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

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Recent Projects: Reefers by Graceline and S-C/Champion

I try to keep some projects moving through the workbench, and these two rebuilding projects are among those completed recently.

The Scale-Craft reefer is a car that came to me mostly built up. It is a late version of their reefer and on these models often the sides are scribed very lightly (poorly!). This was a car that I think the original builder decided was not worth painting due to that issue. I opted to remove the hardware from the sides and complete the body, paint it, and then apply a set of vintage Champion sides. I will be doing more of these in coming years, it is a great “fix” for these late S-C cars. More on Champion sides here; note that my list of their car sides has been updated considerably.

The other reefer is a combination of a Graceline body that came to me stripped to just wood and a frame, fresh late Graceline or Transportation Models sides/roof, and Famoco cast ends and hatches – riding on Schorr trucks. More on Graceline here. I puzzled a great deal how to letter it and opted for this 1960s scheme using HO decals. It will be run when I run models of that era, which has been an enjoyable change of pace.

Both are sharp cars. It is always exciting to see these models looking this pristine, just as they might have in the 40s when both of these models were originally on the workbench of a model railroader.

Sunday, November 9, 2014

And Then There’s Vanden Boom. Part II: Other Freight Cars

Vanden Boom offered much more than the line of OO gauge reefers described in Part I. They listed the Lionel OO line in their catalog too and also several other unique cars of their own  manufacture.

First up is the 00C1 Standard caboose in wood. This first illustration is of an advertisement for this car. Note that no scale is listed in this ad from the September, 1940 issue of Model Railroader. It would seem their thinking was that people would write asking if it was available in their favorite scale and the answer would be “Yes!” as they sold it in HO, OO, and O gauges. But reading the ad I am inclined to think most would think it to be an O gauge kit, and that is clearly a prototype photo, not a model in any scale.

It is of a very distinctive model and if any example exists in OO today it should be really easy to spot with that metal “cupalo.” It is based on a Union Pacific design. Their catalog notes that they specialize in Union Pacific, Santa Fe, and “Western Railroads,” which was a good niche market to serve with many lines of models being very eastern road centered.

This second illustration is from the instructions to this kit. All I have is this page and also a photocopy of the box lid. The box is marked as the OO kit and the instructions say it is a drawing full size for OO. However, the Vanden Boom logo in the instruction page has an “O” in the middle. In the 1940 catalog the middle of the logo reads O, OO, or HO depending on the section of the catalog it was used in.

The logo seen here for comparison is from the OO section of the catalog. It is possible they provided an OO drawing with the O gauge caboose, but also very possible they simply dropped the wrong logo into the drawing.

Finally, this is the caboose as listed in the catalog. The photo is clearly of a model but I am inclined to think perhaps the O gauge version, judging from the trucks.

If that were not enough, there were even more cars! Next up alphabetically is the 00F1 40’ outside braced box car, which was illustrated as below in the catalog.

As with the caboose, I have to wonder is that really the OO model? They also sold the Lionel OO box car and the photo used is clearly a prototype photo. Plus, this model was also offered in O and HO gauges. For the caboose and box car I am not sure the photos are of OO models, but for the wreck train below I think they probably are the OO models as different illustrations are used for the O and HO versions.

Finally we get to the last really interesting group of models, the “W” cars. They are all part of a wreck train; most are actually illustrated in the catalog. The list is:

00W1 Open end passenger car
00W2 Combination baggage and coach
00W3 Blacksmith car
00W4 Crane (non-working)
00W5 Tool car
00W6 Flat car

This first photo shows the caboose again and the coach, and the final photo shows the blacksmith car, crane, and tool car. The blacksmith and tool cars in particular look to be on Nason trucks. No other OO maker sold these models and if any exist today they would certainly stand out from the crowd!

For those finding this article looking for info on their O gauge models, there is an article on Vanden Boom by Keith Wills in the May, 2000 issue of Railroad Model Craftsman that goes into more detail, but all of these OO models were also listed in O and HO gauges and their most extensive listings are of O gauge models. The 1940 catalog is over 50 pages long and well worth searching out for more information.

Advertising for that catalog ran sporadically in Model Railroader into early 1942 at least, and I also found via Google some classified ads they ran, including one on this page of the March, 1944 issue of Model Builder.  It simply reads, "MINI-TRAIN CATALOG--Send 25c in coin or stamps, VANDEN BOOM'S, 3823 Broadway, Kansas City, Mo."

