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Ambroid Wood Craftsman H-Series Kits
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Ambroid Wood Craftsman Kits

 

The H-Kits and their Prototypes

Kit #H-1, Southern Pacific Wood Chip Gondola click for larger picture
Original price: New 1969: $7.20 l/t 
Recent price (high/low): $33.00 May 2004 $7.99 Nov 2004
(average/median): $18.11 / $17.50 

This kit was advertised in October 1969 as "the new ambroid heritage line is here". It is a model of a 60', 70 ton exterior-braced, excess-height car that was used to haul wood chips from saw mills to paper mills. The car was built by the Magor Railcar Division of the Fruehauf Crop. It featured plywood sides and 20 drop-bottom unloading doors. The color of the prototype car was "boxcar red". It sold for $7.20 less trucks and couplers.

A picture of the box for this kit states "ONE OF 5000" above the right ribbon on a Heritage series box. I don't know if was meant to be one of the "missing" 1-of-5,000 series 2 cars (#11 and #12), or if it was just a way to introduce the new Heritage series. This is not to be taken for one of the "1-of-5,000" kits, since Ambroid seems to have limited the production of the H-series kits to 5,000 as well. Several ads for the later kits in this series clearly states that only 5,000 will be made. This kit, and the following two in the series, did not have a kit number printed on the box but I have assigned numbers based on release dates.

This car was reviewed in the March 1970 Trade Topics column of Model Railroader. The review gives hints on using a jig to drill the numerous holes that are needed, and it discusses the different brake systems that were used on these cars. It also recommended to use contemporary roller-bearing AAR-type trucks for this car.

A similar car (SP #354218) made by Diamond Scale Construction, Oakridge, OR, was reviewed in the Trade Topics column of Model Railroader in July 1979.

 

Kit #H-2, Southern Pacific Aircraft Sky Box Car click for larger picture
Original price: New 1970: $6.50 
Recent price (high/low): $53.00 Feb 2004 $1.51 Mar 2006
(average/median): $15.53 / $12.50 

This kit was advertised in February 1970 as the second in Ambroid's new Heritage Line of HO model railroad kits. This is a model of originally a 60' flat car, on to which a top with sides were added. The prototypes were built by Southern Pacific during World War II to transport aircraft stabilizers. The car is of excess height (nearly 20 feet) and width. It sold for $6.50 including trucks but less couplers.

The kit had no number printed on the box but I have assigned the number based on the release date.

This car was reviewed in the November 1970 Trade Topics column of Model Railroader. The review mentions that there were several different cars of this general type, but that this prototype was used to transport stabilizers (like the ad claimed). SP had 45 of these cars with random numbers between 59801 and 598400 (There seems to be a digit missing in the first number). The data came from the January 1970 Official Railway Equipment Register.

 

Kit #H-3, REA Express Reefer click for larger picture
Original price: New 1970: $7.00 l/t 
Recent price (high/low): $30.95 Feb 2004 $6.08 Jul 2006
(average/median): $13.17 / $12.99 

I have not seen any ads for this car in the time frame it ought to have been released (February through July 1970) but I will take a guess that this is kit H-3. It came in an "H" box without kit number but I have assigned the number based on the release date. It sold for $7.00 less trucks and couplers.

This car was reviewed in the July 1970 Trade Topics column of Model Railroader. 500 cars of this type were built and given numbers 6100 through 6599. The car had welded sides and was 54 feet long. It was usually seen equipped for operation in passenger trains, fitted with train heat and passenger signal hoses in addition to the standard airbrake fittings. Correct trucks for this car would be a short-wheel-base four-wheel passenger truck (such as Roundhouse no. 2932, standard Pullman passenger trucks - according to the review), or a standard AAR freight truck. The car is listed in the 1949 Official Railway Equipment Register.

 

Kit #H-4, Burlington 50' Cushioned Plug Door Car click for larger picture
Original price: New 1970: $7.00 l/t 
Recent price (high/low): $26.00 Jun 2005 $1.90 Nov 2005
(average/median): $9.19 / $7.50 

Pre-announced in a June 1970 ad as being available in June 1970. It was, however, not advertised at all during 1970. Limited-run collector's HO kit priced at $7.00

This is the first H-series kit that had a kit number listed on the box.

 

Kit #H-5, UP 60' Postal Storage Car click for larger picture
Original price: New 1970: $7.00 l/t 
Recent price (high/low): $36.95 Jul 2006 $5.00 Apr 2004
(average/median): $15.66 / $13.88 

Pre-announced in a June 1970 ad as being available in September 1970. It was, however, not advertised at all during 1970. Limited-run collector's HO kit priced at $7.00. Interestingly enough, this ad lists the car as Coastal Storage Car.

