C&BT Car Shops -- Re: History of Prototype Freight Car Modeling


C&BT was founded in 1986. Dick Schweiger was an avid East Broad Top modeler and found the available hopper cars wanting. Not being able to purchase cars for the EBT in quantity or quality which satisfied him, Dick made the decision to manufacture his own. Thus C&BT was born.

The first car was an EBT hopper in HOn30. To keep the company viable, Dick moved on to HO boxcars. The first boxcar was produced in late 1987. The tooling for these cars was designed so that the ends, roof and sides were interchangeable. 10 and 12 panel sides with 6,7, 8, 12, 14, and 15 ft doors, flat, rectangle. panel and diagonal panel roofs, and 3 different ends were eventually tooled. These were followed by the SFRD reefers in several body versions. Only the floor and underframe detail were the same on every car.

When he finally scaled down the business, tooling for the PRR X29b was nearly complete. Only the floor needed to be cut. Unfortunately, this car never came to market. At least not by C&BT.

Originally the boxcars (which Dick termed 1944 AAR cars) had separate details and trucks with two part wheel sets. Two halves of each wheel set were joined by a brass wire core. The wheels themselves were a plastic core with a metal rim which was press fit over the plastic center. The wheels proved to be problematic and were replaces with solid axle wheel sets. Along the way several well know modelers (at least one of whom is now deceased) convinced Dick that separate parts would never be accepted, It was "too much work" to build a fleet of cars this way. The result was the tooling was re-cut to included molded on ladders, grabs etc.

At one point during the early - mid 1990's C&BT shops was the third largest HO freight car manufacturer behind Walthers and Athearn.

Dick's health eventually required him to scale back his activities and the business faded. C&BT shops was for the most part a one man operation. Friends volunteered to help paint cars, pack kits, and ship orders for the comradery, car kits and mistakes. It was not economical to try to reclaim cars with paint runs or misprinted lettering etc -- mistakes. These bodies with the mistakes were donated to local clubs.

Rich Orr

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