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

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.

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