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

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Two Great Modern American OO Cars

While my layout is set in the transition era (steam/diesel), for a while I have been building up small fleet of more modern era equipment. These two recent eBay purchases (from the collection of Ed Morlok) show what can be done with a bit of effort.

First we have this big Ortner rapid discharge hopper, as would be used on a unit coal train. This is not my first modern Ortner car; I also have another that was built by Pierre Bourassa. For a prototype photo of a similar car see this example (linked from this site). I suspect that this OO model is somewhat freelanced. I am not sure the builder but it was very neatly scratchbuilt and a large car in American OO. It currently rides on Scale-Craft trucks with Ultimate wheelsets but I would like to upgrade it to roller bearing trucks at some point.

The second car is a boxcar built by Bill Johann. This is my fourth modern boxcar from Johann, the first one being the Railbox in this post, and the second and third in this post. Not only is this car lettered for his personal road but it is marked WCJ 3-79 7-85. I gather it was built in 1979 then rebuilt a bit in 1985, perhaps with the cushion frame.

This car I want to talk about a while as it really is an interesting car. The sides themselves to the left and right of the door are from a plastic HO car of uncertain origin. The body in the front in the photo is there for comparison, and is Athearn, for an 86’ auto parts car that I am fairly sure they no longer produce. Click on the photo for a better view. I purchased that body years ago and have long thought about cutting it down a bit for an OO car similar to this one by Bill Johann. It is easy to see how the sides of an auto parts car could translate to OO. The doors on the Johann built car are scratchbuilt, but if you are OK with a slight freelance the existing Athearn doors would work. His car is built over a wood body is full width for OO. The roof has a card overlay and I believe it is actually the roof from a Transportation Models OO kit. The ends are scratchbuilt in plastic which would not be that difficult a task. The underframe is made from parts of two different Nason frames, sand cast aluminum (!), with some extra parts. He used Lionel trucks with Ultimate wheelsets to finish the car.

Personally I am not wild about HO to OO conversions of cars unless some effort is taken to make them as “OO” as possible. In this case, this boxcar is unmistakably OO; you could never put it on HO trucks and run it on a HO layout. I love the look of this car in a train behind the GP-7.

Combine a few modern cars with a few modern diesels such as the below and you are off and running! It is a tempting era for the operator.

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