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

Saturday, December 26, 2015

A closer look at Famoco 6-wheel passenger trucks

Back in 2008 a brief article was posted, briefly showing the four types of 6 wheel passenger trucks marketed commercially in American OO scale. Worthy of a closer look are the Famoco trucks.

I recently set up three pair of these for operation, and operationally they are free rolling and look nice too.

As noted in the earlier article, these trucks have a very specific and unique feature in that the bolster is in effect integral to the truck. But that only tells part of the story. So the trucks themselves have a pin that comes up out of the truck bolster. This fits into a hole on the car side of the bolster that has a recess for a round metal key. The screws that would be used to hold the truck to the body are to be used in the holes provided on this car bolster. It is a very different setup than any other truck offered in American OO. Also worth noting, the actual truck bolster is “riveted” to the side frames, making them difficult/impossible to dissemble.

Besides that there are two major negatives on these trucks. About 1/4 of the wheelsets I examined are problematic, the tread width is too narrow. The bigger negative though is that a percentage of the parts have absolutely disintegrated. I describe this “rot” (more formally known as zinc pest) a bit more in this article, but this hits Famoco and Graceline parts the hardest and ultimately relates to the quality of the metal used for the die casting, with high humidity thought to contribute as well.

In any case, this J-C Model ATSF baggage car is running on a good pair of these trucks now. When originally rebuilt I put it on S-C trucks, but those were needed for another car and this one reverted to 4 wheel trucks – which never really looked right on the car. I converted it to Famoco trucks and upgraded a few other small details, including adding a bit of weight, this car is a head end car and it was rather light.

UPDATE: But now I'm converting this car back to S-C trucks, as explained in this article. 

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Touching up a Rutland boxcar

This model was rebuilt originally by the late Bill Johann, came to me second or third hand after his ownership. It is an Eastern car that was nicely built up, I believe likely lettered with decals over painted over printed sides, then painted over yet again and lettered for the Rutland.

A very nice article on building models of this car in HO is online, and opens by noting that

Pullman Standard's PS-1 box Car is THE iconic piece of rolling stock that defined the vision Rutland Railway president Gardiner Caverly laid out for the railroad in the early 1950's, that of a modern, streamlined, service-oriented gateway that would rapidly move shippers products to market.

Bill Johann was an American OO operator and over the years updated his layout to the modern era; I own a number of these models today. Based on the markings I believe he probably converted this car to Rutland in 1971 and then modified it to a more modern appearance in 1994; when it came to me it was on roller bearing trucks and had no roof walk and an ACI label.

The Rutland shut down in 1963 and the use of ACI labels began in 1968, so this was problematic to my eye. But such a nice car, I did want to run it. What I did was paint over the ACI labels, add a roof walk, and put it on Schorr trucks. The roof walk should be painted the color of the roof but I opted for black (to match the ends) and made it from two HO roof walks spliced together.

It is not quite a PS-1 boxcar but it is a very good stand in for this iconic car, I am enjoying running it on the layout.

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Lionel OO Freight Cars. Part IV: Cabooses

And what train is complete without a caboose? Lionel chose to make theirs to the same design as the 1937 Scale-Craft caboose, but with tweaked details and it is clearly marked as Lionel.

The original 1938 model was the 0017 caboose decorated for the Pennsylvania. I don’t have one of those (it was 1938 only) but I do have the 0027 NYC caboose, which is the successor model (1939-42), a semi-detailed model and also three-rail. The semi-detailed models lack the turned piece that is attached next to the box on the underframe and the smokestack seen on the detailed version.

Next up is an example of the 0047 caboose, which is the detailed caboose on two rail trucks. Note the smoke stack and the underframe detail. Worth noting as well, all of these cars have only one brake wheel.

The final model for this series is this example of the 0077 caboose, which is two-rail but semi-detailed. This model was produced from 1939-42. For even more on Lionel OO cabooses see this article in the Train99 website.

