsense...




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Posted by chutton01 on Saturday, May 12, 2018 9:47 AM

BTW, David, you did NOT get this from me, as a matter of fact, it doesn't even exist...  (odd link of some sort)

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Posted by Lone Wolf and Santa Fe on Saturday, May 12, 2018 1:52 PM

    In the 90s you still had a lot of locomotives that were pre-safety cab units. Lots of GP50 and SD40 locomotives and also U-boats, some on their own, some with a new unit with a safety cab unit in the lead. Also because of the mergers you might have several different fallen flag locomotives running together.
    There were automobiles from the 1970s and 80s still but the SUV and minivan craze had begun so lots of those type vehicles.
    As for people, girls wore pants more than in the decades before. Men wore baseball hats instead of fedoras. The lumberjack look was in style thanks to the bands from Seattle. Everyone was flying the flannel. Black Doc Marten boots were worn by a lot of people including women. The soccer mom thing had started too with moms being involved in kids sports and soccer became popular for both boys and girls to play. Almost nobody had cell phone yet. Boom boxes were still popular.
   The ADA act was a big deal and all public building started having wheelchair ramps. Also new construction projects used underground wiring so new areas don’t have power poles. Strip malls were popular to the point that people built too many of them and they usually had empty units available for rent. Also a lot of older mom and pop businesses were starting to go out of business and had going out of business signs on their windows. Downtown areas were starting to be redeveloped.
   The good economy of the 80s was over. There started to be a lot more homeless in the 90s. Homeless people started using shopping carts to hold their belongings. They also started using cardboard signs to asking for food or money.
    Crime was on the rise and ghetto culture was starting. Graffiti was starting to pop up everywhere especially in poor neighborhoods and on railroad rolling stock.

Modeling a fictional version of California set in the 1990s Lone Wolf and Santa Fe Railroad
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Posted by kasskaboose on Saturday, May 12, 2018 8:14 PM

As some mentioned, stores and vehicles are great ways to replicate an era.  This period also featured wireless devices, so put people everywhere walking with a phone attached to them.  Heck, it wouldn't surprise me if they did that while crossing the tracks!

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Posted by azrail on Monday, May 14, 2018 2:29 PM

And of course, video stores. And there were still pay phones around.

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Posted by wjstix on Monday, May 14, 2018 4:48 PM

One area that seems to be lagging behind in model railroading is 'modern' figures (people). Seems like most manufacturers are focused on the 1950's transition era when men wore suits and women wore skirts.

Stix
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Posted by NittanyLion on Monday, May 14, 2018 9:53 PM

kasskaboose

As some mentioned, stores and vehicles are great ways to replicate an era.  This period also featured wireless devices, so put people everywhere walking with a phone attached to them.  Heck, it wouldn't surprise me if they did that while crossing the tracks!

 

Cell phones weren't ultra-common until after 2005.  Just one of out of ten people in the US owned a cell phone in 1995.  By 2005, it was one out of two.  Now its something like 97 percent.

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Posted by wjstix on Tuesday, May 15, 2018 10:04 AM

You'd be more likely to see people walking around wearing headphones for their Sony Walkman (or similar knock-off) radio / cassette players. IIRC the first similar mp3 devices came out around 2000, but may have been late 1990's. (As a semi-semi-pro musician, I know I was posting mp3 versions of songs I had created to mp3 websites like Vitaminic and SoundSky in the late nineties.) 

p.s. I'm one of the 3% without a cell phone....

Stix
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Posted by chutton01 on Tuesday, May 15, 2018 4:41 PM

wjstix
One area that seems to be lagging behind in model railroading is 'modern' figures (people). Seems like most manufacturers are focused on the 1950's transition era when men wore suits and women wore skirts.

