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

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

The Eastern Model Railroad Co.

Recently I saw on eBay a freight car that was misidentified as being by Eastern. They only made three models, which are all pretty easy to recognize.

The Eastern Model Railroad Co. was run by A. W. Rinck and began selling OO out of Hackensack, NJ, in 1946 (with the gondola being introduced in 1948). According to RMC publisher Harold Carstens in his editorial in their March, 2000 issue, Arno Rinck had the bodies for these cars produced for him by Westbrook, the pioneer O gauge manufacturer. The bodies are different than Picard bodies and very nicely made.

By the 1960s Rinck had relocated way out west, to Hungry Horse, MT, where he was in business until 1980, also selling TT gauge models under the name Craftsman Kits. He advertised for years and years with a small monthly ad in Model Railroader. Some of the residual stock of parts for these kits continues to be seen on eBay to this day.

Eastern produced freight cars with wood bodies, painted and lettered (printed) card sides and card ends, with a cast frame and details. The trucks were equalized Bettendorf trucks of exactly the same design used by Famoco as were the stamped roof ribs. In short, the car sides and many parts of their box car and reefer kits are identical to those marketed by Famoco; the exact relationship of these two firms is not clear today. They also produced a Gondola, a 40' steel car. The full list of sides supplied for these models may be found at the end of this article.
The first photo shows a reefer and box car built up, both are cars I built from fresh kits, and the second photo the gondola kit and the bottom of the reefer. The frame is very easy to recognize, it is die cast and has the word “Eastern” right there on it, and there is a nice K type brake cylinder as well of their own design. Click on the photos for more detail. For a finished Eastern gondola see this post.

The big flaw of kits of this type is it is really difficult to match the color and sheen of the boxcar red sides when painting the other parts. The black is somewhat easier; flat black is close, but a matte black closer. And the reefer as a unique problem as well, the car body itself is a bit too tall. They corrected for this by adding extra blank space above the doors in the printing of the sides, which leaves the overall proportions off.

Still, I know I really enjoyed building that first Eastern box car kit (my first OO gauge model) and I will always have a warm spot for their products. They do, with care, build up into sharp models and the boxcars in particular are among the best produced in American OO, it was a good solid product for the time. And, for more variety, one could always paint over the sides and use decals, as seen with the cars in this article for example.

This advertisement is from 1946, when the Eastern line was launched. The below is my current list of car side numbers. Some of the sides were printed with at least two different car numbers, and I welcome interested readers to contact me to expand my list further. The sides are exactly the same for the Eastern and Famoco boxcar and reefer. Only Eastern sold the gondolas.

Box car, 40'
  • ATSF "Scout" #140387, 145578 
  • B&O 466350, 466346 (Linking 13 Great States) 
  • B&O 466096 (Sentinel)
  • CN #520395
  • CB&Q #32382 (cat.)
  • GN #10094, 52046
  • NYC 97488
  • PRR 100846 
Gondola, 40'
  • B&O 250538
  • C of G 18300
  • Erie 51139
  • PRR 397036
  • Rock Island 80600
  • T&P 17839 
Reefer, 40,' steel or scribed wood sides; steel unless noted below
  • ARLX/Armor Star 14762 (scribed) 
  • Bordens 
  • ART #482 (Crazy Crystals, scribed) 
  • DICX/Dry Ice 117 (scribed)
  • FGEX 36266 (scribed) 
  • MDT 19564
  • MDT with NYC herald #20130 
  • Northwestern (C&NW) #81021 (cat.) 
  • PFE 40516 with SP herald 
  • PFE 50940 with WP herald (scribed)
  • Santa Fe 
  • SRLX/Swift Premium Ham 15038, 17364
  • Union/Milwaukee 
  • Western (GN) #63965 (scribed)
For more information on Eastern see:
Updated 2014

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