Why are there no Boston subway or street car models?

I hopefully search the new major catalogs each release looking for something representative of the Boston subway system or Boston streetcars.  Each time I come away empty handed and puzzled.  (Even investigating other scales like Ho and Z, it seems.)

With the rich subway and streetcar tradition in Boston can someone tell me why I have yet to see a model compared to samples from other major cities?  (Exception: someone's kitbashed version on this forum.)

I'm just puzzled:  Is it a licensing issue?  I would think the demand is there.  I see that MTH has put out an MBTA (Mass. Bay Trans. Authority) commuter rail F40PH engine this year, but that's as close as it gets.


Tomlinson Run Railroad

Original Post

Bill and Rusty,

Thanks for the info; I guess I got started looking late -- since 2015.  There's hope, as the MTH site identified a few still around. I think the Seashore? Trolley Museum was selling the Corgi models for a while, but I don't remember seeing any in Boston livery.

Encouraging news, although still no subway cars.


Tomlinson Run Railroad

If you are into wooden trains the MBTA store still has the blue line and commuter rail available:



They used to have green and red lines too but I guess they sold out of those.


It is good to see that the MTH commuter rail set includes the control car.

Frank Ventura




... Another dedicated member of the model railroad quality control department. whenever I see quality, I try to control it...


prrhorseshoecurve posted:

island modelworks has some boston kits available:



Thanks for the photo and link!  That's definitely somethig to think about.  (Those wheels look a little odd to me but what do I know?)  Of course, I've got a model to finish already before thinking of a new one .


artyoung posted:

I think they're still trying to get Charlie off of that train

LOL... Always wondered why poor old Charlie's wife never handed him a nickel along with the sandwich as the train passed through Sculley Square Station   


Techno-Peasant of the First Order

Provisionary Member - Brotherhood of the Crappy Basement Layout


Apples55 posted:
artyoung posted:

I think they're still trying to get Charlie off of that train

LOL... Always wondered why poor old Charlie's wife never handed him a nickel along with the sandwich as the train passed through Sculley Square Station   

Have you ever met Charlie?  Clearly it was part of the Mrs.' strategy!  


Interesting question. This is not the answer you are looking for but. In the mid fifties Ken Kidder was importing many  brass models from Japan. He was going to have subway cars made. I frequented Ma Websters Model train Shop on 45th Street in Manhattan. There on display was an O Scale Kidder brass Boston Subway car. ( not that a 14 year old kid could afford anyway). It was not for sale and was a display piece. They told me they were waiting for an  IRT R-17. I went to the shop often with my friend Vern buying wood and supplies for our scratch building of subway and el cars. Alas, the R-17's never did come and after a few years the Boston cars were gone never to be seen again. Bill Clouser built an O scale R-17 and an O Scale H&M K car under contract with the St. Louis Car Company. The K car was a cutaway model showing the interior. The R-7 was a full car. They were on display in the old Hudson Terminal in Manhattan. No one knows what happened to th K Car but the R-17 model wound up in a resturant in Manhattan. It still was on display last time I checked about 8 years ago.  I should go back.


The population of Boston is 655K.

The population of Chicago is 2.7MM.

The population of New York is 8.5MM.


Holding metro area populations constant and assuming the ratio of train collectors to non-train collectors is also constant, this is an issue of demand, pure and simple.

Please don't shoot the messenger.

Steven J. Serenska

Sorry, it's taken me a bit to respond. Nate, thanks for the interesting background story.  I'm impressed to read that you were scratch building subway and el cars at fourteen!

Steven, you have a very pursuasive argument.  Being a historian-type, I tend to see the history of a transit line as a "selling" point. (I'm not a big Franklin Mint fan, but they and other collectors companies seem to use that approach in some of their offerings. Say, an example of one of each representative of the item being produced.)

I'm off to Charles Ro after work today, and may discuss the MBTA engine in a recent catalog if I can locate it before I leave and the pre-order price is still available.

