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

Thursday, November 28, 2019

Lionel OO PRR boxcars with Tichy and other decals

As mentioned in prior posts, Tichy decals can be purchased in OO scale versions. One set that caught my eye was this one, for a PRR boxcar in the same scheme that Lionel used on their models.

First let me state that no desirable, collectible model was altered to create any of the repainted boxcars seen in this article. All had been previously repainted, and they were beat up as well, great candidates for rebuilding. Also I would freely admit I’m not a Lionel collector, but I do appreciate Lionel OO and it is certainly very collectible. But with that said, I’m a model railroader at heart, my rebuilt cars are intended for layout operation.

I also don’t own any Lionel OO with really great paint and decals, as Illustrated by the 0044 boxcar seen here. The comparison of the actual models is quite interesting to me, as the Tichy decals are scaled correctly and the Lionel ones have a couple intentional compromises. The big one is the body molding of the car has a space with no rivets where the Lionel Lines decal was as the model was originally produced. As a PRR car, the PENNSYLVANIA lettering should be slightly longer and lower on the body, but Lionel (wisely) opted to size and place that lettering to fit in the area with no rivets.

The cars in the back row in the second photo have Microscale HO decals and the one in the front on the right has vintage Champ HO decals. these are other accurate PRR schemes, and the car does look nice in all of them.

Readers might be interested to know, as an aside, that I did not even own one Lionel car for many years. I did not come to OO from an interest in prewar Lionel models, but rather from a model railroad history angle. So for me initially the $$ was too high to buy Lionel, and the standard lettering schemes were not of special interest. With the passing of years, I have obtained a few of these classic models that I enjoy working with (many of them are seen in the series that starts here). However, I hardly ever operate any Lionel OO models with the stock paint and decals, they just don’t fit with my layout theme, and boxcars lettered with 0044 as the car number especially don’t seem realistic enough. So these repaints are the ones I run, they all look good, and I must say I really like how the Tichy decals came out.

Saturday, November 23, 2019

More cars with Tichy OO decals

Back in 2017 (more here) I first purchased Tichy OO decals, which they will make on special order, scaled up from their HO decals. I purchased more this past summer, and finally have a few cars done to show them better.

First up is I think a particularly interesting comparison, a Scale-Craft stock car decorated for the Missouri Pacific with the Tichy decals, and an S-C car with the original pre-war decals for the same road. The S-C ones are a bit heavier looking, and of course they have yellowed with age. The Tichy set matches a prototype photo I found online, and I used that and their decal drawing as a guide. Each side of the car took 18 separate decals, but they went on easily on the gloss paint and flat surfaces of this model.

The other four cars I’d like to feature today are these, three MP hopper cars and a Rock Island boxcar. Although the MP hopper decals are for a different style of car, they worked well when laid out to match examples I found online. The Rock Island car was slightly more of a challenge and I’ll explain why. The issue is that Scale-Craft cars have relatively tall rivet details, and the paint used to print the decals does not really stretch and in large sections wants to begin to roll up. The Rock Island Logo as applied almost goes over the lines of rivets, and the printed logo won’t snuggle down over them. (Conventional decals the printed letters and images will stretch).

Which is all to say some of these sets will work great on SC cars and some won’t. I purchased two Frisco Fast Freight sets that I’ll need to use on a different style of car due to the large printed areas -- which is fine, I already found cars with wood sides that will do well.

Two other random footnotes. I don't normally use S-C couplers, but I opted to use them on the hoppers. At first the cars did not track well due to the couplers being overly tight. I then ran across a coupler that had been filed down a bit and it was an learning moment, I hit the worst offending S-C couplers with a file -- so that they would couple easily -- and they are working fine now. The other footnote is out of a longstanding habit I basically never oil trucks. But several recent projects, they were poor rollers in spite of my best efforts, and I finally gave oil a try. It works! I used French horn rotary valve oil, should use something thin for sure, really helps an otherwise correctly adjusted S-C truck.

Saturday, November 2, 2019

A look at The Model Railroader Cyclopedia

A classic publication that was hugely influential back in the day was The Model Railroader Cyclopedia. The classic version of this was published in one volume and was a very important, standard resource in those pre-internet days.

My copy is the 1944 version (copyrighted 1943), the fifth edition. Using that copyright page as my source, the previous editions were published in 1936, 1937, 1938, and 1940. Judging from searches I believe the version I have might be the most common, which makes some sense as by that year of WWII model railroad supplies were really short, but you could buy a book like this one and dream about what models you might build after the war.

The book contains several short and helpful articles, and pages and pages of scale drawings, many folding out from the book. Many of these if not most were published previously in Model Railroader, but I don’t think they all were.

It is a fascinating book to just look at periodically, you can tell that many of the models featured were actually produced for the hobby market. Then you have the question, which came first, the models or the drawings? I’m inclined to think the drawings, although who knows, maybe there was some coordination with manufacturers involved, and the drawings were produced for the manufacturers and then published.

In any case, the resource has come up in this site several times for models that were built from the plans in this book:

Drover’s caboose

The Scale-Craft 4-6-2

The Scale-Craft 4-6-4T

A scratchbuilt gondola

The Graceline quad hopper

The Gracelilne utility flat car

The Cyclopedia is pretty available (eBay, etc.), if you don’t have one I think this is one that anyone interested in older scale model trains really should pick up as a reference.