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

Monday, March 29, 2010

Early and Late Versions of the Famoco OO Box and Reefer Kits

My first Famoco freight car was a late production box car. Subsequently I noted a couple Famoco models with paper ends instead of die cast. While sorting through some Famoco kits I noted that actually there was a change in these cars during the course of the run of their production.

This first photo is of an earlier production kit. The instructions are printed on the front only of the page and most notable are two things to my eye. One is the frame is in one piece and is not marked specifically as being Famoco. The second is that the ends are pressed cardstock. Also note the price on the box: $4.50. I knew from their advertising that the price was dropped on this kit from $4.50 to $2.95 at some point, and with a little digging the first advertisement I located with the price drop was published in the May, 1948 issue of Model Railroader. So this first kit must have been produced before that date.

This second kit is later production. Originally priced at $2.95, it is missing the trucks (someone must have pulled them to use on another car) but it has the new version of the frame in two halves and also the cast ends. The instructions shed some light on this. Quoting from the second page, “The FAMOCO kit now has a split underframe, the reason for this improvement is to prevent any short circuits between the trucks.” They go on to explain how the trucks are insulated on one side, etc. As to the ends, “In addition to the above improvement we now include the two die cast ends, this improvement speaks for itself, it saves the time of putting all the small parts on the old embossed paper ends….” They caution however that the ends are exact to scale but “sometimes the wooden parts are a little oversize” so to be careful, “Tolerances are harder to hold in the wood parts than in the metal.”

In any event the early and late versions of their reefer and boxcar kits are good products from the period and ones to keep your eyes peeled for.

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