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

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

The Rarest Scale-Craft OO Truck

Back last year I had a post about Scale-Craft express reefer trucks. As in they did not make any, but some modelers had a "fix" where they took a standard passenger truck and cut it down a little and changed it over to freight wheelsets as a good stand-in.

But also there was one type of S-C passenger truck I had never found an example of and was curious about. Standard S-C four wheel passenger trucks have roller bearings. However, S-C also made a plain bearing 4 wheel passenger truck that is depicted on P. 47 of the Round Lake catalog only, their last catalog. This is a scan of the photo and description. It was introduced very late in their production, is a rare item, and I until this past week had never seen one in reality.

Among the cars donated to the OO SIG recently from the estate of David Sacks were a number of express reefers. Several have standard S-C passenger trucks, several have the same switched out to freight wheelsets, a couple were modified further for more of an express reefer look as in the post linked already from last year. However, there was this one (1) other truck on one of the cars that stood out. It is an example of the "missing" truck, the one I had never seen.

They have to be rare. Looking at it you can easily tell that it is not from the same casting runs as normally seen. The parting lines are more obvious and the metal seems to be a shinier alloy. Click on the photo for a larger view. I don't think it is a reproduction, it looks and feels like a factory item to me.

This truck had two mismatched wheelsets which is unfortunately not that uncommon on these Sacks cars. One seems to be a S-C freight wheelset with shortened axles (or shorter than I usually see) and the other is a S-C passenger wheelset. The wheelsets fell off as I took the truck off the car to which it was nailed on! I guess he was short on screws that day.

The main elements that set these apart are the friction bearings and the lack of brake details. These sideframes do not appear to have been modified in any way and make excellent express reefer trucks.

Why exactly they were not introduced earlier in the history of Scale-Craft is a mystery. S-C sold O scale express reefers so it makes some sense these trucks could have been developed as part of a push toward an OO version of that car, but if so it was never produced and only the trucks hit the market right at the end. True or not, who knows, but it is a plausible theory.

If anyone has another lone example of this to trade let me know! Would love to get these on a good car. But even if I only have one it is an interesting example of a rare item, I am glad to have it.

UPDATE 2013/14: I found the review of these new trucks in the December, 1947 issue of Model Railroader. Turns out the original spin was that these new friction bearing trucks were for the gas-electric car.
OO gauge fans will be pleased to hear that Scale-Craft has developed two new passenger trucks. One is for the G. E. MU car, the other is a four-wheel roller-bearing passenger car truck. Hard metal die castings are used and these are very nicely detailed. Brass wheels with steel axles are used, and their assembly is insulated for two-rail. Instead of a fiber insulating bushing between the wheel and axle, a dialectric material is used.
These trucks have plastic bolsters that are joined to the sideframes to provide equalization.
The roller bearing passenger truck had been on the market since 1937 so it was not new, but the friction bearing truck was a very new item in late 1947. So new that it is not mentioned in either the "loose leaf" (Hollywood) catalog put out in 1947 or on the "temporary price list" that was sent with that catalog.

So perhaps this truck was intended for the gas-electric car or the MU car seen illustrated in the Round Lake catalog, the final S-C catalog. However, that truck is never seen in any catalog illustration actually on either of those models, so I am again inclined to think it may have originally been for an express reefer that was never produced and was simply an orphan item in the line. I would love to hear from anyone who can check an unbuilt post-war kit of either model to see what was shipped out with them for trucks.

An example of a MU car with these sideframes on it may be seen in this article.

They are quite uncommon and something to keep your eyes peeled for in American OO. Since the original publication of this article I have stumbled across enough parts to make only two pair of these trucks with standard S-C bolsters and parts, and one additional curiosity. Note the non-standard mounting required to use this sideframe. The first of these I found I thought this to be a user modification, but actually I have five sideframes of this type, this is a manufactured version. Perhaps the holes are to to mount them on a drive that was not produced? Certainly this truck is a curious footnote in the S-C OO line.

1 comment:

Steve Neubaum said...

I just got a pair of these trucks under a Scale-Craft dining car I bought on eBay. One has the brass wheels (With the later axles that have that notch in them), the other truck on the car has blackened metal wheels and thicker black axles. Also the truck bolster is different on each truck.

If you want them, email me at