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

Saturday, February 2, 2019

A look at the Nason B&O gondola

One of the rarest American OO models manufactured by Nason Railways is their gondola. Introduced in 1940 and decorated for the PRR, in 1941 a version for the B&O was added. Thanks to a tip (thank you!) I was recently able to purchase one of these models

The article that is an overview on the Nason gondola is here, and my PRR car may be seen more closely in this article. 

There is one big difference between this B&O model and the PRR model. The PRR has stamped brass ribs, and here you can see the ribs are soft metal castings.

Also several of the ribs are missing on this model. The instructions for this model don’t specifically say the kit includes brass ribs, but it does say that they are attached with brass pins which would be the way my PRR model is set up. Either Nason ran out of the brass ribs, or the builder opted for on this B&O model to use Selley part number 20037 “Gondola reinforcement strips” (more on Selley here).

Fortunately, I had a memory that I had seen ribs of the same type in my parts and found the supply, enough to fix this car and build at least one more. I’m planning to finish a partially built Picard gondola with the Selley ribs and other matching parts, it should turn out nicely.

Tuesday, January 29, 2019

A look at the Nason cast combine, with notes on the trucks

Among the most desirable I feel of the early Nason passenger cars are their sand cast aluminum cars; an overview of the line may be found here.

This combine was a recent eBay purchase, nicely built up. The floor, sides, and ends are all finely cast, with the roof being wood.

I don’t have the original instructions for this model, but I do have them for a couple other of the sand cast cars, the line was developed in early 1934.

A word on the trucks. Set up right, these are great trucks, they roll well and look fine. But note that a percentage of Nason 6 wheel passenger trucks, maybe a third of them, are soldered together, as are the trucks on this car. That for sure saved time, as the other type has holes drilled and tapped for screws, and that is a tough job in bronze sideframes. I’m sure too, as built up and sold, the soldered truck was a fine arrangement. The problem is if you ever need to fix the trucks basically you can’t. So if wheelsets keep falling out or the middle one gets wonky you are out of luck.

In the case of this car, one of the trucks the outer wheels fall out.

As I don’t plan to run this car at this point, I’ll live with that.

I have a number of these soldered trucks saved in a box, if I really get low on trucks someday, I’ll get back to them.

Saturday, January 26, 2019

Even more trucks of mystery

A few times I have posted articles looking at vintage items by unknown makers. The full run of articles with a mystery item featured is here.

In helping to sort and evaluate some parts recently this truck type really stood out. I have never seen this before. They seem pretty overscale, and I have to believe are homemade. Someone put some effort into cutting a die and then cast these in something like Linotype. There were three of the trucks with the parts, two with what look to possibly be Nason 3-rail (uninsulated) wheelsets. It is hard to say if they are from the early 1930s or a WWII era project. In either case, they are highly unusual.

One unusual thing is the bolsters are built up from three pieces of brass, soldered together. One of them broke in handling now. Why the builder didn’t just bend a “U” from the same material I don’t know. Maybe brass was that scarce.

I also don’t know what type of car these would look good under. They are perhaps supposed to imitate National B-1 freight trucks, but are somewhat oversized, maybe the best choice is under an express reefer, painted black and standing in for some type of early high-speed truck.

This other truck type is a follow up on a prior article. There I had found in parts received one of these trucks, and now I have two more! These very early looking sand cast bronze trucks came to me on this heavy duty well type flat car, with a hole in the middle. The car itself is soldered together in brass.

These have a different type of bolster than the orphan truck I had previously found, but have similar wheels (probably Nason) and are three rail. So the car can’t operate on my layout as it is, but at least the car tracks OK. As these trucks came with this car, probably I will keep them there, but with new wheelsets when the car makes its way through the shop to decals.

Saturday, January 12, 2019

The "collectors" used on the original 1937 SC 4-6-0

One thing I had never seen were pre-1939 versions of the instructions for the Scale-Craft 4-6-0. Recently I obtained most of the  original 1937 instructions, including the full page drawings for the tender.

There are a number of changes, with the most notable being the "collector" under the tender. It has two wipers on it to contact the rails. Another collector was to be placed on the locomotive. There were no wires to the wheels at all!

This close up shows the drawing of the collector and that the date in October of 1937. I have a pair of the collectors and it is tempting to put them on a model to see how well they work. The holes in the collector line up perfectly with the holes cast in the frame.

I had noted them applied to the locomotive previously (see this article), but not the tender. This photo from the 1937 S-C catalog only shows the collectors ("wipers") under the cab of the locomotive, but not on the tender as seen in the drawings. Looking at the actual collectors, I can see how there are holes in the locomotive frame to line up with the application of these collectors.

So what do they look like? Here are a pair of them. Clearly the original S-C idea was that you would have better operation on such small scale models with the sprung collectors touching the rail than just with contact from the wheels.

By 1939 though, they reevaluated that and they were gone from the design. One more thing to add to the expense and complication of building the model I suppose. And, of course, not prototypical and visually distracting.

I posted about these on the American OO Scale Railroading Facebook group and it seems very confirmed that these were standard with the early S-C sets and for the earliest production. I'd still like to see the main drawings for the locomotive that are actually 1937 drawings and not updated in 1939 or later, they would clarify things even more. With a final footnote that the directions are pretty different in 1937 as well, it is interesting to see how they modified and updated the model and the directions over the years.