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

Saturday, March 31, 2018

Passenger Cars from the West Coast Lines by James Trout

A group of cars I look at periodically are ones received a couple years ago that were built by James Trout. Trout was not only an American OO scale enthusiast but also a Disney illustrator and art school grad (more details in this article). He knew how to build.

In working on organization these few weeks I had these out again and felt it time to do some work on them, fixing some minor problems. There are a total of nine passenger cars decorated for his road, the West Coast Southern. This is the road name seen on his freight cars, but he opted for the West Coast Lines name on the cars below, I think imitating Southern Pacific Lines passenger cars in this regard. I have had the first six of the cars below running on the layout, they make for a nice pair of short mail trains or a longer mail train. Basically he had at least the cars to make a real nice mail train and also something a bit higher level if you add some Pullmans.

At the head of any mail train would be a working RPO, of which two made it to me. Graceline and Nason both produced RPOs, but these are not those, these two cars are scratchbuilt. They have a lot of nice details, the commercial ones on both cars mainly from Nason. Both cars are on Nason trucks. I believe Trout formed the roof of both cars himself from wood, and the longer car, 998, has a real nice effect of a tarpaper roof. The sides of both cars are made from a cardboard material, with the shorter car, 987, showing a little damage (and it is likely an earlier effort on his part). The only rivet details visible are on the ends of the longer car, which are J-C. Lettering as on all these cars is a mixture of decals and hand lettering, with West Coast Lines lettered by hand.

Next up are baggage cars, both of which ride on Nason trucks. 842 is built up from a J-C kit, and on a level that a mere mortal could duplicate. The brake cylinder is Nason and there is another casting that is probably a HO part. Otherwise, the car is pretty much as supplied by J-C except for the roof. This again is an arch roof with the tarpaper effect. What he did was I think use a bandage material and add strips of it. I think in this case done after the initial construction of the car. The new roof totally changes the visual impact of the car. 833 on the other hand is completely scratchbuilt and note those doors that open! Beyond the sides, however, construction details are otherwise generally similar between the two cars. Notable also, these cars have Kadee couplers. It looks like he went back and added these in perhaps the 1970s or 80s to some of these cars.

Passengers need to ride too, and for those we have these two venerable kits. The Scale-Craft coach 4410 is pretty much stock really, but with a few added details and a full interior. This car, actually, it would not be too hard to duplicate the level of the added details, so it is an encouraging model to see, and it would also be the easiest to lightly restore to get it closer to the original look.. The J-C combine 2760 would be a little harder to duplicate, but shows essentially the same added details, with some side damage due to age.

Not pictured, there is also another coach, built from a J-C kit. It is not in good shape, the sides have warped significantly. Which is a shame, as it also has a full interior, etc. I will have to think long and hard on this model, one option being rebuilding with new sides, to bring it up to past glory, but for now I will just keep pondering it.

Two final cars, not as suited to my layout due to length, are these two. 1359 is a parlor lounge car and 1251 is a diner. These I think you would have to call scratchbuilt, they have wood sides and full interiors, with a similar overall detail level to the other cars with some commercial parts visible. The trucks are “opened up” S-C 6 wheel trucks, with the excess material removed for better detail. The sides are a little loose from the bodies but in no danger of falling off.

And then I will need at some point do an article on the four heavyweight Pullmans that match the above cars. Suffice to say three of the four are scratchbuilt in a manner similar to the ones above (and to different prototypes), and they all have full interior details.

The modeling skills of James Trout were really high, at least in part it is a result of his working and living in an age before the Internet when analog skills were more valued. In any case, my plan this summer is to go back and rework the details on several of my best passenger cars to approach the level he obtained, and also be watching for an article or articles on his outstanding streamlined passenger cars.

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