This kit was reviewed in the February 1972 Trade Topics column of Model Railroader. 100 of these class BX cars, numbered 9300 to 9399, were built beginning in 1964. According to the 1969 Official Railway Equipment Register only 15 were left that year and none were listed in 1970, so it seems to be a type with a very short life span. Since they were used in passenger service, they carried the passenger colors, grey roof, yellow sides, and red stripes.

 

Kit #H-6, Burlington Insulated 60' Car click for larger picture
Original price: New 1970: $7.00 l/t 
Recent price (high/low): $76.75 Jul 2006 $1.50 Dec 2004
(average/median): $12.49 / $9.99 

Pre-announced in a June 1970 ad as being available in December 1970, and also advertised that month. The ad did not mention any details about the car or kit, except that this kit, as a first time bonus for particular builders, would be delivered with a cast plug door. Limited-run collector's HO kit priced at $7.00

 

Kit #H-7, D&RGW 40' Vertical Ribbed Box Car click for larger picture
Original price: New 1971?:  
Recent price (high/low): $70.99 Apr 2005 $4.95 Apr 2005
(average/median): $20.97 / $18.25 

The kit was reviewed in the November 1971 Trade Topics column of Model Railroader. It had not been advertised during 1971, so I am not sure when it was introduced. To further add to the uncertainty, the price was listed as "to be released" in the review.

It is a model of a vertically ribbed-sided 40 foot steel boxcar that was converted by Denver & Rio Grande Western in 1966 from a 1946 series wood cars. 20 cars (numbered 67400-67419) were still carried in the 1971 Official Railway Equipment Register. The reviewer claimed that the construction of the car from the kit is simple. This could be another perfect starter kit for the not-so-experienced wood craftsman kit builder. The review ended with: "This is an excellent kit of a most unusual boxcar".

 

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Kit #H-8, Santa Fe Refrigerator Box Car click for larger picture
Original price: New 1971: $6.10 l/t 
Recent price (high/low): $54.57 Apr 2005 $9.95 Mar 2006
(average/median): $25.08 / $23.51 

This car was advertised in November 1971 in Model Railroader. The price $6.10 was mentioned in the review 17 months later. The kit was simultaneously released in both the H- and the O-series. The ad claims that these collector's kits will be of limited production.

It is a model of the Santa Fe 50 foot refrigerated box car, said to be widely used in the 1930's. The picture in the ad shows this to be a class RR-37 car. The RR-10 cars were originally built in the '30:s, but the RR-37 car was built later. (See the prototype history below). The prototype had vertical wood sheathing on the sides and doors.

This kit was reviewed in the April 1973 Trade Topics column of Model Railroader. The review differs from the ad regarding the history of the car, in that the reviewer claims the car was of a composite design constructed during World War II. He refers to the October 1947 Official Railway Equipment Register that lists 75 cars, numbered 5070 to 5144, which matches the number of the car in the ad, 5124.

According to the "Refrigerator Cars" [1], these 75 cars were rebuilt from the remaining 80 RR-10 cars in 1945. The RR-37 was a superinsulated car that had Fiberglass and Board Foam insulation over 6 inches thick at the sides. Side slats for improved air circulation were applied to the interior walls. When these cars were no longer needed in revenue service, they were used for storing and carrying ice, something their heavy insulation made them especially suitable for. 25 of the RR-37 cars were assigned to this type of service. In 1959, 27 of the RR-37 cars were renumbered to the series 188013 - 188041. These cars seem to have been on the active roster until 1965, when only 3 (ice)cars remained. The last year for the RR-37 cars in revenue service seems to have been 1963.

This kit was later sold under the Gloor Craft name as kit #361. Gloor Craft also sold a similar kit in N-scale (same car class, same reporting number) as kit #100.

 

Kit #H-9, PRR 100 ton 3 Bay Hopper click for larger picture
Original price: New:  
Recent price (high/low): $16.25 May 2004 $1.00 Jun 2004
(average/median): $9.32 / $9.95 

Looking at the decals on this car and comparing the road number to Rob Schoenberg's web site on PRR[2] this is probably a class H43 hopper on the Pennsylvania Railroad.

