Winter project

As this photo shows…

Baggage Wagon - 2013-12 photo BaggageWagon-2013-12_zps9cf97cd3.jpg

… it’s definitely the season to spend time at the workbench and in the layout room. And what more appropriate project for a Canadian enjoying some free time over the holidays than a snow plow?
Ambroid Plow photo Plow-01_zps9a79e43e.jpg
Ambroid Plow photo Plow-04_zps26e36f87.jpg
Ambroid Plow photo Plow-05_zpsb7b1adaa.jpg

I’m modelling Port Rowan in August but when my friend Andy Malette offered me an Ambroid / Northeastern Scale Models kit for a snow plow in 1:64 I just couldn’t resist. Andy has built this kit before (and done a beautiful job) and this kit was was surplus to his requirements. I don’t know where Andy got it, but since it’s “S Gauge” I assume it’s been through a few hobbyists’ hands since E and H Model Hobbies thanked the original owner for their patronage:
Ambroid Plow photo Plow-02_zps890d3df7.jpg

I don’t know when this kit was produced but I’m sure it was quite a while ago. There are several clues, including the contact info for Northeastern Scale Models on the instruction sheet…
Ambroid Plow photo Plow-03_zps490ede8e.jpg

Another clue is the box contents. While it’s not a block of wood and the instruction to “carve away everything that doesn’t look like a snow plow”, it’s a far cry from today’s craftsman kits. That said, the parts are very nicely shaped with minimal fuzz. With a strong mug of tea to hand, I hauled everything out of the to identify the components and make sure nothing was missing or broken:
Ambroid Plow photo Plow-06_zps1fd3eada.jpg

The good news – the great news – is all parts are present and accounted for. This is quite an accomplishment, given the kit’s age and the somewhat bashed condition of the box.

As can be seen in the lower right of the above photo, a few of the walls for the cupola have split. But the breaks are clean and I’ve sorted out which pieces go with which and taped them together so I don’t lose them. I’ll glue them together after prepping the wood, and they shouldh’t pose any problems with it comes time to assemble the cupola.

I must admit this will be my first attempt at a vintage craftsman kit so I’m approaching it with a bit of trepidation. But the instructions cover everything one needs to know to build the kit, and it’s curiously refreshing to read a set of directions that doesn’t talk down to the modeller. Ambroid obviously assumed only a craftsman who knows how to measure, cut, shape, and finish would buy this kit.

As the instructions note, the kit is based on a Boston and Maine prototype. But I intend to finish it as a Canadian National unit. For guidance, I have an article from CN Lines magazine that profiles the late Ron Keith – known as “The Plow Man” for the many, many examples he built:
CN Lines 60 - Mr Plow photo CNLines60-MrPlow_zps64f7bbe0.jpg
(Coincidentally, this is Issue 60 – the same issue in which I introduced my layout to the magazine’s readers)

I picked up this kit from Andy a few months ago but I’ve had other projects on the go. Now that winter is really here, I’m in the mood to tackle it. The first step will be to prepare the wood components with Scalecoat Sanding Sealer – my friend Pierre Oliver has a bottle set aside for me (thanks Pierre!) which I’ll pick up when I visit him over the holidays.

If nothing else, this will be a fun construction project and an interesting conversation piece.

13 thoughts on “Winter project

  1. Great to see a vintage kit being built! Some are just too strange and rare (like that 0-6-0 a while ago), but I’m sure you can make this one look very good. I never used the wood prep – is it a coating or like a clear sealer that soaks in?

    • Hi David:
      It’s a clear sealer that soaks in. It’s designed to minimize fuzz and lifting of the grain when you paint the wood.

  2. MR workshop may have built this kit back in the early1950s. I gave away all of my pre200 mags when I bought the collection on disc but you might be able to search on it.

    Have fun — I built a lot of Ambroid/Northeastern kits back in the day.

  3. Half a century ago, when I was a college student with no money, my family lived near Ballardvale. I visited the Northeastern shop several times, filling a box with factory rejects for $5. I still have a box of that stripwood sitting here by my desk. I took it out to use on the doll house I built to give my great-granddaughter for Christmas.

  4. Go for it, Trevor! Someone gave me a couple vintage wood box car and reefer kits, and the first one I built – a La Belle 36 ft. truss rod box car – was really fun to build. Just working with wood instead of styrene and/or resin made it enjoyable. I guess I’m just partial to the smell of sawdust! It came out pretty good (could have been better, I’m sure), and I started collecting vintage kits as a result.

    Phil Gliebe
    Waynesville, Ohio

    • Northeastern kits were always top quality, as we’re the Kinsman kits in S (made in the same shop). They are head and shoulders above the Mainline Models stuff now sold by Huff-n-Puff. There certainly are old wood kits not worth the bother to build, but not anything by Northeastern.

  5. Funny how the craftsman kits survive the test of time while the plastic gets consigned to the trash.

    I have a LaBelle box motor kit marinating in my stash that I picked up from Tom O’Toole back when I was a teenager. Hmmm.

    • I think it’s time you build that box motor, Mark! With it and a few other pieces, we could resurrect the Crooked Mountain Lines…

  6. Nicely detailed snow plow model you’re building, Trevor. Ambroid has some very nice craftsman kits. Years ago I dabbled in O Scale for awhile and bought an Ambroid outside braced hopper car kit. Just like the real car it was a composite of wood sides and metal bracing and other hardware. Unfortunately, my interest went back to HO scale after awhile and the car was never completed. I later sold it as an unfinished kit to someone else who appreciated the Ambroid line of O Scale cars. Age has kind of diminished my desire to tackle craftsman style kits having lots of parts, even plastic models with a lot of small parts. My eyes have a hard time seeing small items now which causes me much frustration, so I’m pretty much limited to quickie kits that almost put themselves together with a shaking of the box. Please post a photo of the finished plow…would love to see how it turns out.

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