Thursday, June 22, 2023

Modeling in O scale, conclusion

My small excursion into O scale model railroading began, as I’ve said, with my good friend, the late Larry Kline, when we both lived in Pittsburgh. Larry was a very skilled modeler and an O scale devotee, so being able to get modeling tips from Larry, and also enjoying running my own O scale freight cars on his nice layout, were real motivations. And of course, as mentioned in previous posts, the sheer size and detailing of the models was a strong attraction to a “freight car guy” like me. 

(I’ve described a number of my models, including several freight cars and the locomotive and caboose, in prior posts; they are most easily found by using “modeling in O scale” as the search term in the search box at right.)

In the present post, I want to talk about two more freight cars, and say something about my display case. First, the freight cars. Both were imported brass models by Pacific Limited (PL). This company, run by Pat O’Boyle, earned an excellent reputation for accurate and solidly-constructed models. Sadly, Pat passed away in 2007 (he was only 62), cutting short extensive planning for a number of additional projects.

The first of the two PL cars is a 40-foot flat car. It is described on the box as a “40' FISH BELLY FLAT CAR.” Brass dealers widely identified it as an SP flat car. The model does indeed have a deep fishbelly center sill, as did many SP flat cars. But it also has a deck that does not extend out to the outer surface of the stake pockets, as did SP flat cars of this type. Having written the book on SP flat cars (Southern Pacific Freight Cars, Vol. 3: Automobile Cars and Flat Cars, Signature Press, 2004), I can confidently state that SP never had a 40-foot flat car like the Pacific Limited model.

Examination of a variety of prototype information sources quickly discloses quite an accurate prototype match for the PL flat car. It’s a class of flat cars built for the Nashville, Chattanooga and St. Louis in 1926. Below is a photo of one of these cars, from the 1928 Car Builders’ Cyclopedia, page 186.

And since that same Cyclopedia volume also includes good drawings of this car (page 189), it is understandable that a brass importer might choose the car to reproduce, just as has been done in HO scale styrene. The car happens to have a distinctive design, including a cap along the top of the side sill that covers the ends of planks in the deck. Here’s one corner of the plan view of that drawing, clearly showing the covers of the planking ends.

The drawing above corresponds exactly to the model’s deck, as built by PL.

I painted the model, including trucks, with Tamiya Fine Surface Primer (Red Oxide), which gives a good surface for decals. The decals were from Ted Culotta, for NC&StL 70227. (There is a corresponding set in HO scale from National Scale Car, D186: .)

After decaling, I gave the model a protective coat of clear flat, and weathered it with acrylic washes, emphasizing making the deck look like wood in service. But because I couldn’t distress the brass deck, I didn’t apply heavy effects. Couplers not yet installed in this photo.

The second PL model is a General Service or GS gondola, the same type I described in the previous post in this series (you can see that post at: ). This one is an Enterprise-design gondola of the kind purchased in large numbers by Southern Pacific in the 1920s. These were evidently sturdy and useful cars, because they survived in large numbers throughout the 1950s and beyond.

This brass model had the typical PL solid construction and accurate detailing. And when I bought it, there was an option to get the model with factory paint (though no lettering). This was attractive, as factory paint is usually nicely done and well bonded.

Imagine my dismay when the model arrived in black paint! To the best of my knowledge, no GS gondola owned by SP was ever painted black. I swallowed my disappointment and repainted it boxcar red, being careful with my airbrush to make sure all the complex underbody areas got painted. Decals for SP 92327, Class G-50-11, are from the same Protocraft set as the car in Part 4 (link two paragraphs above).

To sum up my O scale excursion, here is my six-foot long O scale display case in the layout room. Most of the rolling stock you see here has been described in previous posts on this topic (a couple of cars were omitted). This case was made for me by Rich Wagoner, a friend when I lived in Pittsburgh. 

This completes what I wanted to say about my small collection of O scale rolling stock, and the SP steam power and caboose for it. I do like O scale models, and I enjoy having this equipment finally on display.

Tony Thompson

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