Please accept my apologies for any typos that you may find in this post. The spell checking routine on the blog software isn't working correctly and it has been difficult to check for all of the errors. They still tell us that they are "working on it..."
A few years ago, I ran across this photo of a very old freight car in an old book published in the late 1800s about Findlay. During the gas boom, the city fathers erroneously thought that the natural gas they had discovered would last forever and that the more they used, the more the earth would put forth. Well, it only took a vew years for that theory to prove false but in the meantime, there were all kinds of new industries that sprung up around here. After all, the promise of free gas for fuel was enough to get people really interested.
The age of the car is indicated by the old link & pin coupler. If you look carefully, you can see it at the car's end. The car is also of all-wood construction including the ends. So it is indeed a pretty old one.
While I won't bore you with the technical details, I was able to electronically "stretch" the photo to reveal a lot of the lettering on the side of the car. The end is pretty clear and easy to read. Note that the name "New York, Chicago and St. Louis Railroad" and the car number appears on the car on one side while "Traders, TD, Despatch" appears on the other. The letters NYC&STL are on the door. Note also the the door opens to the left, not the right.
To build a model exactly like this one, I would have to find one with a left-opening door or scratchbuild it. I'm not aware of any mass quantity plastic model with those so that was the first compromise I had to make. But otherwise, IHC made some old time boxcars several years ago and some of them turn up on Ebay every once in a while; I've snagged a couple of them.
Here is the end result of my efforts after some paint & decals:
There is still a little assembly on the car that needs to be done and I'll probably weather this one rather heavily to match the one in the photo and to make it really look like it is very old. After all, my railroad is set in the 50s and the photo was taken sometime in the 1890s... it needs to be a REALLY old relic to have survived that long.
No, really old cars probably don't belong on a railroad like mine but to me, that's the fun of relaxing the modeling rules a little. While some people want to model a particular point in time, I like to stretch that a little to allow for fun projects like this one.