Saturday, November 16, 2013

Placards for house cars — modeling

I posted some images of house car placards in my first post on this topic (you can see it at: ). In that post, I stated that I would try reducing the full-size prototype images to 1/87 of their size and printing them out, then seeing how they look on some freight cars. This post shows results on some of my models. You may note that all cars have chalk marks and route cards. (For more on those items, you may wish to view my post about them, which is at: .)
     I should begin by repeating that there have been commercial placards available from several sources. I like and have used the Jaeger cardstock placards, as well as the Sunshine decal placards, among others. This post is just to show my use of HO scale versions of the prototype placards I showed in my initial post on this topic.
     I put the “canned food” placard on an SP box car (a Sunshine model of SP Class B-50-13, built by Dennis Williams and lettered and weathered by me). On cars like this, with wood doors, there is no exact location for placards, but they were still placed onto doors. (You can click on the image to enlarge it.)

     In the early 1950s, my modeling era, paper of various kinds was coming into California from Canada in substantial quantities, so it seemed natural to place the “newsprint” placard on a Canadian box car, as you see here. This is a True Line Trains model, shown on my layout at Shumala.

     The third application I made was to use the “glass” placard, and I put it on a P&LE box car (the model is from an IMWX kit). It is seen on my layout in a local freight, crossing Nipomo Street in Ballard.

     I suppose it’s an obvious point, but use of these placards should correspond to cargoes in the cars, which in turn means creating appropriate waybills to go with the placard legends. This post isn’t about waybills, but I will probably come back to this point in a future post.
     What about when the car is empty, but the placard is glued onto the model? First of all, prototype crews rarely bothered to tear off placards during switching, so the placard might well remain on an empty car. But for me, there’s an even simpler answer. On my layout, since cars can only be seen from one side (no reversing loops), I can physically reverse the car after unloading, and there is no placard on the other side.
     These placards are an interesting addition to house cars, even if visitors do not trouble to try and read them. Should you have a lot of placards on your layout? Some situations like auto parts plants might have placards on most cars, but my impression is that such a situation is unusual. If you look at photos of trains or active yards, you see only a minority of house cars with placards like these. Still, you ought to have a few of them among your fleet, and they are quite easy to do.
Tony Thompson


  1. Tony,

    Looks good! And so does the Tangent three compartment tank next to the P&LE box.

    John Barry

  2. Thanks, John. Perhaps I should have mentioned the new tank car -- it's really a great model. My two are already weathered and in service.
    Tony Thompson