 

Kit #H-10, Nickel Plate Road Wood Caboose click for larger picture
Original price: New:  
Recent price (high/low): $37.00 Jan 2004 $6.50 Nov 2003
(average/median): $17.75 / $15.86 

This kit was reviewed in the May 1973 Test Track column of Railroad Model Craftsman. The review was done side-by-side with that of a brass import model of the same caboose. The kit is a model of the 1000-series wood caboose of the Nickel Plate Road (New York, Chicago & St. Louis). These cars were produced in several lots, starting with number 1000 in 1881 (the year before the line was opened for traffic). The earlier cars (1000-1095) had arched roofs while the later cars had peaked roofs. It was an enormous car measured by 1880's standards: 35 feet long. The cars had several paint schemes throughout their life. A few survivors were painted in the standard red/white scheme after the merger with N&W in 1964. The review also shows how to change the truck bolster to a more correct version.

This kit was later made and sold by Gloor Craft as kit #311. The Gloor Craft plan shows the date 10/84. This plan seems to be the same as was included in one of the Ambroid editions.

 

Kit #H-11, GN Airslide Hopper click for larger picture
Original price: New:  
Recent price (high/low): $20.00 Mar 2004 $2.05 Aug 2005
(average/median): $9.35 / $9.02 

No information

 

Kit #H-12, NKP 50 ton Composite Hopper click for larger picture
Original price: New:  
Recent price (high/low): $32.59 May 2005 $3.95 Apr 2004
(average/median): $13.02 / $12.50 

This kit was later produced and sold by Gloor Craft as kit #318.

 

Kit #H-13, Northern Pacific Caboose click for larger picture
Original price: New 1973: $6.35 l/t 
Recent price (high/low): $48.50 Nov 2003 $20.50 Dec 2005
(average/median): $27.51 / $26.00 

This car was advertised in May 1973 in Railroad Model Craftsman but not in Model Railroader. The price was $6.35 less trucks and couplers. The kit was simultaneously released in both the H- and the O-series. This ad also claims that these collector's kits will be of limited production.

The caboose was used on NP during the steam and early diesel era, and could recently (in 1973) be seen, not only on NP, but also on DM&IR, LS&I, and D&NE.

This kit was originally made by Quality Craft, but later produced and sold by Gloor Craft as kit #329.

 

Kit #H-14, Reading Outside Braced Reefer click for larger picture
Original price: New 1973: $6.35 
Recent price (high/low): $35.00 May 2005 $10.49 Dec 2003
(average/median): $20.62 / $20.50 

This car was advertised in August 1973 in Railroad Model Craftsman but not in Model Railroader. The price was $6.35 less trucks and couplers. The kit was simultaneously released in both the H- and the O-series. As with the earlier kits in this series, this ad also claims that these collector's kits will be of limited production.

The ad shows a picture of the car lettered for Philadelphia and Reading, but the ad carefully points out that the decals included are those of the Reading Railroad.

The Reading Company Technical & Historical Society[5] has provided me with the following information about this car: "It is a very accurate model of the class RMj, numbers 19885 - 19984, built in May and June 1923 by ACF. The inside length was 33 feet 3 inches and it was built as a 40 ton capacity car but upgraded to 50 ton capacity by 1930. It had a 2,034 cu. ft. capacity. The car number 19905 was the last one retired in May, 1953".

The kit was made by Quality Craft.

 

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Kit #H-15, D&H Caboose click for larger picture
Original price: New 1973: $6.35 
Recent price (high/low): $51.99 2feb 2004 $19.50 1Apr 2006
(average/median): $28.99 / $27.54 

This car was advertised in December 1973 in Railroad Model Craftsman but not in Model Railroader. The price was $6.35 less trucks and couplers. The kit was simultaneously released in both the H- and the O-series. As with the earlier kits in this series, this ad also claims that these collector's kits will be of limited production.

This kit can be built in three different versions: with a center cupola, with an offset cupola, or as an updated version of 20 years later.

 

Kit #H-16, PRR X-23 Wood O.B. Box Car click for larger picture
Original price: New:  
Recent price (high/low): $37.05 May 2005 $9.99 Jan 2004
(average/median): $18.23 / $17.43 

Model Railroader had a construction article about this car in the April, 1971 issue (be sure to look at the July 1971 issue as well, since that has a correction to the drawing).

