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

Sunday, November 29, 2009

More OO Express Reefer Trucks

Keeping on the recent topic of express reefers, these cars were both recent eBay purchases. This one I can’t easily ID but is probably based on a Picard body.

It is in a bit rough shape but it has several interesting things to note. Click on the photo for a larger view. One is the mixture of decals and hand lettering, not quite as sharp as the factory Graceline sides in this earlier post. The car is weighted inside with sand, something I have seen before and something I would certainly never do. Another interesting thing are the trucks. They are modified Scale-Craft passenger trucks that have been changed over to 33” freight car wheelsets. It seems either to have been a conversion a number of different modelers did to create an express reefer truck back in the day or it is something I just happen to have found four pair of on cars in my collection.

With the above car in the same lot was this second car. This is in even rougher shape, probably based on Picard (the frame member is Picard), lettered for a modeler’s personal road (the Spring Valley), but interestingly has one complete and one broken truck that are clearly homemade copies of Scale-Craft trucks, shown in this bottom view. The side frames are roughly cast in a lead alloy and the bolster is plastic. The one with wheels has Scale-Craft freight car wheelsets, one broken due to rough handling. I don’t think these trucks ever worked very well but they are certainly interesting and vintage.

One other interesting thing to note are the couplers on this car. I have not seen these before; they are made from sheet brass and are at this point a mystery item for me but do appear to be a manufactured item. Anyone have any ideas?

This will end this short series on express reefers. Looking at them more I realize several mid-western roads similar to my Orient had express reefers, and it may not be too long before I get itching to rebuild a junker for the Orient.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

A Norfolk & Ohio Express Reefer

Today we have three nice photos of yet another car from the Norfolk & Ohio layout of Carl Appel, currently in the collection of Dick G., an express reefer. This car from the Norfolk & Ohio is a great example of an OO gauge express reefer. Click on any photo for a larger view.

Dick wondered who the maker was. If I had to guess I would think this car could be based on a Graceline kit but tweaked pretty good. The Graceline cars in the previous post do not have the frame casting and could be Selley castings. It could be scratch built or based on Picard in some manner.

The trucks deserve some special comment as well. They are standard Scale-Craft side frames but mounted on a different bolster of brass and with different wheelsets (perhaps Famoco). Dick described them as follows:
The trucks on this reefer are unusual. The bolsters are made from 1/4" square brass. The Scale-Craft passenger car side frames are attached to the brass bolsters with a single small screw. The axles are steel with insulated brass wheels....

I think it would be interesting to see what tools Carl used to make these brass bolsters. They look to be of professional quality.
This car was a runner; Appel modified things to suit his layout. As the wheelsets look to be insulated on one side. I tried once to use Famoco wheelsets in a pair of Scale-Craft passenger trucks; they rolled great but from experience I know that he needed a bolster that was not as flexible as the stock Scale-Craft bolster or he was looking at shorting. So my guess is he wanted to use the upgrade wheelsets on this N&O car and to do so had to make the bolster less flexible; using the tools of a jeweler he fabricated new bolsters. A fine vintage piece.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Two Graceline Express Reefers.

Some years ago I lucked into the purchase of a number of classic Graceline OO cars in a lot purchase, including these two express reefers. These are classic Graceline with the factory hand lettered sides, great vintage pieces.

While I have posted a couple times on express reefer models previously (for example here and here), this post will be the first on a short series on express reefers, and with it I think a good place to start is background on this type of car. Back in the day clearly the biggest group of OO gauge modelers were located in the northeast United States. One type of car that saw much service still in that era and that area were express reefers, most frequently used in milk service. The Wikipedia article on refrigerator cars has a good concise overview of express reefers.
Standard refrigerated transport is often utilized for good with less than 14 days of refrigerated "shelf life": avocados, cut flowers, green leafy vegetables, lettuce, mangos, meat products, mushrooms, peaches and nectarines, pineapples and papayas, sweet cherries, and tomatoes. "Express" reefers are typically employed in the transport of special perishables: commodities with a refrigerated shelf life of less than 7 days such as human blood, fish, green onions, milk, strawberries, and certain pharmaceuticals.

