AHM’s Oldtime Freight Cars

Introduced in the late 1960s, AHM’s collection of HO-scale Old-Time freight car models originally included a boxcar (left), gondola (center), and caboose (right). There are shared design components among the cars, and additions to the flatcar bed allowed for several releases using this base. The models came fully assembled were imported from Italy.

AHM’s Oldtime Freight Cars

January 2024A popular group of releases from Associated Hobby Manufacturers (AHM) are the collection of Oldtime freight cars. These plastic reproductions came into AHM’s catalog in the late 1960s and sold through the 1970s. Manufactured in Europe, the examples I’m sharing are frequently attributed to Rivarossi; however, I believe Italy’s Pocher was responsible for these HO releases. The confusion is warranted, as you will find on AHM packaging that Rivarossi is credited as the manufacturer. It may be possible that Pocher was the source Rivarossi employed to produce these. You will find in European Rivarossi catalogs not only these HO-scale freight car models but also the related Old-Time steam locomotives… which were also produced in Italy by Pocher; origin markings on the underframe of these models show both the country and name.

Though this at a glance appears to be four different freight cars, you will notice there are really only three truly unique efforts in this collection: boxcar, flatcar, and caboose. The tooling serves as the base flatcar offering with provided stakes; with two molded tanks and side support beams, this tooling was repurposed as a tank car; and with an added frame attached to the deck it is a gondola. In all cases this model came with brake wheel mounted on a stand (the fragile element of this effort and something the collector needs to confirm is present if a mint example is desired) and decorated for Virginia & Truckee in all instances… though road numbers vary (which for the time is a bit of a surprise). AHM Old Time Freight Cars

ABOVE: Virginia & Truckee (V&T) served as the only road name (though car numbers varied) originally produced for the series of Old-Time models with the flatcar base. Adding four red plastic sections to the bed made up the gondola (left), two brown plastic tanks with plastic guides created the tank car (back right), and plastic stakes were provided for the base flatcar (foreground center) release.

The boxcar came in two road names (Missouri Pacific and Southern Pacific) and this release shares the truss rod detail and truck sideframes used by the series of flatcar-related models. The boxcar includes metal runners for the plastic sliding door. The brake wheel is mounted to a stand and attached to the end of the boxcar by small metal loops.

You’ll notice AHM’s 1967 catalog (shown on the facing page) presents this series with European-style NEM couplers; however, for AHM releases sold in North America I have only seen X2f horn-hook couplers (as shown on the model samples). Deep-flange metal wheels were standard issue initially, though they switched to plastic wheels during the 1970s.

AHM Old Time Freight Cars

ABOVE: This boxcar is listed as boasting a nine-ton capacity in the prototype information provided by AHM for this late 1800s wood-side freight car. The base is shared with the flatcar series and you’ll see the maker and origin mark on the frame (shown at right) says “Pocher Made in Italy.”

The two-axle caboose is shown in a version with brake wheel on the end railings and another with a lever brake. I believe the brake wheel came first and the other style is a later production.

These are not the only Oldtime freight car releases sold by AHM. There was a different tank car and copies of the flatcar and caboose produced by Mehano in Yugoslavia for AHM after these Pocher models were offered. This group is the starting point for this series and good place for model train enthusiasts to begin in assembling their own collection of this line. You’ll find, despite being more than 50 years old, that you can round up a set of each style without a great effort or much investment. —Tony Cook

January 2024This article appeared in the January 2024 issue of Model Railroad News. Subscribe Today!

This article was posted on: January 6, 2024