HO scale MOW equipment

Dan’s been in touch again – this time with his HO scale MOW equipment.

He’s sent in quite a piece on what he’s been doing.

I hope you enjoy it as much as I did:

“Wreck Train /MOW (maintenance of way) equipment has been vital to railroads since ties were first laid.

As operational equipment became more sophisticated, so did the maintenance equipment.

Displaying and using this equipment on model railroads can add a lot of visual interest, at a well displayed static location, or as part of an operating session.

I am modeling the Delaware and Hudson railroad in upstate NY, and in doing some photo browsing I came across the below photo by Gil Ford of a D & H wreck train consist.

It features a 200 Ton crane, a gondola as a boom/scrap car, a hybrid tool car, and a repurposed heavyweight coach for the crew. Sometimes there were two gondolas, one on each end of the crane.

I immediately decided that I had to replicate this consist. The D & H, like many railroads, had its share of disastrous road events, one in particular I happened to witness as I was sitting on the edge of the Hartwick College pool.

On a bright February midday, a huge fireball erupted over the mountain ridge east of the college.

That was the evidence of the first of several propane cars that exploded and put themselves in an airborne trajectory 1000 feet across the Susquehanna River… but that is another story.

HO scale MOW equipment

maintenance of way crane

The first car I chose to model was the gondola, as I had one ready for “bashing.”

It started life as a Bachman gondola with the Southern livery. Some alcohol, swabs and a pencil eraser removed all the lettering, providing a clean slate. Fortunately the body side was very close to the silver grey of the D&H.

The next task was to prepare the car interior. I built up a base with wooden strips to raise the future load.

After a warm soapy wash I painted the interior of the car flat black.( It is a good idea to wear gloves to keep your skin oils off the surface. I then decaled the sides with D&H yellow and painted the top rail with D&H Blue.

To create the load I cut a piece of styrene to fit into the gondola, and painted it flat black. I used CA glue to affix a washer and nut for a magnetic option to remove the load from the car. Then I looked through my various parts supply and came up with track pieces, wheels, chain, gears, ties, etc. to create the load, gluing each with CA glue.

HO scale gondola

HO scale gondola

After assuring it would fit into the car I aged the load to the patina of rust. I used various modeling paints; rust, rail brown, raw sienna and followed that by brushing with powders. Once dry with the look I wanted, I sprayed the car with flat medium to affix everything.

HO scale gondola

The next car was the HO scale MOW equipment 200 ton crane. My 20 year old crane was missing too many parts so I found a complete crane on a sluggish eBay auction.

As I did not want to risk losing parts, I painted it intact, using a fair bit of Tamiya masking tape. Once an edge was burnished, there was no bleed thru with this tape. D & H decals from Micro Scale put the finishing touches to this model.

The next car in the line is the “hybrid car” that I had no information on. Picking the brains of some fellow enthusiasts, like yourselves, I discovered that this was called a “Tool Car” with a boom tender on one end, and part of a locomotive tender at the other.

This was surely created at one of the D&H shops. I was told the tender portion likely held water or fuel. I found an unused tender body and a suitable car in my inventory. Al recently sent over a picture of the tool car under construction. I am just about done with this car now, just needing to put the smokestack in place.

maintenance of way car

Prototype Tool Maintenance of Way Car

The last car in the consist is the heavyweight coach to transport the crew.

I found the perfect car in my extra inventory, a Milwaukee Road heavyweight coach I bought in a flea market package deal. I added some weight, removed the MR decals, then taped, painted, decaled, added a supervisor on the platform and finished it off with a coat of flat medium.

The bug for heavy equipment was still with me, and upstate NY gets its fair share of snow, so a plow would be in good order. On Craigslist I found an older Walthers Russell snowplow kit and also found that the D&H had used them along with Jordan spreaders as part of their snow removal system.

I was fortunate to find Gil Fords photo of that complete operation, but I think that using “MOW” followed by your railroad in a search engine will yield many photo examples of the type of equipment that was used. I am sure they would look great on your layout.

Here is my completed D&H HO scale MOW equipment.

HO scale MOW equipment

HO scale MOW equipment

HO scale MOW equipment

I still have one up my sleeve, a searchlight car, but the painting is mostly done, but I need to rewire the light. Want to put an LED in it.



