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

Sunday, April 21, 2019

A look at Nason (and Picard) gondola restorations

An uncommonly seen model by Nason is their gondola. Introduced in 1940 (more here), it took me a while to find even one of these. Then, in recent months, a windfall; I now have four!

My original PRR model is seen here with a new companion, a recent eBay find. Both were a bit beat up, and the new model was missing a couple things. For these I did a little restoration work on, as I found a paint that closely matched: Polyscale Oxide Red, which has carried over into the Testors line of Model Master paint as Oxide Red Flat. I have both, they are very close to the same thing, I’d rate it about a 95% match which is pretty good. For these models I used the Poly Scale paint, and used it to touch up anything that stuck out as raw unpainted material. The newer car (in the back) also got Scale-Craft end beams and vintage Kadee No. 4 couplers.

I had also obtained an example of the B&O version, which may be seen in a prior article as it looked before restoration. This one came out well, flat black paint is easy to match and I like how the Selley cast ribs cover the printed rib lines, which was a mistake on the part of Nason really. Now I have a second model, which is seen in this photo as a project almost done. All I need to do now is paint it with a very steady hand. The original builder had left the car 85% done and unpainted. The biggest chore not done was putting the nails/pins on the top of the ribs. I was able to find matching nails and a new frame for the model.

The last photo is of the underside of the unpainted B&O model and an impostor! I had this Picard body sitting around and got inspired that it could be made into a car that would look similar to but better than the Nason model. I sealed the body well and followed up with a combination of Nason, Eastern, and Selley parts. It is ready for painting, a nice variation on the gondola theme.

Monday, April 15, 2019

Two more Champion express reefers

Recently completed were these two express reefers with Champion sides.

I had built up a Milky Way before, but the set of sides I used for the previous model (seen here) lacked the board that is at the top of the side, seen on this new model. This model was built up from fresh parts (including a fresh Picard body), and had been languishing at least a year among incomplete projects, waiting for a bit of motivation to finish.

The motivation to finish it was the arrival of this Sheffield car, a recent and inexpensive eBay purchase. It was a bit rough, and lacked trucks and other details, but appealed to me as I had no example of the Shieffield sides. Curiously, the body is not a Picard body, and I’m thinking it is one the builder worked up from scratch. I added a few details (brakes, ladders, etc.) and did some light restoration, but it will never look great. It runs great though with the Kadee couplers and a fresh pair of Famoco passenger trucks, which pass well as express reefer trucks.

Saturday, April 6, 2019

The largest American OO tank car ever built

Myron P. Davis really liked big models. An article in the January 1996 issue of the Train Collectors Quarterly by Donald S. Fraley titled “The Unfinished Locomotives” looks at his big locomotives, and I have covered some of them in this site as well (this article being a good place to start). Most of his models were produced and sold in some limited quantity.

According to the Fraley article, Davis passed in December of 1968. Obviously he kept on building big Amercian OO models to the end of his life, as I was recently able to obtain this surprising and amazing model, which clearly was one of his creations. The paint and construction match that of the huge but freelanced “streamline caboose” seen in this recent article.

The prototype is a very notable car built in 1965 by GATX. It is 94 feet long and is one of a kind, as it was deemed too large for use on Eastern railroads. Notably, a model of this car was offered in N scale in the early 1970s, and the prototype car has been on display since 1971 at the National Museum of Transport in St. Louis.

The present tank car, when it got to the prior owner, was on Nason Atlantic tender trucks. These are, of course, not correct for the car. The N scale model is on Bettendorf trucks, but the prototype is on roller bearing. I opted to obtain the model less trucks and replaced them with Nason Vulcan trucks, upgraded with Ultimate wheelsets. Painted black they have the overall look of heavy roller bearing trucks, and suit the model.

The body is sand-cast bronze (!) and it weighs almost two and a half pounds. Note the Nason brake details in the second photo.

With the trucks mounted as they are the model will negotiate the curves on my layout surprisingly well. There is an issue with the pivot point on one end, it will not take turnouts very well as things are not quite square. I’ll have to work on that more, because as of now I’m inclined to try to put together decals suited to the prototype car, as I do run models from the era when this car was being tested. What an amazing model, one I am happy to have.