Pre-Depression Era Models at the RPM

Dick Scott’s O scale L&N 36-foot box car model.

I had a moment recently to take my time and review model images from the recent RPM Chicagoland meet. I found there were quite a few models representing prototypes built in the Teens and Twenties, but wearing later era paint and lettering. One of the prime examples leads off this blog post.

The Louisville & Nashville box car fleet was predominantly 36-foot, double sheathed box cars until they began adding 40-foot, single-sheathed cars in 1924. The O scale model displayed by Dick Scott caught my eye and I bumped into him during the event to discuss the model and prototype.


Jerry Hamsmith displayed a number of Chicago, Burlington & Quincy conposite gondolas. These models seem to follow a design from the early-1920s that was evolving as more cars were added to the Q fleet through the 1920s. Jerry and Ed Rethwisch offer these HO scale models as kits. I know little about the CB&Q freight car fleet of the mid-1920s, but these models intrigue me.


The gondolas made me look closer at Ed Rethwisch’s CB&Q automobile box car and wonder about the quantities built and in use during my late 1926 focus. I need to do more research on these cars. Railroad Prototype Cyclopedia Volume 12 is probably the best place to start.


I admit to knowing little about the midwestern and western railroad freight car fleets. This Southern Pacific box car was another that caught my eye as I have read about the B-50-15 class in the SP box car fleet book by Tony Thompson. Jon Pansius displayed this model and we had a few layout and Pre-Depression Era modeling discussions during the RPM.


David Leider offered a fascinating presentation on the midwest pickle industry. The production facilities are quite distinctive and classic rolling stock is used to move the products. A related product is vinegar and David displayed a couple of HO scale vinegar tank cars in the model room.


Lastly, I can’t leave out the work displayed by Ray Breyer. Not only were there an array of freight cars, but Ray shared locomotive, structure, and caboose models in various states of construction. Nearly all of his work refected prototypes from the first three decades of the Twentieth Century.

Obviously, all of these models put ideas into my head for the home fleet. I really need to add more or the earlier single-sheathed box cars, especially cars from lines in the midwest and west. As the Accurail 36-foot cars will satisfy many double-sheathed box cars, I need to move some Westerfield kits ahead in the queue and get busy. The CB&Q composite gondolas are intriguing and will force me to research car classes and quantities built. And somehow, I need to add a good model of a vinegar tank car. A certain stretch of railroad has been attracting my interest for the next layout At least one vinegar tank car and possibly a few pickle cars would be required fleet additions. We shall see where that dream ends up.

There were many more models than what has been featured on this blog post. Brian Flynn displayed nice work on Rock Island and St Louis – San Francisco single-sheathed box cars. Nathan Pierce displayed impressive N scale Milwaukee Road passenger cars and locomotives. David Karkoski displayed a few models reflecting 1890s era prototypes in finished and unfinished forms. His Wabash caboose caught the attention of several people. There are plenty more Pre-Depression Era models on display. I encourage you to review the photo galleries at a slow pace to review the details. For those modeling a time in the 1940-1960 span, I hope you will consider that many freight cars built before 1930 lasted to the K brake ban of 1954 and a smaller proportion were in service longer. There’s always more to learn from the work of others.

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5 thoughts on “Pre-Depression Era Models at the RPM”

  1. Pretty cool. I wonder how many model railroaders have 300 years worth of ideas in their head? I sure do! 😀

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