Rob Schoenberg's web site on PRR [2], has the following information about this car type:

The class X23 box car was adopted by the Pennsylvania Railroad as a standard boxcar in 1912. It was their first 40-foot standard box car (nominal length), and was also their first built with a steel underframe, steel body framing and wood sheathing. Technically it was known as a composite single-sheathed house car. It was also the first PRR box car to be built using a combined alpha-numeric designation as all previous PRR box car classes had been identified using only alphabetical characters (XA through XL). The class X23, as built, had a light weight of about 48,000-pounds, a nominal capacity of 100,000 pounds and a cubic capacity of 2,682-cubic feet. The first car (PRR 40001) was built by the railroad's Altoona Car Shops and was placed in service during November 1912. Between November 1912, and December 1915, when the last car was completed, 6,911 class X23 box cars had been built by five different organizations. The railroad had built 1,011 cars at its Altoona Car Shops, the Pressed Steel Car Company had built 3,000 cars at its McKees Rocks plant, the Western Steel Car & Foundry Company had built 1,700 at its Hegewisch plant, the American Car & Foundry Company had built 600 at its Berwick plant and the Standard Steel Car Company had built 600 cars at its Butler plant. The basic configuration of the X23 boxcar was also the basis for the class R7 refrigerator car, of which the PRR had 3,304 (see: 1-of-5,000 series 1 #5), the class K7 stockcar of which the PRR had 25, and the class X24 automobile car, of which the PRR had 2,000.
 
In 1943, during World War II, the PRR was experiencing a shortage of cabin cars (cabin car is a PRR term for caboose ) so 75 class X-23 box cars were converted to cabin cars and designated as class NX23. As the class X23's began to fall out of favor for revenue uses because of age, having been replaced by more modern all steel cars with greater load carrying capacities, they began being removed from revenue service. Many of these now out of service cars were transferred to work equipment service. When the shortage of cabin cars was relieved, also by the delivery of newer cars, many class NX23 cabins were also reassigned to work equipment service over a period of time. Interestingly, two class NX23 cabins actually remained on the freight car roster into the Penn Central era.
 
Most of the class X23 box cars converted to work equipment service were designated as "Tool and Supply", "Tool and Material" or "Supply" cars. The conversion from revenue to work equipment service included the installation of end doors and four rectangular windows on each side of the car. This was the most typical configuration. However, the class NX23 cabins that were converted to work equipment retained the porthole style windows. These tool, material and supply cars were a general-purpose car designed to be used for a variety of maintenance related tasks. Many of these cars lasted well into the 1960s and 1970s in their work equipment status.
Prepared for the Northern Ohio Railway Museum [3] by Alan B. Buchan and Robert L. Johnson - PRRT&HS, used here with permission.

I can add to this that the Model Railroader article mentioned that the car lasted until 1955. One of the cars rebuilt to a coke car (with the roof removed) remained in service until 1957.

The September 1975 ad in Railroad Model Craftsman listed this kit as 0-scale only.

 

Kit #H-17, Eire-Susquehanna 50 ton 3 Bay Hopper Car click for larger picture
Original price: New:  
Recent price (high/low): $23.50 Jun 2005 $4.95 Apr 2005
(average/median): $10.71 / $9.99 

This kit was reviewed in the August 1975 Test Track column of Railroad Model Craftsman.

 

Kit #H-18, Olympia Beer 36' Private Reefer click for larger picture
Original price: New 1975: $7.00 
Recent price (high/low): $32.34 Sep 2004 $10.50 Dec 2003
(average/median): $20.07 / $18.45 

This car was advertised in February 1975 in Model Railroader. The price was $7.00. The kit was simultaneously released in both the H- and the O-series. The 0-scale kit was reviewed in Model Railroader in June 1975 and in the October 1975 Test Track column of Railroad Model Craftsman. The September 1975 ad in Railroad Model Craftsman listed this kit as 0-scale only.

This kit was later produced and sold by Gloor Craft as kit #366.

 

Kit #H-19, Lehigh and Hudson River Flanger click for larger picture
Original price: New 1975: $7.00 
Recent price (high/low): $31.00 Mar 2005 $9.49 Oct 2003
(average/median): $19.84 / $20.59 

Even though a flanger car is used for (some) snow removal, it is not a snow plow. Its purpose is to remove snow and ice from the top of the rails and from the inside of the rails. If there is a lot of snow on the track, a regular snow plow has to go in front of the flanger. The blades of the flanger have a notch in them so the blade can ride on top of the rail, scrape it and also remove snow from the inside. Because of this, the flanger will foul on turnouts, railroad crossings and other obstructions. At all of these places, the operator must raise the blades before the car can pass. The railroads normally post flanger signs at these types of obstructions. A very good article on how to build a flanger car (not this prototype, though) was printed in the October 1973 issue of Model Railroader.

This car was advertised in May 1975 in Model Railroader and in April 1975 in Railroad Model Craftsman. The price was $7.00. The kit was simultaneously released in both the H- and the O-series.

