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Author Topic: updating old kits
raybaumill-
er

Posts: 399
Post updating old kits
on: October 26, 2013,
Quote

Hi,
In issue #68 in the updating old kits article some brands are mentioned. I would like to see an elaboration on the kits or cars that are scale or near scale. O scale stuff is almost as expensive as G scale stuff. I will not be buying anything new unless it is on sale.
So I will be looking for stuff on the flea market tables that can be fixed up. But I need to know which brands are scale or near scale. Someone told me that Lionel and Atlas Industrial Rail stuff is small for O scale. So what about Bachmann?
Would like to see a list of brands that are scale or near scale and how to identify them if one sees them on a table somewhere.
Thanks RAy.

Ed Bommer

Posts: 429
Post Re: updating old kits
on: October 26, 2013,
Quote

Ray,
The cars features in that article were all full 1/4" to he foot scale. The only exception was the All Nation Jersey Central express box car. The reason for that error originally made by General Models in the 1940s is described as well. While an error, their cars are still acceptable in the O scale community.

The Walthers, Westbrook, Train Craft and other period kit built cars were very close to prototype scale in size, although rather generic in detailing. It all depends on how much additional detailing or changes one is willing to add or make with any of these kits or to previously built cars found at train meets.

While most older Lionel products up to the 1980s were more or less under-sized, Lionel did and still does produce a number of full scale cars. (Actually, Lionel produced some full-scale freight cars in the late 1930s along with a full scale sized N Y Central Hudson locomotive. All are now rare, high cost collector's items). Some of these newer scale Lionel cars include a PRR H-30 style covered hopper, a steel PFE reefer, a wood bodied express reefer milk car, a Pullman designed PS-5 flat car and a few others as well.

The Atlas Industrial Rail products originated from the toy train field. But its best to check them with a scale ruler and some idea of what the prototype dimensions should be. Never know what might work!

With Bachmann, some of their items are re-issues of previously made models. Their new "Peter Witt" streetcar is full scale but has a modernized front end used by only a few traction companies. As for the On-30 narrow gauge equipment, some is scale and some may be fanciful. You need good eye and know what you want and like. It differs to a degree from the more usual On-3 1/4" to the foot scale in some but not all respects.

So far as I know there is no table of cross reference. The O scale field is very scattered with producers that made things for a while, then they disappear (producers or the items). Others take over and change previously made products (Atlas comes to mind, in its Trainman line of freight cars once done by Atlas/Roco in the 1970s. Also the former Intermountain and Red Caboose cars Atlas now makes). And let us not forget Weaver, which got its start making wood and metal craftsman type kits for freight cars, most of them being prototype-specific. Their ready to run cars are also full scale. But to make such a list would be only t o provide a brief 'snap shot' as to what is or could be available at that point in time.

Just how much are you interested in building freight cars from kits?
Names to look for include Scale Craft, Train Craft, Rail Craft, Lobaugh, Walthers, General Models, Athearn, All
Nation, Zimmer, Thomas, Westbrook, Bob Peare, North Jersey Car Co., Main Line Models, Weaver Quality Craft, Henry T, Sun Coast, Chooch (older and newer), Berkshire Valley, Atlas (1970s).

Then, Menzies/Pacific HO (they took over making the Athearn O scale kits, Locomotive Workshop (ditto), Old Pullman (ditto again) and Box Car Jim (last ditto on the former Athearn line), Intermountain, Red Caboose and Mullet River.

These are names dating from the late 1930s up to the current day. Most have come and gone over those decades. Yet examples of their product are still available FOB (Fresh Out of Box) as originally made. They await a pair of willing hands with a few tools to bring them to life. So too with previously kit built cars looking for a heavy dose of TLC to bring them closer to their potential as good or to become even better models.

For ready to run stuff out there be it new or used, a good eye and a scale rule will help identify pieces that are closest to scale and accuracy.

Explore the possibilities!

Ed Bommer

GP-9

Posts: 253
Post Re: updating old kits
on: October 27, 2013,
Quote

Ed, you left this name off your list Ambroid.
Now I don't know when this merger/buy out happened, but I was just looking at my Ambroid kit that I have and on the instruction sheet it says Should you find any part missing or broken write to Quality Craft Models.

Ah! Those were the days when all you had were kits, and you built it your way, you could modify it, build it as it was intended, or use it in a kit bash project.
And when you finished building it it was yours one of a kind.

