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

Sunday, March 15, 2015

An Exacta #201 Pullman in OO scale

A maker with big plans for HO, OO, S, and O Scale models right after WWII was Exacta Scale Models, Inc. of Portland, Oregon. In my main article on Exacta (here) we see that their line was at least supposed to be pretty extensive in OO but all I knew for sure had been produced was their streamline cars (which are also seen fairly commonly in HO – for more on Exacta HO see info linked from this page in the HOSeeker site). As to the other OO items listed in their 1946 catalog, I really had no idea if they were produced or not.

And then these car sides came up on eBay a few weeks ago. Clearly they are what they are marked as being: their #201 Pullman car. Exacta listed an extensive line of “moulded copper” car sides in OO, including eight different heavyweight passenger cars with two different Pullmans. As listed on eBay these sides and ends had with them a streamlined roof of uncertain origin and a floor and frame from a Scale-Craft kit, but as shipped out Exacta sold these as only sides and ends, you were to supply the other parts (perhaps using a J-C kit as a base for the new, upgrade sides). The detail is really nice I must say; especially the rivet details. As always click on the photo for a bigger view.

The packaging has the handwritten notes “Room car” and “Night Flyer,” as visible in the photo. I am not versed enough in Pullman floor plans to give any particulars of this design, but clearly there must have been some difference between this car and their #200 Pullman model. Anyone else have one to use for a comparison?

The back of the sides/ends is interesting to see firsthand. I really don’t know the process used to make these parts but clearly the copper is clad onto a zinc base that is very visible and rough. As they are now the sides are a little bit bent out of shape too (due to the passage of years and storage) but could be easily worked back to being very nearly flat.

Finally here are the ends and their original packaging. They are flat and would require some bending to bring them into the correct shape. A wooden J-C end would be very useful to guide the bends, bring them to final shape, and perhaps also to support the finished parts.

This is the sort of item I am unlikely to build up. Call me in this case an “extreme vintage scale railroad model collector,” but clearly these are rare items that were only manufactured briefly and an interesting item. If I do build them up it will be to make the nicest Pullman I can, these are great sides to be on the lookout for.

Saturday, March 14, 2015

An easy, modern OO scale caboose conversion

This is an interesting model that I stumbled across recently. An eBay seller had listed examples of this model a couple times in the OO listings, which is where it caught my eye.

A product of the 1970s, it is a Tyco “brown box era” model and was available in a variety of schemes -- the ATSF scheme seems most common along with The Chattanooga Choo-Choo train set version. More info on the model and paint schemes may be found in the Tyco Brown Box Era HO-Scale Trains Resource.

In these photos the Tyco model is seen with a vintage AHM HO caboose body, and the comparison is interesting. The cupola of the Tyco model is certainly OO scale and the body is longer and taller than an HO model should be as well. The windows are nice and large and seem to be appropriate for OO scale. From the top the body should probably be wider in OO scale (prototypes undoubtedly varied a little), but it is nevertheless also wider than the HO model and is overscale for HO in basically every dimension.

I think the roots of what happened is the folks at Tyco wanted to use the same frame they used on 40’ boxcars and reefers for a 40’ caboose. It would simplify inventory and anyway it was a train set model, freelancing in this manner was not a problem from their perspective. To make it look more realistic/plausible they had to scale up the caboose a bit, so it ended up being more or less 1/76 scale.

This example is my first simple conversion of this model, and it is riding on the original trucks but modified with the “Morlok method” (described in this article) and HO 36” wheelsets.

I have several more of these bodies that I will be using as the basis of additional models. In particular I am interested to make a more convincing ATSF version, blanking out some windows and using decals to letter it in a correct paint scheme and use better trucks (mounted a bit further in from the ends, too). This type of project is a great break from the more involved vintage projects underway and certainly this model can be used as the basis for a variety of modern caboose conversions.

UPDATE: See this article for two more conversions.

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Some Greenbrook Restorations

Up today are several interesting models built by David Sacks for his American OO scale Greenbrook layout (my main article on Sacks and the Greenbrook is here), but ones that had fallen on sad times.

The restorations were done by Jack Bartman. He found the colors easy to match as Sacks had used standard Testors paints. The most interesting models probably are this engine and caboose. Of the engines I received from the residual of his layout this one was the only one that ran (sort of), and it may be seen “before” in this article. It still does not run great – Sacks ran it really hard and it could use a new motor – but it still runs and is now a fairly sharp model. It is an example of the “large HO Diesel passing as smaller OO diesel” (it is Athearn) and is a bit underscale. But he must have had fun working over the lettering and running it. With it is a standard S-C caboose, also with freshened up paint and decals.

Next up are these two S-C passenger cars, a baggage and a coach. The coach he modified with wide windows which is a nice look. Besides freshening up the paint (especially the roofs) and decals, Bartman added seats and passengers which are a nice addition. Both of these cars “before” may be seen in this article. 

Finally, we have the rest of the head end cars of a heavyweight passenger train. The RPO is a somewhat rare Nason model, the baggage car on the left is J-C models and the one on the right is of unknown manufacture (probably kitbashed). Note the lettering variations: Greenbrook, Green Brook, and Green Brook Lines.

In total these cars make me want to restore a couple more similar cars a bit more fully. They make for quick and satisfying projects as you can save a bit of OO history in the process.