Freight Cars

My Inexplicable 44-Year Fascination with One Particular Freight Car


Harold put his O scale layout on the tour for an NMRA division meet a few years ago, so of course I went. I didn’t know him very well, but I was familiar with his work. If you’ve ever picked up an issue of Model Railroader, you’ve seen it, too. He’s written how-to articles, and profiles of prototype short lines, but he’s best known for his drawings. He’s had hundreds of them published over the years. He’s been a fixture in the local NMRA scene for a very long time. (more…)

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…)