Re: History of Prototype Freight Car Modeling

Andy Harman

At 04:39 PM 5/9/2012 +0000, you wrote:

Materials related to Roller Bearing models--instructions, ads, kit lists, etc. It would especially be helpful to know when they started advertising. Also photos of built-up models.
I bought an RBM kit around 1977. I think it was a tank car. I ebayed it some years ago unbuilt. I don't think that was their first kit though.

The seminal styrene kit I think it could be argued was the "Innovative Model Works" 1937 boxcar kit. When was this kit introduced. Does anyone have any good stories about the development of this model by Jerry Porter they can send me?
Did that predate the Intermountain Canadian Cylindrical?

My recollection of the first attempt outside the box by an upstart kit maker was the 70-ton ACF covered hopper by E&B Valley which was released in 1980 I believe. It was at the 1980 MRIA show that I first encountered Westerfield. The E&B stuff was crude but brought back the flat kit concept for a while, which allowed new prototypes to be tooled for less $$ than the one-piece standard Athearn was using.

Hard to believe that in the mid 1970s Athearn was so dominant that on any given layout 90 or even 100% of the freight cars were Athearn or Athearn based.

I suppose any history of prototype freight car modeling has to cover oopsies like the Gould tank car. Certainly a milestone in tooling refinement, if not prototypical accuracy.

One thing I've often wondered about is the lack of builder's photos after the steam era. It seems like the practice of taking high quality photos of the class car at the builder faded quickly after 1960. Either that or else they are simply not as accessible as the earlier ones. That has created a considerable gap between this era and the digital camera / film-free era in terms of coverage. Modeling the 1940s and 50s seems to actually be easier than modeling the 60s and 70s - not just in terms of available models but in terms of available photos.

I am planning to talk about this history from the 1/87th scale perspective because that is what I know. Tentatively this will be a presentation at Naperville and Cocoa Beach and I will consider how to make the presentation available to others for them to do a presentation.
Now this I'd sit still in a crowded stuffy room for :-) I rarely attend clinics but this one I wouldn't miss. Keep us posted... I hope to be making Naperville this year and of course Cocoa next year to keep my streak alive.


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