Freight Cars

Mennonite boxcars are a thing. Who knew?

I picked this one up at a show last spring, new in the box and unassembled, for $6. After I finished building it, I did a little Googling around and discovered the surprisingly complex history of Mennonite Central Committee boxcar models. I wonder if I could persuade Quakers into doing something like this.

It Followed Me Home

This bobber caboose—I think it’s Tyco, but I’m not sure—was in a train-show vendor’s dollar box, for good reason. It had apparently taken a hard drop to the floor, and suffered damage to the steps, undercarriage, and roof overhang. One chunk of step was completely broken off, and dangling by the end rail. A coupler was busted, too. For a few bucks more, I could’ve had a similar caboose in mint condition, but I went with this one.

It got a new Kadee, naturally. A Number 27 was a perfect fit. I’ve been addressing body and chassis damage with bits of styrene, and some Squadron green putty here and there. I’ve got a little more sanding and shaping to do before it’s ready to paint, but the hard work is done now.

It ought to look cute with the Dockside, don’t you think?

The Joy of Cheap, Gaudy Boxcars

I overpaid for this ’80s-vintage Model Power boxcar at the train show in Cicero last December. I mean, look at it: crude, heavy molded-in detail, exposed assembly tabs, graphics printed directly on raw plastic. I paid $5. It’s not worth a nickel over $3. But still, that color! Oh, the color! Glorious, gaudy traffic-cone-orange plastic! It practically glows in the dark. Just what I need for the Windlenook project.

So I handed over the whole $5, took it home, pried off the shell and the horn-hooks, and proceeded to spend way too much time installing Kadee couplers. I had to do a surprising amount of surgery to both the underframe and the shell to get everything to fit properly, but it’s back together now. It’s prone to wobbling, however, and I’ll probably spend way too much time fixing that.

But the color!

Attempting to Relax With Kit Assembly, and Succeeding

Remember me saying how kit assembly brings out the perfectionist in me? How my anxieties bubble to the surface whenever I put tools to plastic? Well, I still haven’t finished that Erie Station kit yet (let alone the Bickles project), but I have discovered model kits that bring me joy, relaxation, fulfillment, and just enough challenge. You’d never guess what.

Vintage HO scale boxcar kits! Really! (more…)

I Purchased Some HO Scale Freight Cars. Please Stop Freaking Out.

These days, I’m known amongst most of my fellow hobbyists as an N scale guy, although there are a few who still remember my S scale past. I’m not one of those people who switch scales every couple of years. I have never, ever dabbled in HO scale, even though it’s the most popular scale. So when I picked up some used HO scale boxcars at the spring shows, my friends naturally started freaking out.

“You’re not getting out of N, are you?” they asked, perhaps anxious that I’d no longer be able to help them with their Micro-Trains coupler problems. (more…)

So You Want To Be A Freight-Car Maven

SDRX_750

The big night is here: you’ve invited esteemed members of the local model-train community to operate your new Basement Empire for the very first time. You’ve printed out waybills and switch lists, set out snacks and beverages, even swept most of the junk off your workbench. As the guests filter in, you show them around the engine terminal, gesture towards the bare plywood where great mountains will arise, and hand out the throttles.

“So, what era are you modelling?” asks one of them.

“My railroad is set in the mid-Fifties,” you state proudly, as you survey the mixture of steam power and first-generation diesels in your yard.

“But the ICC banned billboard reefers in 1937,” he says, pointing to your wood-sided beer car. “This car doesn’t belong here.” (more…)