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

Saturday, November 26, 2011

The Graceline OO Scale B&O Wagon Top Boxcar

Last weekend in part V of the 1939 series one model featured was the new Graceline B&O wagon top boxcar. As noted there in the original advertisement, it was available with hand painted sides and was reviewed briefly in the May, 1939 issue of The Model Railroader, as follows:
This B&O OO gauge freight car uses pressed metal sides and ends. From a distance the built up car looks good; closer inspection shows the pressed details rather lacking in character. The truck parts and underframe are cast of a lead base alloy in a permanent mold. Rivet detail heavy in spots and light in others.
This past week that article has received by far more hits in one week than anything I have ever posted related to American OO. Traffic source number 1 seems to have been a Yahoo Baltimore & Ohio group, followed also by a Yahoo vintage HO group. So to the readers of both, welcome to American OO and thank you for the links! And now for more information on the boxcar that seemed to have generated some interest out there.

This model is an eBay purchase and was lettered with decals. Compared to the new ExactRail HO model of this same car sure, the details are rather heavy. The sides (roof) and ends of the Graceline model are brass stock that has been pressed in a die. In the case of this model I can only say that the body is soldered together and is hollow, with pins connecting the sides to a wooden floor. The result is that the roof has caved in a bit as have the sides from the pressures of handling and storage over a period of some 70 years.

The builder left the frame off the car and instead used a flat piece of metal for weight. The car also picked up three significant Scale-Craft items. The ladders are the typical stamped S-C ladder stock first shipped out with their reefer kits, we have S-C couplers, and the trucks are also modified S-C trucks. I have worked at this point with a lot of S-C trucks and actually the wheelsets in this pair are Graceline wheelsets from a good batch, recognizable as the flange is heavier than S-C and also the tube on the split axle is larger. Also the bolster was modified with a larger screw hole and the builder added oil holes at the bottom of the sideframes, a nice touch I have seen before but not often.

(I also recently intentionally used some early Graceline wheelsets on S-C trucks as well, for the reasons they were on hand and also they have a slightly shorter axle than S-C, which helps with setting up some sets of sideframes/bolsters. And I think a lot of OO gaugers had these on hand back in the day because Graceline trucks were not so great in operation due to inconsistent quality of wheels and castings.)

So, yes, it is not super detail but contrary to the review this model has tons of character and is a great vintage item. Going back up to the top photo (click on it for a better view), the doors are actually just stamped into the brass stock! Everything you see on the sides except for the ladders is stamped into the sides and half roof. Great vintage character.

As to this car I think I will leave it as it is for now. Sometimes the cure is worse than the problem, and while it could be rebuilt totally and become a very striking model, it would be a very major project, not to be undertaken lightly as it would involve unsoldering the body among other things. Certainly a unique model to keep your eyes peeled for.

UPDATE: I now have another example, this one with the factory hand painted lettering. More here. (link fixed)

No comments: