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

Sunday, August 30, 2015

Two great vintage cabooses

Caboose models often get special treatment from their builders, these two being great examples.

The car in front is an upgraded Scale-Craft model from the Niagara Valley Lines of Canadian OO gauger Jack Winsor. I have another caboose from his road as well, it being a bobber caboose that was scratchbuilt as a gift to Winsor by Fred Schorr. That model is described in this article. 

The car in back is lettered for the Yorkville & Western, which was the personal road of Fred Schorr, the OO manufacturer/importer. Schorr completely scratchbuilt this great model from wood.

As always click on the photos for a better view of these models. One major detail that does not come through in the photos is the Y&W caboose has a full interior including a stove and wall and chair details. These details even in person are almost impossible to see! There are no lights in the caboose and it has no provision to remove a roof section so far as I can tell, but you can see the great details through the end windows and through the cupola.

The one big detail that stands out on the NVL caboose is that Winsor filed off all the handrail castings and added 20 (!) wire handrails and working cut levers with the couplers. There are also marker lamps, with one missing today, and note the neat hole added to the steps as well. The trucks on the car now are my replacements, which came off a car that had been built by Pierre Bourassa, who was fond of adding the weathering details seen.

Schorr went further in his details and added chains and even a brakeman figure. This is a very nice caboose of a type that few would go to all that effort to build today. Besides the couplers and step castings the only other obvious commercial parts are the Schorr arch bar trucks and the end ladders, which are Scale-Craft.

Both cars have window glass and a paint scheme involving several colors, neatly applied by brush painting. Wonderful examples of the art of model railroading in American OO gauge.

Saturday, August 15, 2015

A streamlined shorty diner and baggage car

Up today are a couple cars that have been very slowly working though the paint shop for a couple years.

The baggage car is modified Zuhr. A postwar product (more on Zuhr here), this one a prior owner had modified somewhat but never finished. The car as manufactured had a side skirt on it in particular that had been removed (as was done on many prototype cars). I worked out basic frame details, the doors are Zuhr I believe, and the trucks are Kemtron.

The diner has more of a story. This came to me about 2/3 done from Bill Gilbert. It is a shortened Scale-Craft car but a more nicely done conversion than the one seen with it in the second photo. That on has been seen in this website previously, and was modified by Pierre Bourassa. Pierre’s car looks more freelanced with those end doors and has more of a feel of a car that has had one end chopped off.

Bill on the other hand wanted to make his model imitate the design of a heavyweight car that had been rebuilt for use with streamlined cars. With the model was a clipped out photo of an Erie-Lackawanna diner (this one). He shortened the sides more wisely, leaving one more window, and really gets much of the look of that prototype car. He also added the frame details off a HO model, a very successful conversion.

Both of the new cars are in my streamliner scheme and look great on the layout. The diner in particular exceeded expectations and looks so much better than the green diner in fact that I am tempted to re-letter it for another road and sell it! It might look better on 6 wheel trucks, and in all cases the cars operate well on my curves and are enjoyed.

UPDATE: The Pullman green diner is now on 6 wheel trucks. I had to modify the frame to do it, but worth the effort, it does look better.

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Two modern cabooses

Not long ago I posted an article on a TYCO modern caboose that is overscale for HO and suited to use in American OO.

The first photo shows the Santa Fe caboose on a train. Especially at normal viewing distances this car came out really well.

The two examples in the second photo are ones I converted to operation. In the back in the photos is one that is nearly stock. The trucks are “Morlok Method” trucks, but using a shorter wheelbase roller bearing truck I found on some train set cars and mounted so that it centers a bit further in from the ends (mounted "offset" using the original frame locations for trucks). In both cases there are no major modifications to the body or frame.

For the front model my goal was to more closely imitate a modern Santa Fe caboose, and one key item for the “look” was blanking some windows out. Which I had never done before but it was not that hard. I patched behind the opening with styrene sheet and fit pieces into the openings to be nearly level. After that had set I used green Squadron putty and sanded it down. With the decals there too the old opening is nearly invisible.

On the Orient car you might notice it only has one set of end handrails and both cars still lack smokestacks. I will fix the smokestack issue soon. The cars I purchased to do these conversions were junkers and I ended up with only three usable end handrails. I also converted one more car, lettered for the fictional Chattanooga choo-choo. That one I will get out whenever little kids are by to see trains run. Relatively quick projects making a car never actually produced in American OO.

UPDATE: This model was later sold by IHC in a paint scheme similar to the one I applied for the ATSF. I think mine looks more authentic though, the blanked out windows do help the look.

Sunday, August 9, 2015

Converting TYCO 62’ hi-cube boxcars to OO

Not long ago (here) I featured a couple of modern cars converted from large TYCO reefers, conversions done by Bill Johann. In that article I mentioned another TYCO car that had caught my eye for conversion, their 62’ hi-cube boxcars.

These models are described further here in the TYCO brown box resource website, where they may be seen as they looked before conversion. This specific model was only produced from 1972-76, although there have been reissues later using the same moldings. The original TYCO models only came in two road names, decorated in reasonably prototypical schemes.

What is great for our purposes is that this model scales out at about 54 feet long in OO and they can be made into models that would be similar to the 53’ double plug door boxcars of the early 1970s.

I had for several years two of the UP models and one of the SOO models sitting on the shelf. As much as anything, besides them scaling out well, I also had trucks I could use on the cars (two pair being the Bill Johann roller bearing conversion trucks) and I felt sure they should be a quick and fairly easy conversion, especially using the modified stamped brass scale-craft ends to speed the build.

Of course, like most every other project I do it seems, they took 2-3 times longer than I thought they would. Photo three shows the models in progress; the bodies were split down the middle, new roof and ends worked out, frame widened. They came out well but certainly they are examples of “good enough” models rather than being accurate scale models of say an Evans double plug door boxcar.

I used the Johann conversions as a model overall of what I would do, and I imitated him in terms of the roof question in particular. They are simplified compared to the prototypes, but hopefully believable.

One change that I don’t think is obvious is I used light gray paint on the UP cars rather than the silver of the original model. The flash of my photo made it look almost white; on the layout though I think the color change works fine. A final painting note being I will hit the SOO car with some Dullcote soon and eventually would like to try some weathering.

Having finished the cars I am not planning to do more of these conversions. They look good enough, I am pleased, but I do have enough modern cars of this general type for what modern operations I do. But -- there is one more, similar car nearly done, based on an Athearn car, more on that when it is finished in likely a few months.