These lines of cast resin and styrene kits were introduced during the 1980’s by Mr. Ralph Brown of Crystal Lake IL. He produced well detailed, cast resin and wood kits for heavy-weight Pullman car kits in the “American Standard Car Co.” line. Kits were usually numbered by the Pullman Plan Number they represented. There were a few specially advertised, short runs of kits in the “Great Trains Series” for trains like the Great Northern ”Empire Builder,” etc.
Streamline car kits in styrene followed and similarly had kit numbers using a Pullman Plan number for that type of car. It also had a few special run “Great Trains” kits. He later introduced two plastic freight car kits: a two-bay air-slide covered hopper with pre-painted and lettered sides for several railroads and corporations, and the Rail-Gon gondola. He also went on to produce a line of Scale-One car kits before retiring from the business.
In 1986 Mr. Brown sold the O-scale streamline car kit, trucks and detail parts line to Mr. Pete Plunkett of Roanoke VA. He re-established it as the “American Lightweight Car Co.” Upon Mr. Plunkett’ s passing in the late 1990’s, the line of kits and parts was sold to a new owner at Troutville VA. Unknown at this writing in July 2019 if any of the kits or parts may still be available. Some difficulty had been reported in obtaining needed roof and skirt extrusions, as minimum order amounts for such specialty extrusions had been drastically increased.
The American Standard Catalog is dated March 24, 1986. It shows the current offering of kits as of that date, there being other kits offered before and after this catalog was issued. Color photos of two built heavy-weight American Standard models with their kit numbers and prototype information are added.
The American Lightweight Catalog is dated for June 1993. It shows nine built-up models with descriptions for ten cars. Color photos of three built-up American Lightweight cars with kit numbers and prototype information are added.
This list covers four pages and dates from 1993. It shows all the streamline car kits and parts offered at that time. A set of kits for a “Great Trains” run is listed for the N&W “Powhatan Arrow”. Past special runs were briefly advertised in model railroad magazines.
There are three sets of four-page instruction sheet sets which cover the period of light-weight kit production. All were written when American Standard was originally producing lightweight kits. These are “Lt Wt Instructions A, B and C.” They are generalized to cover any of the car kits but have a few differences between them. Looking at all three instruction sheet sets will provide a good insight for building these models.
Sheet “A” is the earliest, from about 1983. While basic, it includes diagrams for fastening the roof to the car body. These diagrams do not appear in later sheets, but roof mounting is covered in their texts. It also suggests installing interior walls and dividers. But one would need a car floor diagram to model that accurately.
Sheet “B” is later and provides more instruction for cars with fluted siding, cast window inserts and baggage elevator detail. This is the only sheet covering those details in depth. That seems to indicate it was written for a special run of cars in the “Great Trains” series. It references 1/8” scale car side drawings, which were included with each specific model kit.
Sheet “C” is the latest, providing two sketches of possible under body arrangements. It briefly covers mounting the roof to the body and installing fluting. Window inserts are not mentioned. That detail may have been included in some special run kits and not carried forward in others.
No instructions have been found for installing interior details, some of which American Lightweight also provided. Prototype photos or diagrams would be the best resource for that information.
Edward F. Bommer July 18, 2019