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

Sunday, August 31, 2014

A Rutland Milk Reefer

The February, 1996 issue of The OO Road had a focus on milk cars, and one seen is this one, primed in gray paint. This car was not described further there by William Johann except to mention that certain HO trucks could be modified to fit it.

This car then sat, ready to be finished, in the OO inventory for years and years. It was a nice car and it seemed to me to be time to complete it.

Looking at the car closely, I noted that in pencil on the underside of the car it is written “was N&N 94” and “Roundhouse RB 2935.” The N&N would be the Newton & Northern of Newton Guerin, and the Roundhouse notation relates to the model of the MDC Roundhouse trucks modified to fit the car. The sides are hand scribed, nicely but if you look close things are a little uneven. It has Scale-Craft doors and some Graceline parts on the frame. It might be based on a Graceline car, but it is hard to say.

With the car out and painted what to letter it for was a puzzle. Design wise it is a bit different than many express reefers, and I did not have a lot of options for decals (and did not really want to buy more). Finally I found online photos of a Rutland car that had similar general details and I had decals that would work. Not that I model the Rutland even remotely, but I did want it to be a good looking car.

It came out nicely! This photos were taken before the decals had been completely settled in (as I was taking other photos), it looks even better on completion. Note in the bottom view I saved the areas that William Johann had written the notations given above. May it give good service to owners beyond me.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Recent Projects: Five Wood Hopper Cars

Back last year I posted an article in which there was a wood hopper car with some work train cars, one that it turned out had been built by the very young Ed Schorr (son of OO manufacturer/importer Fred Schorr) but came to me in pieces.

Since that time I have received five more of these hoppers! They are all similar cars but actually there are some differences and I will describe them by type.

First, as a general reference this type of car is not often seen but I think they may have been inspired by an article published in the October, 1958 issue of Model Railroader. The Jack Work article is titled “Wood hopper car” and one of the photos is of a very similar twin hopper (with steel hopper bottoms) similar to these cars, complete with the same vertical grab irons on the ends of each side. The hopper bottoms on these cars are metal castings, HO parts (I think maybe Varney).

The best two cars today are the first two above. None of these so far as I can tell had ever been lettered. I decided after a lot of deliberation to letter all these cars for my Orient, thinking I could justify running them in company coal service when I run 1930s era trains. These two cars as the best of the lot got the big, splashy “Orient” lettering, along the lines of that used by the actual KCM&O. (More on my freelanced version of the real KCM&O here).

When these cars came to me most were broken apart to a degree and it was a big puzzle to put them back together. Also they lacked trucks and bolsters which must have been taken off to use on other projects and also lacked couplers. Plus the loads were in variable shape and needed refreshed.

The second best car was the single car in the second photo that is with the original car I received. The original was in worse shape actually and I had to repaint it completely. Note the very different design and these 5 hoppers cars are smaller.

The final two cars I suspect may be the original two made as the build quality is not quite as good. These had actually been rebuilt at some prior point previously, as the ribs don’t all match and some are plastic. They now have more of a “stealth” KCM&O scheme, using lettering from a set of tank car decals from Microscale.

I had some work to do to get these cars back together. When the cars and loads were glued back in I sprayed the cars with glosscote to refresh the loads and to prep the sides for decals. After the decals were on I spayed dullcote on but masked the loads so that they would stay looking like coal.

Keen observers will note the new cars do not have couplers yet! They will have them soon, the problem being lack of enough couplers at the moment and also the holes are pretty stripped out so it is not quite as simple as it could be. I plan to use Kadee whisker couplers on the cars which should work out fine.

They roll GREAT on the Schorr trucks and it is fun to see this string of matching cars together on the layout.

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Recent Projects: Boxcars of Yellow and Silver

I try to paint models in groups and these four boxcars are among recent projects completed.

First up is this pair of MKT 37’ boxcars. They came to me as an unfinished project and I think I deduced correctly where the original builder was heading. The bodies are Picard 36’ bodies and they were mounted on the cast frame visible in the second photo. I do not know the maker of the frames. They seem almost purpose made for this body and project (they look quite correct from the side of the car) but may actually be HO parts. Also with the bodies as they came to me was two sets of vintage Champion HO-OO (!, old sets) MKT decals, highly suited to this model.

Luckily, when I first was planning these out there was information online on these cars (related to an Ultra Scale O scale kit) that I printed out, as now that information is not there! The MKT had a large number of these cars in the number series from 74105 to 75597, dating to the early years of the 20th century. They were it seems still in fairly wide use still until the end of WWII but all were out of service by the early 1950s.

Using the photos I had printed out (mostly no longer online, but one may be found here, scroll down) I used Eastern/Famoco ends on both cars and came fairly close to the actual prototype cars in a number of dimensions (including length) and details. The ladders are Eastern parts as is the brake cylinder.

The cars are both on trucks made using the side frames of PBL Sn3 Andrews trucks, as described further in this article. Super free rolling and the right design for these cars! I could wish a few details were sharper/better (and I forgot to add hand grabs on the left ends), but they came out as nice vintage looking models. Periodically I run trains from more of a 1930s era and these will fit right in those sessions, looking freshly shopped as they do. The “Sloan Yellow” Scheme dates to the era of the MKT presidency of Matthew S. Sloan, 1934–1945. Prior to that, these cars would have been boxcar red.

However, mostly I run trains representing a late 1950s era. The silver cars are a little less exotic; they are both pre-war die-cast Scale-Craft cars but decorated to imitate post-war prototypes.

