Design considerations as influenced by - chosen prototype and period
How I got interested in the M&StL
One of the first items relating to North American trains that I ever bought, besides Model Railroader magazines, was a postcard of a M&StL train passing by the depot and South Yard at Oskaloosa. Soon after I bought a postcard featureing a beautiful white, grey and blue bulldog nosed diesel locomotive. Which, as it turned out, belonged to the Wabash. To my joy both railroad companies had one direct connection to each other, at Albia in Iowa. At Albia the Wabash Des Moines line from Moberly in Missouri (where connections to the east via Hannibal on the Mississippi river and the Wabash hub in Decatur in Illinois, to the south to St Louis and to the west to Kansas City were made) connected to the original south end of the north-south oriented Iowa Central which was merged into the M&StL in 1912. Before that it had build a long line from Oskaloosa in Iowa to Peoria in Illinois to connect with eastern lines. Moreover, the railroad facilities in Albia aren't very large and thus a lifelong interest started and maybe I can now finally build it.
Bookending the time period for my layout
The M&StL was merged into the Chicago and Northwestern (CNW) in november 1960. Many colour pictures taken of the M&StL that I have seen are actually from the first 2-3 years after the merger. Not much had immediately changed. The Wabash was leased by the rapidly expanding Norfolk and Western in 1964. So that sets the later end limit on the timescale.
The earliest end was set at 1950. By 1951 the M&StL was dieselised. I don't know yet when the Wabash dieselised its Des Moines line. Further refining has given me 2 periods to consider: the colourful years 1952 or 1954 (the latter year saw long serving president Lucian Sprague ousted after a stockholder fight and the former saw the introduction of the 2 EMD SD7s which did trial runs on the line I model) and the years 1958-1959 (well into the red and white period under president Albert Schroeder when the GP9m's and regular GP9s came on the property. At this time the first Alco RS1s were sold too.
Just recently Atlas announced the EMD SD7 in the green and yellow M&StL scheme as well as a new run on Alco RS1s, all in the last green and yellow scheme with 1 numbered in the 200 series. A renumbered loco therefore and that places it in the post 1956 timeframe. The others and the SD7 fit the 1954 era.
For both periods there is some additional information available in the form of train registers or consists. That helps considerably in figuring out what was going on all those many years ago, We'll see what will get the emphasis..
I have not yet thought about the CB&Q and Rock Island locomotives but presume that these lines where dieselised by the mid 50s.
And always there is the lure of steam...
But there is still the lure of steam. M&StL's steam engines weren't the biggest and most modern so relatively easy to plan for. No UP Big Boys to contend with. It looks like not even the road's stable of 35 2-8-2 Mikado locomotives, largest on the line, made it to Albia due to weight restrictions on the Des Moines river bridge at Eddyville. Oh well, the 2-8-0s should fare just the same on relatively sharp curves...
In november 2016 I took part in a 3 day operating session of our Fremo AmericaN group in Bremen in northern Germany (see here for a report in German). Most of the trains were run with steam engines including a number of Model Power models. Model Rectifier Corp. is reintroducing a number of the smaller steam locomotives, including a 2-8-2 that is a USRA light Mikado if I'm correct, that Model Power had made. The M&StL Mikados were actually smaller than the USRA version. There are also a Mogul (2-6-0) and American (4-4-0) in M&StL available. See here