Skip to main content

Passing gas rail .
War was meant to be fought in the air ...but you needed a whole bunch of stuff going on at earth level to get off the ground .
US Navy airships began in WW1...kicked into high gear for WW2. Helium was much more stable than Hydrogen.
Special cars were designed to transport helium ...1930-1960's .
Hawk ( wood model airplane maker out of Chicago ) offered an O scale helium car kit 1938-41 .
Postwar Ambroid offered a kit in HO .
To read a whole bunch more about "Passing Gas " please see link for interesting article .

Cheers Carey Screenshot_20220702-162225~2IMG_20220702_180908617_HDRIMG_20220702_180855151_HDR


Images (3)
  • Screenshot_20220702-162225~2
  • IMG_20220702_180908617_HDR
  • IMG_20220702_180855151_HDR
Original Post

Replies sorted oldest to newest

Hawk ( wood model airplane maker out of Chicago ) offered an O scale helium car kit 1938-41 .

I have seen and chased after 3-4 of those Hawk kits and then 5-6 built up cars. Both sell for too much vs. the amount of time and effort I'd have to invest in them to bring them up to something I could accept.  Someday, maybe 1 will show up that fits my budget.

Last edited by mwb

The Amarillo website is a wonderful resource. I've heard murmurs of the wooden Hawk models, never seen a good photo of one until now. Was there ever a model made of the 1920s-era 3-tank model? I worked with a friend from this forum to design a 3D printed model but I've never seen a commercially available one.

Yes, but only a kit in HO.

Last edited by mwb
@R Nelson posted:

Marty,  thank you for the information.  I would have bet dollars to dimes that one was done in O, would have sworn I'd seen one at an O meet.  Your memory is better than mine, I guess........

What you may have seen was one scratchbuilt in O based on the HO kit.  I've built 2 of the Ambroid HO only kits translating them to O scale models.  There are 2-3 more that I want to do just for fun and the challenge. The helium car kit has been on/off my to do list for many years.

Last edited by mwb

In 2019, I found what I later determined to be a Hawk Models helium car at the summer Greenberg train show for $25. It was missing a roof panel on one corner. The original builder had made "improvements" over the stock kit by adding end of car sills where the couplers attached, adding a Westbrook center frame, and substituted an earlier vertical brake wheel stand instead of the car end mounted version it came with in the kit. The original builder did mess up the decals that came with the kit and never installed any of the handrail and end door details.

I converted the car to 3-rail (apologies to the 2-rail crowd) using Lionel LionScale trucks. I added an air tank to the chassis and brake valve to the Westbrook center frame where the hole already existed for one. I made a new roof panel out of bass wood to replace the missing original, but there was no chance of matching the original paint and finish. The original builder used lacquer as a top coat that had yellowed over the original grey paint. Considering that and the messed up decals, a total redo was in order.

I bought some Tichy Train Group US Navy helium car decals online. I used photos of the eagle decal on the car in Microsoft Paint to make custom eagle decals for it since the decal set was for a later car that did not have that particular logo. After repainting the car in silver like later cars, I made new handrails and door details. All of those details and the original ladders and brake stand were painted black. The new decals were installed and everything was sealed with clear coat.

As purchased:


After restoration:


I have a second helium car that I bought at the October 2021 York Meet also for $25. As with the Hawk car, it was definitely older construction and was not recently made. This one is kind of odd because it's supposed to be one of the early 3-tank cars, but the tanks are only tapered on one end of the car instead of both. Also, it was painted olive green with an odd font for the helium and US Army markings. One handrail stanchion and the brake wheel were missing and the other stanchion was broken off the platform but still attached to the handrail. The trucks were mounted to thin, sheet metal plates screwed to the frame and the couplers were mounted with long screws and spacers to get to regular O-gauge coupler height.

I know there are/were good builders who could/can scratch build, but some of these parts look too exact to not be a kit of some sort. The lettering could have been for something else, but it also looks like it might have been designed for the car. It looks like it was intended for 2-rail operation as designed, but the original builder mounted Lionel prewar tinplate trucks on it and lobster claw conversion couplers typically used to allow 2-rail cars to connect to Lionel cars.

While the condition was not too bad and repairs could have been made, I decided another complete restoration was in order. I acquired more Tichy Train Group decals to convert it to US Navy to be a companion car to the Hawk 28 tank car above. I made new stanchions for the hand rails, added a postwar style brake wheel, and removed the old couplers and trucks. After some minor body work, I painted the tanks silver and the rest of the frame, support structure, handrails, and other details black. Lionel postwar trucks (painted black) were installed to finish off the car before the decals were installed and clear coat applied. I also had extras of the eagle decals I made for the Hawk car, so it got those as well because the prototype cars had them too.

As purchased:


After restoration:



Images (6)
  • IMG_20190721_151150760-01
  • IMG_20191129_110159103
  • IMG_20191129_110223660
  • IMG_20191129_110211119
  • IMG_20220123_112446234-01
  • IMG_20220215_073236786-01
Last edited by mountain482

First prototype print of the 3rd Generation 30 tube car chassis. I decided to split the car into 2 parts so that the truck mounting can be accessed simply. I'm going to use MTH trucks with custom printed sides. This is straight out of the printer with no cleanup other than removing supports. In my haste I managed to break the brake line. Final print will be using a tougher resin. Bottom of chassis is facing up.


Work continues on the rest. One end is done, except for the connection to the brake wheel, will probably just use brass rod and chain for that. Still a TON of rivets to add, and most of the hardware on the doors on the other end...



Images (2)
  • 20220709_000939
  • 2022-07-09

Add Reply

OGR Publishing, Inc., 1310 Eastside Centre Ct, Suite 6, Mountain Home, AR 72653
Link copied to your clipboard.