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

Saturday, March 24, 2018

Four Cars from the Saddleback Mountain

A number of modelers in American OO had their own freelanced railroad names. Ed Morlok put together a rather extensive list of these roads in two parts, the main article being found in The OO Road for March, 2007, and the follow up part 2 in the September, 2007 issue. But then cars turn up from other roads such as these below, and the name of the builder may be lost to history. (See UPDATE)

Going in order by car number, first up is this nice caboose, Saddleback Mountain number 127. This is as nicely built a Scale-Craft caboose as you are likely to find. The builder added hand rails and brake details, installed Kadee couplers, and look at the paint and lettering. The car is neatly airbrushed and the lettering is done with something not seen a lot today, dry transfers. The mountain logo is hand painted; every logo seen on these cars is just a little different. This and two more of the cars were recent eBay finds.

Next up we have Saddleback Mountain 230, a Scale-Craft boxcar lettered for express merchandise service. This was the original one that I had and it was in rough shape, coming to me with some cars by David Sacks. I thought it might be a line of his but looking now, it is clearly a different builder. I did some initial restoration on this car and Jack Bartman did some more, and a sincere thanks to him to get this back again. I’m wondering if it should have silver trucks like the caboose, and I may change them out. The lettering is a mixture of decals for the data (weight, etc.), dry transfer lettering, and the hand drawn logo.

The third model is a really interesting one, this 65’ mill gondola with a pipe load. Saddleback Mountain 458 was built from an Eric Stevens article that was part of the “dollar model” series published in Model Railroader, subsequently reprinted in their book Easy-to-build Model Railroad Cars. Looking at the car, the builder followed the article closely and used wood mainly with a Strathmore overlay on the sides. It is very neatly built with a nice load, and it is a shame that it has some damage that will be quite difficult to repair. The lettering is worth special note. Besides the dry transfers and the decal data, over on the far right the data you see there is actually hand lettered nicely. Not visible is the brake wheel, it is gone, but the chain for the brakes remains.

Finally we have a late Scale-Craft reefer, SMRD 605. Like the caboose, this is as nice an example as you are likely to see of this model. It was painted very neatly with an airbrush, and the lettering is mostly decals except for the dry transfer Saddleback Mountain and the hand drawn logo. That same hand that did the logo also did a nice job with the door highlights, and as with the mill gondola this car is on Schoor trucks.

If anyone can point me to who the builder was, do let me know! I will be having more articles on models from vintage OO layouts in the coming months.

UPDATE: I found a photo of the mill gon in some materials from Bill Johann, the builder was Carl Husen. He is listed in OO SIG directories as living in a neighboring town to Johann, and was likely not an OOldtimer but rather a friend of Johann.

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