An Informal Study
and Modeling Guide of the
Late Steam and Transition Era
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I wish to express my gratitude to
Jim Boyd, Ruben Carvajal, Raymundo Collada, Juan Garcia,
Ed Hawkins, Dr. Richard Hendrickson, Hecter Hernandez, Matt Herson,
Dr. John Kirchner, Todd Minsk, Lowell McManus, Joel Norman,
Chris Palmieri, Tony Pawley, Eric Rodriguez, Edgar Romero,
Alejandro Vazquez, Victor Vazquez, Juan Viladrosa and Toshihiko Yamada
for their assistance and contributions in assembling this study.
A special thanks to Ed Hawkins for his very welcomed comments and suggestions on the presentation of the technical content.
And to Lowell McManus for the much needed guidance in the preparation and posting of this study.
My objective in doing this study is to create a standard reference for modelers of the Ferrocarriles Nacionales de Mexico. Although most of the actual prototype construction specifications are omitted, I have included adequate information to assist the modeler in assembling a prototypical fleet of forty-foot boxcars. Included in the discussion of each style or series of cars are suggestions to help in the modeling of each of the specific types.
First, I would like to present a short discussion of the history of the NdeM. Hoping this will help put aside some of the mis-information and mis-conceptions that have, all to often found its way into to many publications. From there I will touch on the concepts of prototype modeling and the importance of studying the details.
San Miguel de Allenda, Guanajuato – 1968 – Toshihiko Yamada photo
Scenes like this answer the question: Why model the Mexican Railways?
Prototype modeling, as a technique is not covered in any specific article or book, primarily because this is more a philosophy or concept used in modeling than an actual skill set. To paint a portrait the artist would first find a subject, and then make sketches to study the characteristic features of the subject before ever putting a brush to the canvas. Building a model should be no different. By definition, a model is a scale sized representation of a device or structure, and also as a form of art should receive the same attention to detail. By studying the construction and engineered details in conjunction with the photographic references of the selected prototype, a modeler can then reproduce the rail car or structure as an exact scale replica.
The intent of this study is to give each rail enthusiast of the Ferrocarriles Nacionales de Mexico an opportunity to copy in model form a freight car fleet that is uniquely different from any other in North America.
D. James Peters
Coquitlam, British Columbia, Canada
A BRIEF HISTORY OF THE MEXICAN RAILWAYS
(An essay by Hecter Lara Hernandez)
PART I . . . PRE-WORLD WAR II CARS
· 48301 – 50100
· 60000 – 61299 . . . 1932 ARA BOXCARS
· MISCELLANEOUS OLDER CARS
· 61300 – 62299 . . . 1942 MAGOR ORDER
· 62300 – 62909 . . . 1944 ORDER
· 62910 – 64409 . . . 1946 AC&F ORDER
· 65700 – 65800
· 65000 – 65342
· 65345 – 65669
· ORIGINAL PROTOTYPE . . . 66000
· DESIGN STYLE I-A . . . 66001 – 66xxx
· DESIGN STYLE I-B . . . 66xxx – 67xxx
· DESIGN STYLE II-A . . . 67xxx – 69755 and 72000 – 72879
· DESIGN STYLE II-B . . . 72880 – 76009
· DESIGN STYLE II-C . . . 76010 – 77809
· DESIGN STYLE III . . . 77810 – 78004 and 78625 – 78741
· DESIGN STYLE IV . . . 78005 – 78624
· FERROCARRIL CHIHUAHUA al PACIFICO (CH-P)
· FERROCARRIL MEXICANO (FCM)
· FERROCARRIL del PACIFICO (FCP)
· FERROCARRIL SONORA-BAJA CALIFORNIA (S-BC)
· FERROCARRIL del SURESTE (FUS)
· VARIOUS RAILROADS FROM THE UNITED STATES
APPENDIX B . . . MODELING THE FIRST 50-FOOTERS
NdeM 3300 – Class TR-3
Location (?) – Date (?) – Joel Norman collection
THE HISTORY OF MEXICAN RAILWAYS
By Hector Lara Hernandez
If we analyze all the publications to date that mention the future development of the Mexican railway network, we come up against serious limitations when we attempt to place the spread of rail technology in the context of the country’s social development, and vice versa. The purpose of this essay is to divide this activity into various definitive stages in words that offer as thorough an explanation as possible of the process. There appears to be no link or continuity between these stages that may have resulted from planning schemes, but rather, such continuity as there has been purely fortuitous.
Paradoxically, this analysis also highlights the “Official History” with regards to certain railway-related issues, based on popular anecdotes lacking any basis in historically provable fact.
