There have been a number of special NASG-sponsored projects produced over the years. This page captures that information. The primary source for this information were the reports listed in the NASG Dispatch issues, and some personal correspondence.
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The American Flyer Commemorative Car Program was an NASG program that ran from 1981 through 2019. It was a stand-alone program, not related to the special projects covered here.
The Annual Member Car is a new NASG program started in 2020 that offers an annual car related to that year's NASG Convention. It, too, is a stand-alone program, not related to the special projects covered here.
Let's also mention the NASG Convention Cars, which up until 2020 were cars sponsored by the club or individuals who organized and sponsored that particular NASG Convention.
Officially, the Special Projects program was started by Dick Cataldi in 1986, taken over by Don DeWitt in 1987, and finally Alan Evans ran it from 1989 through 2015 as the Special Projects chairman. In 2015 Alan retired, and the NASG BOT concluded that the program had pretty much run its course.
The program has had several names over the years, such as "Brass Car Committee" (1983), "Freight Car Committee" (1996), and "Special Projects Committee". Some projects took more than one year to complete, some failed, and some years had more than one product released.
These projects were a delicate issue, because the NASG does not intend to be a manufacturer, and it doesn't want to appear to be competing with the existing S-scale manufacturers. Also, the NASG does not want to favor one manufacturer over another, so the organization worked closely with a number of manufacturers and took bids on certain projects.
The "Brass Car Committee" commissioned Overland Models to produce two sets of brass hopper cars. The committee consisted of Don Thompson, Jim Kindraka, and Michael Ferraro (NASG treasurer at the time). Also involved were NASG president Rollie Mercier and, then Overland Models' employee, Jettie Padgett (who later started SouthWind Models).
The models were the American Car & Foundry's Type II and Type III two-bay, rib-sided, covered hoppers. They were imported by Overland Models, and built in Korea by Ajin Precision Ltd. The cars sold for $85 each for NASG members and $95 for non-NASG members (price was increased by $5 in May of 1984). The models arrived unpainted, as was customary for projects of this type back then. The significance of these models was that they came with wheels that were set to the then-new (and correct) NASG gauge, which at the time was different from the NMRA gauge for S-scale standard-gauge models.
The photo above is of Jim Kindraka's model, painted and lettered for the NYC. This is the later "Phase III" version, which can be identified by the closed-off center section (compare it against the photo below).
The photo above is of Jim's model, painted and lettered for the Monon. This is the earlier "Phase II" version, which can be identified by the open center section.
Jim recalls the effort of this project in his article in the July 2015 issue of the NASG's Dispatch magazine on page 15. Jim makes it clear that the NASG did not subsidize the project; funding came from deposits NASG members made for the project. The profits from the sales were given to the NASG.
The "Brass Car Committee" again commissioned Overland Models to produce five sets of brass tank cars (see the 1984 entry above for more info about the committee itself). The decision to go with the tank cars was based on the results received from the survey included with the 1984 cars (they were the #1 and #2 voted-for entries).
The models were the American Car & Foundry's 10,000-gallon 1-, 2-, and 3-dome tank cars. They were built in Korea by Ajin Precision Ltd, and imported by Overland Models. The models arrived unpainted, and were available with scale wheels in T-section Bettendorf trucks or with AF-compatible wheels in Ace Bettendorf trucks. They sold for $88 each at pre-order prices, later increased to $98.
Some additional information was covered in Jim Kindraka's article in the July 2015 issue of the NASG's Dispatch magazine on page 16. The profits from the sales were given to the NASG. Below are photos with a brief description of each of the models produced.
The effort to produce a Milwaukee Road horizontal-ribbed, 40-foot, brass box car was started in 1987. The models eventually materialized in 1991 as part of a River Raisin Models project to make three versions of the Milwaukee ribbed-side box cars. River Raisin made the entire run of the 40' version with 6' Superior doors available to the NASG as an exclusive for its members. The model cost $152.95, which included shipping.
