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

Friday, April 15, 2016

A nice Hawk OO boxcar

Hawk, in the years right before WWII, briefly produced a line of OO scale freight car kits (more here). Of those, the boxcar is I think the nicest model.

This example certainly is a nice one. It came to me either nearly completely built or nearly completely rebuilt, so I can't claim to have done much more than put on trucks and add couplers and decals.

I like a lot how it came out with the Microscale HO decals, it looks great on the layout with such an accurate scheme. The trucks are Schorr and to mix things up a little I used a set of vintage Kadee No. 4 couplers -- I have a supply of them and use them often on cars with a wood floor such as this one. A really nice "new" vintage car.

Sunday, April 10, 2016

Progress report: a pair of American OO 3D printed SW7’s

Back in January we featured a report on the 3D printed 1:76 models available at Shapeways. I now own two of the SW7 models and have them running! All that needs to be added are paint and decals.

As designed there were several parts left off the bodies, specifically the headlights, bell, and horn. I salvaged those parts from the shells of the AHM SW1 models that donated their frame, drive, and weights to the project. The Shapeways bodies only needed slight modification to accommodate coupler boxes mounted on the frame, done on the cab end of each model only and not normally visible at all in operation.

Turning to the drives seen in the second photo, the AHM models have trucks that are the correct wheelbase for OO with nice side frames. I extended the frames of both and enlarged the fuel tanks with spare parts saved from other conversions. I then added weight to the extent that I could (the wheels still slip, they are not overweight in relation to the motor), and will paint the weights that are visible in the cab black.

Speaking of paint, be sure to check the earlier article for a discussion of this topic. As to a paint scheme, my plan now is to revive a freelance short line that I modeled in HO way back in high school. More on that in a future update, but it will make for some good operation and also is suited to the SD24 body model which I will be working on soon.

The AHM drives seen in the photos actually run surprisingly well. I knew that if I ran these drives as a pair of engines they would work better, as each model individually has only four wheel pickup and four drive wheels, both of them going smooths out operation. The pair will pull about six free rolling cars and low speed operation really is OK. These will be run.

Also very notable is that with the original AHM frame cut down as seen it nests right up inside the 3D body and the engine is exactly the right height! It took me a while to get used to the look as they are visually a good bit bigger than most of the HO conversion Diesel switchers I have been using for years.

The downside on these two models is that they make clear that almost my entire Diesel switcher fleet (!) really is not up to snuff. Almost all look noticeably under scale except for one: the Fleischmann Baldwin switcher (seen here). On it, the cab looks short but the model itself is otherwise convincing next to the full scale Shapeways bodies. So likely this summer I will rebuild another of these using parts scrapped from my SW1 conversion, and looking ahead I think the AHM S-1 models could be used to make a convincing RS-1, maybe in a few years….

Sunday, April 3, 2016

Two Gondola cars built on Picard bodies

These cars are an interesting pair, built relatively recently with a mixture of new and vintage parts.

Both are built I believe on vintage wood Picard gondola car bodies. These are not often seen built up, as really they were a product that on one hand was needed but on the other their model lacked any details on the sides or ends, how do you build it up? It was really just a jumpstart toward scratch building a model, and the sides and ends are unrealistically thick. (More on Picard here).

What builder Pierre Bourassa did sometime in the 1980s (more here) was an interesting solution. What he did was glue sheet styrene on the sides and ends and build up the details on that surface. His work was a little rough but for sure the styrene surface is a much better one to simulate a steel car.

The ends and sides of the Picard model are thick and now thicker! His solution was in two parts to “fool the eye.” The cap piece on the sides/ends is approximately scale size, then there is a load and the eye does not really “see” the thick sides as the wood parts blend in with the loads, made from wood shavings and painted to resemble scrap steel.

The FEC car did not require much work to get in shape but I did replace the trucks with Schorr trucks and work over the couplers. The paint scheme is believable but so far as I know not prototypical.

The ATSF car, it did not come to me decorated as ATSF. It was CN in a minimal and not very believable version of a modern CN paint scheme. Wanting to back date the car a bit to actually use it on the layout (!), I repainted it (with a brush, for a change, matching his paint as closely as I could) and reworked the trucks/couplers. It is now on a nice pair of rebuilt Nason trucks, nearly as free rolling now as the Schorr trucks on the other car.

It feels good to get these cars through the shops and out on the layout. Has been a busy few months, working on projects such as these is exactly why hobbies are such a benefit to quality of life. And more projects are moving forward, be watching for more.