They were located at Broadway at 38th St. in Kansas City, MO. Google street view shows no building resembling the one in their catalog at that location today.

I don’t know if I will ever track down any Vanden Boom OO. It must be very rare, and the line was certainly not well advertised or known back in the day. Perhaps some collectors have some though--if you have more info to offer on the line I would love to hear from you.

Return to Part I

Saturday, November 8, 2014

And Then There’s Vanden Boom. Part I: Reefers

Regular readers might assume that this website has by now covered it all in American OO! But actually, Vanden Boom is a perfect example of the more you study a subject the more you discover there is to learn.

Looking at a list of car sides I recently received that had been put together by a deceased OO gauger I saw references to a very large line of printed car sides by Vanden Boom, a pre-war hobby shop in Kansas City. The name rang a bell in a way as I had seen their advertisements such as this one from MR, 11/40 -- and it is just a memorable name -- but they basically never mentioned OO gauge in their advertising which puzzled me a great deal. And then, digging in my files I discovered that I actually had instructions for their caboose kit as well!

This all led to my buying a copy of their 1940 catalog, which is the source of the great illustration below. Click on the photo for a better view. They offered a large line of reefer cars with printed sides in O, OO, and HO, something that so far as I can tell their print advertising never indicated! Their Model Railroader advertising typically only indicated they had a catalog and, in late 1940 various specific models with no gauge indicated. But I should note that OO does come up in their advertising for one specific product -- a series of ads beginning in the May, 1939 issue of MR features their new HO and OO tie strip.

The actual car numbers listed below are as printed in the illustration. The Private Reefers number -- PR-1, etc. -- is as in the illustration in the catalog, but when they list the specific OO versions of these models later in the catalog the numbers are 00R1, etc.

PR-1 Union Refrigerator/IGA 16803
PR-2 Union Refrigerator/Carnation 23090
PR-3 Union Refrigerator/Pabst-ett 23249
PR-4 Union Refrigerator/Heileman’s 19511
PR-5 Union Refrigerator/Prima Beer 19524
PR-6 Union Refrigerator/A&P 23027
PR-7 HBCX 101 Hills Bros.
PR-8 Union Refregerator/Phenix Cheese 23237
PR-9 URTC 23333 Pabst
PR-10 Union Refrigerator/Carnation 23099
PR-11 URTC 40679 Best Foods
PR-12 NADX 6000 Pacific Egg Producers
PR-13 NADX 1828 Page Milk
PR-14 NADX 2688 Pluto Water
PR-15 NADX 6337 Land O’ Lakes
PR-16 URTC 93185 Miller High Life
PR-17 URT 66000 Hormel
PR-18 NPKX 100 Pikes Peak Pure Lard
PR-19 DMRL 2532 Decker Meat
PR-20 NADX 3116 White House Brand Poultry
PR-21 NADX 6268 Baby Ruth
PR-22 Northern/Bananas 7100
PR-23 Cudhay 7471; one side Old Dutch Cleanser and the other Puritan
PR-24 CIPX 101 College Inn
PR-25 ART 419 Crazy Crystals
PR-26 URTC 10802 Jelke’s
PR-27 WWDX 1043 Wescott & Winks
PR-28 WCL 7554 Wilson’s
PR-29 KOHX 1005 Kohrs
PR-30 MFAX 105 Producers Creamery
PR-31 URTC 93132 Schlitz

31 different sides! There is also a line of Standard Reefers, those being listed only with their OO item numbers below. These models were “not lettered, but sides painted, decals furnished.” The illustration below is from the catalog and shows a Private Reefer and a Standard Reefer, presumably the actual OO models they sold as they look as if they could be on Nason trucks. But ... the Blatz car is not a model listed for sale! So yet another layer of mystery there, or maybe it is the 0037 car, with decals?

0032 SFRD
0033 CB&Q
0034 MILW
0035 SOO
0036 NP
0037 URTC
0038 NWX
0039 BOWX
0040 NRC
0041 RI
0042 FGEX
0043 PFE
0044 Erie
0045 MDTSP
0046 MDTWP
0047 M&StL
0048 ART

A total of 48 different reefers are listed; building all those could keep you busy for years. I also mentioned a caboose kit earlier, and the line was even large than that! For more read on to Part II.

Continue reading Part II.