To paraphrase Vane Jones, "Knowledge is of little value until shared with others."

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year

To all of you a very  Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. May you enjoy the holidays with family and friends.

The CRT has done a fantastic job of bring the Creche to the location where Santa was giving out gifts.

Instead of "Where's Waldo?", where is the pink flamingo? Click on the photo if your eyes need help.

S-300 was a boom car rebuilt in 1947 from S-6 by either the CRT or CTA to replace the 1st S-300. S-300 survived unto 1972 after spending a long time in the Logan Square yard for many years. I saw it twice daily during the late 1950's and early 60's. The model was scratch built by me from plans and photos provided by Bruce Moffat. My son helped to interpret the size and type of lumber used in building the car, cab, and boom from photos.

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year,

PS - The next edition of this blog will be posted after 1/1/2012!

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Available CSS&SB Models in Kit or Other Forms

Before getting into the subject of this post, an explanation is in order. Pete Busak was an O scale traction modeler. Over the years Pete had many jobs but most notable were those with All-Nation and ChicagoLand Hobby Shops. Pete had a steel-trap mind when it came to knowledge about traction products. If you had a questions about a product, Pete was the man to ask. Unfortunately Pete died several year ago. Along with Pete went a lot of information and knowledge.

After Pete's untimely death I had questions about what CA&E models were available over the years. There was no one individual to turn to for information. The material could be looked up in magazines and stuff but what if it was not in print. As it turned out information about all of the models I was interested in was not available.

This started me on the idea of making lists of the commercially available models for the CSS&SB, the CA&E, and the CNS&M in O scale. As long as I was looking up info on one of the area traction lines, why not copy down the info for all 3 Insull lines. In preparing the lists, issues of Trolley Talk, Traction and Models48/ft. O Scale News, plus other information sources in my personal files were utilized. To verify the information Eric Bronsky, Terrell Colson, Ron Hastie, and Fred Oakland reviewed my work.

In making the lists only commercially available (or what had been available) models were included. Scratch built or a commercially made one-of-a-kind model, like a Joe Fisher built model or a sample of a model to be commercially produced, were not included. Sometimes describing the evolving kits and/or bodies turned out to be a problem. They may have been produced by more than one manufacturer or available from more than one vendor. This made some of  the descriptions cumbersome as you will see.

A word of caution - the lists are not exhaustive and some knowledge of the industry is required. In other words you have to know your history of the O scale traction hobby industry.

If you do not know the manufacturer's names for some of the items listed, chances are the the manufacturer and his item(s) are "long gone".  In a future posting how to find models and parts will be covered.

There will be 3 posts of the lists. This posting covers the CSS&SB models. The next posting is for the CA&E models while the 3rd posting will be for the CNS&M models.

Because a model is listed does not mean an endorsement from me. Some items listed are fantastic while other may be very basic in nature. However, even very basic models with proper finishing can be extremely well done model!

The CSS was the easiest and shortest list of models of the 3 lines so here it is -

Explanation of descriptions used for models:
  • brass body – unpainted built-up brass body without trucks
  • brass body w/trucks (non-powered) – unpainted built-up with non-powered trucks
  • powered brass body – unpainted built-up brass body with powered trucks (RTR)
  • wood body - unpainted built-up wood body without trucks
  • urethane body – unpainted built-up urethane body without trucks
  • “zinc” metal castings kit – a kit composed of “pot” or zinc alloy metal castings without trucks
  • various materials kit – a kit composed of metal stampings or castings, wood, etc. material
  • soft metal body – unpainted built-up “lead” based alloy body without trucks
  • epoxy body – unpainted built-up epoxy body without trucks
  • painted, complete powered model - a ready to run model


#1 series Pullman or Standard Car Company Passenger Coach (original version)
            Walthers – various materials kit
            Max Gray – powered non-painted brass model
            Russ Briggs Designs – brass kit and built-up brass body

#1 series Pullman or Standard Car Company Passenger Coach (lengthened version)
            Walthers – various materials kit
            Russ Briggs Designs – brass kit and built-up brass body

#100 series Pullman Car Company Combination Baggage-Coach (original version)
            Walthers – various materials kit
            Max Gray – powered non-painted brass model
            Russ Briggs Designs – brass kit and built-up brass body

#100 series Pullman Car Company Combination Baggage-Coach (lengthened version)
            Russ Briggs Designs – brass kit and built-up brass body

#201 series Pullman or Standard Car Company Passenger Coach  Trailer (original version)
           Walthers – various materials kit
           Russ Briggs Designs – brass kit and built-up brass body

#301 series Pullman Car Company Dining Car
            Russ Briggs Designs – brass kit and built-up brass body

#351 series Pullman Observation Car
            Russ Briggs Designs – brass kit and built-up brass body

Service & Freight Equipment
#700 series Also-GE ex-NYC R2 C+C Electric Locomotive
            Electric Shop – brass kit of NYC R2 (modifications required)
            Max Gray – powered brass model of NYC R2 (modifications required)

#801 series GE 273-ton 2-C+C-2 Electric Locomotive
            Overland Models – powered brass model
            Locomotive Workshop – brass kit
            Weaver Models – powered, painted brass model

#1001 series 80-ton Steeple Cab Locomotive
            IMP – powered brass model

#1011-1012 GE 85-ton Steeple Cab Locomotive
            Overland Models – powered brass model

#1054 series CSS&SB Built Bay Window Steel Caboose
            Locomotive Workshop – brass kit


Saturday, December 10, 2011

Joe Fisher Traction Models

Joe Fisher scratch built many O scale passenger car models over the years. His work included standard passenger and traction (trolley) cars. The hallmarks of a Fisher model were the use of "Lionel" size light bulbs for the interior lighting and home-made bolts to hold the roofs in place on the model.

