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

Sunday, September 20, 2015

OO scale “Old Time” passenger cars from the CP (Cactus Patch!)

In a lot purchase not long ago I obtained two old time passenger cars. I did not give them a much thought initially -- my guess was they were simply kitbashed HO models on HO trucks widened out to OO.

I have a friend who collects HO and he gave me some leads as to possible manufacturers and they did not pan out. Still, the cars looked really familiar in a way. I finally realized that they both were models that there were O scale plans for in the Carstens publications Rolling Stock Plan Book — on the same two page spread! -- of which I had purchased a copy way back in high school.

Thinking there was maybe a series on how to build these 1863 PRR prototype models in RMC, I looked in the Model Railroad Magazine Index that is maintained in the Model Railroader website. There is actually an underlying publication, on page 50 of the February 1960 issue of RMC, but it is just the same scale drawings for a coach and a mail car as in the Rolling Stock Plan Book, in HO instead of O scale.

I don’t know which source was used by the builder, but these two cars were built from these plans. The coach has a little more liberty taken compared to the plans, with the substitution of scribed siding, but is made really nicely and proportioned exactly to the drawings. The trucks are HO I think, widened out to OO. And note the nice custom decals for the Cactus Patch and Western.

The mail car, when I first saw it, I though had lettering for the Central Pacific. But actually it is clear in this case that it is actually for Cactus Patch, the builder maybe counting on a bit of double meaning. In the photo I show it with the scale drawing showing how it is larger in every dimension and is scaled up accurately for 1/76. Note in the photo you can see the floor is Masonite! The coach has a more detailed floor. And note too, both cars have link and pin couplers. They could be run but I think were mostly shelf models.

Then we come back to the topic of the Cactus Patch and Western. I have one more car for this line, seen in the final photo. Note how large in comparison this express reefer looks to the rather small 1860s era models. It matches with cars built by David Sacks for his Greenbrook Line, and a good guess is it is a subsidiary line of his. Note too, the decals match between the express reefer and the coach.

[If I were to build a garden railway, Cactus Patch and Western would be a great, fanciful name….]

In total these cars are quite interesting models. I still am so surprised they are not HO kits on modified trucks, instead being nicely scratchbuilt models. I won’t be running them a lot (if at all, with the link and pin couplers) but it is really interesting to see these 1860s models next to more modern cars. And I wonder how many other cars are out there for the Cactus Patch and Western?

Sunday, September 6, 2015

Update: Two cement hoppers

Back a few months ago I posted about a group of three cement hoppers I had nearly completed but had not yet painted.

These two have now been finished. As described in the other article, the car in the back was created from scrap parts of two Schorr hoppers, a brass import, left over after kitbashing projects by a prior owner. The paint really brings the project together, and at viewing distances on the layout you would be hard pressed to note it was pieced together as it was.

The car in front also came off well. It was a completion of a project someone started where they were converting a Picard wood hopper car body into a covered hopper. Noting that it has a bit more "husky" look (and is a bit larger than the finely scaled Schorr car), I chose to decorate it with an approximation of a 1960s/70s era scheme. Both cars were lettered with scrap parts of several sets of decals, don't look too close at the fine print!

The Schorr car has Schorr trucks and modern Kadee couplers. For the Picard car I took another approach, it has vintage Kadee couplers and Nason trucks. Or at least trucks made with vintage Nason sideframes and other upgraded parts. I had noted these trucks (their Vulcan type truck) look really heavy and are likely somewhat overscale. As a result they have some of the look, to my eye, of a more modern truck (in spite of actually being a type of replacement truck for Arch Bar trucks), and fit the car pretty well. I used upgrade wheelsets and new bolsters. They take some careful adjustment but roll nearly as freely as Schorr trucks, making them worth the effort to build. Painted flat black you can also imagine they are actually roller bearing trucks pretty easily; I will likely work over more of these for the modern cars I operate.

Both cars look great on the layout! In particular the Picard car matches in detail and style the scratchbuilt modern cars made from wood by Bill Johann such as this Railbox car. They took some effort but great to see the results rolling on the layout.