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June 2002 - Page 33

The Railway Express building, seen in most every coach yard generated lots of traffic income after World War Two when passenger traffic dropped off. Cars could be loaded and unloaded from any track on the big four-wheeled wagons often called jumbos. With express business up, Railway Express is even using some tracks across the street for additional space. In a busy scene such as this one, lots of REA trucks would be needed. were responsible for many trains lasting as long as they did. On railroads with dense passenger services, mail and express traffic might be so heavy that special trains would be operated on schedules with only RPOs, storage mail cars and express cars. In some cases these had a rider coach for local riders too. I recall seeing solid trains of express cars stretching as far as the eye could see running alongside t he Hudson River on New York Central tracks, hauled by several GP units or Alco FAs. Pennsylvania had similar trains as did Santa Fe and many other roads. At important junction cities, cars would be switched in and out just as in a freight train, so that a single mail and express train might serve a large number of cities on diverging routes. At Jersey City, on the CNJ, the location of the express building was adjacent to the departure platforms of the terminal, with two tracks utilized for express traffic. The first floor of the building was virtually all doors on both the long north side facing Johnston Avenue, and on the south side, which faced the train tracks. I recall seeing every door open on the street side, with trucks backed up to every door and trucks idling across the street awaiting a bay to load up or unload. (This building was nearly 700' long!) The upper two stories were for Railway Express Co. and railroad offices. I n Sunnyside Yard, Railway Express also had its own building which was about the size of a small freight yard by itself. Four tracks penetrated the interior and cars were brought in among the high platforms: mechanical bridges were lowered when cars were idle to permit trucking with electric horses or other powered vehicles hauling strings of wagons full of packages across the tracks. These bridges were moved to permit the cars to be hauled out when loaded. building, but as I was completing this building I learned that Walthers was coming out with a similar express building. Using that structure will be easier than converting two of the DPM buildings, but it will be somewhat more expensive. This type of conversion is likely to give you a unique building that should provide a lot of realism. I left off the models canopy, but one could be fabricated easily using sheet styrene. The first floor of any express house has large doors for loading and unloading cars along one side: The other side should be parallel to a street and should also have a long row of doors for loading and unloading trucks. It would also be possible to install a track on the street side of the building either along the shoulder or in the pavement so a car could load on the street side when trucks were not present. Walthers street track installation kits are ideal for this application and provide an easy way to put the track in the pavement. A platform extending beyond the length of the building would permit hand or electric trucks to move loads to train cars or trucks located beyond the limits of the building. There was a similar arrangement at Jersey City on the CNJ in the 1930s. As this building was built for installation facing a wall, I omitted the back of the building and substituted student grade cold pressed illustration board (saving the two extra long walls with window sections and no doors for a future office block project). The illustration board was painted inside and out to seal it against moisture. To join the two front walls, the end pilaster of one end was cut off by lightly scoring with an acrylic cutter. Acrylic cutters are made by several knife companies and are faster than scribing with a hobby knife. When you have scribed about halfway through, the part is snapped off and the edge dressed with a file to be sure it is flat and in square. Alternatively, you could saw the pilaster off with an X-Acto #239 extra fine saw blade (none of the other companies makes such a fine backsaw blade). I used Duro contact cement to join the illustration board to the styrene w all sections, but your favorite glue for dissimilar materials should work well too. If you plan to add an interior this should be done when you have the front and sides completed, but before adding the back. Even if you dont add interior details, do put in shades or venetian blinds. These add much depth to the building. Window shades can be just a square of oaktag or construction paper, but your shades will be more permanent if you use Strathmore (thin Bristol board) or painted styrene sheet. Tan was a common color for roll-up shades used in offices, as was dark green. Venetian blinds are available from several manufacturers. It is possible to just tape the shades in place, but I prefer to use small droplets of white glue applied with a toothpick to hold these against the clear plastic windows from the inside. Testors clear parts cement, made for aircraft canopies and usually available in the military or plastic models section of your local hobby shop is ideal for this application. The Railway Express sign is made of paper printed out on my computer, and is based on a sign I saw years ago. I used the clear parts cement applied in little dots to adhere it to .030 thick plastic and then used a couple of additional drops to hold the sign to the building. It was common for Railway Express to share a building with the post office, and this structure could be divided with one end for REA and the other for a postal facility. REA facilities generally had covered platforms, but some were open too. I chose not to use the platform roof included in the kit. I left this platform open so that details added would show up better. Next month we will conclude with a look at building a crew quarters building, a car repair facility and boiler houses. Then well discuss how all the structures weve built can be prototypically arranged.

Railway Express Building
Two Design Preservation Laubes Linens kits were used to build my Railway Express

JUNE 2002


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