What's New for June 2014 - Jun. 25, 2014
UPDATE - June 25, 2014: We are taking orders for the Peach Creek Shops Berg Car (click here) now! We expect delivery from our caster in the next two weeks, so order now and your credit card will not be charged until we actually ship. This little jewel is made of resin and incorporates Kadee couplers and wheels. It comes to you fully assembled and ready to paint. Berg cars have been around since the late 1800's and survived until the 1950's. Once the primary car used for moving molten iron it was replaced by the Pugh Car (the first bottle car) in 1917. Berg cars remained in service delivering molten iron to the Bessemer converters and for delivering Spiegel in the Bessemer house. Some cars were also used to haul slag. Price is $36.95
The big news is that we finally have the masters for our long awaited “Berg” car! If you as old as dirt, like me, you may remember an article in a 1950 issue of MR, which depicted modeling a steel mill. If you are not old as dirt, you may have seen the reprint of the article in Dean Freytag’s book, “The History, Making and Modeling of Steel”. In the article there was a small picture of a string of four of these cars being pushed by a small saddle tank loco. These cars have always intrigued me and it has taken me years to find enough info to have a model made.
Although the information is hard to come by, what I have found is that the Berg Car may be the first commercially manufactured hot metal car that was sold to a variety of steel mills. These cars were built by the William A. Pollock Co., in Youngstown, Ohio and designed by P.T. Berg of the Carnegie Steel Company. The first written reference I found was in the August 14, 1902 issue of “The Iron Age”. Prior to the Berg car, mills built their own cars and the results were varied. Berg had several variations, some required a crane to tip the ladle, others had a large hand wheel where a workman could tip the ladle standing next to the car, some were large capacity and there were smaller variations. What were common to all were the ornate cast side frames and a four-wheel bogie. It is interesting to note that these cars stayed in service until the 1950’s. Originally made to transport hot metal from the blast furnace to the Bessemer plant, they were later downgraded to hauling Spiegel from the cupolas to the Bessemer converter, an operation that took place entirely inside the Bessemer building.
Berg cars had a serious deficiency. They were open top ladles and transporting hot metal in a heavy rainstorm, or in winter resulted in a rapid loss of heat. Combine this with the inevitable delays caused by accidents, maintenance problems, etc. and you have all the conditions necessary to result in a “frozen” load. It is said that every steel plant has a car with a frozen load somewhere on the back lot in the weeds.
The Berg Car Model
We have chosen to model one of the early large crane operated cars as it might have appeared in the 1920’s – 30’s. The car is standard gauge HO; resin cast and made to incorporate Kadee style couplers. Jim Reuter, a retired Smithsonian model maker, made the patterns. The masters are currently at the caster for evaluation and preliminary casting. It is planned to offer the car assembled and unpainted. Price is TBD. Delivery is expected late August 2014.
The photos show the car dry fitted in the assembly fixture without journals and wheels.
The 2014 Steel Mill Modelers Meet
Everything is coming together nicely for our annual meet. This year we will be in Bethlehem, Pa, August 27-31. We have a great schedule of seminars, layout and prototype tours, workshops and more. Click on “The Steel Mill Modelers Meet” button for the agenda and registration information. Remember you can use your credit card and register on line!
I had thought of having a contest and a special award for the winner. The contest was for the builder of the best bottle car made from a Plastruct kit. The winner would receive a Plastruct bottle car kit as the award. The second place winner would get two cars. All entrants would get a free hair shirt and a flail. This is still under consideration.
It should be a great meet! Hope to see you there!
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