Get your "S" scale ears lowered

You might have heard the term "Get your ears lowered" whenever your hair got too long and those "pesky" parents commented on it.

Well on my railroad there have been some cars that needed their "ears lowered" for some time now.

I'm talking about the S scale (sort of) Auto carriers Lionel has produced for us.

You've seen them in the O27 auto carriers with S gauge trucks.

They are OK for what they are but I always thought they could look a bit more true to scale if they didn't have those "Ears" at the top of the car that held the top of the ladder.

What I wanted to get was the more streamlined look that real auto carriers have with the ladder recessed on the side of the car.

So it was time to "Lower some ears". All of my auto carriers are reconverted O27 cars that I modified myself by adding S gauge trucks. I don't have a lot of $$ invested in any of them so cutting and modifying them wasn't a big problem for me. (It would take nerves of steel to do this cutting on a brand new S scale auto carrier car that cost $70.00+).

It's fairly simple.

1. Remove ladders.

2. Carefully cut off the ears at the top of the car ends.

3. Touch up paint at ear locations or apply a sticker to this area such as 

4. Add stirrup to ladder holes at chassis or cover with another sticker

5. Glue doors shut if desired.

6. Shorten ladder and glue to side of car near car ends.

It would be best to have a junker O27 scale car to practice on. My initial car turned out "OK" but it could have been done more carefully. The initial problem is how to trim off the ears without doing any damage to other parts of the car. I chose to use a thin flush cut saw and a block plane. If I do it again I will use the thin saw and a very sharp chisel to carefully pare away the plastic until it is smooth with the length of the car roof line.

Instead of using touch up paint that most likely won't match I see nothing wrong with adding an "Excess Car Height" sticker printed on a computer. I usually use 8 1/2 X 11 label paper to print stickers like this.

Another sticker or conspicuity striping could also be used to cover the ladder holes in the chassis edge. The doors could be made to open but won't slide to the side anymore.

The ladder height trim is easy as is gluing it to the car side. Measure, cut, glue.

I don't think the car needs stirrups below the ladders.

The dimensions of the car remain about the same now but the ear removal helps out appearance-wise I think. ~68' long, 19' 6" high (my cars), 11' wide at roof, 11'6" wide at floor. Here's some pics of the modified cars:

Ears 1Ears 2Ears 3Ears 4Ears 5

I'm going to do other cars like this but really take care on the trimming first patient lived but has a few scars. Pictures 2, 3 and 4 give you a good view of the now recessed ladder. I still have to cover up the ladder holes on the car floor when I get my stickers printed. Pictures 2 and 5 show the slightly slimmer look of the roof line.







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A suggestion that I can not take credit for, take one of the cars to Home Depot and have them match the paint. I have a pair of SD-60s that had been badly abused, I went to get matching paint at my LHS but a couple of tries failed. Ed Goldin suggested the Depot for the paint, nearly perfect color match in satin finish, and about $3.00 for a  trial jar will do all your cars and enough left for the rest of your local club.


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