Hobby shop Otter Valley Railroad, located in Tillsonburg, Ont., has released its first HO scale freight car in its “Private Label” line of rolling stock — the National Steel Car-designed 6,400 cu. ft. high-sided gondola. This gondola is primarily employed for hauling trash, construction waste and scrap metal for disposal or recycling. Almost 3,500 of these 64’ inside length, 14’4” high cars have been delivered since 2007, with the bulk being constructed at the NSC plant in Hamilton, Ont., but with some batches being assembled by Curry Rail Services in Hollidaysburg, Pa., and Ebenezer Railcar Services in West Seneca, N.Y.
The first production run includes an incredible 21 different six-packs and 126 individual cars culled from nine different owners, as well as pre-made loads and gray and black “data only” gondolas with no road number. American Iron & Metal Company’s huge fleet accounts for almost 25 percent of the numbered cars, with three different variants available (six AIMX 11xx series with seven-rung ladders and side door, and 12 each of AIMX 14xxx with seven-rung ladders and AIMX 23xxx with eight-rung ladders). Meanwhile, there are 24 numbers of the standout green Cardella Waste Service of New Jersey (CWSX) gons with “early,” “middle,” and “billboard” lettering styles, all with eight-rung ladders.
The rest are comprised of six each of the Combined Metal Industries (CMBX), Deacero (DEAX) and Residco (OFOX), all in gray, 12 each of the dark green Interstate Waste Services (IWXX), gray Oak Ridge Waste & Recycling (OAKX with “billboard” lettering) and gray Tunnel Hill Partners (WINX) and, finally, there are 18 black Coastal Distribution cars (CDEX). All have eight-rung ladders except the DEAX cars, with seven rungs. They operate primarily in the Midwest, Northeast and Eastern Canada, although the DEAX-marked cars, which are also widely fitted with large removable roofs, can be found in Texas and Mexico.
The specification is excellent with separately applied ladders and wire grabs, different ends with slots matching the seven- and eight-rung ladders, fully detailed underbody with brake levers in the released position, close-to-scale-size draft gear box with specialized cushion detail, coupler cut bars and accurate pattern air hoses, scale knuckle couplers without trip pins and ASF Motion-Control and Barber S-2 trucks with scale 36-inch wheels with rotating roller-bearing end caps, the latter in Brenco or Timken designs where appropriate. The models are priced at $64.99 CAD for a single car and $349.99 CAD for the six-packs.
The cars themselves are securely packaged in a two-part vacuum-formed plastic shell that kept all three review samples, CDEX 16118, CWSX 140053 and WINX 00029, safe from damage or detached parts. No additional information sheet is provided, although a pair of spare bearing wheel caps are affixed to the packaging just in case they fall off during operation.
It’s difficult not to be impressed with these cars straight out of the box…