Value on all of the models seen in this series is a good question. I purchased the 0027 model above on eBay a few years ago at a fairly low cost. It still had on it a tag, the seller had been trying to sell it at shows, and had listed $100 on the tag! Which would be at least double what I would think would be book value in a price guide. Even that though would depend on exactly how you interpret the condition, and one of the trucks it turned out was clearly a reproduction truck so really it was not a highly desirable example. It is harder to evaluate condition from photos. I have a trained eye by now, but I don’t think any buyer could have seen the reproduction truck based on the photos in the listing. And in fairness, who knows, the seller may not have noticed or have known either.

In any case, these classic OO gauge models in good condition will hold some value as long as people are collecting Lionel trains! To my mind the most iconic model of this line is the 1938 yellow (cream) colored boxcar. The bidding can really get going on these, as it also can on the separate sale versions of the 0044/5/6/7 versions of these cars (or the kit versions of the same) in their original display boxes. For example, as I write this just yesterday a set of all four of the separate sale versions of the built up cars sold on eBay, low of $292 for the hopper and high of $515.50 for the caboose.

For even more on the Lionel OO line in general see this article. And if you are new to American OO gauge, poke around this site and learn even more about these collectible vintage models.

Return to beginning of Lionel Freight Car series. 

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Lionel OO Freight Cars. Part III: Hopper Cars

Moving ahead numerically, the next model in this survey of the line of Lionel OO gauge freight cars is the hopper. It is of an offset side design very similar to what Scale-Craft had introduced a year earlier but different in many details and the Lionel model is clearly marked as a Lionel product.

The original 1938 0016 cars were lettered in this somewhat fanciful SP paint scheme or in a variation where the decals are applied one panel out closer to each end. This example is not in the best shape and is missing a hopper door, but is otherwise complete. As with the yellow (or cream) box cars, the general thinking is that the gray scheme was a reflection of the goal of producing eye catching models that would sell in train sets. It is has three rail trucks.

This model was followed in the catalog by the 0016 cars produced from 1939-42. Note it is now in a more realistic SP scheme and the car is black! It is still three rail and this is the detailed model. Actually, all the hopper cars they made are the detailed version, there was no semi-detailed version of the hopper produced.

The final example I have for this brief survey is the 0046 hopper. This model is identical to the 0016 car above except for the two-rail trucks. This particular example someone added a load to, which has certainly reduced the collector value today. These were, rather than being gifts to kids, models used on model railroads and who would not want a loaded hopper over an empty?

For even more on Lionel OO hoppers see this article in the Train99 website. This series will conclude with the final model in the line, the caboose.

Monday, November 23, 2015

Lionel OO Freight Cars. Part II: Tank Cars

Next we turn to tank cars and the first version made is this bright silver 0015 Sunoco car.

This is the 1938 version of this model, riding on three rail trucks. The 0015 model is detailed, but the only difference visible between the detailed models and the semi-detailed models below is the detailed models have the brake cylinder casting.

Next up is the 0025 Shell tank car, which is also three rail but semi-detailed and sold from 1939-42. While the Sunoco car had a car number that matched the model number in the catalog, this model is more realistically decaled as SEPX 8126. How you know it is the 0025 car (or another variation) is 0025 is rubber stamped on the frame itself.

Our final example in this brief overview is the 0075 tank car. This model is identical to the 0025 car (and was also produced 1939-42) except for it has two rail trucks and is stamped 0075. Again, it is semi-detailed. The final photo shows the stamping on both of these cars.

Worth noting as well, these cars are very similar to Scale-Craft tank cars (introduced in 1937) but various details are obviously different when you get looking and of course the Lionel cars say “built by Lionel” on the ends. For even more on Lionel OO tank cars see this article in the Train99 website. Next up in this brief series are their hoppers.