The cars were manufactured by Ajin Precision Ltd of Korea and imported through Overland Models. River Raisin Models separately sold a 40' version with 6' Youngstown doors, as well as a 50-foot double Superior door version, but these were not part of the NASG project. All three versions of the models were imported in either a shiny brass or factory-painted but not lettered finish, as shown here. Lettering was available from C-D-S Dry Transfers.
S-Helper Service was commissioned to produce 300 models of their 53-foot PRR flat car, equipped with an Ertl road grader as the load (SHS #00176). The car cost $45, and included both scale and hi-rail wheels and couplers.
The BOT also approved the purchase of 300 models of the Downs Model Railroad Co. 23,000-gallon modern tank car. It was painted black and available with three different road numbers. On one side of the car was the "Trusweet" logo, which is a white background with green and yellow letters, while on the other side are the words "Trusweet" and "Amaizo". The models were available with either scale or hi-rail wheels and couplers, and cost $40 ($1.50 extra for operating hi-rail couplers).
We are looking for a photo of this car (contact the webmaster).
S-Helper Service was commissioned to produce another 300 models of their 53-foot flat car, this time equipped with an Ertl John Deere excavator load and lettered for the Union Pacific. The car included both scale and hi-rail wheels and couplers, and cost $50.
The NASG commissioned Pacific Rail Shops to produce, for the first time in these special projects, a kit, of a 50-foot Union Pacific box car. Because this was a kit, sales were slow. Most projects sold out within the year they were made available, but these were still not sold out in 2001.
In July 1999 the NASG BOT commissioned 200 brass cars from SouthWind Models. These were to be the TTUX Front Runner intermodal spine cars, available only with scale wheels as hi-rail wheels would interfere with their operation. Two versions were to be produced, with five road numbers each. The photo below shows a pre-production model used for testing the rigid wheels to handle model curves.
By December 2000 the pilot model was reviewed by several prototype experts who offered their suggestions for improving and correcting the model before the final production was to be started. Unfortunately, word leaked out on various discussion forums about the minor issues with the model, which people mis-interpreted as being a critical review of the final model, and so pre-orders stopped immediately. The pilot model was enhanced by an expert modeler before being returned to the manufacturer.
In April 2001 it was announced that SouthWind Models cancelled the project. It was not due to the low pre-orders, but rather that the Korean builder who built the pilot model disappeared, taking with him the car and all of the plans and drawings. Jettie Padgett, owner of SouthWind Models, even flew to Korea to go look for this person, but he never found him. It was estimated that he lost about $5,000 because of this. All NASG members who pre-ordered the car received their deposits back.
It is a relatively small, modern (post-1960) building measuring 16' x 28'. It was based on the BNSF mainline structure found near Kings Park, California, but it is generic enough to be used just about anywhere. The model sold for $20, and they were already shipping by the time of the 2002 NASG Convention. At the 2008 NASG Convention's BOT meeting, the announcement was made that Des Plaines Hobbies bought the remaining kits and its tooling. There are product reviews of it in the December 2002 (page 12) and February 2004 (page 8) issues of the NASG's Dispatch magazine, both providing additional photographs. The July 2015 issue of that magazine has an article showing several variations of the kit members of the Miami Valley S Gaugers club had made.
The NASG commissioned American Models to produce two configurations of Pullman heavyweight, 80', sleeper passenger cars in five different body colors. This project was headed up by Dick Karnes on the NASG's behalf. One configuration was the 10-section, 1-drawing room, 2-compartment (10-1-2) sleeper car, shown here.
The other car was a 12-section, 1-drawing room (12-1) car, shown below. The cars arrived painted, but not lettered. Custom decals, appropriate for the chosen body color, were included. The body colors included the NYC-style two-tone gray, which is shown in these first two photos. Other railroads that used cars with this paint scheme were: B&M, B&O, C&O, FEC, GM&O, 1C, MP, NKP, SAL, and SR.
Also included in this project were the Pullman green undecorated cars. These models came with a clear roof.
Another set of cars were painted Pullman green, but these came with black roofs for Pullman-owned/operated cars.
