Thursday, April 9, 2015

What becomes of the Southern New England?

Don't tell anyone! You know, when no one else is around….the clock rolls forward and the trains depict a more current era! But what would my freelance Southern New England look like in later years?  
While I try to keep it in check sometimes my prototype-freelanced Southern New England (affectionately called the “Sneey” by all her adoring fans) creeps into the posts on this blog. Sorry for the intrusion.
“Go whole hog SNE” is a temptation that creeps up from time to time around these parts. Truth of the matter is a lot more of the locomotives on the modeled railroad wear “Southern New England” and not Central Vermont on their flanks. I refuse to letter an out-of-the-box Bachmann 2-8-0 “CV” but have no issue lettering it for the SNE. On the layout they all tend to blend together after a while!
Although my modeling of the Southern New England is pretty firmly planted in the late steam era, a number of my friends who model a more modern era than me have asked "What would a SNE car look like in 1970 (or 80, or whatever)?" The answer is I don't really know. I’ve never had any issue with the steam and transition era paint schemes. As a subsidiary of the Canadian National (like the Central Vermont, GTW, GT-NE, and DWP) questions about SNE paint schemes, numbering, etc. . . . are already answered for me. Kadee has even done two versions of SNE PS-1 boxcar paint schemes using my artwork!

Remember, the Southern New England as I model it is a fairly small line (what one would call a "big regional" by the 1970s) that connects Providence RI with the CN/CV line north to Montreal and some sort of "Gateway to the West of New England" via something like the Poughkeepsie Bridge.  

In short, before deciding on a paint scheme - even for interchange freight cars with friends - I need to answer the fundamental question of “what happens to the SNE post-1955?”

Several possible scenarios have been suggested over the years:

1. The SNE continues as a subsidiary of the CN. The line between Hartford, Conn., and the main line stem that heads west of New England into New York state is cut back or abandoned altogether.. First generation units, such as our RS-11s and GP9s would be painted in "wet noodle" scheme, just as the CV did. Some second generation power, such as GP38s/40s, or even something as exotic as an RS-36, would join the roster. Basically, at first glance the railroad looks like a lot like the CV.

One practical issue has stood in the way of this option - even when I wanted to paint up a half-dozen 1970s era boxcars for friends layouts: After 1963 some version of the “wet noodle” paint scheme would be a necessity. But I’ve had no luck bending and twisting the letters “S,” “N,” and “E” into something that looked “right.” I should add if any one feels a burning need to sketch out such a SNE scheme I’d love to see it!

Other possible scenarios for the SNE: 
2. The SNE develops as a road without ties to the CN. (Alternative history of alternative history????) It ends up completely independent, almost "shortline" like railroad - serving as a small regional road serving the eastern Connecticut, Mass., and Rhode Island areas. Perhaps a group of otherwise unconnected lines in various locales in New England. Perhaps the routes etc… essentially replace the Providence & Worcester. The owner of the railroad shops around for slightly older early “second generation” Geeps at bargain basement prices….?
3. The SNE gets caught up in merger-mania -- the CN sells the line to Guilford Transportation Industries. The railroad operates with a selection of MEC, B&M, and D&H power with the "new" power (retread units, like early Guilford), some painted in the charcoal gray scheme with "Southern New England" lettering in place of the other roads names on the long hood.
4. A possibility I haven't considered yet. Or some combination(s) of the above.

At this point this isn’t much more than a mental exercise. But I’d like the option to dip my toe in the later era as the mood strikes – even resetting the layout for a later era op session from time to time. (Jack Ozanich shifts the era of his Atlantic Great Eastern to the 1960s/70s – fewer trains smaller crews etc… during the summer months). 
Back when we lived in Colorado I played around with an era shift on that version of the SNE. Someone on my SNE Yahoo Group drafted a couple of possible "scenario 2" paint schemes, but the idea never went further than the line diagram shown below. 
The MEC and D&H inspiration should be obvious - and I'm not sure that's such a good thing. The logo is a stylized “Maple Leaf” with a Southern New England tilted wafer monogram overlaid on top. That at least reflects the line's heritage and is "simplified" in a manner similar to a MEC “circle pine tree” logo. The colors in the artwork are a little off – the green would be much darker and may be close to the olive green on 1950s era diesels. 

Two early drafts for a "Second Generation" SNE paint scheme. Would something much closer to the CV/CN wet noodle schemes be a better choice?  


  1. Perhaps it would be easier to think of the SNE as a wet noodle logo if we look away from the CV and more towards sister road GTW. Wasn't the W dropped in the wet noodle era for just GT? (and didnt GT(NE) bear the same logo?). By the same token, I think if you drop the E from SNE and connect the top end of the S with the upper left corner of the N, you'd get a believable wet-noodle SN.

    If that sounds reasonable, I can try to mock one up.

    1. I'd be interested, but I really think it needs to be obviously "New England" and not just an "N." No one calls the World's Greatest Football Team of All Time the "N" Patriots - they're the NE Patriots.
      Seriously, everyone one of my friends, operating crews, and even my wife calls the railroad the "Snee." Just can't see it working without the "E"!!!
      But thanks!

      See today's post for some scribbles.

  2. Interesting discussion, Marty.
    I think capturing the family look is key to any successful freelance scheme when you're modelling a subsidiary line. That said, the wet noodle is only one way to achieve that. Here are two other possibilities:
    1 - Paint your locomotives CNR orange and black, and add a shield logo instead. Maybe the SNE management was more traditional and kept the wafer. Or maybe you use the stylized maple leaf as shown in "Scenario 2", above.
    2 - Paint your locomotives in the CNR striped scheme, but change the colors used. For instance, keep the diagonal white stripes but paint the body green or blue instead of black. Or paint the body yellow and apply black stripes to the flanks. In either case, the ends would be a safety color - yellow, red, or orange as you see fit. Again, go with a shield logo instead of a word mark.

  3. Trevor, I like your first idea. Remember the DW&P didn't use an intertwined logo - my guess is no one was able to get them to link together successfully so they tilted the "DW&P" and added a "tail" to the bottom on the P. Worked well enough that it was unchanged for years.
    Also, different colors are an interesting idea. The CV's habit of painting locomotives in the various green schemes was apparently frowned upon by big brother to the north. But that little streak of independence was kind of cool!

  4. A friend of mine had a freelanced railway based in southern Ontario - a line that in real life became part of the CNR, but on his layout retained some of its independence as a subsidiary. He had a dark blue paint scheme with red ends that didn't really say "CN Lines".
    I suggested he continue to use these colors, but add the diagonal white stripes on the long hoods (easy, since they're included in decal sets for CNR diesels). I also suggested mimicking the CNR's paint scheme more closely - use the same break lines between the two colors, white sill sides, etc. He could even have added a comfort cab or two (easier now that RTR models are offered with these).
    In the end, he changed prototypes completely - but I always thought my idea was a good one.
    - Trevor