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

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Two TYCO conversion reefers

As the weather turns to summer I seem every year to turn to some of the more modern cars in my operating collection.

From that roster are seen here a Popsicle car and a Campbell’s soup car. These were converted to OO operation by Bill Johann. He dated the cars as to his work; the Campbell’s car was converted in 1989 and the Popsicle car in 1986 with tweaks in ‘87 and ‘91. They are based on a TYCO HO model introduced in 1973-74, their 62' double-plug door Express Reefer. This was available decorated for a variety of models (more here). Most if not all were not prototypical schemes, but still they are attractive if fanciful cars.

What Johann did was cut the sides off the bodies and build from styrene a new roof and ends, using a widened version of the original frame as well. On the Popsicle car he matched the side color really closely and on the Campbell’s car it is a contrasting color. He also added some lettering to both cars, on the doors and ends. The Campbell’s car is lettered for the Union Valley and the Popsicle car lettered for the Pacific Inland Route, with new reporting marks and car numbers.

The car is a little short visually (in height) but scales out at about 54 feet long in OO and it has plenty of “heft” to pass as OO scale.

The trucks are worth a special mention, they are his custom roller bearing trucks, described further in this article. One of the cars had what I take to be an early version of this conversion which did not track well; those were replaced with a later version salvaged from a broken tank car conversion.

I won’t be converting more of these but I do want to do some conversions of the very similar TYCO 62’ hi-cube cars (more here), of which I have three examples ready to go! Maybe this summer I will add them to the operating fleet as well, rebuilding them in the same general manner as these vintage Johann conversions. They are a bit taller and have prototypical schemes -- plus the sides in OO are very similar to the size of the sides of a typical 53' double plug door boxcar -- they will be cars that are run.