American OO Today

The online magazine on the history and operation of vintage scale model trains in American OO gauge

Thursday, June 23, 2016

An almost completed Graceline reefer

Ending this brief series of recent finds posts, this Graceline reefer recently came to me with some other items.

Besides it being a relatively rare item, with the hand painted sides (more on those here), the thing that really caught my eye was it was never completed. Almost completed, but it has clearly been in this same state for years and years.

The trucks are Lionel. One was broken when it got here, I replaced the bolster with an orphan original part. See how nicely they were painted? The roof has a bit of paint loss from storage. And then see that number written in pencil on the car side?

The number keys to numbers on the back of each of the sides which, if you look closely, are not quite the same as they were hand painted. Side one goes on the other side of the car.

The builder seems to have just stopped at this point. Hopefully there was no sad story right then in their life, but here it is today. The car needs ladders, it has never had couplers so it needs those, and of course the sides should be glued on. I really should do the job and finish the car neatly, it is a fine vintage item, but for right now at least I will leave this car as it is.

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Unusual, WWII era Nason parts

Among some recent parts purchased was a Nason parts envelope.

It is of the same style as they briefly used to sell decals in 1942 (mentioned in this article), but it did not contain decals, but rather is marked “5 Pr. Freight Car Ends” and also “3 Dr. & 2 Corr.”

The ends are still what are in the packet, painted boxcar red. They are smaller than Eastern ends and on thinner card stock.

In my parts I had a set of the ends in cardboard and one example of the door/end in thin shim brass which is I think explaining the “3 Dr.” on the package. I have several more of these doors as well. Knowing what they are now, maybe they will find their way onto a Nason car.


Saturday, June 18, 2016

Remnants of a Hoffmann's reefer

Among some parts recently purchased some unusual parts stood out. At this point I have a pretty good eye for parts, I saw the trucks early on and knew they were Hoffmann's and set them aside.

Then I got to these wood parts and the frames. The frames were not Selley or any maker I recognized easily, and the wood parts were not Picard or Eastern/Famoco or Nason so I knew they were exotic.

Turns out they are from a Hoffmann's reefer, likely from the same car as the trucks. Nearly complete kits for these cars may be seen in this article. If you click over you will see that one of the kits lacks a frame, so I will strip the extra frame and put it with that kit. These cars are really uncommon, available 1938-39.

Then we get to my remnant car. Being so rare it will get a “project box” and will be rebuilt. I wish I had a spare set of Hoffmann's sides to make it really correct. It may emerge with Scale-Rail or Champion sides.

A final note on the trucks, they actually track OK (better than the truck in this article) but I think the wheelsets are likely replacements. In any case, an interesting group of parts I was happy to spot.

Friday, June 10, 2016

A Scale-Craft Coach from the Oklahoma and Western

In a recent lot purchase was this nice Scale-Craft coach. As always, click on the photo for a better view.

Besides being a nice example of a classic (if somewhat common) OO model it caught my eye for several reasons. First off, just for the road name. It is probably lost to history who the brass hat of this road was, but being lettered for a freelanced western road is notable.

The lettering is actually a second set of lettering. If you look carefully, an original set of decals was painted over to allow the current lettering.

Of course the overall paint is a bit worse for the wear over the years but certainly “good enough” for a place in “the collection,” I don’t see it needing fixed further.

The other really notable thing is the car has an interior and lights. When it got here the interior had a number of loose seats but I corrected that situation with some superglue. I like the walls and the rest rooms and the color scheme. I have interior details to do several cars easily -- this is inspiring me to take on that project with upcoming S-C models with the easily removable roofs.

To the lights, I was first thinking they would be dead but actually testing them they all still work. The only issue is that one solder connection has broken. Sometime I should fix that, when I have the iron out again.

I like as well that the Oklahoma and Western at least theoretically might interchange with my line. All in all, this model I think was a nice find and is a reminder that sometimes there are vintage models that just appeal to you, trust you senses.

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

A video podcast with American OO

Up today is a quick look at a video podcast. I like the format a lot -- I am seriously thinking to produce a couple new episodes of "American OO Today" videos in this general format -- and I enjoy their curiosity with these vintage models.


