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

Anthony Thompson <thompson@...>

Rich Orr wrote:
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.
True, but certainly incomplete. I lived in Pittsburgh in those days and knew Dick pretty well. He had always wanted to do standard- gauge cars, and only started with the EBT project because he was sure it would sell. He certainly was interested in and built models of the EBT, but his home layout, as far as it ever got, was standard gauge.

. . . Dick moved on to HO boxcars. The tooling for these cars was designed so that the ends, roof and sides were interchangeable.
Dick was continually frustrated with his inability to find a toolmaker who could produce dies to suit what he wanted. The horrible detail sprues that were in C&BT kits were upsetting to Dick (he once told me that they were "revolting"), but he wanted to get the kits out the door. He knew that modelers who wanted the car bodies produced in his many varieties would replace the details, and he hoped for awhile to find another toolmaker and just get new detail sprues done. Dick had bought some injection molding machines and was actually making more money doing custom molding for miscellaneous customers (he did a really large run of styrene soap dishes at one point) than with freight cars.

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.
This is true, but Dick had also given up on finding a good enough toolmaker to produce the detail sprues he needed. He told me he had given up on that route, and would go more "Athearn like," and at one point he even approached Irv Athearn to see if any of the old dies were for sale. He got VERY short shrift from Irv.

Tony Thompson Editor, Signature Press, Berkeley, CA
2906 Forest Ave., Berkeley, CA 94705
(510) 540-6538; fax, (510) 540-1937; e-mail, thompson@...
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