Craftsman Car Kits

Photo Galleries of HO Cars Built with Wood 

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The following car kit models were built with wood, castings, and wire. These were built by David Barron over the last 50 years. Because my skills improved over the years, some of the earlier kits are not as well built. It is my desire to display these completed kits so that others can see the finished products. The kits are grouped into Albums by manufacturer and subgroups for ease of viewing.

The links below will display the craftsman cars in FlickR. Please ignore the various ads that FlickR inserts into the albums.


This line of kits was made in the 1960's and 1970's, and it represents the first 12 kits offered under a limited quantity series. All of these kits are made of wood, wire, and some castings. I equipped most of them with Central Valley Trucks and Kadee couplers. The kits came with trucks and a tube of Ambroid glue. Click to see the Ambroid 1 of 5000 Photo Gallery


This line of 10 kits includes both early and late model cars and was run right after the first series finished up. These too were made of wood, castings and wire. Some kits had plastic underbody details. The kits did not come with trucks or tubes of glue. Click to see the Ambroid 2 of 5000 Photo Gallery


This line of 26 kits included both early and late model car kits. Many new techniques were introduced in this series that were not used in earlier kits. Click to see the Ambroid 2 of 5000 Photo Gallery


This represents the Ambroid line of regular issue kits, which varied in design and complexity. All were fairly easy to build and came with some preprinted sides or boards. Some castings, both plastic and metal, came with the kits along with wire and other required parts. Click to see the Ambroid Car Kits Photo Gallery


Kadee made a series of three log cars and one four wheel logging caboose. These were very detailed kits that were made of metal and (in the early cabooses) wood sides. In later manufactured kits, the caboose was a cast plastic body. The log car kits represented the Skeleton Log car, the Truss Log Car, and the Disconnect log cars. Some disconnected trucks only had couplers on one end, while others had couplers on both sides. All the kits operated very well and were highly detailed. The log cars came with plastic logs, and more logs could be purchased if desired. Click to see the Kadee Car Kit Photo Gallery


Mainline Models are precision made of selected basswood. The sides are prepainted with Floquil paint and silkscreen lettered. Kits are less trucks and couples. Click to see the Mainline Model Train Car Photo Gallery


This line of kits first started in Oconomowoc, Wisconsin, and has passed through several owners. The present owner has maintained the quality of the kits and has added to the line. The line includes O Scale, HO and HOn3 freight and passenger cars, as well as a Traction line. This quality line is probably the last wood kit line around with as many freight, passenger, and traction car kits that are still being made in quantity. These kits have quality precut wood, quality castings and, today, decals. The earlier cars came with dry transfers and were excellent in those years. One had to know how to use dry transfers or the application really got messed up. Decals do allow the builder to move the lettering around for final positioning, but decals still leave a hint of film no matter what you do, unlike the dry transfers. In the early Labelle Woodworking Co. catalog it says "We feel our methods are unique and are always looking for new and better ways to improve our line of kits." The instructions include step by step directions, which, if followed, will result in a model to be proud of. I have built Labelle kits since the early 1960's and have enjoyed their simple, yet detailed, construction and building techniques that always resulted in a quality car. The kits are still reasonably priced and easily ordered. All of the wood passenger car kits turn out as nice as any brass car and also allow for a full interior and glass to be installed. I have several with interiors and real glass in the windows that have placed 1st, 2ed, and 3rd in a Regional NMRA Contest Click to see the Labelle Woodworking Photo Gallery

Ye Olde Huff-n-Puff

Ye Olde Huff-n-Puff have been manufacturers of quality wood craftsman kits for more than 50 years. Their kits have reprinted wood sides with metal detail castings. Ye Olde Huff-n-Puff is reported as a division of Silver Streak Models, Mainline Models, Sugar Pine Models, and AC Models. Click to see the Ye Olde Huff-n-Puff Photo Gallery

Red Ball Models

Wood and metal line of HO and HOn3 car kits, some of the early ones had preprinted cardstock sides. Kits are from the 1940’s and 50’s. Created by Mr. Dale Newton Co. El Rancho Ferrocarr8il, Medford, Oregon. Click to see the Red Ball Models Photo Gallery

