Friday, February 24, 2023

Modeling in O scale, Part 2

Though a confirmed HO scale modeler from the very beginning of my model-building career, I do have a soft spot for O scale models, especially freight cars. As I mentioned in the previous post in this series, they do make me “itch” as a modeler who likes freight car details (you can see that post at: ).

In the previous post, I showed two of my O scale models, an Athearn metal box car (originally owned by Paul Shimada) and a styrene PFE steel reefer from InterMountain. Another Athearn metal model that I especially like (as a confirmed Southern Pacific modeler) is a 40-foot car decorated for SP’s “Overnight” service, the famous black box car scheme.

 One of the really nice things about this Athearn metal car (and also for the HO scale version done by Athearn in a metal kit) is that the trouble was taken to make new pressed ends, with the post-war “Improved Dreadnaught” contour, not true of other Athearn metal box cars. And not only that, but new sides were made too, to correctly show the ACR (Alternate Center Rivet) pattern of the side sheets — also done for the HO scale version in metal. Here’s a photo:

Another model I really enjoy owning is another Athearn metal car. It represents one of the two PFE rebuilt cars in Class R-40-14, but with nearly all aluminum bodies. And as one can readily prove with a magnet, the model’s sides are actually aluminum. Now PFE only had two of these cars, in a fleet of nearly 40,000 cars, but it will certainly grace my display case. It is modeled with its original 1946 paint scheme.

The underframe and all safety appliances, such as ladders and grab irons, were steel and painted black, as were door hinges and latch bar. It’s a lovely model of a distinctive PFE car.

Last, I want to show a little about an SP tank car model from Pecos River Brass. I wanted to letter it correctly, and as it happens, back when I made the artwork for SP tank car decals in HO scale (first sold by Jerry Glow and now by Tichy), I also made one set that was in O scale. Here is a link to the first post about the decals: .

Shown below is the model, with decals freshly applied and a coat of flat finish sprayed on. Couplers are removed for the weathering step, which is next. As you can see, it has an operating manway cover on the dome.

Next came weathering. I followed my usual method using washes, with pigment from acrylic tube paint, but realized one more time how very large O scale cars really are, for someone accustomed to the size of HO scale cars. If you’re interested, background and illustration of my weathering process can be found in the “Reference pages,” linked at the upper right corner of the present post. This view of the right side of the car reminds that this side of SP tank cars had neither dome walk nor ladder.

By contrast, the other side does have the single ladder and dome walk, and in this case I’ve applied an “empty” placard as well.

All three of these O-scale models represent prototypes that are very familiar to me, as an SP and PFE modeler and historical researcher and writer. All are a pleasure to own, and also will soon be displayed in a wall display case. That will be nice!

Tony Thompson

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