Continue reading Lionel OO Freight Cars series

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Lionel OO Freight Cars. Part I: Box Cars

A topic long overdue for this website is that of Lionel OO gauge freight cars and the many variations. I don’t own all of them, of course, but have access to enough to give an overview.

The original Lionel box cars were the yellow 0014 Lionel Lines cars. Manufactured in 1938 only, these cars were certainly eye catching! But not very realistic. I don’t own an example [UPDATE: I do now, more here], but I have had for a number of years this curiosity, a 0044 Pennsylvania car which clearly was made by painting over one of the left over yellow 1938 bodies.

As seen in this highlight, yellow is very visible where the paint has chipped. Clearly, model railroaders did not want fanciful yellow boxcars! As always, click on any of the photos for a better view.

Lionel freight cars were sold as being either detailed or semi-detailed. Both of these 0044 cars are detailed and are two-rail models produced from 1939-42. The one above I take to be an early example and has black ladders, and this second car does not. Otherwise, they are identical.

This final example is a 0074 model, which is the two-rail semi-detailed model sold from 1939-42. The only difference is 0074 model has no brake cylinder. The semi-detailed cars were sold with semi-detailed ("modified") sets. I don’t know the actual price break between the models (these sets also lacked a hopper car, further lowering the cost), but whatever bit of difference lack of a brake cylinder made must have been worth it to Lionel in marketing train sets in those depression years.

The final photo shows the difference between the two versions. It is also worth noting that these models are very similar in overall appearance to the early sand-cast Nason OO boxcars, which could have been an inspiration to Lionel. For even more on Lionel OO boxcars see this article in the Train99 website. Next in this brief series will be the tank cars.

Continue reading Lionel OO Freight Cars series

Sunday, November 8, 2015

Amazing detail from Oscar Andresen, part 3

As noted earlier in this series (back in 2009! Starts here), Oscar Andresen was a Boston engraver and pioneer in American OO. His work was featured on the cover of the second issue of Model Railroader magazine in 1934 (more here) and he offered his early models commercially under the name Rockhaven Models, which was a name associated with his personal layout.

Recently I was able in a trade obtain three Andresen models – two nearly complete and one in parts – which has allowed an even closer look at his craftsmanship. My three are all etched zinc, two passenger cars and a stock car.

We will begin with the big Rock-Haven coach. Which brings up a first question. If you bought these sides from him, what was he thinking, how was the purchaser to letter them for a different road? Or letter them at all? This quote from the May, 1935 issue of Model Railroader gives about all the clues we have for why he did this (for more from this article, including photos, see here).

What do you say if we board a special train on the Mohawk Valley for a tour of inspection? We are sure to forget the passage of time, and so we will naturally stop at the car shops to watch the construction of many types of cars. The strangest site of all is to see the riveters at work, “Wonder of wonders.” They make no noise. The process used not only permits rivets without noise but at the same time raises all lettering above the car surface. All around the shops and other factories at Mohawk Valley there is no sign of a depression, with work going forward at full blast.

And there we are. My guess is the raised lettering gave you a guide to hand letter over them for whatever the underlying lettering was. Still though, the question would be: is this actually a car intended for his own layout? Did he originally design them for his layout but later decide to sell them to others? It is an interesting question.

This car has been partially assembled, the zinc sides have been soldered to brass strips and integrated with wood parts. Building the car to this point took someone some effort. The zinc parts have crisp details to be sure and are just thick enough to not have the feeling of being fragile to the touch. The ends are separate parts and the doors are separate but soldered to the sides.

This is seen more clearly in the set of loose sides for the Pullman. These have been soldered on the back to square brass rods, and one of the doors has come off (as has one of the rods). Again, fine detail and the lettering is raised from the surface. They came to me with a group of Nason parts and it seems a prior owner was looking to build this car up as well. The only notable, non-Nason or S-C part with the sides was a big piece of zinc to apparently use as floor stock.

The last car is a great item too, a stock car that matches the stock car seen in a 1934 article (see here), it just lacks doors.