Bill

Charlie

Posts: 249
Post Re: updating old kits
on: October 27, 2013,
Quote

Adding to Ed's extensive list of O scale kit brand names are San Juan Car, Gilmaur, Southern Car & Foundry, and Rails Unlimited.

Charlie

Jay-
Criswell

Posts: 105
Post Re: updating old kits
on: October 27, 2013,
Quote

Bill,

Even way back when Ambroid offered kits I'm pretty sure Northeastern actually made the kits for them. I'm not positive but I believe it was the case for Quality Craft also.

Jay

Ed Bommer

Posts: 429
Post Re: updating old kits
on: October 27, 2013,
Quote

Ouch! I did indeed overlook Ambroid for some reason, San Juan and others too.
I should have added a caveat for myself with 'and others as well.'

A while ago I won an Ambroid kit on eBay for a 50' O scale horizontal rib Milwaukee Road box car.
When it arrived, it had enough wood parts in to almost make TWO of those cars. No decals, but a set of instructions were included. However, the cast metal parts in the box were for a Sun Coast ATSF panel side box car. Not a good fit for a Milwaukee Road car.

Took a while, but I found someone who had an untouched Ambroid kit for the same 50' Milw Road car.
I borrowed the two car end castings and made a mold for casting two more pairs of ends in resin.
Milwakuee Road box car ends are different in that the "A" end almost always has a lumber door in it.
NE wood had matching stock for the missing wood parts to fill out a second car kit.

I returned the borrowed ends and now have two complete 50' Milw. Road kits to build someday.
Yet those cast resin kits Ted Schnepf has (and I forgot his kits too!) sure look mighty fine!
His excellent Milwaukee Road decal sets will grace those two Ambroid cars some day, when I'm finishing them.

As for those Sun Coast ATSF Bx-3 end and door castings, cloning parts to make another O scale Sun Coast SM-2 kit for a ATSF Bx-3 would not be much trouble. I have a finished Bx-3 on hand that I rebuilt from a $10 'junker.' Also, a fair stash of NE milled wood shapes, scribed siding, roof stock, etc. to work from, gathered over many years in this hobby. I even located an untouched Champ ATSF box car set that would work just fine on it.

Add trucks and couplers (already on hand) for those cars and it's a done deal. So that one purchase ultimately yielded THREE car kits. It's just a step or two below scratch-building to make replacements for an old kit with missing parts so it can be finished.

Even if the original decal set is missing in an old kit, with a bit of hunting one can usually find a suitable replacement or maybe even an original set! The internet sure makes finding things a lot easier than it was in the BC (Before Computers) era.

Ed Bommer

GP-9

Posts: 253
Post Re: updating old kits
on: October 29, 2013,
Quote

Ed, Your story about the 50' Milw Box car ATSF Bx-3 car reminded me of a fellow O Scaler who did just what you did.
This guy could have opened up his own kit building shop. He would get one kit of the car, and with all the parts and pieces he had stashed away that one kit would become 4 or 5 cars. And this was back in the day when you get the parts you needed from Walthers, and the decals you needed were just an order away.

Bill

raybaumill-
er

Posts: 399
Post Re: updating old kits
on: November 1, 2013,
Quote

Hi,
Okay u exploded the list of kit brands. How about doing the same with the rtr stuff. Current or times past. While I am not trying to build anything from scratch I am willing to fix things up and bash damaged or junk stuff. I bought a walker models On30 frame which I was thrilled with. I would like to make a jig to make more of them out of wood or styrene. There are several cars in OST that I would like to build but would like to get a head start on it by having something to start with. Also what am I using the ruler for??? Length and width? My eye tells me that Atlas quad hoppers dont look right. Their covered hoppers look okay. So is my eye on or off?? Ray.

GP-9

Posts: 253
Post Re: updating old kits
on: November 1, 2013,
Quote

ATLAS and AHM both had RTR stuff back in the 70s, and ATLAS still is producing items along with Weaver/Quality Craft, MTH and Lionel make scale stuff too. You might have to swap out trucks and couplers from 3-Rail to 2-Rail.

Ray, Now what doesn't look right with the ATLAS quad hopper, length, height, width, the fact that it has Hi-Rail trucks and couplers, which may throw it off eye wise, but if you put on scale trucks and couplers everything might look right to your eye. AKA Optical Illusion!

And as far as I know the RTR stuff that is out there now is scale.

Bill

bob turner

Posts: 114
Post Re: updating old kits
on: November 3, 2013,
Quote

I laid in a bunch of K-Line die cast hoppers. All I needed to do was machine bolsters and add scale trucks. Some nice guy in New York - a friend of Skip Briggs - gave me some repro Lionel 716 bolsters, and they were perfect.

