CIVIL WAR: Advance Molding Corp 1/87 The "General"

Kit Review: Advance Molding Corporation 1/87 scale (HO Gauge) =93Trail-
Blazers=94 Kit No. 7-389; =93The General=94 - A Passenger Train of the
1850's; 167 parts (96 parts in black styrene, 34 in yellow styrene, 2
steel axles, 28 steel wire, 7 screws); price unknown (out of
Advantages: first styrene kit of this engine in production; includes
two cars from the same era
Disadvantages: long out of production; moldings typical of the 1950s
Rating: Recommended
Recommendation: for Civil War buffs
Probably the most storied incident of the Civil War was the attempt
in April 1862 by a team of 22 Union personnel (two civilians and 20
military volunteers) to steal a train on the Western & Atlantic
Railroad, burn the bridges along the right of way, and cut off
supplies from Atlanta to the city of Chattanooga, Tennessee. On the
morning of 12 April the Yankees stole the train (pulled by the
locomotive =93General=94) at Big Shanty, Georgia, and took off; the
conductor, James A. Fuller, pursued them with any means possible - a
push car, a switcher, and later two regular locomotives, the last one,
the =93Texas=94, becoming the best known. The chase lasted 51 miles and
ended when the =93General=94 ran out of fuel. All of the Union men were
caught; eight were hung, eight later escaped, and six were paroled
back to the Union in exchange for Confederate prisoners later on. 19
of the men later received the first Army Medals of Honor.
This incident was written up in a number of accounts and later made
into two movies - the famous Buster Keaton comedy =93The General=94 in
1927 and =93The Great Locomotive Chase=94 from Disney in 1956. Most of us
who grew up in the 1950s saw the latter as it starred Fess Parker, who
was then a =93hot=94 Disney property after the 1955 released of =93Davy
Over the years it has been a popular modeling subject, usually for
model railroads with operating O and HO scale versions of the
locomotive offered for home layouts. MPC also had a big 1/25 scale kit
of the model back in the late 1960s as well. But if you go further
back, the first kit released of this kit in styrene was the effort by
Advance Molding of New York in 1957. (This kit was latter shamelessly
copied in 1959 by Rosebud/Kitmaster in the UK, and to this day earns
that excellent pioneer company black marks among its fans!)
Apparently pegged to the popularity of the movie, the non-motorized
kit offered a =93Train in a Box=94 as it came with the engine and tender,
a US Mail car and a passenger car of the era. However, it was marketed
as =93a train of the 1850s=94 which is why the car reads =93US Mail=94 and =
CSA or other logos. As the actual =93General=94 was built by Rogers in
Patterson, New Jersey, in December 1855 this is not incorrect, but it
does not lend itself to modeling the =93raiders=92=94 train. Also the actua=
consist the day it was stolen had the passenger coaches uncoupled and
only three boxcars remained with the =93General=94 for its 51 mile
The kit is a bit above average for the mid 1950s as it comes with
four colors of Pactra enamel paint in special thin bottles =96 red,
brown, black and gold =96 as well as a tube of Pactra styrene cement of
the period. (Time has not been kind to the gold paint or glue in my
The =93General=94 matches up well with photographs of the original found
in =93The General and The Texas=94 by Stan Cohen and James G. Bogle
(Pictorial Histories Publishing, 1999). It is typical of the kits of
the era with the boiler in two halves and all domes molded in place.
Very much along the lines of the Kitmaster (now Airfix/Dapol) it uses
styrene pins to hold the running gear in place and permit the side
rods and piston rods to operate. The cab comes in five parts but there
is no interior to speak of nor a backhead for the boiler. The cab
floor is formed from two sections of styrene that also form the
running boards over the drivers when in place. The chassis is one
piece with the lead truck held on by a screw. Handrails are steel wire
but the front pilot braces are styrene.
The tender is simple =96 four sides, bottom and simulated wood top.
Trucks are all styrene bu are held in place by screws. The kit uses a
simulated coupler of the time =96 basically a loop on one car with a
separate yoke on the other that clip together.
Both cars assemble in the same manner =96 floor/frame, sides, ends and
roof. There is no glazing included in the kit nor does either car have
an interior. The kit does have styrene queen posts and five bent wire
truss rods to replicate the original frame. Each truck consists of
seven parts =96 two two-piece axles, frames, and cross member. They are
held to the floor assembly by screws.
Painting instructions are simple but complete and are keyed to the
four colors provided in the kit. Decals (badly yellowed with age as
could be expected) provide for the gold trim on the locomotive and
tender and for mail car #19 and passenger coach #23. The mail car also
has a bright Federal crest typical of the pre-war era.
Overall this is a kit which can be built into a nice replica of the
=93General=94 and does reflect on the railroads of the Civil War era. It
would like nice (if a bit out of place as the W&ARR only consisted of
138 miles of track and reached no ports!) next to one of the 1/96
scale ships (either resin or the Revell Alabama/Kearsarge kits) in a
dock scene with them.
Note: these kits can be found at swap meets and flea markets but
their value is unknown. I have seen them for as low as $10 and as much
as $69 based on what the seller feels the market can bear.
Cookie Sewell
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Cookie - You might want to Google Northwestern or Nor-West. They produced "= The General" back in the earlyish 1950s. It must have been released at leas= t twice because I have two sets. One is a complete train, mixed freight and= passenger and the other is the engine/tender and each of the cars sold ind= ividually, although the gauge seems to be more like "O" gauge than HO. I kn= ow that all of these exist, they're in my stash. ITC did a series of locomotives in HO or smaller and I think that Glencoe m= ight have reissued some of them. I got mine to do a Fantasy Civil War Armored Train (shades of the Third Rei= ch) or one to support a reconnaissance balloon (courtesy of AMT).
Regards, John Braungart
Reply to
The Old Man
john, was your armored train in a magazine? i remember seeing one a ways back. it was excellent.
Reply to
No, I found it in an old hardbound, "Civil War Railroads & Models" by Edwin= P. Alexander and published in 1977. The book has lots of great photos and = multi-view scales drawings for that armored train and for several actual it= ems, like that mortar, "The Dictator". I found my copy on ePay and bought it for about ten bucks. It shows up from= time to time.
Regards, John Braungart
Reply to
The Old Man
thanks. i now belkieve it was in civil war times illustrated. one of the best cw mags ever.
Reply to
"The General" back in the earlyish 1950s. It must have been released at le= ast twice because I have two sets. One is a complete train, mixed freight a= nd passenger and the other is the engine/tender and each of the cars sold i= ndividually, although the gauge seems to be more like "O" gauge than HO. I = know that all of these exist, they're in my stash.
might have reissued some of them.
eich) or one to support a reconnaissance balloon (courtesy of AMT).
I have those as well and while the track looks to match HO (16.5mm) the claimed scale is 1/120. Go figure!
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