I finally made it to the Model Transit Convention on Saturday Oct 22 after fighting my way through the traffic but I was too late to attend any of the clinics that were held there. In spite of that, I have to say that this was one of the best shows I have attended in quite some time and was well worth the effort to get there (even though I didn’t win any door prizes). I was surprised at the large number of vendors who were in attendance that day and the variety of merchandise for sale was tremendous. There were all kinds of traction and rapid transit books available from multiple dealers and if you were looking for a certain photograph or slide to add to your collection, this was the place to find it.
There were several dealers who were selling memorabilia that would make a great addition to any train room and the selection seemed very good. I was looking for some trucks for my HO IRT subway cars and Mike Masino came through as usual. Every time I meet him at a show he always seems to have what I am looking for and this time was no different. He had a bunch of the trucks in cast metal and the price was right. I also picked up a nice steeple cab kit that was priced to sell. Thanks Mike! I can finally finish up the fleet.
The model contest featured some fine traction examples in several different scales including a nice Third Avenue trolley with an interior and passengers. My personal favorite however was the only entry in the structure category, the O scale movie theater built by Mr. Nate Gersten. I have to say that this was one of the nicest structures I have ever seen (and I have built my share of buildings) and even had the subway kiosk on the sidewalk. O scale rolling stock has a good deal of heft but the buildings, especially large city-types, are really impressive.
At the other end of the spectrum, the fellows from the East Penn Club (www.eastpenn.org) were there with not only some HO modules but with an N scale traction module that really caught my eye. I did a fast double take as I immediately recognized it as a model of the Ocean Parkway trolley underpass on the Church Avenue line that was in Brooklyn. It was very well done and the fact that the N scale PCC car ran so smoothly was really a treat to see. Bravo to a very nice bunch of guys!
The New York City Model Transit Association did a really great job of sponsoring this show and the proceeds of the show were to be donated to The Shore Line ( Branford) Trolley Museum in East Haven CT (www.bera.org) so all around this was a very good day to be a traction fan. Hope to make another trip next year!
Hello again everyone- I just wanted to let you know about an upcoming show that is an annual event sponsored by the New York City Model Transit Association at Rutgers University on Oct.22, 2011. This is a show that is devoted to the mass transit and trolley modelers out there. You will find all kinds of traction goodies at the show from trolley cars to subway cars in all scales and sizes. I have found parts there when I have attended in the past that I had been looking for for some time. In addition there are vendors offering photos, publications and railrodianna relating to transit. Several years ago I had the good fortune to meet Mr. Al Westerfield at this show who is constructing an HO Elevated system based on the Bronx IRT and it looked spectacular- custom made from his own masters and resin castings. There are usually several layouts on display in all the different scales and a model contest that is open to anyone. The nicest part of the affair is that the proceeds from the show go to support the Shore Line Trolley Museum in Connecticut. The admission to the show is $20.00 and the wife and kids are free! For complete information, times and directions go to www.nycmodeltransit.org. Have a great time and hope to see you there-Transit Bill
Until several years ago, anyone wanting to build up a fleet of New York subway rolling stock really had their work cut out for them. There were some old white metal kits, some resin or epoxy semi-finished models and the always hard to find and super expensive brass imports. One company came out with injection molded kits for IRT subway cars which built up into very nice models but you still had to figure out how to power them. Then LifeLike produced their model of the IRT R-17 car, ready to run as both powered and non-powered units. While these units really made it very easy to get a transit layout running in no time, there are some problems with them that a few modelers may not like.
The first several runs of the cars came without the signature spotting feature, the end safety gates. Subsequent runs that were released after Walthers acquired the LifeLike line did include this feature, but as told to me by the Walthers representative, the end gates are not available as a separate part to retrofit the cars. You can purchase the end gates as separate parts from several companies. IHP has photo-etched brass gates that are very reasonably priced. Image Replicas has an injection molded set that is listed on their website but while it may seem a little pricey it does 3 cars. Years ago Model Traction Supply sold white metal end gates for their R-1 and BMT Standard models; you see them at swap meets from time to time.
The main problem with the R-17 models however, are the dimensions. These cars represent the rolling stock of the IRT division which was built with narrower clearances than the BMT division. While IRT cars can run through the BMT, the opposite is not true. The width of the model is a scale 9 feet 6 inches instead of 8 feet 9 inches and the height of the car from the top of the rail to the bottom of the doors is 4 feet 9 inches, a full scale foot greater than the prototype. While the greater width is not readily apparent when running the cars together, it is noticeable when compared to equipment that is right to scale. From the front the cars resemble the wider BMT cars. The greater height from the rail head is noticeable and would take some major surgery to correct.
Now for the good news- these models have some of the finest details of any subway models produced, especially the rooftop vents and rivet detail which look terrific. The best part of all is the power mechanism- it is extremely smooth and powerful and will easily pull the 3 dummy cars on level track as well as inclines. So while there are some dimensional problems with the cars, the ability to quickly assemble a prototype consist that runs as good as it looks would seem to override any discrepancies. I don’t think you will be disappointed with these models.
See you next time when we take a look at some subway car kits.
Ask anyone who has grown up in New York about where the trains are and you most likely will be directed to the nearest subway or elevated station. That’s why as a native son of the Big Apple, my plans for an HO scale model railroad had to include rapid transit. Over the years I have tried to acumulate different types of New York subway equipment so that a credible effort could be made in creating such a layout, but up until the release of the Lifelike/Walthers Proto 1000 R-17 Subway cars several years ago, HO scale rolling stock was somewhat difficult to come by. The O scale folks also have it much easier today with the variety of products available, but you need much more room for a layout.
One of the nice things about adding model transit to your railroad is that depending on the era modeled you can also include such things as streetcars, buses, commuter rail, light rail, and electric traction. Since a good deal of this equipment had long service lives, a lot of the cars modeled can overlap different eras, so your modeled timeframe can be expanded. The focus of this website will be on modeling this equipment, the construction of a layout to run the equipment and the input of those who wish to participate here and have some fun. Let’s not restrict our efforts to just New York- plenty of other cities such as Chicago, Philadelphia, Boston and Washington DC have hugh transit systems, so lets hear from all you transit fans out there!
Got to go now- I think I hear the train coming and there’s 3 staircases up to the platform! Transit Bill