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

Saturday, January 8, 2011

An Early OO Gauge Pennsylvania R50B Express Refrigerator

Eagle eye regular readers might have noticed that part one of the 1935 series is shorter than average for posts in the series. Actually, it was originally more than twice as long but I was able to figure out that I had misread some dates and had to cut some text. I thought I was looking at the January, 1935 issue of The Model Railroader but actually what I was sharing primarily in that post was from the January, 1936 issue. What happened was that my front cover is missing on the issue and inside the front cover it is dated wrong. They did it again with their February 1936 issue as well, inside the cover it is dated February 1935. [But UPDATE: I added in more to the article a few months later after locating more early magazine issues from 1935.]

Where this is heading is in the original text of part I of the 1935 series I made a reference back to the November, 1934 issue of The Model Railroader, for in that issue is found another reference to Howard Winther. In the regular column “Along the Division” it was reported that
The Hasbrouck shops of the OO gauge Penn-Erie System have recently completed three all-metal Pennsylvania R50-b express refrigerator cars. All work, excepting the wheels, was done in the company shops.
As noted in the previous article, I very recently received a number of photos of models by Howard Winther and these photos are of those OO models as they exist today. Up at the top of this article is car 2731 and next is car 2732. These are sharp cars even today and were made all the way back in 1934! Howard Winther was showing the way as to what could be done in 4mm scale.

Various details can be gleaned from the photos. They look to be very nicely hand lettered. The last photo highlights the trucks and couplers of one of these cars. First look at those trucks, which look to me to be scratchbuilt and are very sharp. Then take a look at the couplers. They are formed from sheet metal, made in an era when there were hardly any commercial manufacturers of OO gauge parts.

Memory is an interesting thing. I felt sure Temple Nieter had mentioned these couplers to me in a letter and having gone this far, why not check the letter archive? I actually found the reference in a letter from way back in November of 1977. The standard coupler Nieter used was a modified Scale-Craft coupler adapted for ramp type uncoupling, but
Before my filed SC type there was Howard Winthers’ made of 1/8 strips of tin-can sheet metal, shaped as a coupler, maybe from 1933! I knew him and adopted his style but quickly added the “hose” wire and the ramp idea on that kind.
This scan is of the little drawing in the margin of the letter by Nieter; clearly the same general type of coupler, although the couplers on the car may not have been made in exactly the same manner. Other notes from Nieter would indicate that they will couple (but not uncouple) automatically.

Certainly not long after this car was built Nason was producing a bronze coupler and Scale-Craft pretty much set the standard a few years later with their die cast couplers in 1937. Before that though we have what I will call the Winther style coupler. It is great to see these photos; thanks again to the Winther family for sharing these.

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