Looking at it closer there are a number of interesting things to note. One is the entire car is zinc and brass. The roof is actually hollow, with the visible top area showing etched rivet details. The sides have square brass members applied to them, and they are of a thick zinc with again rivet details etched in. The ends as well are etched with brass members applied. The floor is solid zinc.

There are no doors and the underside is totally lacking in detail. I am somewhat on the fence about working on this car further, it is such an amazing rare/early item. It will be difficult to clean the ends for painting for example. If I go forward with it I have a pair of bent/warped S-C stock car sides and those can donate doors to this model.

Continuing that thought, how do the cars compare? The Andresen car is slightly shorter (40’ instead of 42’) and as seen in the final photo the design is different in several ways.

The other missing parts are not too hard to find/fabricate, but it is notable that the model was set up to have trucks sitting on or attached to pins protruding from the floor. I can work something out I am sure.

Also the couplers on the model are a real curiosity, as they appear to be sort of a link and pin coupler, not a commercial design. Looking at the available Andresen photos, the front coupler of the steeple cab loco seen in this article seems to be the same design! So maybe this car is actually from his layout? That would make the car even more notable.

What to letter it for is also a good question. I will go slow on this but would love to see it reach a more complete state such as Andresen would have hoped for when he produced the parts so long ago.

As to the passenger cars, I am considering assembling the Rock-Haven car a little further (but not paint it) and to use the six wheel trucks I have from Howard Winther on the model (seen in this article, at the end). Of all the cars I have this one seems the only one worthy of riding on that set of early, handmade trucks, becoming a very unique model with parts on it by two different pioneers of American OO.

Return to beginning of Amazing Detail series

Saturday, November 7, 2015

Howard Winther OO models on display at TCA museum

Regular readers of American OO Today know there are a number of articles here relating to the early (and award winning) American OO models by Howard Winther. A pioneer in the scale, his first article on his early OO gauge modelwork is found in the February, 1933 issue of The Modelmaker, back in the days before there was a dedicated model railroad magazine!

Winther really had some skills, and in particular won several awards with his OO models at the early NYSME shows, which led to them being featured a number of times in the hobby press.

It turned out that his beautiful models had been carefully packed and stored over all the years. With the generous help of both of his TCA member sons (who stumbled onto my OO history series when it was being written) I was able to produce an article for the TCA Quarterly (April, 2014), which is described here.  These models were and are a window into some of the best model railroading had to offer from the early days of the hobby; it was great to feature them and their story, focusing on photos of them in the hobby press of the 1930s and photos of the models today.

But the story has not ended there! These photos are of the models now on display at the National Toy Train Museum in Strasburg, PA. They have their own special display case!

This second photo is of the display itself and do click on it for a better view. You can see the article displayed prominently, along with one of his awards, several structures, and of course the trains that will be familiar from the articles here. For a view of many of them, pre-TCA, follow this link (the "label" Winther in this site) and scroll down past the most recent articles.

Our final photo (all photos by Anker Winther) is of the inscription with the display itself. Of course I am biased, I think these are really significant early models, but may they long be featured by the TCA! It really is a happy ending for me, and knowing that I helped get the ball rolling for this end result is a treat as well. Hopefully I will be able to visit the display at some point, and for sure any readers in driving distance I hope you have the opportunity to see them in person.

Sunday, October 18, 2015

The Schorr PRR A3

Very likely the rarest of the Schorr brass imports in American OO scale is their PRR A3 0-4-0 model.

The model is mentioned in this article, with a quote from Ed Schorr, son of importer Fred Schorr. Ed recalled that

He would have also imported a B&O dock side switcher and the Ma and Pa 10-wheeler but could not get enough guys interested. He did however have a handful, maybe 5, PRR A-3 class 0-4-0s made.

