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

Saturday, May 30, 2015

Three from the Winther brothers, with thanks

Those following this site know I have been working for some years on a long series of articles on the history of American OO gauge. One of the pioneers of American OO was Howard Winther, and fate and Google brought his sons to American OO Today, where they were surprised to see their father beginning to be profiled in that series. Further I was surprised and pleased to learn that they were both TCA members and had nearly all of the models their father had built, stored in beautiful condition, which they subsequently provided great photos of. This is all outlined further in this article, which relates to the article I was able to write for the TCA Quarterly based on text developed here.

Another great thing is that subsequently the brothers donated the Winther models to the TCA, where with all the documentation provided I believe they will be appreciated for the historic and significant models that they are. Hopefully some can be on display in their museum with the companion photos from early issues of Model Railroader and The Modelmaker -- that would be a compelling display.

The TCA however did not want quite everything, there were just a few incomplete, kit built cars that they did not take and the Winther brother sent to me, with thanks. Two were run of the mill, unpainted S-C passenger cars (seen actually in this article, I used the nice Winther photos to upgrade that one), and then we have these three.

The first two are J-C models kits. The coach is pretty much stock, but on it and the business car (or superintendents car, a shortened Pullman) Winther did something I have not seen before and I will do on some future model. What he did was remove part of the floor stock at the ends so that the steps can be mounted higher up, in a prototypical position; the steps being Selley castings rather than the wood parts supplied with the kits. Neither has interior detail and neither looks to have ever been completed. All three cars had window “glass” but the windows in the coach warped at some time in the past. The silver details on the coach were all neatly painted by hand. As always click on the photos for a better view.

To note it as well, the office car may be seen here in a prior article, but the coach and the baggage car are new cars to the website.

Saving the best model for the last, we have this baggage car. It is wood and appears to me to be scratchbuilt and is a nearly completed car. Notably, the roof stock is not commercial and is built up from two stacked pieces of floor stock. The sides were scribed by hand and are a little uneven. It has one (only) of his hand made couplers on it and I am pleased to confirm that they mate perfectly and easily with modern Kadee HO couplers. The detail level is very nice really. Why he left it so close to done but not actually completed is a mystery. This car does have a somewhat heavy paint job, so that combined with the uneven scribing may have pushed it down the list for him -- it may be as simple as it was not quite up to his standards.

In any case, I do plan to at least put some good S-C trucks on all three cars sometime soon and label them as being built by Howard Winther. As to lettering, I am going to have to ponder that long and hard. I think he may have had a prototype scheme in mind with the coach – I am open to suggestions there [see UPDATE]. But in any foreseeable near term all three will stay as they are, incomplete handiwork of a real OO pioneer that I am thankful to be able to own.

UPDATE: From Facebook the suggestion is that he may have been thinking New Haven with the coach, it has a scheme similar to that of their Osgood Bradley ("American Flyer") coaches. A bit more on these coaches may be found in this article. The car itself is not a match but the silver windows and overall color are a match.

UPDATE II: With these cars they also sent a Famoco Pullman kit. I only glanced inside at first and thought the trucks were Famoco. How wrong I was, they are actually hand made, scratchbuilt trucks by Winter!

They are nicely scaled and roll very freely. The wheels may be commercial parts, the screws certainly are, but the sideframes are not. Readers with a good eye might think they are Nason sideframes, but the openings are different as well as other details and the casting quality better than typical Nason. They seem to very fine bronze castings, or perhaps lost wax brass castings. They certainly took some real skill to make, and certainly it would be appropriate if they could be used on one of the above cars.

Setting the cars on trucks is an interesting experience, they look really different on trucks. Setting them on these trucks, I am inclined to think the "New Haven" coach is the best choice -- if for no reason other than it is a longer car. But I will certainly ponder it for a while first, four wheel trucks are more appropriate for them all. One final curiosity, that car shows no evidence of ever having had trucks mounted (the screw holes are marked) but it has that one big loop coupler.  So close to having trucks and couplers, but left as you see it in the top photo by Winther.

1 comment:

Woody Elmore said...

I enjoy your articles very much. Modelling in OO is like being sysiphus rolling a stone up a hill.

Another website - for Bachmann trains, has a strand about the MDC shay. apparently the boiler is close to 1:72. I'm not sure how easy it would be to regauge one.

This is just FYI. Keep up the good work. Woody Elmore (