The Rock Island car was inspired by finding the decals in the parts supply (and I like the Rock Island). The Orient car was my solution of how to paint another silver car using decals on hand. It came out pretty well really and would also fit in with my more 1960s-70s operating sessions (if I overlook the shortcomings of the S-C body casting). Both cars are on reproduction Lionel trucks, which has become a de-facto standard for these S-C cars on my layout, I just think they look better on the longer/lower trucks than on the original, stock trucks.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Recent Projects: A Gulf Tank Car and two ATSF Heavyweights

This summer a major goal was to paint and move through the shops generally a number of projects.

Among the recent projects completed one that really pleased me was this tank car. It is Scale-Craft, a vintage car that was stripped and repainted with a two tone (sliver/black) scheme. Looking in the decal supply I spotted a vintage Walthers HO set of Gulf tank car decals and I really like how this car came out.

Liking it as much as I do it seemed like one suited to receive a special pair of trucks. I had a couple Scale-Craft trucks in the parts supply that had side frames that had been modified with brass bushings. What a predecessor had done was drill out the holes larger and put in pieces of brass tube to make new brass bearing surfaces for the wheels. I had some years ago another car come in with these from Pierre Bourassa, and it had Schorr wheelsets on it; the combination rolls great. I also had four orphan Schorr wheelsets that Pierre had used in a scenic application and cleaned them up to use in these sideframes, resulting in a car that rolls and looks great.

As to the ATSF heavweights, the coach is the finished version of a J-C Models car that the “before” may be seen here. I put new sides on it, cleaned up details, repainted.

The baggage car has more of a tale. I have various loose parts, remnants of the unfinished projects of others, and one effort I have made is to try to get things back together when I can. In this case I had the roof and ends for a Graceline baggage car and the sides and frame from a J-C baggage car. What I did was modifiy the frame to match the roof (adding some more Graceline detail parts in the process) and put it all back together as a hybrid model. The sides had been previously used and were painted red, as can be seen with the flash showing the inside of the car through the windows.

Both cars have good Scale-Craft trucks and the same vintage decals. They are probably from the 1940s and would not quite snuggle down as well as I would have liked. But in the big picture that is OK, these cars have a nice vintage look and make a nice pair that are in much better shape than when they got to me.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

American OO for 56-57: Part IV, Articles in 1957

In 1957 Model Railroader was pretty much devoid of coverage of American OO gauge, but the topic does come up a couple times in Railroad Model Craftsman.

The first item of note is found in the May, 1957 issue of RMC. It is a photo of the layout of George Jones, his layout having been described further in this article. The caption mentions the Lionel Hudson “freshly coaled and ready for any run,” but there is more to see here. The diesel pulling the train is probably one of his scratchbuilt models; the passenger cars are neatly painted for the Union Pacific, the car on the left being a cast Scale-Craft coach and the next one looks to be Zuhr on the Varney F-3 trucks. The cars in the yard are obscured but finally I would note that it looks like his switch stand is a DPDT toggle switch with springs connecting it to the turnout. A practical solution to the issue of wiring the points and frog of the switch for the correct polarity; he was clearly an operator and was ready to run trains with his OO club friends.

The same issue has a photo of a TT scale engine built by a modeler with a name I recognized; Howard A. LeVan Jr. He started the firm that put the first OO gauge locomotive on the market, the OO Gauge Model Co. More on that early firm here (they did not last long), and clearly LeVan was enthusiastic about trains still but not active in OO.

The other interesting item is found in the October, 1957 issue of RMC, a letter from Dave Sacks with a photo of his back yard and mention of both New Jersey OO groups

First off, how many photos have you ever seen of an OO gauger’s back yard? I am not sure from the text but I am guessing that is a detached garage, not his train building over to the left. In his letter Sacks mentions that “This buckboard was donated along with the Liberty emblem by the Jersey Central for our North Jersey Midland Model Railroad Assoc.” He plans to add a board with “Green Brook Lines” and also noted that the marker light at the top “has been wired up electrically.” To this the editors added, “Dave is a double-O gager, has just put up a new 55 foot long pike having 650 feet of track and 60 turnouts. The North Jersey area is still an OO stronghold with two very active clubs, the NJMRRA and ABCOOR.”

George Jones was active in the ABCOOR group and Sacks in the NJMRRA group. And there were OO gaugers many other places. Looking ahead to 1958-59, if you are anxious to read ahead the November, 1958 issue of MR has a great feature story on the layout of Carl Appel, for more see this article.

When the history series returns the topic will be 1958-59.

Return to the beginning of the 1956-57 series

Continue to 1958-59 Series

Saturday, August 2, 2014

American OO for 56-57: Part III, Still More Products

Besides the Schorr brass items there were other products available for the American OO enthusiast.

Starting alphabetically, Baker OO power trucks are mentioned in the “Bull Session” column in the April, 1956 issue of Model Railroader. I have not seen actual Baker advertising for these but they were typically used in Schorr F-3 models, and also the Kemtron GP-7 could be purchased set up for a Baker or a Lindsay drive (and some found their way into Schorr RS-2 models as well). More on Baker here.

The 2nd Kemtron Master Catalog Dates to 1956 and according to the October 1956 issue of MR the catalog was already sold out! The 3rd catalog “will be ready in November.” While not listed in the catalog, a letter to the editor in RMC for July of 1956 asks where to purchase a Scale-Craft 0-6-0, and the answer was Kemtron.

I have a copy of the 2nd catalog and HO Seeker has 3rd (1957) complete online (here). The third edition has more complete coverage of trucks available:

and the listing for the their OO power truck (the Kemtron-Lindsay truck, seen above) was much clearer in the 3rd catalog,

But the pages on the GP-7 and the S-C line are exactly the same in both editions:

Finally, it should be mentioned that MHP still advertises the OO passenger car diaphragms in MR every month and Eastern must have still had their cars available for purchase, although not advertised.

Things were getting a little slim. When the series returns we conclude with a look at articles related to American OO published in 1957.

Continue reading 1956-57 Series