Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Aurora & Geneva Semi Convertible

GHB "Old Tyme Trolley"

About 3 months ago, I was lucky enough to find one of those "Holy Grails" on ebay, at a reasonable price. Short version, about 25 years ago, GHB Models produced a very limited run of something called an "Old Tyme Trolley". An all brass, "museum quality" model of a 1:24 scale Brill semi-convertible car, with full interior (including working walk-over seats), and maximum traction trucks, powered with NWSL Magic Carpet Drives. This is a 1:24 scale model, but is gauged to operate on the 45mm standard (LGB) track.

The Maximum Traction Truck (w/NWSL Carpet Drive)

Selling price back in the day was, if memory serves, a bit north of $700. More than I could afford at the time, and quite honestly, I hadn't really been bitten by the large scale bug just yet.

Fast forward a quarter of a century (yeah, it's a long time, but as I type this, the realization that we're just 6 days away from the 40th anniversary of the first manned moon landing is really sinking in) I'm doing one of my weekly checks on ebay, running through my list of keywords to search, and up comes what is basically a mint condition offering of this car. I honestly beleive this car was out of it's box a handful of times to be gawked at and admired, and nothing else. There was a reserve amount, bidding got to around $600, didn't meet the reserve, didn't sell.

I sent the seller an email, offering $700, he said thank you, but he was going to hold onto to it for awhile longer.

Maybe a month later, there it was again, no doubt the same model, same seller. This time a starting price of $750, no reserve. I ended up being the only bidder and won the car, with shipping I ended up paying a bit less than $50 more than the original selling price of a quarter century before.

I can honestly say, after almost 40 years in the hobby, that I have seen a lot of models described as "museum quality", this one is on the short list of models that actually deserves that level of acclaim. I regret that I didn't take more pictures in the "bare brass" state it was in when I got it.

Originally painted with the lower sides painted in
Pullman Green. I liked this look better actually,
but the lettering didn't stand out enough.

Repainted with the cream sides and new lettering

The car is not an accurate model per se of the Aurora & Geneva cars, the car is two windows too long, and the sidewalls are not exactly right, but it is a good representative of this type of car, and quite frankly, it's just too damn nice to cut up. The paint scheme is sort of a best guesstimate of practices of the time period, a pale cream and Pullman green with brown trim/accents, and a light tan/sand roof, with black underbody and trucks. Decals were done on my laser printer, printed on decal film and applied.

As mentioned above, I don't think this car was ever operated in the 25 years before I acquired it. Once I had it, I ran it perhaps 4-5 feet back and forth over the top of a couple bookcases, but that's all I was able to manage. On July 4th, 2009, the car got it's real trial by fire, as it was run extensively for the first time at the Illinois Railway Museum as part of the Large Scale Trolley Group mini-meet being held in conjunction with IRM's normal July 4th Trolley Pageant.

After a couple of fits and starts that could best be described as working itself into shape, it ran like a champ, including in the rain. A real testament to the workmanship of both the Korean builders and NWSL for their drive units. I have to wonder what a 2009 version of this would cost, to say that I got a steal at the price I did, is really an understatement.

1 comment:

  1. I have picked up the same unit, but unfortunately not in the same condition. Mine needs a little more TLC. Do you take on any work repairing brass work? As per your photos I have found that my unit is missing a few parts.

    Robert Tobys