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The open-frame automobile carriers were operated between 1950 to 1970 on USA railroads. 

The Canadian National and Canadian Pacific had the open-frame auto carriers in service to 2000. 

Because Mike's Train House started with tinplate reproductions, MTH could make the 1950's and 1960's era auto carriers out of stamped and folded steel, with posts and signplates specific to each railroad, but for some reason has not done that. 


Why on Earth would you make an injection molded version of an open framed automobile carrier? 

The real freight cars were built out of steel. 

These automobile carriers can be made out of close to scale thickness, steel sheets with enough hardness to be durable for a long time.

The steel construction would allow them to be made like each variation actually built.

The steel sheets can be laser cut, stamped, and folded for each design change.

The steel cars would not be too heavy. The complaint with plastic automobile carriers over the past year was that they were all too light.

M.T.H. can make these, since they are the most ready after years of 'tinplate' construction.


A real trilevel rack is mounted on a flat car with special trucks that use 28” wheels to get the A deck as low as possible.  The usual wheel size is 33 inches.  Since the flatcar deck is low, the draft gear is mounted on top of the A deck to get the couplers up to the right height. There are ramps to go down from the end sill onto the A deck. The loaded autos at each end of the car sit at an angle with wheels on these ramps.  The hinged B deck comes down and uses the space over the hood and trunk of the autos loaded on the end positions. With the hinged deck down, the B deck is straight through, as is the C deck.  I have never seen a mass produced model with these detailed.   The Trailer Train flats used for trilevels have a reduced capacity because all eight of the 28 inch wheels are only good for 55 tons, while the axles and bearings are rated at 70 tons.  I have never seen these low deck flat cars used for anything other than trilevel auto racks.  

There was one three-rail offering from K-Line -- The Evans 6-car open autorack. It was a New York Central flat with the Evans hoist/ramp hardware on top. K-Line's offering was a scale version of Lionels (4-car). New York Central was the only one who had them, unfortunately. Lykens Valley made a three-level 89-foot Auto Rack kit in O scale, but as mentioned above, none has been offered in ready-to-run.

I have acquired several of the scale kits on ebay over the years but not yet attempted to build one (YET), literally 100+ fine pieces.  I have often wondered why no one tried to produce an open auto rack at scale or near scale in O gauge.  I think many of the reasons offered in this thread are correct plus can you imagine the cost if Lionel or MTH did it with +/- 15? vehicles on it???  I'd take it empty.

There used to be two scale scratch built (Rock Island) open autoracks at P&D Hobbies in Detroit, truly impressive.  I admired them for years.  I think Pat had been given them or taken them in in trade.  The last time I was in before he died, they were gone.  He told me someone made him an offer he couldn't refuse, no clue where they landed?

Even so, Athearn's HO open racks are pretty nice and Accurail's are decent enough.  Interesting question I would pose to the thread (no fantasy / crazy wish stuff) who could conceivably consider producing scale or very near scale in O???????

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