Dual era cars

Really good freight cars are expensive these days.  I am interested in multiple eras. Sometimes, you can have cars work for multiple eras.

In the future, I will probably have an announcement on the Rails West site about a 1975 era project.  I recently weathered and detailed two cars to be able to operate on my 1975 project and my primary Rails West layout 1979-81.

Here’s what I started with…(I had already done some decaling.)



Way too new looking.

After a few decals, a few details and a fair amount of weathering, here’s what they became…



The DL&W car is an Atlas model.  It is a nice car, but the roof walk was a bit thick.  I used the roof walk off a recent Moloco Wabash project, and it fit nearly perfectly!  The Moloco roof walk made the DL&W car look much better.  I also added scale wheels, pin lifters and brake hoses.


The dual era trick comes from decaling each side a bit differently.

Here are the 1975 sides–no yellow wheel inspection dot and a single lube panel.


In the 1979+ side, the COTS and yellow dot surface.



Subtle but really signals the era change to the astute observer.


For the roof on the RI car, I employed the gray-silver splotch technique on the roof to suggest some peeling paint.


I like having the diversity of different roof configurations.  It was a pretty mixed bag in the 1970s and into 1980s as cars were retired or re-built.

All in all, this was a pretty rewarding set of projects and my 1975 project now has a couple of cars ready to go.  The Rails West layout also got some handsome, older cars when the “yellow dot” side is showing.


The first two cars in this line are Moloco.  Moloco makes among the best cars one can find today. There are many great products out there, but Moloco and Tangent are consistently the gold standard.  Many Exactrail and some Athearn Genesis cars also make that grade.  The Wheels of Time recent entry into HO also deserves mention.




Visitors from the North

Recently the Rails West layout had some visitors from the north country, actually a couple of cars I just got around to prepping for the layout–weathering, scale wheels and couplers, ACI tags, consolidated lube plates and the wheel inspection dots.


I like the way they turned out.  If you treat each car as a work of art, it can add so much to the development and realism of your layout.  The first car is Tangent Scale Models new flat bulkhead car.  It is a work of art in its own right.  They are breathtaking models.


I love these cars.


The detail is magnificent.  Tangent did a super job on these.


Close-ups of sides and decks.


Lube plates and wheel inspection dot applied.


The other visitor was a Fox Valley Models car I finally got around to prepping for the layout.


With a little TLC, this car too can make a great addition. Lube plates and dots needed on this one too.  This one need a brake hose as well.  Pin lifters may come in the future.


More visitors to come soon.


The beauty of old covered hoppers…(and a commercial plug for Tangent Scale Models)

I love to watch freights go by with a wide variety of covered hoppered, especially those with paint jobs reflecting their 1970 and 80s original owners and leasors.  I was in Harper’s Ferry, WV, recently hiking and watching trains pass through a beautiful setting.  I saw oil trains, auto trains, coal trains, steel trains, but my favorite of all was two merchandise trains loaded with covered hoppers and box cars.  Harper’s Ferry National Historic Park is a great park and hosts the world renown Appalachian Trail National Scenic Trail among others.  The history of the site is very rich.

In addition to great hiking, beauty and history, here’s a small sampling of the rail action I saw.  More to come in a future post.

CSX 3008 crossing the Potomac in Harper's Ferry, August 6, 2014.  photo by C. Hunt

CSX 3008 crossing the Potomac in Harper’s Ferry, August 6, 2014. –photo by C. Hunt

CSX 861 leads a freight across the Potomac as the sun baths the beautiful valley below.  photo by C. Hunt

CSX 861 leads a freight across the Potomac as the sun baths the beautiful valley and river below. –photo by C. Hunt

Former AGP covered hoppers rolling through Harper's Ferry in a little drizzle, August 8, 2014.  photo by C. Hunt

Former AGP covered hoppers rolling through Harper’s Ferry in a little drizzle, August 8, 2014. –photo by C. Hunt

OK.  Speaking of covered hoppers…I want to do a product endorsement.  I don’t do many, but I may do more in the future.  I want to talk about Tangent Scale Models.  I have not been paid to do this. Quite the contrary, I have given a lot of money to Tangent Scale Models for their fine products.

Tangent Scale Models produces the finest scale models of covered hoppers in the hobby.  Exactrail and some Athearn Products (particularly, Athearn Genesis) are also excellent, but the level of detail on Tangent’s is typically a hair better.  (I do, however, recommend Athearn Genesis scale trucks with .88 wheels or Exactrail’s outstanding fine scale wheels.  Exactrail’s wheels are made in the USA).

Tangent 4740 covered hopper on my ATSF in Roswell layout.

Tangent 4740 covered hopper on my ATSF in Roswell layout.

Tangent 4740 on my ATSF in Roswell layout.

Another Tangent 4740 on my ATSF in Roswell layout.

I will highlight a recent product, Tangent’s 4750 covered hopper.

It comes in a number of great schemes.  Below are some prototype photos from Tangent’s great website of some very recent releases.

PTLX 14636 Fridley MN 1991

PLTX 14163 in Fridley, MN 1991. –©photo Tangent Scale Models. Copyrighted image courtesy Tangentscalemodels.com.


PLTX 33036 in Taunton, MA 1974. –©photo Tangent Scale Models. Copyrighted image courtesy Tangentscalemodels.com.


UP 75204 in McAleister, OK 2002. –©photo David Lehbach. Copyrighted image courtesy Tangentscalemodels.com.

Here are some photos of the beautiful models.



I wish they were made in the United States and some modellers may find them a bit expensive, but the result is breathtaking.  I would rather have fewer, highly detailed models.  With my emphasis on slow operations, the viewers sees the cars quite well.  These cars hold up to very close scrutiny!

I applaud David Lehlbach and his Tangent Scale Models for bringing this level of realism to our layouts!

(Note:  My comment concerning overseas production is not intended to single out Tangent Scale Models by any means.  Its products have so many individually applied parts that full production in the US would likely be extraordinarily expensive.  Overseas production in the industry is quite common. As far as I know, Accurail and Kadee, which produce nice products are the only companies that currently produces HO cars in the United States.  Exactrail mills its products in the US and has discussed moving full production of some of its freight cars to the US in the future.  Again, the wheels Exactrail produces in the US are remarkable.)