They are vintage Scale-Craft models, of course -- for much more on S-C OO gauge see this article.

There must still be a lot of random American OO floating around just like this, built by granddad back in the day, and hopefully someone curious about them will stumble across not only this video but also more information on these models here in American OO Today.

To close, I last produced an American OO video in 2011 (more here on that last one), but this summer, as noted already, be looking for more in a format similar to that seen above.

Friday, May 6, 2016

Two 3D printed SW7s, and a SC/Lionel American OO caboose

Described in two earlier articles (here and here) the pair of SW7s are now complete and painted/lettered.

It took a while to decide on a scheme. Back in high school my first freelance HO layout was the Madison-Quincy-Southern, and I had some decals for it kicking around for years. In thinking of what to decorate these models for I needed a freelance line and what color? The old MQS had a Pullman green engine (seen here!), and that gave me inspiration for this new MQS model.

To the paint specifically, I had a new and unused bottle of Polyscale Pullman green and used that. I was nervous to brush paint the engines but actually it was not a problem at all. The first coat literally soaked into the “Strong & Flexible White nylon plastic” 3D printing material as did the second. The one area I painted more was the cab sides as they needed to be smoother to support the decals well. That area received about 5 coats of paint. Also I painted the handrails white. They are a bit clunky looking and if you look too closely the entire model has a rough finish. But decorated as they are they do work well on the layout at viewing distances.

One thing I did do intentionally was number them sequentially. The MQS is a short line and it points out that it is probably a small roster of locomotives. The HO model mentioned earlier was number 12, so these are further up the roster.

And any train needs a caboose. This one is a curiosity, purchased with some other models.

What a prior owner had done was modify a Scale-Craft caboose body to fit a Lionel caboose frame. Why!?! In any case, I was thinking to decorate it to sell on eBay but even then, who is going to buy this mutt? Being a nice car I decided to decorate it for the MQS. And being a special model it needs special trucks, and it received my last pair of North Yard caboose trucks.

This final photo is a view of the bottom showing the Lionel frame and the trucks which are ultra-free rolling. As with all the photos, click on the photo for a closer view.

Next up for the MQS is a SD24. I did not have the 3D model made for me, but rather obtained the body from another OO gauger that had it made but decided to go in other directions. I have a drive that will work well for it and just need time over the summer to get it running. Until then though these two engines and caboose are likely to rule the rails on my little layout.

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Five cars from the OO Yorkville & Western

These five cars are all decorated for the layout of Fred Schorr, his Yorkville & Western, and are an interesting group, as three of them came to me relatively recently.

First up are these two gondolas. These I purchased at different times from different sources. I like a lot how they are numbered sequentially. The models are of course from his line of Japanese brass imports, with Kadee couplers and nicely painted. The coal load is a simple one made from black sandpaper, the rear gon with lettering related to being for coal service and the front one for crushed rock, sand, or gravel.

Then there is this gondola. It is also a Schorr import, with that same owl logo but decorated differently. Notice anything missing? It has no car number or reporting marks of any type. It was UPDATE actually the work of his son Ed, a nice variation on the Y&W theme.

Finally we have two hopper cars, one by Schorr and the other by Scale-Craft, built up nicely. The S-C car has a very nice, removable coal load while the Schorr car has another of the black sandpaper loads. Which look pretty good at a distance, it is a very heavy grit and I think he painted over it with gloss black which helps the effect.

All in all a nice group of cars from the layout of a major figure in postwar American OO.

Sunday, May 1, 2016

Five “Nason” boxcars

I try to work on things in groups and I was working on a group of three boxcars that expanded to five as the project went on.

First up is this car which turned out really well. The body is I think not commercial, actually, and the car itself was a basket case. I stripped it down, added Famoco ends and doors (the latter being reproductions by Temple Nieter that are a bit under sized), Eastern ladders, a Nason frame and trucks, and Nason Erie sides.