A huge thanks to Dan for sharing his HO scale MOW equipment

I don’t think there is a ‘wrong way’ to make a layout – but I have to say, I do find the ones with a good back story the most captivating.

Dan has a done an execellent job, and I can’t wait to see how this one unfolds.

That’s all for today folks.

Please do keep ’em coming.

And if today is the day you stop dreaming and start doing, the Beginner’s Guide is here.



PS Latest ebay cheat sheet is here.

PPS More HO scale train layouts here if that’s your thing.

17 Responses to HO scale MOW equipment

  1. Bob Shipley says:

    The D&H is one of the railroads I model as well. Great work Dan.

  2. george says:

    WOW, WOW
    What a fabulous segment. Thanks so much for the education ( you learn something everyday) and the display of talent.

  3. John Roetman says:

    Nicely done.

  4. Malcolm Hodgson says:

    Excellent modelling and a good description of the process. Thanks for sharing. If I may be so bold as to make an observation………..
    I think you could do with removing the hex nut from the load, it looks far too overscale and in my opinion, and of course it is only an opinion, detracts from what is otherwise a superb bit of modelling. In this instance I think that old adage applies “less is more”.

    Kindest regards

    North Wales.

  5. To Mal, a fellow Welshman;

    Your point is well made, and the irony is that I did not need to install that nut as the insert lifts quite easily when one grabs the door frame. A bit of over-engineering. I still have some “junk” I could add to camouflage the offending nut, but until that time I will just say that the wreck was from a train that was transporting the huge nut to the North American Nut Museum…….

    Thanks, Mal for your keen eye.

  6. Gerry says:

    Nice job Dan and great explication of how and what you did. It makes me want to go check out the MOWs for our Alaska RR..

  7. Cary B says:

    Wow, really nice looking MOW build set. I love the colors. Excellent

    Cary B

  8. Choochoo52 says:

    Fantastic! I usually don’t comment but had too because the D&H tracks are out behind my office in Unadilla about 16 miles from Oneonta. Now a question. Since you have so much talent would you mind making a set for me in O guage. LOL. I love it.

  9. For the Unadilla guy, I know well the area, as I took many trips down Rt 7 from Oneonta to Binghamton and the NE extension. Hmm, will have to think about that O gauge option. Not sure my youngest son and grandson would let me kitbash any rolling stock from their grandfather/great grandfathers train set. Good Luck.

  10. Stephen D Gispanski says:

    Nicely done Dan, my hat is off to you. You have made four cars that cost almost nothing to you and turned them around and made them worth a ment. Great ideas. I bought a crane car that cost me nothing also, thanks for the idea. I just h to go out and get the paint for my outfit.
    Great Ideas , S D G St.Petersburg

  11. Hemi says:

    That Sir is some WELL DONE research on that D&H Wrecker set up! NICELY done, and GREAT job on the trains themselves!!!!!

    Keep up the GREAT work! ~Hemi

  12. Good work. he last D&H derailment was on an Easter Sunday, I believe it was in Alpaus when one train ran into a stopped train .I am into railfanning since my modeling days are done due to lack of space. All these modeling pics of layouts bring back many memories. I look forward to your daily e-mails.
    Keep the tips & pics coming.

  13. Arnie Steiner says:

    Dan – Very nice job indeed on the recreation of the D&H MOW equipment. Your research and skill really paid off!

  14. now THAS wut I call ‘Kit bashing” Dan
    excellent research and bash build
    terrific attention to detail
    keep em runnin fellas
    stjohn in long beach calif

  15. Cord Reynolds says:

    This was of particular interest to me, Dan, as my great uncle, Marcus T. Reynolds, was the architect of the D&H Building in Albany. Very nice work!

  16. Bob S says:

    Great work. I model the D&H (o scale) and it is one of my favorite lines. Great color scheme.

  17. John S says:

    I too remember that event as I lived in that area and was in the fire dept when it happened, Interesting railroad I have to say and you got it right with your design. spot on i would have to say. Not sure if you knwe this but the D&H ha dthe biggest roundhouse in the world at one time and alot of the old buildings still stand in the oneonta site.

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