The "Lionel" size light bulbs are the bulbs normally found in Lionel locomotives, cars, and structures. They are far too big for use in most O scale models. They produce a lot of heat for the interior of the model.

The home-made bolts are pieces of brass rod threaded on both ends. On one end, visible from the bottom of the car, a large nut was screwed on and soldered to the bolt. Then a slot was filed into the end with the nut for the blade of a screwdriver. The other end of the threaded rod would be screwed into a block of brass mounted to the roof of the car. Besides holding the roof to the car, the secondary use for the bolts was to bring the electric current to the roof for lighting. In the case of a trolley model the current was brought down to the power truck(s) and the ground for the lighting.

I own two traction models built by Joe Fisher. The CA&E 1909 Kuhlman pictured above and a CSS&SB solarium car. I know the CA&E car is painted the wrong color scheme. The model was built as the prototype car was originally delivered with upper sash windows. The model should have been painted either in the original dark green as delivered from Kuhlman, the dark red introduced by Dr. Conway, or the coffee and cream color scheme of the early 1930's. However, I don't have the heart to have the car repainted. As an aside the model is hand lettered. Since obtaining the car some minor changes/corrections have been done. The interior lighting has been changed to miniature 16 v bulbs. Some time in the future the lighting  will be changed to constant voltage.

The CSS&SB solarium didn't have "Lionel" size bulbs but rather miniature "neon" bulbs. They produced too much light of the wrong color. The prototype didn't have neon lighting. When obtained by me this is what the interior of the roof looked like. One of the threaded roods, the brass blocks to hold the other threaded rods. the "neon" bulbs, and wiring can be seen.

Here is a view into the interior of the model. The passengers were added by me.
The "neon" bulbs were replaced with 16 v miniature bulbs. A future projects is to install constant lighting since the sign on the rear of the car as well as the markers use a Dallee constant voltage regulator.

I've often wonder what, how many, and who owns the traction models built by Joe Fisher. Thanks to information originally prepared by Rich Bosak when Dud Onley was selling his models, a list of Fisher's models has been prepared. However, the list may not be all inclusive of the traction models built by Fisher. He must have built traction models for other trolley fans. If you have any information about any of the models on the list and/or would like to add a model to the list please let me know.

Joe Fisher O Scale Interurban Models
Compiled by Ed Halstead

  • Business car #7, maroon with sand roof *
  • Buffalo Lockport & Rochester coach 500 series, orange with brown roof *
  • Chicago Aurora & Elgin coach #315, red and blue-gray with green roof *,**
  • Chicago South Shore& South Bend parlor car #351, orange & maroon w/maroon roof **
  • Dayton & Western combine #605, yellow & maroon with tuscan red roof *
  • Illinois Terminal line car #1799, green with tan roof *
  • Indianapolis Crawfordsville & Western combine #105, maroon with gray roof *
  • Northern Ohio private trolley car The Northern, body only *
  • Oregon Electric observation coach, green with tuscan red roof *
  • Portland Lewiston interurban coach #12, Pullman green & tuscan red w/gray roof *
  • Rochester Syracuse & Eastern Coach #109, Pullman green w/sand roof *
  • Sacramento Northern coach #125, green with tan roof *
  • Southwestern coach, coach green with sand roof *
  • Terre Haute Indianapolis & Eastern modernized coach, yellow with brown roof *
  • Texas Electric arch roof coach, dark blue with sand roof *
  • Union Traction Wind Splitter #413, maroon with black roof *
         * = built for Dud Onley; ** = owned by Ed Halstead


    Sunday, December 4, 2011


    This is a blog about making traction models in 1/4" scale. The name of the blog Modeling Insull's Empire relates to the location of most of the traction companies'
    equipment to be modeled.

    The vast majority of Samuel Insull's traction empire was in the Chicago area. The companies to be modeled will include the Chicago Aurora & Elgin, the Chicago North Shore & Milwaukee, the Chicago South Shore & South Bend, and the Chicago Rapid Transit Company. However, from time to time other trolley lines will be included.

    It should be noted included with in the Chicago Aurora and Elgin are the lines of the Aurora Elgin and Fox River Railroad Company.

    This blog was started in response to Donald Burno-Bosan 's request for me to start a blog regarding making traction models. Don is the webmaster for the Great Third Rail website .

    I've been building trolley models in O scale for over 50 years. You can see a short video of my layout on YouTube  thanks to my friend Eric Bronsky.

    The photo at the top the page is a model scratch built by Joe Fisher in 17/64th scale for Dud Onley. A photo of the model appears in Trolley Talk Number 39 page 5. I was able to obtain the model when Dud was sick and selling off his trolley empire. More will appear about this model in future blogs.

    I am looking forward to writing an interesting blog for you.