The earliest express-service refrigerator cars entered service around 1890, shortly after the first express train routes were established in North America. The cars did not come into general use until the early 20th century. Most units designed for express service are larger than their standard counterparts, and are typically constructed more along the lines of baggage cars than freight equipment. Cars must be equipped with speed-rated trucks and brakes, and — if they are to be run ahead of the passenger car consist — must also incorporate an air line for pneumatic braking, a communication signal air line, and a steam line for train heating. Express units were typically painted in passenger car colors, such as Pullman green.

The first purpose-built express reefer emerged from the Erie Railroad's Susquehanna Shops on August 1, 1886. By 1927 some 2,218 express cars traveled America's rails, and three years later that number was 3,264. In 1940 private rail lines began to build and operate their own reefers, the Railway Express Agency (REA) being by far the largest. In 1948 the REA roster (which would continue to expand into the 1950s) numbered approximately 1,800 cars, many of which were World War II "troop sleepers" modified for express refrigerated transport. By 1965, due to a decline in refrigerated traffic, many express reefers were leased to railroads for use as bulk mail carriers.
These two cars have modified Scale-Craft passenger trucks (castings modified and 33” wheelsets), as described in this previous post.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

The Hallmark Lionel OO Gauge F-3

Here is a model I have had in my mind to purchase for years, and I finally started searching and found a good deal on one on eBay. As you can see from the first photo, the Hallmark Lionel OO gauge F-3 looks great!

The model is not HO scale, as many would today probably think on first glance at this model. Ed Morlok wrote a two part article on converting this model to an operating OO gauge model that appeared in the November, 2000 and February 2001 issues of The OO Road. He introduced this model as follows:
In May of 1999 Hallmark Card shops began offering a OO gauge reproduction of the famous Lionel O gauge F3 A-A diesel in the New York Central lightning stripe paint scheme. This two-unit locomotive is 60% of the size of the O gauge model. Thus it is almost exactly to OO scale and is exactly OO gauge. But it is an unpowered model, sold only with a display case. The locomotive is very handsome, and looks great with OO scale items. The only major discrepancy is that it is about 9 [scale] inches too low, not very noticeable. In my opinion, this negative feature is far outweighed by its handsome appearance and excellent painting and lettering. Of course, it has the detail level of the original Lionel product, but this matches the level of detail of most manufactured OO items.

Powering is not difficult if one uses underfloor units. I also powered one using an Athearn frame and motor, and that was a very tedious job. It also results in the loss of Lionel’s characteristic swiveling pilot, which is part of the charm or appeal of Lionel to collectors, I’m sure. The Hallmark case can be used to display other models or this loco.
The rest of the Morlok articles deal with the nuts and bolts of making these models operable. There are a few options as to how to do this but the underfloor units such as he describes would certainly make the easiest and best running conversion. He used Tenshodo HO power trucks, 35mm wheelbase with 10.5 mm wheels.

In the photo of the underside of the model you can see better what you are up against. The models will roll, sort of, on my layout as they are but would certainly need working over to use as operating models.

These next photos compare the Hallmark model to the Schorr F-3. The Hallmark model really is, as Morlok worded it, very handsome, but it is also clearly semi-scale. It is close—it is wide enough for sure, but it is not tall enough over the rails. The overall length of the models is nearly the same, the Hallmark model being only a couple millimeters shorter in length.

This model was a part of what appears to have been two series of OO gauge models that were marketed by Hallmark. As stated by Morlok, they are 60% size models of O gauge toy trains. The other models in the series are as a result more toy-like and not very usable as scale models in OO gauge.

According to the flyer packed with the model I purchased, the 2333 NYC F-3A-A was third in the series, released in the spring of 1999, and had a list price of $100. The series was started in 1998. The Hallmark - Lionel Lines 726 Berkshire steam locomotive was first in the Great American Railways 20th century series listing at $120, and the Lionel 2332 Pennsylvania GG-1 was second in the 20th century series listing at $95. Also available at that time was the first model in the Norfolk and Western Train Series, the Lionel 746 Norfolk and Western 4-8-4 which listed at $90. It was priced lower as it did not include a display case. Also based on what I see for sale on eBay, there was a fourth model in the 20th century series, the Hallmark - Lionel Lines 671 Turbine Steam locomotive, and at least one more model in the Norfolk & Western Train Series as well, the Hallmark Great American Railways Lionel 3356 horse car. The later, according to eBay listings, sold for $30 originally. These other models, while interesting collectibles and OO gauge, are not particularly models you might want to convert to operation as they are clearly miniature models of semi-scale toy trains (although, based on the photo in the flyer, you could perhaps think about converting the 4-8-4 to an operating model--but it would certainly be a huge job).