Part of what got me going on the entire project was that I found that Floquil ATSF Mineral Brown was a pretty close match for the sides. That one thing, matching paint, is what makes these cars. I brush painted them for control, in several coats.

Moving on, there are two more pair of cars. The first pair are SP cars, the vintage one in front being a actual Nason car that had been beautifully built up, it has a lot of extra details such as brake lines under the car, but it had fallen on hard times. After gluing the roof back on (!) I touched it up quite a bit and replaced a missing coupler. The car I made was the completion of one of a group of boxcars started long ago (the "boxcar project") and I have slowly been working them over. Not visible in the photos, I used Nason frames and trucks on all the cars seen that I built up, along with vintage Kadee No. 4 couplers.

The last pair of cars also have NP sides. The vintage model in the rear is actually a Page car (the cheaper, under-brand Nason briefly promoted) with a solid block body. The car I completed is another of the same bodies used for my SP car. That builder had put Selley ends on the cars and had done roof ribs but let them go there, never completed them. I had to rework the roofs but with the added details and closely matching paint they came out well.

Note also I did not duplicate any car numbers. I still have a couple more of the “boxcar project” bodies, maybe this summer they too will emerge with Nason sides, before I run out of the Floquil paint….

Friday, April 15, 2016

A nice Hawk OO boxcar

Hawk, in the years right before WWII, briefly produced a line of OO scale freight car kits (more here). Of those, the boxcar is I think the nicest model.

This example certainly is a nice one. It came to me either nearly completely built or nearly completely rebuilt, so I can't claim to have done much more than put on trucks and add couplers and decals.

I like a lot how it came out with the Microscale HO decals, it looks great on the layout with such an accurate scheme. The trucks are Schorr and to mix things up a little I used a set of vintage Kadee No. 4 couplers -- I have a supply of them and use them often on cars with a wood floor such as this one. A really nice "new" vintage car.

Sunday, April 10, 2016

Progress report: a pair of American OO 3D printed SW7’s

Back in January we featured a report on the 3D printed 1:76 models available at Shapeways. I now own two of the SW7 models and have them running! All that needs to be added are paint and decals.

As designed there were several parts left off the bodies, specifically the headlights, bell, and horn. I salvaged those parts from the shells of the AHM SW1 models that donated their frame, drive, and weights to the project. The Shapeways bodies only needed slight modification to accommodate coupler boxes mounted on the frame, done on the cab end of each model only and not normally visible at all in operation.

Turning to the drives seen in the second photo, the AHM models have trucks that are the correct wheelbase for OO with nice side frames. I extended the frames of both and enlarged the fuel tanks with spare parts saved from other conversions. I then added weight to the extent that I could (the wheels still slip, they are not overweight in relation to the motor), and will paint the weights that are visible in the cab black.

Speaking of paint, be sure to check the earlier article for a discussion of this topic. As to a paint scheme, my plan now is to revive a freelance short line that I modeled in HO way back in high school. More on that in a future update, but it will make for some good operation and also is suited to the SD24 body model which I will be working on soon.

The AHM drives seen in the photos actually run surprisingly well. I knew that if I ran these drives as a pair of engines they would work better, as each model individually has only four wheel pickup and four drive wheels, both of them going smooths out operation. The pair will pull about six free rolling cars and low speed operation really is OK. These will be run.

Also very notable is that with the original AHM frame cut down as seen it nests right up inside the 3D body and the engine is exactly the right height! It took me a while to get used to the look as they are visually a good bit bigger than most of the HO conversion Diesel switchers I have been using for years.

The downside on these two models is that they make clear that almost my entire Diesel switcher fleet (!) really is not up to snuff. Almost all look noticeably under scale except for one: the Fleischmann Baldwin switcher (seen here). On it, the cab looks short but the model itself is otherwise convincing next to the full scale Shapeways bodies. So likely this summer I will rebuild another of these using parts scrapped from my SW1 conversion, and looking ahead I think the AHM S-1 models could be used to make a convincing RS-1, maybe in a few years….

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John Ericson has been active in American OO for over 30 years, is a university music professor by profession, and firmly believes everyone needs a hobby.