The ad states that Ambroid had long wanted to produce a kit like this, but no plans were available for the car. The prototype was located, photographed, and measured by staff members of Railroad Model Craftsman in the yards of Lehigh & Hudson Valley RR at Warwick, New York. The car is originally a NYO&W car. George Elwood [4]has a prototype photo of this car on his "Fallen Flags" web site.

This kit was later produced and sold by Gloor Craft as kit #367.

 

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Kit #H-20, PRR ND 4-Wheel Caboose click for larger picture
Original price: New 1975: $7.00 
Recent price (high/low): $41.50 Aug 2004 $10.00 Jun 2005
(average/median): $26.51 / $26.31 

Rob Schoenberg's web site on PRR [2], has some information about this car.

This kit was advertised in the September 1975 issue of Railroad Model Craftsman. It had been erroneously listed in a June, 1975 Model Railroader ad as "Eire Caboose". The ad mentioned as: "EXTRA SPECIAL NEWS!" that, starting with this kit, Ambroid was reducing the number of kits that were produced.

This kit was later made and sold by Gloor Craft as kit #314. The Gloor Craft plan shows the date 5/85.

 

Kit #H-21, NYO&W Milk Car click for larger picture
Original price: New:  
Recent price (high/low): $64.00 May 2004 $14.45 Jan 2005
(average/median): $26.98 / $24.25 

I have not found much information about this car, but George Elwood [4]has a table showing 12 cars, numbered 1017-1238 in 1944.

This is one of the H-kits that was produced in H0 scale only.

 

Kit #H-22, A.T.& S.F. Caboose click for larger picture
Original price: New 1976: $7.50 
Recent price (high/low): $36.01 Feb 2005 $5.24 Apr 2006
(average/median): $20.21 / $20.18 

This car was advertised in June 1976 in Model Railroader. The price was $7.50. The kit was simultaneously released in both the H- and the O-series.

Some, if not all, H-series kits were issued in a limited production. This was advertised as a 5,000 kits model. The plans included in the kit were embossed with a seal and featured the Ambroid's Heritage Collection number and individual model number.

 

Kit #H-23, Golden Loaf Flour Airslide Hopper click for larger picture
Original price: New 1976: $7.95 
Recent price (high/low): $31.00 Feb 2004 $1.50 Sep 2005
(average/median): $11.40 / $9.99 

This car was advertised in September 1976 in Model Railroader. The price was $7.95 (notice the steady price increase here). The kit was simultaneously released in both the H- and the O-series.

This is also listed as a limited production kit, of which only 5,000 will be produced.

 

Kit #H-24, Payroll Car click for larger picture
Original price: New 1976: $7.95 
Recent price (high/low): $51.00 Apr 2005 $13.25 Jun 2005
(average/median): $25.98 / $22.50 

This car was advertised in December 1976 in Model Railroader. The price was $7.95. The kit was simultaneously released in both the H- and the O-series.

This is also listed as a limited production kit, of which only 5,000 will be produced.

This kit was later produced and sold by Gloor Craft as kit #370.

 

Kit #H-25, B&O 3 Bay Steel Hopper with Extended Top for Wood Chip Service click for larger picture
Original price: New:  
Recent price (high/low): $28.07 Jul 2005 $4.75 Dec 2003
(average/median): $12.08 / $10.50 

This kit ought to have been released in 1977 but I can not find any printed information about it. No prototype or kit information about this car, but there has been a couple of articles about similar cars in Model Railroader. One article discussed rebuilding of SP Wood Chip Hoppers (July 1969) and one note in the Bull Session discussed MP Wood Chip Hoppers.

 

Kit #H-26, Milwaukee 50' Automobile Car click for larger picture
Original price: New:  
Recent price (high/low): $26.00 Dec 2003 $6.00 May 2006
(average/median): $15.16 / $14.76 

This is most likely the last Ambroid kit made. It ought to have been released in 1977, but as with kit H-25, I can not find any printed information about it.

 

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References

[1] Keith Jordan, Richard H. Hendrickson, John B. Moore, and Dean Hale: Refrigerator Cars. Ice Bunker Cars 1884-1979. Santa Fe Railway Rolling Stock Reference Series - Volume Two. Published 1994.

[2] Rob Schoenberg: PRR. Web site.

[3] Northern Ohio Railway Museum.

[4] George Elwood: Fallen Flags. Web site.

[5] Reading Company Technical & Historical Society.

 

Acknowledgments

Ambroid is a registered trademark of Graphic Vision, Inc. and is used here with permission.
Ambroid adhesives can be found at Ambroid.com

Model Railroader is a registered trademark of Kalmbach Publishing Co.


Updated 07/24/2006 Copyright 2006
Per Harwe
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