I should mention the track that comes mounted on the base. It is as Ed Morlok noted clearly OO gauge and is similar to Lionel OO three rail sectional track, as illustrated in this photo.

All of these show up on eBay with a variety of ways to list the models. Most sellers seem to think they are approximately HO scale. Also all appear to have been produced in limited edition runs of 29,500 each. My pair are number 20703 in the F3 run. If that makes them rare or not in the world of Hallmark collecting I am not sure but they seem to be common enough so that there is usually one on sale as a BIN item and if you spend a few weeks specifically trying to find one they will come up for auction on eBay. I would say they are not so rare that you could not modify one for operation if you wanted.

The prize in the Hallmark OO line for us I think is still the AA F-3’s. This pair I am not planning to try to power any time soon; it is actually going in my office in the nifty display case seen in this final photo. Every OO gauge enthusiast should have one of these.

UPDATE: I saw a Hallmark-Lionel 726 Berkshire and a 2332 Pennsylvania GG-1 at a recent meet, and they do give very much the visual impression of being smaller than OO; the F-3s however do really visually impact as being OO gauge models.

Friday, November 13, 2009

More on Scale-Rail Industries Sides

Following up on a previous post on Scale-Rail Industries, I recently purchased a few more examples of these sides on eBay.

Click on the photo for a larger view and to see all the car numbers. I don’t know with certainty if this is the complete line of these sides, but this is the same number of car sides and the same car numbers as on a list put together by the late William Chapin. Their line of HO sides was similar but not identical to the OO line.

I like these sides a lot, the printing is sharp and the embossed rivet details are convincing. The only problem is matching the paint. A few years ago I worked up a paint chart with every type of Floquil paint that I could easily purchase, with different coatings applied to the samples. The color of the sides themselves varies but among the closest matches to these sides are Floquil 110175 Southern freight car brown and Poly Scale 404079 oxide red with no additional coating.

I look forward to working over several cars with these sides and the closely matching paint; with careful paint work they should come out pretty sharp. The car in the photo in the earlier post linked above would be a good starting point; it is a car I built years ago from parts marred by two paint jobs with paint that did not match well.

UPDATE: See this article for examples of both of the ATSF cars built up. The top left side is for one side of the car with the map and the other is Scout.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

A Schorr Drive for the Davis E-7

The best running locomotive on my roster is certainly my Davis E-7A which I have running on parts of a pair of modified Athearn PA-1 drive units, as shown here. Dick Gresham provided some interesting photos of a period drive for this model.

Before going to them, also check out this drive, which is completely different and is also a period drive.

The drive below is marked Schorr and what I notice right away is that it matches the drive on a Schorr F-3a that I have with the same floor stock and drive line based on Baker parts using an O ring belt. Three photos are below; click on any one for a larger view.

With the drive in the box were Lindsey HO PA-1 sideframes, so it may be that Fred Schorr thought the Davis sideframe castings way too heavy, as did I.

Dick also was able to purchase this Davis E-7a and E-7b pair. The drive fits the body perfectly. Note that while the two pair of Davis E-7s shown in the posts linked above are bronze, this pair below is aluminum. I take this to be a late production pair, from a second run of castings. The casting quality would seem to be a little less fine than the bronze version.

One final item, years ago I was led to believe that very few of these were produced. I still don’t think a lot were produced but certainly it is not as rare a model as I had thought. Thank you for sharing these great photos.

Friday, November 6, 2009

A Norfolk & Ohio SW-1

In the photo in this prior post you can see a view of an EMD diesel switcher in action on the great Norfolk & Ohio layout of Carl Appel. In this post I describe the Super Scale SW-1. Today, a treat; Dick Gresham owns a Norfolk & Ohio SW-1, an eBay purchase from a few years back and perhaps the very model in the photo published in Model Railroader in 1958. It is clearly a Super Scale SW-1 with added details including a crew and also a can motor drive. The photos largely speak for themselves and are arranged below. Thanks again to Dick G. for sharing these photos, and click on any photo for a larger view.