Reader Jeff Barker found this one recently at train show in Cincinnati and provided these photos. What a sharp model, nicely painted. The trucks are clearly the familiar Schorr arch bar trucks. As I noted in the earlier article, it must be one of the rarest of items ever commercially produced in American OO.

To the other models mentioned by Ed Schorr, those would have been just as nice but were not to be. This little 0-4-0 however, for sure one to keep your eyes peeled for, hopefully the rest of the handful that was produced is still out there somewhere.

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Overview of American OO in the Quarterly

The October, 2015 issue of the Train Collectors Quarterly finds a new article that presents an overview of American OO.

Titled simply "American 00 Gauge," the text mostly can be found in this site somewhere, this article being one prime source. The inspiration though for writing this was realizing that these days the average train collector has not even heard of American OO and has only a vague notion that there is such a scale -- and even then perhaps thinks it is just some type of early HO (thinking it to be some variant on British OO?), not the unique scale that it is between HO and S scales.

The article covers briefly the history of the scale and gauge, and also looks briefly at activity today. I don't have illusions that the article will open some new flurry of activity, but hopefully a few TCA members will be inspired to look over their collections and ponder what they have.

Sunday, September 20, 2015

OO scale “Old Time” passenger cars from the CP (Cactus Patch!)

In a lot purchase not long ago I obtained two old time passenger cars. I did not give them a much thought initially -- my guess was they were simply kitbashed HO models on HO trucks widened out to OO.

I have a friend who collects HO and he gave me some leads as to possible manufacturers and they did not pan out. Still, the cars looked really familiar in a way. I finally realized that they both were models that there were O scale plans for in the Carstens publications Rolling Stock Plan Book — on the same two page spread! -- of which I had purchased a copy way back in high school.

Thinking there was maybe a series on how to build these 1863 PRR prototype models in RMC, I looked in the Model Railroad Magazine Index that is maintained in the Model Railroader website. There is actually an underlying publication, on page 50 of the February 1960 issue of RMC, but it is just the same scale drawings for a coach and a mail car as in the Rolling Stock Plan Book, in HO instead of O scale.

I don’t know which source was used by the builder, but these two cars were built from these plans. The coach has a little more liberty taken compared to the plans, with the substitution of scribed siding, but is made really nicely and proportioned exactly to the drawings. The trucks are HO I think, widened out to OO. And note the nice custom decals for the Cactus Patch and Western.

The mail car, when I first saw it, I though had lettering for the Central Pacific. But actually it is clear in this case that it is actually for Cactus Patch, the builder maybe counting on a bit of double meaning. In the photo I show it with the scale drawing showing how it is larger in every dimension and is scaled up accurately for 1/76. Note in the photo you can see the floor is Masonite! The coach has a more detailed floor. And note too, both cars have link and pin couplers. They could be run but I think were mostly shelf models.

Then we come back to the topic of the Cactus Patch and Western. I have one more car for this line, seen in the final photo. Note how large in comparison this express reefer looks to the rather small 1860s era models. It matches with cars built by David Sacks for his Greenbrook Line, and a good guess is it is a subsidiary line of his. Note too, the decals match between the express reefer and the coach.

[If I were to build a garden railway, Cactus Patch and Western would be a great, fanciful name….]

In total these cars are quite interesting models. I still am so surprised they are not HO kits on modified trucks, instead being nicely scratchbuilt models. I won’t be running them a lot (if at all, with the link and pin couplers) but it is really interesting to see these 1860s models next to more modern cars. And I wonder how many other cars are out there for the Cactus Patch and Western?

Sunday, September 6, 2015

Update: Two cement hoppers

Back a few months ago I posted about a group of three cement hoppers I had nearly completed but had not yet painted.

These two have now been finished. As described in the other article, the car in the back was created from scrap parts of two Schorr hoppers, a brass import, left over after kitbashing projects by a prior owner. The paint really brings the project together, and at viewing distances on the layout you would be hard pressed to note it was pieced together as it was.

