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.