Another body color was the Canadian National Railways black & green body with yellow stripes. The initial batch of CNR cars were painted with the incorrect color. A remediation kit was made available to those who had purchased the cars. Members could also send the models back for professional repainting service. The cars that hadn't sold yet were repainted before being sold. Andy Malette was the one who did the professional repainting work.
Also available was the PRR-style Tuscan red.
The project was such a great success that American Models released a matching cafe car for each of the body colors shortly after these were released. After the initial commission sold out, American Models offered these cars as part of their regular product line, and they are still available today.
Bob Hogan wrote an article in the September 2004 issue of S Gaugian on how to detail the underbody of these cars.
In conjunction with Showcase Miniatures, the NASG presented the "Sunkist Packing Shed" kit. It was a shallow-relief kit. The company had produced this kit in HO-scale. NASG member John Gibson wanted to see this kit be produced in S-scale, as it is very useful to US west-coast modelers. John did the leg-work in getting the necessary minimum commitments arranged, as well as the initial funding, for the company to consider producing the kit. With this done, Gerry Evans (Western VP of the NASG at the time), on behalf of the NASG, approached John about taking over the completion of the project, thereby getting the manufacturer to fully commit the resources necessary to produce this kit in S-scale. In the August 2006 issue of the Dispatch it was reported that the kits were sold out. However, the company continued to carry the kit in S-scale for a number of years. Later, the company stopped producing S-scale kits altogether, and subsequently changed ownership in 2015.
Also released in 2006, a project headed up by Dick Karnes on behalf of the NASG, was a special run of the Palace Car Co.'s passenger sleeper car seats for the American Models passenger cars released in 2004. The seats are visible in the photo below, grouped together on the right-hand side of the photo, in vertical center of the photo. These were sold out within a matter of days after their announcement, so the company started re-stocking them and making them available directly, and they are still available today (see below for more...).
The passenger car seats manufactured by Palace Car Co. were such a success that the NASG teamed up with them again to produce a set for a full interior. Two versions of these beautiful kits include all seats, seat arm rests, partitions, floor material, and instructions for 12-1 and 10-1-2 heavyweight Pullman cars (for the ones produced by American Models in 2004). The full set can be seen in the photo above for the 2006 entry, and these are still available today. Dick Karnes wrote a more detailed article about this project in the December 2007 issue of the Dispatch. The photo below shows an example installation.
Kermit's Kleaning Kemicals was a modular brick building kit. The plan was to develop a system of brick building wall components, similar to what the company Design Preservation Models offers in N-, HO-, and O-scale. The building, when built as suggested, has a footprint of 8" x 12", and stands 8" tall. It sold for $99.95.
This project's history is a bit messy. Jerry Porter approached the NASG BOT in 2001 to do this project. The NASG BOT approved the project and drafted a contract. Jerry never actually signed the contract. Dick Karnes, as newly-elected Executive Vice-President of the NASG in 2003, took over the project from the NASG's perspective. He created another contract that was also not signed by Jerry. This is when Bill Banta of banta modelworks was assigned the project. He signed the contract and production was begun in late-2006. The kit was finally released at the 2009 NASG Convention after much behind-the-scenes work by Gerry Evans (Dick's successor, at the time). In 2010 banta modelworks announced that they were leaving S-scale, so that eliminated the continuation of these components. The project had a good premise, but it was beset with behind-the-scenes issues and set-backs. Rusty Westermeier wrote a less-than-favorable article about his constructing one of these kits in the October 2010 issue of the S Gaugian magazine.
The NASG commissioned American Models to produce heavyweight baggage cars as a separate item. The car was previously only available as part of the five-car PRR passenger car set that American Models has. The cars arrived painted Pullman-green, but were undecorated. They had a black roof and underbody. They were available with either 4-wheeled or 6-wheeled trucks, with the 4-wheeled ones being in limited supply. By default, all wheels were "scale" wheels, but hi-rail versions were available. The photo shows Kadee couplers installed, but those were not provided with the model.