Railroad Model Craftsman Product Review

Tom Yorke Conversion Kit in O Scale

Tom Yorke has been producing exceptional O scale kits since the 1970s. The reviewer found it interesting how easy it was to convert a non-scale item like the Lionel disconnect trucks into scale by simply converting the wheels and coupler.

Tom Yorke Conversion Kit in O Scale

O Scale (1:48)Review by Bill Davis

Tom Yorke has been producing O-scale kits since the mid-1970s. Yorke’s offerings are highly sought after because of their exceptional quality and design. Because he’s also an artist, Yorke’s products reflect an artistic flair most other model releases fail to achieve.

It was very common for logging lines to convert some of their disconnect cars into caboose and service cars. With that in mind, Tom has designed a freelance four-wheel caboose based on a couple of prototypes found in the book Railroads In The Woods by John T. Labbe and Vernon Goe (1995, Oso Publishing). The models, both caboose and tank car, feature a design allowing mounting on a Lionel disconnect. To use the disconnect log car for 3-rail, you will need to remove the log bunk. The log bunk is removed by simply removing one screw. If you are using these disconnects for 2-rail O-scale operation, you will have to disassemble the truck (remove a few screws), replace the Lionel wheels with 33-inch scale wheels, and reassemble the truck. Replacing the Lionel coupler with a scale coupler requires removing one screw in the draft gear. Whether you are operating with 3-rail or 2-rail, you can use Tom’s O-scale caboose or tank car or both.

Let’s examine these kits. Both models feature shells cast in resin with very clean, crisp detailing. You will need to remove the edge flash; otherwise, there is very little to clean up. With each kit, you receive one page of written instructions and one page with an exploded view showing how the kit is assembled with a picture of the pilot model. One nice feature of the instructions is the fact that Tom explains how he painted these models. The method is very easy, and with a little patience, you can create realistic weathered wood and metal tones using Tom’s method of coloring with thin acrylic washes.

The logging caboose, which comes without trucks and couplers and carries a $49.95 price, is a scale 10-feet, 4-inches long by 8-feet, 4-inches wide and stands 7-feet, 9-inches tall. The castings consist of two side walls (one with a door and one with a window); two end walls (one with a window and one blank); a roof with authentic tar paper detailing; and floor pieces with stringers. In addition, there is a piece of wire for grab irons, a short metal piece for the steps by the door, and a short piece of tube for the smokejack.

The 8-feet wide tank car kit is a scale 10-feet, 4-inches in length with a scribed decking piece included. There are two tanks in the kit. One is round (7-foot long by 4-foot in diameter) with a separate end casting and filler. The other is rectangular (6-feet, 9-inches long by 3-feet, 9-inches wide and 3-feet, 4-inches high) with a separate filler hatch. There is also a pair of white cast-metal globe valves and a toolbox that is 6-feet, 3-inches long by 12-inches wide and 24-inches high). A pair of tank support castings and wire for tank hold downs completes this kit.

Tom Yorke

The caboose kit assembly is very simple. The shell consists of four walls, a roof, and a floor, as well as a few details. I assembled a side and end wall that formed an L-shape, making sure it was square. I did this upside down, to also make sure the wall tops were matching — critical to the finished model.

Next, I assembled the other pair of walls, being careful to make sure they were correctly assembled to form the opposite L. I then assembled the two L-shaped sections and added the roof. Everything fit perfectly. One thing I did was add styrene strip stops inside the body to hold the floor at the right location because I won’t be adding the floor until I finish the painting. I did this because I couldn’t glaze the window once it was installed. Following Tom’s painting instruction, the finished body came out looking great. Once it was complete, I mounted it on the Lionel disconnect truck.

The tank car kit, which sells for $49.95 less trucks and couplers, is a little more complicated but not difficult. I cleaned the flash off the floor casting and added the board edge detail. I then glued the floor to the underframe piece. Like on the caboose body, I painted these pieces and the tank supports following Tom’s method and came out with a good-looking weathered wood effect on all the pieces that represented wood. I glued the end casting to the end of the round tank and added the water hatch pieces. I added the globe valve on a piece of tubing made by N-gineering. I assembled the square tank by adding the hatch and the globe valve, and they were ready for painting. After painting, the tank car was put on the disconnect truck. These simply glue in place.

I really like these kits, and they have made a nice addition to my logging railroad models. I found it interesting how easy it was to convert a non-scale item like the Lionel disconnect trucks into scale by simply converting the wheels and coupler. Adding Tom’s kits create unique cars to complete your log train.

Thomas A. Yorke
210 Pitch Lake Ct.
Roswell, GA 30076


RMC February 2017This review appeared in the February 2017 issue of Railroad Model Craftsman

This article was posted on: January 18, 2017