by: Frederick Boucher [ ]
Originally published on:
Roundhouse started just before World War Two. After the war it reorganized as Model Die Casting, Inc. (also known as MDC), retaining the trademarked Roundhouse name for the product line. Once boasting a large product line of steam locomotive and rolling stock kits of late-19th and early-20th century prototypes, Roundhouse remains very popular amongst model railroaders. The locomotives featured die-cast boilers, metal frames, and plastic shells for the cabs, tenders, and detail parts. The metal makes them impressive pullers. Many freight and passenger car kits had die-cast frames, making them perform better than their competitors kits of standard plastic, card stock, and wood. Roundhouse included trucks and couplers. Another reason for their popularity is most were small, allowing for easy use on the common small layout. Eventually MDC Roundhouse expanded into modern freight cars and locomotives and Ready-to-Run (RTR) locomotives. Some MDC Roundhouse models were--and still are--regarded the most accurate model of their subject.
MDC Roundhouse has recently merged with larger model makers, and their product line is not as extensive. This change brought about the upgrading of remain kits, including RTR locomotives featuring DCC and sound.
3-1 Old Timer SeriesMDC Roundhouse modeled two popular niches: "The Golden Era" of railroading and shortline railroads. These subjects afford great modeling creative license. Roundhouse was inundated with requests for spare parts for scratchbuilding and kitbashing. Roundhouse eventually issued kits of three cars packaged together with multiple instruction sheets allowing modelers to build different cars from one kit. They also created Battle Mountain, an extensive series of kits based around a Nevada mining and logging shortline. Sadly, these are not in the current catalogue of kits.
Metal Log Car KitThree log buggies come in a box. Each of the log "buggy" models has 24 parts: 1 die-cast center frame,15 black plastic parts, 2 plastic trucks, 2 horn hook couplers, and 4 screws. The single chain makes the 73rd piece in the box, to be shared between the 3 cars. The plastic sprue is cleverly molded; the smaller pieces are attached to the running board. This sprue is mainly for the Roundhouse old time tank car, so your spare parts box will become fuller.
The log buggy is built with nine pieces, including couplers and trucks. The lumber car adds a tenth part.
No decals, logs nor lumber are included. The lack of decals is not a concern as my research found that these cars were rarely interchanged and reporting marks were scarce.
building the cars
These are simple kits built upon the die-cast center frame. The frame has good detail (though most is molded on) and is weighty. The few plastic parts add the details.
Tools required are basic: a file, a hobby knife, a small screwdriver, and superglue. Quick and easy to build. Once you have enough log buggies, you can build these as lumber cars and other associated equipment.
My pair of cars were ready for paint in a little over an hour after opening the box. Most of the time was spent cleaning up the metal frame with files, then modifying the running board to fit. A delay was due to my not reading the instructions; I completely removed the strakes the running board attaches to. A few small pieces of sprue solved the problem.
Roundhouse instructions leave attaching the trucks for after painting. Paint on the wheels is not good for the electric track. If you intend to use these as static models it does not matter.
ConclusionThese kits are very popular for a reason. They assemble quickly, possess a good level of detail, present plenty of extra parts, and are fun to build.