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

Saturday, June 26, 2010

When to Rebuild Vintage Train Models?

It is one of those questions with no answer, of course, but this quote from an article on “Home Made Trains—Trash or Treasure?” in the April 2010 issue of the Train Collectors Quarterly hit a resonant tone for me. First the quote from author Alex Procyk:
I prefer something made with at least as much competence as I can muster myself and with some sense of style. The latter is the most intangible element. No one can define what makes a pleasing train to another individual, but “you know it when you see it.”
In terms of vintage OO models, for me there are items I see that I would not rebuild as they are from classic layouts or would be very difficult to rebuild. But still, when I see something made, to paraphrase the quote above, with less competence than I can muster myself, if it is in poor shape or in parts, and if I have an idea how to make it better and I would like to operate it (it being a piece of equipment that has caught my attention for whatever reason—inclusion in a passenger train, uncommon model, etc.) then I will tend to go ahead and work on it.

Mainly I want to leave the model in better shape than I found it when I am done. With a secondary goal being to actually finish the job! Take the model from not looking good and not operable to looking good (or at least decent and complete) and layout ready. A number of projects that I have on hand came to me in parts, I believe a prior owner was working on a rebuild and got bogged down and then lost interest or health problems took away the time they needed. Those models in particular, they are ones I do enjoy working over. I try to get a sense of where the project was going and do my best to turn it into a clean model but without huge heroics.

This all came to mind as a topic to write about as I am now in the process of stripping the paint off several vintage pieces that will be summer/fall projects. They are ones that will rebuild very well and will I believe look a lot better when they are done. I think on the whole the original builders would not have minded much; these are after all scale models that were meant to run on a layout, not meant to be random, orphan, near junker models.

Updated 2012/13. The caboose in the photo is described further in this article, and I have no plans to further rebuild this vintage model.

Also see: On Quick, Clean Paint Jobs for Vintage Model Railroad Equipment

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