Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Expressing Change for the O-Gauge Zen Garden

The latest addition -- a Haji Express Truck. This lithographed, tin
friction toy was manufactured in the late 1950's-early 1960's.
The nice thing about a train layout -- or as I think of it, an O-gauge Zen garden -- is that it's never really finished. There are always opportunities to change, upgrade, add to and/or rearrange components. And, unless you're a professional model builder, there's no deadline.

As I wrote in my last post (A Fetching Winch in the O-gauge Zen Garden), my current project is to improve my assortment of vehicles. I'm happy with some of the cars and trucks on the layout, but others are just placeholders until something better comes along. And what is that something? Well, I'll know it when I see it.

And that's just what happened recently. I saw something I knew would be perfect for the layout. It's a Haji tinplate express truck, made sometime in the early 1960's.

I was very happy with my last addition, the Haji tinplate winch truck. Haji created several varieties of the same vehicle as an economical way to offer more products (shared components lower costs). So far, I've seen examples of a cement mixer, flatbed truck, and fire engine, all using the same chassis and cab. With just a change of lithography (and something different attached to the back), a new truck model was created.

I didn't find those models especially interesting, but the express van caught my eye. As you can see from the photo below, the only difference between it and the winch truck is what's attached to the flatbed. When I placed them side by side, I was a little surprised to see that the cab graphics were different.  It's the same piece used on both, so I thought they might have been lithographed the same.

The two Haji trucks. Note the difference in lithography on the cabs. The
windshields, doors, grilles, and lights have all been changed to
disguise the fact that the component parts are identical.

Still, I think I made a good purchase. My layout is a mix of semi-scale structures and rolling stock with vintage tinplate accessories, and.the Haji express truck fits in nicely with that mix. It is toy-like in appearance, but not overly so. To me, that makes it a good addition to the Zen garden.

What's next? Well, I'm not sure. As with the Haji express truck, I'll know it when I see it. Whenever and wherever that may be.

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