Ulrich Scale Models

These kits are all wood and/or metal kits that are highly detailed metal pre-painted and lettered side castings that are probably the best ever produced. Ulrich was sold to Walthers for awhile and is now back in the hands of a private person/manufacturer. Ulrich freight car kits came with either Bettendorf or Andrews Ulrich trucks. Click to see the Ulrich Scale Models Photo Gallery

Tichey Train Group

Easy to build, non-painted, highly detailed plastic kits, and parts. Quality is equal to Grandt Line Castings. Kits include underbody details, separate hand grabs, ladders, and coupler pockets that will accept most popular style couplers. Click to see the Tichey Train Group Photo Gallery

Grandt Line

Manufacturers of both injection molded black plastic parts and kits for decades. They have become a standard for scratch builders of structures and rolling stock. Click to see the Grandt Line Photo Gallery

Silver Streak Models

These kits feature lettering from the classic age of steam. The kits were pre-painted and pre-lettered, scribed wood sides, die cast metal ends and caboose cupolas, cast metal super details including ladders, grab irons, underbody and more. Kits come without trucks or couplers. Click to see the Silver Streak Models Photo Gallery

Quality Craft Models

Highly detailed heritage and modern kits made of wood, metal, and wire. These were almost an extension of the Ambroid Heritage Line of kits. Click to see the Quality Craft Models Photo Gallery

Central Valley Cars

These kits of Box cars, Reefers, Ventilated Box Cars, and Cabooses were basic wood kits with pre-painted sides, ends and doors. Metal details and the famous Central Valley Trucks with Snap on bolsters were included with each kit. Click to see the Central Valley Cars Photo Gallery

NMRA Convention Cars

These cars are offered for sale, at various NMRA National, Regional, and local conventions or shows as a memento of that particular convention. Some were issued as kits, while others are fully built. Click to see the NMRA Convention Cars Photo Gallery

Private Road Cars

In the past, some model railroaders, including myself, built “house cars” with our own railroad names and logos on them. We would agree on a car type, material (wood or plastic) with or without trucks and couplers and make a trade. Other individuals only traded decals to put on their own built cars. Selecting a railroad name was important. My railroad name started as Mule Pass Division Point in the early 1960’s. During that time I wrote to John Allen, of Gorre & Daphetid fame. He wrote back and explained that my railroad name was really incorrect. He explained that you can have a division point on a railroad, but not a railroad on a division point. He explained to me that although many had offered to trade with him, he had to decline, in that if he did trade he wouldn’t have any cars on his railroad with his railroads name on them. From that I changed my railroad name to Mule Pass & Woodland Railway, but my logo stayed the same, a small Mule in a circle. I further designated white lettering for all freight cars and reserved gold lettering and logos for passenger engines and cars. Click to see the Private Road Cars Photo Gallery

Mantua Cars

Ready-to-run, detailed reproductions of old time cars. Plastic cars came pre-painted and lettered and included trucks and couplers. Click to see the Mantua Cars Photo Gallery

Special or Anniversary Cars

These are cars issued by clubs or organizations to celebrate the number of years in existence, or special event, and were usually a fund raising effort. Other uses for these special cars are magazine publishers or organizations reaching milestones, prototype railroad tourist operations, etc. Click to see the Special or Anniversary Cars Photo Gallery

Scratch Built or Kit Bash

These model railroad cars are creations of the builders from raw materials or taking an existing kit and changing it into something else. Although wood is commonly used, metal and plastic are now used as well. Building techniques for each has their own applications. Materials come from places like Northeastern or Kappler Scale Lumber Wood products, Plastruct, brass wire, various castings, and commercial parts, trucks and couplers. Lettering is mostly done with decals although dry transfers are sometimes used. Plans for building and lettering cars come from various Model Railroad Publications such as Model Railroader, Railroad Model Craftsman, Narrow Gauge and Short Line Gazette, Fine Lines, Timber times, Timberbeast, NMRA publications and several other fine publications. Click to see the Scratch Built or Kit Bash Photo Gallery

Unidentified HO and HOn3 Cars

Over the past 55+ years I have built many cars, and some were given to me. At swap meets and shows I even purchased a few. They are made of wood, plastic, metal, and who knows what else. The cars in this section I don’t recognize who made the kits or any data about them. If while looking at them, you happen to recognize something please forward the information to and I’ll put it in the correct location with your input. Thank you.. Click to see the Unidentified HO and HOn3 Cars Photo Gallery