Tomlinson Run Railroad

I have the Corgi model which I like, but it is, like many Corgi models, physically a Philadelphia model with Boston paint. It lacks a left hand door, and to account for this, they give it the number of the Boston prototype PCC which lacked a left hand door--but the prototype, like all pre-war PCCs, also lacked standee windows. If you have $700 you can get a more authentic model from St. Petersburg Trams, as well as picture window cars and Dallas double-enders. Okay, you have to win the lottery for that. The Corgi model does closely model the San Francisco F line PCC, which is an ex-Philadelphia car. San Francisco, by the way, looked at buying the 6 Dallas double-enders from the Kennebunkport museum but founded them too rusted and opted for 2 former red-arrow cars from the Branford CT museum instead, and Dallas scrapped there sole double ender, which hey found too rusted to restore.

Okay, how about this?  Get any Corgi Pittsburgh PCC- they all come with a monitor roof.  Corgi also made a Toronto version with a monitor roof.  You now have an acceptable stand-in for the Boston 31-3200s.  To simulate the streetside door, simply cut out a piece of transparent plastic the size of the door.  Glue it down over the spot on the car where the door is located which you have already painted flat black.  Matching whatever livery you choose, apply orange, gray, or green decal strips over the transparent plastic "door" to create the windows.  Now you can paint the model to match whatever decade you're modeling.  SPTC does make its own decals for this car.  However, if you have difficulty getting them, I have a few spares I'd glad to share with you.  Good luck.

My gripe was that Corgi (and other modelers pretend their car are accurate models, even giving them car numbers, when they are not. Older cars didn't have standee windows, Brooklyn and Washington cars were shorter, Chicago's longer (and with three sets of doors), Cincinnati with two poles, etc. One that gets me is San Francisco 1040--the last PCC streetcar ver made. I live in San Francisco near the F line and see the actual car nearly every day, and it looks nothing like the Corgi model. However, most of the other restored PCC streetcars here are from Philadelphia and Newark and look like the inaccurate Corgi models except San Francisco added front  trolley poles to them (without the  front poles, did the others not go in reverse?).

Timothy, those are absolutely awesome cars!  And great photos, too!  I like the Seaver-Humbold one in particular. Thanks for posting.

And thanks also to the others who had sent replies to this thread.  I've been super busy lately and bad with responding, but I have been reading via emails.

Tomlinson Run Railroad

Found this one. From the same collection that I kept. It's and Atlas, lettered for Boston Elevated Railway. Not sure if it was sold that way or someone relettered it. Either way, Boston Elevated never went any where near Fenway Park as it states on the front.




Photos (2)

You can get pretty close to the pre-2008 Mattapan PCCs using the Corgi as a start, but you have to be willing to use your Dremel.  Best to start with one of the Corgis that have the long roof housing.  Then

  1. block off the standee windows with .005 styrene; there is enough relief so it doesn't show
  2. Dremel out the window band and divide it up more prototypically
  3. remove some of the front, below the anticlimber, where the coupler goes; file down the "widow's peak" over the front windows
  4. add the second set of double center doors on the left side (scratch-build from styrene)
  5. add mirrors and the roof headlight and move the retriever on the back
  6. add a sticker for the system map (prototype also uses an applied sticker)
  7.  Put Tim Murphy in the cab


I think you could also modify a Railking PCC this way so long as you started with one that had the roof housing (e.g., Washington DC).


I have 5 Boston trolleys --one HO Boeing LRV, the Atlas Fenway Park, the Corgi and two MTH PCCs.  Only the Boeing HO and Corgi are  scale of course, but the MTH PCCs call out stops on the Mattapan-Ashmont and Riverside lines.  

Yes, the Boston Elevated did not serve Fenway park directly, but Kenmore station on the trolley subway handled huge numbers of Fenway park patrons.  When the Riverside extension was opened the first station west of Kenmore was named Fenway, although I don't know whether Kenmore or Fenway is closest to the park. 

Yes the Corgis don't have left hand doors, but the standee windows could be found on the 25 Boston all-electrics. Photo taken by myself at Arborway a long time ago.  Lew Schneider0143 3221 Arborway


Photos (1)

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