Our railways have a traditional history that dates back to the 1830’s, the days of the first studies and concessions. But for lack of practical results, it amounts to little more than background, or perhaps a preparatory stage, that started with the opening of the Ferrocarril San Juan to in the port city of Veracruz on September 16, 1850. This early stage also includes the construction of other pioneering lines to short to warrant inclusion in a national network. One such is the suburban Ferrocarril de la Villa, which started operations on July 4, 1857.
These beginnings, added to the previous projects provided to the basis for the Ferrocarril Mexicano (Mexico[i] – port of Veracruz through Orizaba). The construction of this line had to overcome many obstacles, such as the Reform Wars, the French intervention and the natural obstacles of the Sierra Madre Oriental, before its inauguration on January 1, 1873. In this stage, the first railway routes were inaugurated and became part of the fabric of Mexico’s day-to-day life.
1880-1910 CONSTRUCTION FEVER
This is a universally accepted term, applied with chronological variants in different countries. In Mexico, construction fever coincided with the regime of Porfirio Diaz in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, which in turn was distinguished for the construction of major railway projects and the legislation to keep them under state control. First was the creation of the Ministry of Communications and Public Works (SCOP) and then in April 1899 with the passing of the “General Railway Law”. It is interesting to note that many railway lines were started with Mexican planning and investment, although finished with foreign capital. Casting the widely accepted idea that the long-distance roads such as the Ferrocarril Central (Mexico – Ciudad Juarez) and the Ferrocarril Nacional (Mexico – Nuevo Laredo) responded to the sinister interests of American or British expansionism. In fact the business objectives of the railways constructed by both countries were purely monetary and were not part of any national plan such as the “Manifest Destiny” of the United States or British Imperialism.
In addition to the construction of the long-distance roads, 530 kilometres of secondary railway line were constructed every year during the Porfirio Diaz regime. This was largely due to the construction of regional feeder lines connecting the long-distance lines to the plantations, mines and haciendas.
Support for the “Mexicanization” movement from railway workers organized by Felipe Pescador was very important in this period. Finally, shortly before the Revolution, the Ministro de Hacienda (Minister of Finance), Jose Ives Limantour merged the largest railway companies to create the Ferrocarriles Nacionales de Mexico.
1910-1924 THE REVOLUTION
Mexico’s social instability entered another stage in which heavy loses decimated rolling stock and railway facilities, but political change righted the course followed by the country’s institutions. The companies were affected in differing manners and degrees, depending on the degree in which revolutionary violence encroached on their spheres of influence. Particularly severe destruction was wreaked on the regional system, almost entirely in the hands of private investors, who were disenfranchised by the war, and what was not broken was abandoned.
The national system was severely devastated, but the companies eventually found the means to rebuild the railways. The costs incurred for transporting the necessary equipment and resources needed for the rebuilding were never paid, which had long term and severe repercussions on the impoverished railway companies.
1924-1940 RECONSTRUCTION AND INTEGRATION
Thanks to the Mexicanization of railway personnel, the damages caused by the armed conflict were overcome under improved conditions, although shortage of funding made service unreliable, as another serious competitor – highway transportation – appeared on the scene, and due to its versatility and freedom of movement, won the preference of the public.
The effects of the Great Depression were divesting, as many lines that withstood the cannon fire of the Huerta dictatorship succumbed due to the lack of funding and users. At the same time, the original structure of branch and regional lines were disappearing. The SCOP undertook the process of integrating the national network, starting with the construction of the long-distance lines such as Sonora-Baja California and the southeast line, completion of the Pacific line and various other lines in Michoacan.
In 1931, the Labor Law was passed, favoring the creation of industry trade unions, the first of which was the Mexican Railway Workers’ Union (STFRM), which was legally constituted on February 1, 1933. Once the STFRM was consolidated, the union took control of the NdeM on June 13, 1937. In December of the same year, the government turned the company over to the workers, who were treated as a workers’ administration until December 1940, when its conversion to a decentralized agency of the federal government was announced.
Due to its logistical imperatives, World War II had a powerful impact on rail technology. Several short-term projects were undertaken on the urging of the “United States Railway Mission to Mexico”[ii], such as the rehabilitation of the longitudinal trunk line between the United States and Guatemala, which included widening of the narrow gauge lines and automatic signalling on the most heavily traveled sections. Long-term activities included the relocation and improvement of stations in most of the major centers, with special attention given to workshops. The introduction of diesel power began in 1940 and culminated in 1968 when the last of the steam locomotives was withdrawn from regular service. The creation of the Constructora Nacional de Carros de Ferrocarril (National Railway Car Construction Company) in 1954 provided valuable support, reducing the need to purchase foreign-built freight cars to a minimum.
[i] Mexico used in this context refers to Mexico City – As the citizens of Mexico City would tell you, “A city so important they named the country after it”.
[ii] The impact of the “United States Railway Mission to Mexico” to the freight equipment is discussed in Part II “CARS BUILT DURING WORLD WAR II”.