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

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Four types of American OO printed car sides

Recognizing at least the most common brands of classic, printed car sides is important to the OO gauger today. I have written about all four of these brands in previous posts, but not all at the same time.

First we have the sides used by Nason Railways. They are printed on a thin, white stock and are embossed either with rivet patterns for steel cars or to mimic wood sides, and included printed ends (not shown in the photo). The sides of the boxcars clearly were painted with paint before printing; the reefers seem to be colored with inks. The inks can be a problem, as the colors don’t hold up as well as paint. Also, on the Borden’s side pictured, the white areas are just the unprinted car side stock, which has turned color with age. And also, these sides were sold with Page kits, see this post for more information on Page, apparently a sub-brand marketed briefly by Nason.

The next are the sides sold first with Famoco kits and later with Eastern kits. These are similar in a way to Nason, as they are on a thin white paper, but the background color seems to have been applied as a part of the manufacture of the paper itself with a slightly glossy finish; the color is a type of paint I believe rather than a printers ink. They have held up very well with age. On the box car side note the printing that would be under the doors and at the bottom of the sides (which would be cut off on the model). The rivets are embossed in the side material.

Our next type was produced by Champion. These were in many different lengths and are of quite a variety of designs. Most (but not all) are clearly marked Champion. The stock they are printed on is thicker, more of a thin shirt cardboard, all printing seems to be in printers inks, and they like Nason included car ends. I have seen cars that were built up beautifully with these sides (a notable model being the express reefer), but I have also seen examples that have been very badly impacted by moisture and light. I like these sides a lot but treat them with care and only get out cars with these sides to operate.

The final type was produced by Scale-Rail Industries. These are great sides, maybe the best ever put out on American OO. They seem to be painted and the stock they are printed on is thicker and has held up well with age. Also with these you can see a better style of packaging. Their sides are packed tightly in clear cellophane, where all the other sides were shipped in sort of a waxed paper semi-clear envelope. These were also produced in some good quantity in HO scale. The full run of Scale-Rail OO sides may be seen here.

On cars that have printed sides that seem to be primarily colored with inks, especially Nason reefers and Champion sides, as noted above I would suggest that for purposes of preservation these should be kept in a dark place and not on display.

These are actually not the only types of printed sides produced in American OO. Printed cardboard sides were also used on models produced by Hoffmann’s, Limco (Long Island Scale Model Co.), Unique MiniaturesVanden Boom, and Yardmaster, and possibly even others. And there is a maker today selling new sides on eBay. For more see these articles:
Updated 2014

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