Apparently Lionel is still making the die cast bodies for the 715 tank. Very pricey, but as good as you get without spending hundreds for brass.

bob turner

Posts: 114
Post Re: updating old kits
on: November 3, 2013,
Quote

Delete

Nortonvill-
e Phil

Posts: 7
Post Re: updating old kits
on: November 4, 2013,
Quote

Bob, You wrote:

Apparently Lionel is still making the die cast bodies for the 715 tank. Very pricey, but as good as you get without spending hundreds for brass.

I am curious to know what you mean by the statement that Lionel still makes the die cast tank bodies. Are they still offering the whole car for sale or just the tank? The pictures I have seen of the originals look like something I would like to own.

Phil

bob turner

Posts: 114
Post Re: updating old kits
on: November 6, 2013,
Quote

Try here first. I will keep my eyes peeled.
http://ogrforum.ogaugerr.com/topic/o-scale-freight-car-guide-tank-cars

Then on eBay check Lionel Die Cast tank cars. They are hideously expensive.
Make your own from wood dowels, like I do.

Image

raybaumill-
er

Posts: 399
Post Re: updating old kits
on: November 11, 2013,
Quote

Hi,
The quad hopper looks too long. Even a 40 foot box car looks too long. Might be an HO hangover. What about POLA models? Also for rtr or built kits or partially built kits without markings any tips on iding them?
Thanks RAy

Ed Bommer

Posts: 429
Post Re: updating old kits
on: November 11, 2013,
Quote

Ray,
What could be helpful is if you could locate a book what has a number of dimensioned freight car drawings in it.

That way you could more accurately judge which cars were under or over scale. Model Railroader and Railway Model Craftsman both published various plan books with dimensioned drawings with photos of prototype cars and locomotives. These drawings were done by various draftsmen for the modeler. Detail and accuracy can vary some what but they are often quite good.

More accurate but also harder to find would be a book with prototype freight car and loco engineering drawings in it. These are very accurate but often do not show every detail. Out of print a long time but perhaps possible to find on the used book market was "Locomotive and Cars Since 1900." It was by Walter Lucas and published by Simmons-Boardman. These engineering drawings, many with photos also were taken from various Car and Locomotive Cyclopedias over the decades. They were annual books published by Simmons Boardman for the railway industry.

For prototypes, car length, width and height were measured from the INSIDE of the car. After all, what a rail road actually sells is space, time and distance. So a 40' box car actually measured 40' 6" INSIDE, but more like 42" 6" or so OUTSIDE. Also most railroad cars both freight and passenger, had a maximum out-side width of about 10' or under, as in the case of 65' mill gondolas having an inside width of 8' 9" or so. They were built narrower than 10' to be certain they could fit into close clearances at factories and industrial sidings.

Pola-Maxi/AHM cars are quite close to scale size. However their detailing is not the greatest. Their 40' gondola has a smaller number of side panels than a prototype would have, except for a 40' Missouri Pacific drop-bottom gon, which had the same number of panels as the AHM/Pola Maxi car but with a different lower side sill arrangement.

The AHM/Pola Maxi plug door insulated box car (and sliding door box car) have rather odd looking ends. The plug door car could be made into a refrigerator by modifying the roof and adding ice hatches. Also the cast-in place ladders on the sides and ends have too many rungs. They need to be trimmed off and replaced as also the grab irons. Also put on a set of more realistic corner stirrups.
Here is an AHM/Pola/Maxi plug door box car I re-did as a Santa Fe reefer:

Image

Not too bad a job I suppose, but it's not a super accurate car. Fits in well with the "3 Foot Rule"
(looks pretty good from 3' away).

Atlas and Bev Bel offered both unpainted and pre-painted and lettered plug and sliding door box car kits (actually the same early Atlas kits by both). The Atlas kits were based on a 1940s PRR sliding door box car. The plug door car and the stock car were made by simply changing the sides for the same mold. So the older Atlas cars all have the same roof, ends and under body. Quite well detailed in their 1970s appearance. They also offered a PRR design 52' gondola. With some deft razor saw work, it could also be made into a creditable flat car.

