Crescent Truck Lines’ original logo appropriately included a quarter moon, but in the ‘80s it went to the two blue slashes. As I wondered then, what do slashes have to do with “crescent”? 
 - Photo by Tom Berg

Crescent Truck Lines’ original logo appropriately included a quarter moon, but in the ‘80s it went to the two blue slashes. As I wondered then, what do slashes have to do with “crescent”? 

Photo by Tom Berg

Recently I visited relatives and friends in Milwaukee, my old hometown, and stopped by Train Fest, which is supposedly the largest model railroad show in the country. It certainly was the biggest such event that I’ve been to, with the entire Expo building at the Wisconsin State Fair Grounds in suburban West Allis filled with displays of merchandise and, advertisements said, more than 70 operating model railroads.

At such affairs I always look for trucks amid the miniature rail scenes, and there were plenty here. The hobbyists seem to understand that the two transportation modes are not just competitors but sometimes partners. Unlike the trains, the trucks don’t move, but are positioned in realistic proximity to railroad tracks and industries.

A fairly realistic construction scene includes a dump truck, workers in hard hats, orange traffic cones, and an excavator digging a trench. But, check the dry van trailers backed against the loading dock of the “refrigerated warehouse.” Spoiled goods, anyone? 
 - Photo by Tom Berg

A fairly realistic construction scene includes a dump truck, workers in hard hats, orange traffic cones, and an excavator digging a trench. But, check the dry van trailers backed against the loading dock of the “refrigerated warehouse.” Spoiled goods, anyone? 

Photo by Tom Berg

Model trucks are made in the same scales as model trains. There are several popular scales, including O (with a model-to-prototype ratio of 1:48), HO (approximately half O, or 1:87), S (1:64), and N (1:160).

The larger the scale, the greater the size and amount of details that can go into a piece of equipment; the smaller the scale, the more the stuff that can be fit into a given space. HO is the most popular, and that’s what the majority of the layouts and merchandise at the show was.

When I was a kid in the early 1950s, I badgered my folks to give me an American Flyer train set for Christmas. To this day I remember that the set cost $37.50, and I loved it. Like the larger Lionel O-size equipment, S-size American Flyer equipment was rugged and nice looking, and ran on two-rail tracks rather than Lionel’s three rails (the center rail for carrying power).

But I soon converted to HO scale because it was more realistic and much more stuff was available. I dabbled in that until I discovered more grownup pastimes.

This pup trailer is a “wedge,” with its rear taller than its front – once a popular way to add “cube” to a vehicle’s capacity. The Erie was among many railroads that ran their own piggyback services; some operated complete truck lines until the old Interstate Commerce Commission, concerned about business dominance, decreed that they had to leave trucking.
 - Photo by Tom Berg

This pup trailer is a “wedge,” with its rear taller than its front – once a popular way to add “cube” to a vehicle’s capacity. The Erie was among many railroads that ran their own piggyback services; some operated complete truck lines until the old Interstate Commerce Commission, concerned about business dominance, decreed that they had to leave trucking.

Photo by Tom Berg

Today, HO and S stick in my mind and they are what I tend to look for on train displays and the trucks they include. And because of what I’ve been exposed to in my many years in truck writing, I am much more critical of the realism shown in trucks and trailers than in railroad rolling stock.

The accompanying photos are a sample of what I saw at Train Fest. Model railroading is a fascinating hobby, especially when both modes are included.  Any other model RR freaks out there?

Containers have grabbed a large share of the intermodal freight business, and here’s a miniature trainload of them at the model railroad show. Standardized sizes contribute to their efficiency, but containers visually vary only in color and markings so are aesthetically boring.
 - Photo by Tom Berg

Containers have grabbed a large share of the intermodal freight business, and here’s a miniature trainload of them at the model railroad show. Standardized sizes contribute to their efficiency, but containers visually vary only in color and markings so are aesthetically boring.

Photo by Tom Berg

Author

Tom Berg
Tom Berg

Senior Contributing Editor

Journalist since 1965, truck writer and editor since 1978. CDL-qualified; conducts road tests on new heavy-, medium- and light-duty tractors and trucks. Specializes in vocational trucks and trailers of all types.

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Journalist since 1965, truck writer and editor since 1978. CDL-qualified; conducts road tests on new heavy-, medium- and light-duty tractors and trucks. Specializes in vocational trucks and trailers of all types.

View Bio
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