The car in front also came off well. It was a completion of a project someone started where they were converting a Picard wood hopper car body into a covered hopper. Noting that it has a bit more "husky" look (and is a bit larger than the finely scaled Schorr car), I chose to decorate it with an approximation of a 1960s/70s era scheme. Both cars were lettered with scrap parts of several sets of decals, don't look too close at the fine print!

The Schorr car has Schorr trucks and modern Kadee couplers. For the Picard car I took another approach, it has vintage Kadee couplers and Nason trucks. Or at least trucks made with vintage Nason sideframes and other upgraded parts. I had noted these trucks (their Vulcan type truck) look really heavy and are likely somewhat overscale. As a result they have some of the look, to my eye, of a more modern truck (in spite of actually being a type of replacement truck for Arch Bar trucks), and fit the car pretty well. I used upgrade wheelsets and new bolsters. They take some careful adjustment but roll nearly as freely as Schorr trucks, making them worth the effort to build. Painted flat black you can also imagine they are actually roller bearing trucks pretty easily; I will likely work over more of these for the modern cars I operate.

Both cars look great on the layout! In particular the Picard car matches in detail and style the scratchbuilt modern cars made from wood by Bill Johann such as this Railbox car. They took some effort but great to see the results rolling on the layout.

Sunday, August 30, 2015

Two great vintage cabooses

Caboose models often get special treatment from their builders, these two being great examples.

The car in front is an upgraded Scale-Craft model from the Niagara Valley Lines of Canadian OO gauger Jack Winsor. I have another caboose from his road as well, it being a bobber caboose that was scratchbuilt as a gift to Winsor by Fred Schorr. That model is described in this article. 

The car in back is lettered for the Yorkville & Western, which was the personal road of Fred Schorr, the OO manufacturer/importer. Schorr completely scratchbuilt this great model from wood.

As always click on the photos for a better view of these models. One major detail that does not come through in the photos is the Y&W caboose has a full interior including a stove and wall and chair details. These details even in person are almost impossible to see! There are no lights in the caboose and it has no provision to remove a roof section so far as I can tell, but you can see the great details through the end windows and through the cupola.

The one big detail that stands out on the NVL caboose is that Winsor filed off all the handrail castings and added 20 (!) wire handrails and working cut levers with the couplers. There are also marker lamps, with one missing today, and note the neat hole added to the steps as well. The trucks on the car now are my replacements, which came off a car that had been built by Pierre Bourassa, who was fond of adding the weathering details seen.

Schorr went further in his details and added chains and even a brakeman figure. This is a very nice caboose of a type that few would go to all that effort to build today. Besides the couplers and step castings the only other obvious commercial parts are the Schorr arch bar trucks and the end ladders, which are Scale-Craft.

Both cars have window glass and a paint scheme involving several colors, neatly applied by brush painting. Wonderful examples of the art of model railroading in American OO gauge.

Saturday, August 15, 2015

A streamlined shorty diner and baggage car

Up today are a couple cars that have been very slowly working though the paint shop for a couple years.

The baggage car is modified Zuhr. A postwar product (more on Zuhr here), this one a prior owner had modified somewhat but never finished. The car as manufactured had a side skirt on it in particular that had been removed (as was done on many prototype cars). I worked out basic frame details, the doors are Zuhr I believe, and the trucks are Kemtron.

The diner has more of a story. This came to me about 2/3 done from Bill Gilbert. It is a shortened Scale-Craft car but a more nicely done conversion than the one seen with it in the second photo. That on has been seen in this website previously, and was modified by Pierre Bourassa. Pierre’s car looks more freelanced with those end doors and has more of a feel of a car that has had one end chopped off.

Bill on the other hand wanted to make his model imitate the design of a heavyweight car that had been rebuilt for use with streamlined cars. With the model was a clipped out photo of an Erie-Lackawanna diner (this one). He shortened the sides more wisely, leaving one more window, and really gets much of the look of that prototype car. He also added the frame details off a HO model, a very successful conversion.

