O Gauge Hood’s Milk Cars
By John Mateyko
Before good roads and reliable intercity trucks, much of the daily milk production in the New England states moved by rail. To reduce the time and manpower required to clean a large number of milk cans, a milk car was developed which outwardly resembles a wood side refrigerator car. Inside were two 3,000 gallon stainless steel tanks which carried bulk milk. One of the larger dairies was H. P. Hood and Sons.
The spirit of those Hood milk cars has been captured by several O gauge manufacturers, some rather loosely and some with pretty close to scale bodies. My interest in these cars started when I read an article in OGR about a layout in southern Indiana. The cover photo showed a string of Hood’s cars and my interest was aroused. All were two rail cars with the circled cow’s head logo, but were obviously produced by different companies and the bunker hatches were in different positions. I acquired my first Hood’s car in March of 2001 and the search continued through that November. Within eight months I acquired five cars from five manufacturers. About that time, the new Lionel catalog presented their Hood’s rendition which is the only one that models the interior tanks and some of the pipes. The tanks may be seen as the roof is easily removable and the doors can be opened. Lionel is the only model with a representation of external piping under the floor and bumpers above the couplers. These two features have made this model desirable among O Scale operators.
Side by side, the Weaver and CMP cars appear to be manufactured using the same mold. The only difference I can see is the brake wheel axle on the CMP is slightly longer than the brake wheel axle of the Weaver car, but I would not use this to identify the manufacturer. Both my Weaver and CMP car have CMP molded into the underside of the floor. The KMT and Williams cars appear to be manufactured using the same mold and resemble a steel side refrigerator car. The Williams car has a silver corporate logo on the bottom of the floor and carries their trademark high gloss paint.
Our milk train has one express car and six Hood’s cars behind a Mohawk. While this is not prototypical, it works on our little railroad. One enjoyable part of our hobby is learning about cars which are available, acquiring them and then operating them. It also builds a family tradition to be passed and enjoyed by future generations. If a little bit of American industrial history is imparted, so much the better.
MANUFACTURER CATALOG # ROAD #
Crown Model Products 8002 GARE 810
KMT GARE 8051
Lionel 17331 GARE 803
17360 GARE 810
17361 GARE 811
Rail King 30-7817 GARE 6052
Weaver GARE 802
Williams 3281 GARE 808