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

Monday, November 14, 2011

Retro Modeling: Two Great Boxcars from One

The relatively late (post-war) Scale-Craft OO 50 foot single door boxcar was produced in enough quantity that a good number seem to be around today in kit form. Seen in the photos below is an example of one of these kits I built up from an incomplete kit (it lacked some wood part that I worked up from scratch) and two great boxcars built using some of the parts of this kit by Bill Gilbert.

First, take a look at the stock S-C car. It has two really big visual problems. First, we have those doors. S-C always used that door on every boxcar type they produced and it really is not very prototypical [UPDATE: or at least not very common for the era when first introduced, see the first two comments below]. It sort of passes but is too wide, especially so on the earlier style boxcar. Then look at the roof. Ugh! It is pretty terrible; pitch too high, strange stamped ribs, and also those tiny end walks.

What Bill Gilbert did was use the original S-C sides and frame to make one of the best OO double door boxcars I have ever seen. The roof he made up using Famoco/Eastern ribs. The ends are Selley parts and the doors Famoco/Eastern. This close up is of the ends and roof. His modifications helped this car a lot. With Schorr trucks and a good paint job this car really stands out. As always, click on any photo for a better view.

The other car is even more epic in relation to what he did. This is literally one of the best boxcars I own, and was also made by Bill Gilbert. It has the ends that were from a S-C stamped boxcar (perhaps the same car as the first car) but modified so that the pitch of the roof is correct. Those ends were mated with scratchbuilt Milwaukee Road horizontal rib sides, Famoco/Eastern roof ribs and doors, a frame in the same style as the S-C frame, and Schorr trucks.

This is a close up of the ends. That change of roof pitch makes a huge difference. I have got to think that buyers who saw the S-C 50 foot cars when they came out could not have liked that element either.

Finally, the last photo compares his built up frame to the frame of my stock S-C 50’ car. On it I aimed to modify it little from the original kit but I, as he, added some basic HO brake details. The stock detail shipped out with the car, a spun brass part similar to a K type brake cylinder, is far from accurate for any prototype.

They are not super-detail jobs in the style of models you see featured in the magazines but they are great retro models based on rearranged vintage parts combined with scratchbuilding. This does give me some ideas as to how to better use those late S-C car sides and ends. What he did, in terms of my layout anyway, is take a car that I am unlikely to run as it is so ugly (the S-C 50 foot boxcar) and turn parts into cars that I would love to run often.


Steve Neubaum said...

I must say, regarding the original Scale-Craft doors, that while they are wider than the most common 6' doors of the day, 8' doors were also used on 40' and 50' boxcars. True they weren't used much till the late 1950s, but they are technically a correct door design. For the record, the 50' boxcar, in real life, did come more often with the 8' door at the time Scale-Craft offered theirs.

Outside of that, great article, as always!

John Ericson said...

Adding on, yes, I knew 8' doors are common in cars from the later 50s and on. In terms of the original 1937 decision to use those doors though, that was not a great decision in my opinion, and it ended up being the only door design S-C ever sold.