Both of the new cars are in my streamliner scheme and look great on the layout. The diner in particular exceeded expectations and looks so much better than the green diner in fact that I am tempted to re-letter it for another road and sell it! It might look better on 6 wheel trucks, and in all cases the cars operate well on my curves and are enjoyed.

UPDATE: The Pullman green diner is now on 6 wheel trucks. I had to modify the frame to do it, but worth the effort, it does look better.

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Two modern cabooses

Not long ago I posted an article on a TYCO modern caboose that is overscale for HO and suited to use in American OO.

The first photo shows the Santa Fe caboose on a train. Especially at normal viewing distances this car came out really well.

The two examples in the second photo are ones I converted to operation. In the back in the photos is one that is nearly stock. The trucks are “Morlok Method” trucks, but using a shorter wheelbase roller bearing truck I found on some train set cars and mounted so that it centers a bit further in from the ends (mounted "offset" using the original frame locations for trucks). In both cases there are no major modifications to the body or frame.

For the front model my goal was to more closely imitate a modern Santa Fe caboose, and one key item for the “look” was blanking some windows out. Which I had never done before but it was not that hard. I patched behind the opening with styrene sheet and fit pieces into the openings to be nearly level. After that had set I used green Squadron putty and sanded it down. With the decals there too the old opening is nearly invisible.

On the Orient car you might notice it only has one set of end handrails and both cars still lack smokestacks. I will fix the smokestack issue soon. The cars I purchased to do these conversions were junkers and I ended up with only three usable end handrails. I also converted one more car, lettered for the fictional Chattanooga choo-choo. That one I will get out whenever little kids are by to see trains run. Relatively quick projects making a car never actually produced in American OO.

UPDATE: This model was later sold by IHC in a paint scheme similar to the one I applied for the ATSF. I think mine looks more authentic though, the blanked out windows do help the look.

Sunday, August 9, 2015

Converting TYCO 62’ hi-cube boxcars to OO

Not long ago (here) I featured a couple of modern cars converted from large TYCO reefers, conversions done by Bill Johann. In that article I mentioned another TYCO car that had caught my eye for conversion, their 62’ hi-cube boxcars.

These models are described further here in the TYCO brown box resource website, where they may be seen as they looked before conversion. This specific model was only produced from 1972-76, although there have been reissues later using the same moldings. The original TYCO models only came in two road names, decorated in reasonably prototypical schemes.

What is great for our purposes is that this model scales out at about 54 feet long in OO and they can be made into models that would be similar to the 53’ double plug door boxcars of the early 1970s.

I had for several years two of the UP models and one of the SOO models sitting on the shelf. As much as anything, besides them scaling out well, I also had trucks I could use on the cars (two pair being the Bill Johann roller bearing conversion trucks) and I felt sure they should be a quick and fairly easy conversion, especially using the modified stamped brass scale-craft ends to speed the build.

Of course, like most every other project I do it seems, they took 2-3 times longer than I thought they would. Photo three shows the models in progress; the bodies were split down the middle, new roof and ends worked out, frame widened. They came out well but certainly they are examples of “good enough” models rather than being accurate scale models of say an Evans double plug door boxcar.

I used the Johann conversions as a model overall of what I would do, and I imitated him in terms of the roof question in particular. They are simplified compared to the prototypes, but hopefully believable.

One change that I don’t think is obvious is I used light gray paint on the UP cars rather than the silver of the original model. The flash of my photo made it look almost white; on the layout though I think the color change works fine. A final painting note being I will hit the SOO car with some Dullcote soon and eventually would like to try some weathering.

Having finished the cars I am not planning to do more of these conversions. They look good enough, I am pleased, but I do have enough modern cars of this general type for what modern operations I do. But -- there is one more, similar car nearly done, based on an Athearn car, more on that when it is finished in likely a few months.