I know virtually nothing about Clark A. Benson or his Custom Services business. All I really know is that in the late 1980’s, while living in Chicagoland, I made an impulse purchase of 8 new/OB O scale length, extruded aluminum passenger car KITS at one of the Dekalb County Fairgrounds monthly train shows that I regularly attended with a couple of buddies. This was at a time when Jerry Williams was just introducing his first O Scale brass steam locomotives and there was very little O scale sized passenger cars widely available, at least to my knowledge.
For 30 or so years I’ve done nothing with them, but got them out recently to photograph to sell or consider doing something with them. This thread is primarily a photographic tour tracing the lineage of these cars from their LIONEL extrusions Mr. Benson apparently utilized along with LIONEL’s plastic vestibule and plain car ends. Perhaps it's a footnote in the evolution of the O scale length passenger cars that have proven to be so popular since Mr. Benson, and others', initial efforts.
The packaging of the kits is similar to LIONEL’s PW aluminum cars' cardboard liners:
These are photos of the car ends and extrusions that are representative of the 8 Benson cars I have. The LIONEL PW, "wide-channel," disassembled cars are on the right in the photos.
Instead of the sheetmetal frame LIONEL used, Benson cars use a Masonite (?) pressed board floor/frame and used clear plastic “window” strips in lieu of silhouette strips:
Of the 8 cars, there are: 3 offset vista domes; two “Coaches;” a “Parlor” car; a Sleeper car; and, a scale 70’ baggage car. This is one of two dome cars that came with massive, lead cast vista domes.
A third dome (with incomplete milling) has cast brass dome ends but nothing else to form a vista dome:
The baggage car measures 18” and is otherwise the same extrusion as the other 7. The doors are fixed closed and have the same clear plastic “window” material.
The two “coaches” are identical except that one has cut-outs for the trucks and the other does not:
The Parlor and Sleeper cars:
The "set" came with no observation car per se, but it did include a couple of cast pieces that could be used (by someone with skills) to create a blunt end obs car:
If you can supply more information on Clark Benson's O scale aluminum products, please do so (with photos if available). Also, I've included many more photos as thumbnails since this post is long enough scroll-wise.