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

Thursday, May 16, 2013

The Scale-Craft 50’ Box Car

Of the new OO scale products introduced by Scale-Craft after WWII by far the most commonly seen is their 50’ boxcar. And it is a model not yet properly featured in this website, although there is a bit of info in this article and also in this article, both containing photos of the first example of this car I rebuilt, with comments.

This model was introduced with some fanfare in November of 1946, this image being the top half of the first advertisement in The Model Railroader. The text reads exactly as follows,
Here’s a “side door Pullman” that’s built like a Pullman . . . and rides the rails like a dream! Designed by Scale-Craft to replace the die-cast construction formerly used, this new stamped brass box car is tops for realistic detail, and finished up like a Pullman. Kits come all knocked down and ready to assemble, bringing you nearer to actual box car construction, and providing many fun-filled hours of relaxing enjoyment.
The 40-foot box cars in this improved construction will be ready for you soon . . . 50-foot box cars are available now in “OO” gauge . . .  reefers and auto cars to follow. Ask your dealer for them today!
The second illustration is also from that first advertisement and shows the kit pretty well. The kit is stamped brass with a wooden body for support. Note that the illustration is for a double door version of this car. The first catalog to follow this advertisement (the Hollywood catalog) only lists the 50-foot single door version. The final Scale-Craft catalog (the Round Lake catalog) however lists and provides photos of five variations of this model:
  • 50’ 6” refrigerator car
  • 40’ 6” box car
  • 50’ 6” box car
  • 40’ 6” automobile car
  • 50’ 6” automobile car
The 50’ car illustrated here is seen pretty often; clearly a large run of these was produced in 1946 in their Libertyville, IL location. All of the instruction sheets I have seen for this car have elements dated 1945 and 46. I have never seen an example of any of the other cars listed above and I strongly suspect that they may not have been produced at all. From the Hollywood location I suspect they only sold from existing stock of the 50-foot kits, and when production moved back to Illinois clearly they were planning to produce the others, but probably did not. I throw the question out to readers – anyone have any example of the other cars?

And why the change of construction? Rumor is that the dies for the die cast boxcar were damaged, although it may also been a part of a drive by Scale-Craft to produce a "post-war kit." It is a very new model in many ways. At this point in my study of the topic I am fairly sure this was the only type of boxcar manufactured or sold by Scale-Craft after WWII.

This final photo is of a car nearly complete showing the construction a bit more clearly, and the Schorr trucks are a nice upgrade for this model. And this example at present still has the coupler with the sprung draft gear on it, although I will change it over to Kadee couplers when I finish it up with paint and decals. As I note in one of my prior articles linked earlier that touched on this car, “Scale-Craft in my opinion dropped the ball on this one…. It looks OK, sure, but it is not a scale model of any recognizable prototype.” And in the other “…look at the roof. Ugh! It is pretty terrible; pitch too high, strange stamped ribs, and also those tiny end walks.”

While it could have been improved upon, it was a welcomed product and one to keep in mind as an important part of any Scale-Craft OO collection.

Update: I would add a note, a post by Jeff Barker in the OO group jogged my memory on this, look at the door rails of the car above. They are on the wrong side, and it seems to both of us that it is an error on the part of SC, but maybe there is a prototype for this.

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