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

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Vintage OO Photos V: A 4-6-4T and an Unusual Doodlebug

Today in the series of vintage American OO photos I have two more from the layout of OO enthusiast and manufacturer Fred Schorr.

First up is this side on view which features mainly a nicely built up Scale-Craft 4-6-4t. Note that it is lettered for the Yorkville and Western, the home road of Fred Schorr, and it has a replacement truck at the rear. It looks to me like possibly an On3 truck, actually! It should have provided good pick up and was a nice detail change over the original. Note also the engineer in the cab.

To the rear we see a S-C stock car (with the original version of the frame, trucks in from the ends), a tender (Lionel?), and a self-propelled passenger car. From the first photo all we can tell is it has an RPO section up front and has EMD type road diesel trucks. Oh, also note that diesel switcher or road diesel on the lower level just poking into the frame. Click on either photo for a better view.

This close up was also with the photos and provides a couple more details in spite of the soft focus. It would appear to also be a Scale-Craft model, the RPO-Baggage version of their gas-electric car but modified a bit with added windows in the RPO area of the model. With the diesel locomotive drive I am guessing it must have ran pretty well. There are a couple other visible detail changes (especially that big box up on top of the cab end) but you can see the original S-C front end and pilot (compare to the model in this photo) that I think confirms the identity of the manufacturer.

As to when these photos were taken, I would guess they date from the late 1940s but were printed on different paper and likely taken a few years apart. I love these brief windows into American OO layouts of the past, and I will be posting more of these in the coming months.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

A Gallery of Scale-Craft OO Lettering Diagrams

Following up on the recent overview of prewar Scale-Craft OO scale decals and lettering diagrams (here), the below is a complete rundown of the diagrams in my collection and those of Jeff Barker, Dick Gresham, and Steve Neubaum, arranged by type. Click on any one for a better view--they are best seen in this manner, as you can scroll through the entire gallery. To see cars decorated with these decals see this article.


Passenger Cars

Freight Cars**

Most of the above are from pre-war sets but a few are from the post-war Scale-Craft/Walthers decals. I hope to update and expand this list as this is at present only a fraction of the drawings that must exist based on catalog listings. If you have more examples that you would like to add, please scan them and contact me.

[**Noting the dimensions on it, the S-C stock car drawing appears to be the O-gauge drawing. However, it was packed with an OO car. Some of the drawings must be the same as they made some of these models in O and in OO, but also some drawings are certainly of their OO product line, such as the 4-6-0 locomotive and box car. Also, the PRR hopper drawing came from an O scale kit but is identical to the OO drawings.]

As a bonus, below are the five types of envelopes that these came in. Note there are two types of “face down” decal envelopes (the first two below), an early type described further in the article that is an overview of Scale-Craft decals.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

A Varney Flat Car Converted from HO

This is a car I have had a long, long time and have never run. It came to me from Bill G. in the early 1980s. In the note with it (which I still have) he states that this was “One of my first OO cars made from HO Varney flat.” The instructions for this same type of Varney car are here in the HOSeeker site; the sides are stamped steel.

It is nicely proportioned for OO and was built up with a great deck. So why have I not run this car? There are two reasons. One was it was only decorated on one side, the one visible in this first photo. But the more significant one was the car height. Basically the floor stock was too thick, so if you set it up on trucks it was much too high.

But not long ago I purchased a drill press stand for my Dremel tool. This is really handy for drilling bolster screw holes but also with the right cutter head installed it works as a router of sorts. So what I did was rout out the truck area to allow the car to ride at an appropriate height. I set it up with the “Morlok method” trucks I like on flat cars and it operates very well.

The car was still only decorated on one side. Instead of working with small letters from an alphabet set to match sides I opted to decorate the other side differently, for my Orient. And I added a nice, lost wax brass brake wheel. It took towards 30 years to finish but I am pleased with the results.

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Three Hawk 50’ OO Boxcars

Thanks to a link from an O gauge forum the topic of Hawk OO has been getting a bit of traffic lately (101 article here). Thus, this is a great time to feature these three recently completed Hawk 50’ boxcars (their No. 503 Auto Car), rebuilt from junkers and parts.

First up we have this pair. I like working on cars in groups if possible, and particularly cars of types not often seen. Hawk OO was first advertised in 1941 and only offered for a short while, so they are not often seen. Their boxcars were made in two construction formats. Some were made with a solid block body that is milled from one piece of wood. Others were built up from parts. These first two were of that type. A nice “before” photo of the car in front may be seen here – an almost complete body and frame. It had been built up by a prior owner but then torn down for rebuilding prior to coming to me.

In the process (before it came to me) the ends of that car went missing. To solve that problem I made new sub-ends that are inset and new visible ends salvaged from a somewhat damaged swap meet purchase AHM HO stock car with the oversize ends, a model described here. To that were added Eastern ladders, used on both of these cars. I think they came out pretty nicely.

The car in the back had its own set of problems, the main ones being it had been weighted with plaster (!, a very bad idea) and it had been re-painted at least twice and had a VERY heavy coat of paint. What I did with it was strip off what parts I could and sand areas down. If you look close it still has some real issues but it is amazing what a clean coat of paint, a few fresh details, and good decals will do for a car.

Looking at the bottoms of these two you can see they have different frames but both are Hawk frames. I kept the S-C brake cylinder on the car with the heavy paint, and also visible is the plug where I drained out the loose plaster. And of course those are Scale-Craft trucks, which fit these vintage cars well.

I decided on Milwaukee Road for this pair as they had on their roster a similar style smooth side boxcar (more info here) and I had decals to approximate the correct scheme.

This last photo is of another Hawk 50’ car and a similar car built on a Picard body. This Hawk car is the solid body version. In shape it matches the built up body perfectly and would have been cut from the same cutters I believe back in the day. I did not have a frame for this and worked up a similar frame from wood strip as the car is plenty heavy, especially with the cast doors. The look I was going for was to match a set of five cars like the one behind. Someone had a project to make a string of ATSF 50’ cars. This new car without heroic effort is similar in spirit and fit decals I had on hand. The older cars I don’t have running yet and I suspect may never have been run on a layout. They are a project for another day.

For now though I am enjoying the look of this restored set of Hawk 50’ cars, a good solid pre-war product.

Friday, May 4, 2012

A bit of a Surprise in a Vintage Reefer

One project starting to take shape is I am working on converting a set of four junker, vintage 40’ OO scale cars into a string of four ATSF reefers, using a set of those recently produced sides that have been on eBay lately (a brief review being here). This morning was a cool morning to work in the garage and do the quick and dirty work of stripping off the old paper sides and roof details of the cars in the project.

All of them are 40’ Picard bodies and all had been damaged significantly in prior storage. This one being perhaps the worst of the group as the sides had warped a bit. Stripping the car it was clear this one had not been assembled with glue at all but with pins, so the side came off easily and revealed a mystery.

The car was stuffed full of “stuff,” some sort of vintage packaging material, as seen in the photo. No idea why. It did give the car a bit more weight, perhaps that was the idea? In any event, the packing material is now in the trash and a metal frame will provide all the extra weight the car needs. Soon the sides will be glued and clamped on, ultimately transformed into a sharp American OO car hopefully worthy of much layout time.