Tuesday, September 23, 2014

The Straco Layout, Part 36 - Milwaukee Mystery

Read all the installments of the Straco Express layout project here.

It's been a while since I added to the rolling stock of the Straco Express display/layout's fleet. But something came available that I simply couldn't resist -- a Nomura gondola car.

Virtually all the information available on this
set is right there on the box. It ain't much.
I've learned a few things about Nomura since I started the Straco Express layout. This Japanese company made their tinplate HO trains under a variety of brands. All of the sets were similar -- an F3 diesel and two box cars.

There were some variations -- the diesel was offered with or without flashing lights. The freight cars came in two different pairs -- a silver Santa Fe refrigerator car and a yellow Santa Fe cattle car, or a green Santa Fe box car with a maroon Mobilgas automobile car. The same shell was also lithographed as a passenger car to make a two-car Santa Fe passenger set.

And then there's the gondola car.

It turns out Nomura made a two-car freight set for G.B.C., an importer based in Skokie, Il (on the outskirts of Chicago). That set included an illuminated F3, a blue Mobilgas automobile car and a gondola car. The locomotive was lithographed with Milwaukee Road silver and orange livery. The automobile car had a small "Milwaukee Road" sign incorporated into the existing graphics, and the gondola car had a similar sign on its side.

An attractive little set -- especially if you were a
kid growing up in the Midwest.
My guess is that G.B.C. wanted a set with regionally popular railroad markings to sell in Midwestern department or dime stores. The Milwaukee Road would be a good choice for such a product.Of course, that's just a guess. Where this set was actually sold, what years it was available and especially why it was created in the first place remain a mystery.

The piece is referred to as a log car on the set box, but as it's missing the load, I think gondola car more accurately describes it. The truck and underframe assembly is identical to those of the later series freight cars, although the body construction is different. The sides are lithographed on all exposed surfaces, and an ingenious folded tab arrangement keeps the four sides of the gondola together.

I think it makes a nice addition to my Nomura/Cragstan/Rosko rolling stock. The entire set would be even nicer, but I've yet to see the other two pieces offered anywhere -- in any condition.

I think the Milwaukee Road gondola fills out a Nomura freight train
quite nicely.

Total cost for the project:
Layout construction:
  • Pegboard: $4.95
  • Flathead Screws: $0.40
  • Molding: $2.49
  • SilClear: borrowed from a friend
  • Green Paint: left over from another project
  • Wood Screws: $3.60
  • Felt Pads: $1.99
Power Pack: $5.90
Small Houses: $3.00
Testor's Gray Paint for road: $1.29
Bandai Areo Station: $8.99
2 tinplate signs: $1.00
4 tinplate signs (with train) $5.99

  • Two Japanese toy cars: $2.00
  • A.W. Livestock truck: $4.99
  • Taxi: $2.99
  • Ambulance: $2.99
  • Two Japanese patriotic cars: $6.99
  • Nomura Police Car $2.52
  • Haji three-wheel sedan $3.00
  • Nomura lumber truck $3.48
  • 1950's sedan $2.99
  • 6 Namura vehicles $16.99
  • LineMar Pepco Truck $8.50
  • LineMar Bond Bread Van $8.00 
  • LineMar Fire Engine $4.95 
  • LineMar Dump Truck $12.99
  • Nomura Red Sedan $5.00
Total Cost: $127.98

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