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

Saturday, February 1, 2020

A string of vintage 50’ double door boxcars

One thing I can respect from the OOldtimers is that they could take a project and go! One example is this string of 50’ double door boxcars.

I don’t know who built them, but back in the 1990s (!) I purchased five of these in a lot. For years and years I’ve had them out displayed together on a shelf, as they reminded me of the strings of these I saw on yard tracks in my ATSF home town (a division point) in roughly the late 1970s, by then either retired or in storage.

I’m guessing the builder got inspired by the actual cars and also the decal sets (I think Champ HO/OO sets), as they are lettered in five different schemes – the prototype cars had a map on one side and on the other had advertising for one of the ATSF passenger trains. They are nicely built up, and the builder went to some effort to seal the body and decals really well. The sealer he used (varnish) has yellowed a bit, altering the color of the decals.

To the cars themselves, I think they are modified Picard bodies with Selley frame casting parts, ends, and doors (more on Selley here, and more on Picard here). Picard sides are flat, but the builder has cut lines to represent the panels of metal in the prototype cars.

The doors are worth some extra commentary. They are, compared to the prototype, too small. On the other hand, they are what I would think of as Nason doors like you see on the Nason 40’ double door boxcar (more here). Of course Nason was I believe actually buying doors from Selley. They have a nice vintage look anyway.

As I said, I’ve had these cars for years and years, but actually I’ve never operated them ever. Partially they looked nice up on the shelf. Also though, they are big models and to run all five I’d really need a bigger layout, the decals were yellowed, etc.

Then in some other recent purchase what became this final MKT car was obtained. This is a Hawk body (more on Hawk here), built up simply, but also with those same Nason/Selley doors. It was painted but in sad shape, so I worked it over a bit and repainted it. The very flat surface of the sides was ideal for the Tichy decals, completing this vintage piece.

This last MKT car is very operational, and it did finally inspire me to pull down the ATSF cars and roll a couple of them on the layout. It’s still a pretty neat set of five, and I’m now starting to do a second Hawk car for the MKT, but this time with bigger (prototypical sized!) doors, which should look nice.