Weaver offered hopper car kits. These came out as welded rib side, riveted offset side and later, composite wood and steel side two-bay cars. The prototype car Weaver used for it was the Pullman PS-3 two bay 50 ton hopper of 1953. This was a 36' car, whereas most two bay hoppers were about 34' in length. The major road using this 'standard' Pullman welded, rib side, two bay PS-3 hopper was the Louisville & Nashville. The Weaver offset side and composite side two bay hoppers are about 1/2" too long to be truly accurate. Here again, as with the Atlas box car, the Weaver two bay hopper car mold was made so the sides could be changed, thereby making different types of cars with the same basic body. However these cars are accepted by many modelers.

The Red Caboose USRA design two bay hopper was a very accurate kit but some what tedious to build. USRA hoppers were in service from 1918 up to the 1950s.

Three and four bay prototype hoppers of the 1940s to 50s were about 40'long, held 70 tons and were about the same height as the old two bay hoppers. This made them look a bit 'squat.' They were built that way to still fit under existing, older mine tipples for loading as well as local coal dealer dump trestles. The newer hopper cars of today, holding 100 tons each, stand much taller. They are used in fully automated loading and unloading facilities. No more local coal dealers getting it by the carload now. If any local coal dealers are still around, it come to them by highway dump truck.

If a car you wish to change has a paint and lettering job on it, there are some things you can do to remove or diminish the lettering enough that it does not show under a repaint. Many modelers find 91% isopropyl alcohol works well. It can even remove most paint and does not seem to harm most plastics used in modeling. You can find it at Walgreen, CVS pharmacies or similar stores. But it MUST be the 91% type!

Onward!
Ed B

brucecloue-
tte

Posts: 1
Post Re: updating old kits
on: December 30, 2013,
Quote

Rebuilding old kits is one of the best parts of model trains, IMHO. I find that you can pick up old kit-built boxcars, reefers, stock cars, etc. for next to nothing, and recently 3 people have just given me old stuff to make more room.

It is true that old Westbrook, Walthers, etc. are very close to scale. They were obviously closely scaled off some prototype. Now, whether that works for YOUR prototype is another questions. There is always so much variety even in "standard" AAR types.

I try to pick up Intermountain sprues whenever I see them. You can then add some nice detail to these old cars, which often had somewhat coarse detailing. Cars with the paper sides that imitate wood are also problematical because usually they are stained and ripped.

I usually rebuild these cars by adding Intermountain grab irons, etc., maybe Grandt Line door hardware, and using styrene car siding (for wood cars). The nice thing is, you can just use your table saw to cut these wood-cored kits down if the length isn't right. Currently, I am making two short-line 36" double-sheathed boxcars from 40' kits, one Walthers and one Westbrook. They are going to be way closer to my prototypes than anything commercially available.

One potential problem with wood-cored older kits: the wood moves with changes in air moisture, so best to use a somewhat flexible adhesive when adding styrene.

BRUCE CLOUETTE

raybaumill-
er

Posts: 399
Post Re: updating old kits
on: February 9, 2014,
Quote

Hi,
Okay while I didnt want to build a car from scratch there is a mopac caboose made from a box car in a recent RMC. I just have to have one. I have been looking at an O scale styrene project in the Jan 88 model railroading. It is all wood. Only thing is it has truss rods. I dont want to mess with them. Anyone can point me to a mag issue that shows how to update truss rod underframes or how to make a fish belly underframe I would appreciate it. Also I will need to extend the frame to include the caboose ends. So any help would be welcome.
RAy.

Martin
Administrator
Posts: 865
Post Re: updating old kits
on: February 9, 2014,
Quote

Which issue of RMC? I have almost zero issues of MR in my library so I can help with that.

Come on......truss rods are fun, funner, funnest!

Want a balloon?

raybaumill-
er

Posts: 399
Post Re: updating old kits
on: February 15, 2014,
Quote

Hi,
October 2012. Editors Notebook. I saw a westerfield all wood box car sans trussrods. Gotta be an O scale project with fishbelly frame somewhere.
Thanks RAy.

raybaumill-
er

Posts: 399
Post Re: updating old kits
on: February 18, 2014,
Quote

Ed B.
Okay the Pola Max car u updated looks pretty good to me. When I bought the Pola Max cars I didnt even notice the clunky ladders etc. While I agree it could be made better and I will one day my first requirement is that they run well. While switching or running I wont be admiring the stirrups or brake wheels. U said the ends dont look right. Mine look like 4/5 dreadnaught ends. What is wrong with the ends?? Whether steubenville this or youngstown that, I am a neophyte. So much to learn. I am working with Jan 88 and Jun 92 model railroading. The Pola Max cars are too nice to cut up. So the mopac boxcar caboose will have to be scratch built. RAy.

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