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

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Lessons Learned from Norfolk and Ohio Hoppers

Following up on my post on the Norfolk and Ohio hopper cars I purchased in the fall off eBay, I have picked up a few lessons working on these classic Scale-Craft cars from a classic layout to bring them to the point of all being operable again.

As I mentioned with this same photo in the first post, all five cars had added details in the brake equipment, including remounted brake wheels, air tanks and valves, and the air pipes that connect not only these parts but also represent the hoses between cars. As the cars are black this is difficult to photograph but pretty visible in real life. It is a bit easier to see if you click on the photo for a close up.

Also in this photo you can see one of the couplers. One car in the set of five had dummy couplers for unknown reasons that were not actually compatible with any OO coupler I have ever seen; they are smaller and were I believe made for HO. I can think of two possibilities. One is that they could have been put on by a seller to prep the item for sale. The other is he used them on some cars because they were closer to scale. This car would have to be mid-train between transition cars if that is the case. In either case, I had couplers from an estate purchase that matched the old style Kadee couplers on the other cars so the oddball car was converted to use those for operation with its current mates. And I can believe Carl Appel was a jeweler putting them on! Modern Kadee couplers are much easier to work with.

On one car an intermediate owner between Appel and myself for sure had switched out the trucks. It was the car with Schorr trucks. They looked great but the car was in fact inoperable as set up and clearly used to have Scale Craft trucks when it was in operation, based on the way the paint was scraped on the bottom up where the wheelsets can scrape off paint in handling. So that car I restored operation with a good pair of Scale-Craft trucks that matched the look of the others closely.

Speaking of the trucks on the other cars, all the wheelsets were in gauge (which makes perfect sense as he was an operator!) and they were all weathered in the same manner as the cars they were on.

He clearly used custom decals as he had a lot of cars to letter on his big layout, as seen in this photo which is also a repeat from my prior post. Three of the cars I purchased have complete decals and two are missing some on one side. He did not seal the decals with something like Testors Dullcote. Lifting decals is a problem seen on a lot of vintage cars that have been exposed to improper storage, especially high humidity.

Finally, I was hoping that he might have painted the cars with Floquil Engine Black. Unfortunately, he did not and I was not able to easily match the paint, and the weathering complicates things further. I have enjoyed running these five classic, vintage cars for the past few weeks but for now I am going to leave all the chips unfilled and store the cars carefully. At some point I would like to buy a whole lot of different black paints (as I have done with box car reds) and see where the closest match is, if I can get the match really close I would love to restore them a bit further.

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