Preiser most notably produces modern figures in various sets. Sadly Preiser's big (100+ figures) and affordable unpainted figure sets like Passengers, Passers By, Sitting etc. seem to have been molded in the early 1980s, as too many of the men wear ties and jackets, and the women wear skirts.  Odd, as "casual wear" started taking off in the 1960s (or earlier), but it's true that business causual would take off in the early 1990s (leaving the flashy suits for Gordon Gecko and Jordan Belfort wannabes, and the non-flashy ones for salesmen et.al). Still, you can get a decent amount of usable post 1980s figures from those kits. Thinking back, my girlfriends in the 1990s pretty much pants or shorts, once in a while wearing a dress or skirt for fancy occasions. Come to think of it, that's what women I date now wear as well.

One question previously posed in this thread, what part of the 1990s?  I was railfanning a lot in the late 1980s to the turn of the century, specifically in Northern NJ, and you could see the freight customers disappear over the years due to overseas competition (China joined the WTO in 1995), consolidation of corporate facilities (usually to facilities in more rural, lower cost areas), and closure due to buying out the competition - recent examples (last 5 years) of this in Wyandanch Long Island: Westrock brought out Island Container (was always good for a few boxcars on their siding) and Paraco brought out Amerigas (usually good for a tankcar or two in the siding in their yard) - now, more or less idle land for storing trailers and containers, and just waiting for some crappy housing complex "Wyandanch Rising West" or something to be built there.
Well, you get the idea.

Note 1: While crime was higher in the early 1990s (didn't seem as ominous as the late 1970s though) the late 1990s were actually a pretty positive period in terms of the economy, unemployment low and wages actually increasing a decent amount.
Note 2: There are not many who remember, a handful still survive, but anyway starting in the 1980s there was an explosion in privately owned Pay Phones on the street, peaking in the lmid/ate 1990s and petering out from then to...well, not many per capita now. So if your modeling early 1990s downtown areas, don't forget to add several phone kiosks, owned by different companies of course (Sprint, anyone?).

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Posted by wjstix on Friday, May 18, 2018 10:01 AM

I almost exclusively use undec Preiser (with some Walthers SceneMasters) so ya those are the sets I was thinking of. Preiser does make some more modern figures. The 'transition era' has always been popular, so I suppose that's why they had the emphasis on that era even years later.

IIRC "Ma Bell" was broken up somewhere around 1985-90, which is what lead to all the new private phone companies taking off.

Another (kinda related) thing - cable TV was around, but no where near as common as now. You'd still see TV aerials on people's roofs in the 1990's. (I got hooked up for cable in 1993 or 1994, but the aerial was still on the roof until about 2000.)

Course, I suppose someone should point out the OP stated he is interested in "the '90's", so for all we know he is modelling the 1890's. Surprise

Stix
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Posted by chutton01 on Friday, May 18, 2018 1:19 PM

wjstix
Course, I suppose someone should point out the OP stated he is interested in "the '90's", so for all we know he is modelling the 1890's.

Off by a hundred years? Nonsense, nobody would make that mistake.
Off by a few thousand years, OTOH...

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Posted by Metro Red Line on Saturday, May 19, 2018 3:06 AM

GE C44-9Ws and AC4400s. EMD SD60Ms and SD70s.

48' domestic containers and trailer vans. 

And if you're doing TOFC, more 89' flatcars than spine cars.

Smells Like Train Spirit. 

 

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Posted by MisterBeasley on Sunday, May 20, 2018 2:02 PM

ROBERT PETRICK
Automobiles are a good way to show specific time frame.

I very strongly agree with this.  Your visitors who are rail fans will notice the locomotives and rolling stock, but your non-railroad visitors will take their clues from cars and trucks.

Think about businesses that were present in the 90s but are gone today, also.  Look for their advertising online, and make signs for buildings, and decals for the sides of trucks.

It takes an iron man to play with a toy iron horse. 

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Posted by angelob6660 on Sunday, May 20, 2018 2:44 PM

Don't forget about adding presidential election signs (1992 George Bush vs Bill Clinton or 1996 Bill Clinton vs Bob Dole) all over street corners, and businesses.

I don't think about making bumper stickers miniature automobiles like license plates. A little to difficult.

Modeling the G.N.O. Railway, The Diamond Route.

Amtrak America, 1971-Present.

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