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

Saturday, March 21, 2020

A NW-2 from the WCS, part 1: a first look

Regular readers know I have a group of models built by James Trout. That he was quite a fine craftsman is an understatement, as he was in real life a Disney illustrator (more here).

This NW-2 very recently joined my group of Trout models. It is lettered for his personal road, the West Coast Southern, of which I have other models such as this gondola and this caboose.

In the photos here it is seen with a stock version of the Super-Scale NW-2 (more here), which is used as the basis for his model, and also a 3D printed Shapeways SW-7 (more here).

He modified his model and upgraded it in a number of ways. The most obvious and visually helpful modification was the cab. The Super-Scale cab has always seemed a bit off to me, and now it is clear why: It is not long enough, window shapes are off, and the back step is clunky. Trout fixed all those things by replacing the cab sides and modifying the ends. The front side really looks nice with the characteristic look of the NW-2 windows, which was a key modification.

There are other modifications to the body, but the other big change, only somewhat visible in the photos, is he completely redid the steps in brass. The detail is much finer and pleasing to the eye, with see through treads.

Also I should note the lettering, like most of his other models, was done by hand with his steady, artist hand.

As the model arrived it has sideframes but no other parts from the original drive. At first I was a little disappointed, but then I realized this was a blessing, as I can work out a new drive that would require only minimal changes to the frame, but otherwise the model will remain visually exactly as it is now.

I’d love to get this running using the Athearn drive parts I have used numerous times now. I have WAY too many projects going, but this one is going to be pushed ahead a bit in the line, be watching for more in the coming months.

Sunday, March 15, 2020

A complete Nason cast boxcar kit

Part of a recent purchase included – finally! – a complete example of the Nason cast boxcar kit. The article where I introduce this model is here. 

Also, I reproduced castings for this model in resin castings after finding some incomplete examples. Some finished models from that project are seen in this article, which is in the middle of that series of articles.

To the present kit (click on the photo for a closer view), I think first the box is interesting, as it has that Nason label pasted on (and it is a thin, flat box), but even more interesting is that blueprint. It was prepared in December of 1934 and updated twice in January 1935. So the model was introduced to the market in 1935. I’m particularly intrigued by the final step in the instructions, “Give car a coat of filler & paint & letter as desired.” The castings are aluminum and a little rough, the idea was to instead of sanding them down to use a filler to smooth things out a bit. I’ve tried the same thing with 3D printed models, it was not a cure-all, but Mr. Surfacer was helpful (more here). I'll have to pick up another couple cans of it sometime.

In any case, this was an exciting find, I’ve been looking for one of these for years. It certainly falls in the category of interesting and important models produced in the early years of our hobby, one to keep your eye peeled for.

Saturday, February 1, 2020

A string of vintage 50’ double door boxcars

One thing I can respect from the OOldtimers is that they could take a project and go! One example is this string of 50’ double door boxcars.

I don’t know who built them, but back in the 1990s (!) I purchased five of these in a lot. For years and years I’ve had them out displayed together on a shelf, as they reminded me of the strings of these I saw on yard tracks in my ATSF home town (a division point) in roughly the late 1970s, by then either retired or in storage.

I’m guessing the builder got inspired by the actual cars and also the decal sets (I think Champ HO/OO sets), as they are lettered in five different schemes – the prototype cars had a map on one side and on the other had advertising for one of the ATSF passenger trains. They are nicely built up, and the builder went to some effort to seal the body and decals really well. The sealer he used (varnish) has yellowed a bit, altering the color of the decals.

To the cars themselves, I think they are modified Picard bodies with Selley frame casting parts, ends, and doors (more on Selley here, and more on Picard here). Picard sides are flat, but the builder has cut lines to represent the panels of metal in the prototype cars.

The doors are worth some extra commentary. They are, compared to the prototype, too small. On the other hand, they are what I would think of as Nason doors like you see on the Nason 40’ double door boxcar (more here). Of course Nason was I believe actually buying doors from Selley. They have a nice vintage look anyway.

As I said, I’ve had these cars for years and years, but actually I’ve never operated them ever. Partially they looked nice up on the shelf. Also though, they are big models and to run all five I’d really need a bigger layout, the decals were yellowed, etc.

Then in some other recent purchase what became this final MKT car was obtained. This is a Hawk body (more on Hawk here), built up simply, but also with those same Nason/Selley doors. It was painted but in sad shape, so I worked it over a bit and repainted it. The very flat surface of the sides was ideal for the Tichy decals, completing this vintage piece.

This last MKT car is very operational, and it did finally inspire me to pull down the ATSF cars and roll a couple of them on the layout. It’s still a pretty neat set of five, and I’m now starting to do a second Hawk car for the MKT, but this time with bigger (prototypical sized!) doors, which should look nice.

Wednesday, January 1, 2020

A CN chop-nose geep

This handsome American OO model was built by Pierre Bourassa, and it is one of at least two of these CN GP9RM that he built.

His starting point for both models was the Kemtron GP7 (more here). I always think, if you are thinking to do a conversion like this you have to be ready to complete the project. In his case, he very much was.

CN 7052 came to me not in working order, but was not a huge project to get working again. The main issues were it needed a new belt for the Baker drive (more on those here) and the drive line was touchy to get set up. Lubed up and with clean wheels it runs quite well, with three lights wired in to good effect. 

What I really like as well is that as they were retired from the CN these engines made their way to short lines, such as my MQS. I’ve been enjoying running the model with my modern era equipment.

I have a number of photos of models from Pierre, and have several photos of this companion engine, CN 7053. It looks to have been rebuilt in the same manner. He built a whole series of modern engines in his later years, mostly from plastic. I own one other of these, a big CSX GE Dash 8-40C (more here), and hope to someday perhaps own a couple more of his creations. On the layout these days I mostly run either a late 50s era or a 80s era. Although probably slightly off my era for my road (the rebuilds date to the 1980s, so they would not have been sold off for some years), I will still make good use of CN 7052.