The Bug and The Birdcage

“From 1907 until 1913 a tiny gasoline-powered car and its companion baggage car (affectionately known as the “Bug” and “Bird Cage,” respectively) plied the rails to ‘Sconset, including winter service.” That’s the line from the Nantucket Historical Association’s web page for the photograph. The Bug and the Bird Cage were based on Fairmont products and were used in the winter service mentioned in the NHA’s quote. More importantly, for the railroad at least, was their use in handling the railroad’s mail contract.

Bob Hayden built an On30 model of these for the layout that Dave Frary built for the Nantucket Whaling Musuem. Wes Ewell has done drawings of the prototype and was kind enough to send me a set. The drawings are gorgeous and I can’t wait to get started on my version. Looking at the prototype photos and drawings by Wes I started to wonder if I could cheat a little and use some parts from a British OO scale four wheel wagon for the axle boxes and leaf springs. I placed an order for a wagon underframe from Ratio Plastic Models and it’s now arrived. The chassis kit didn’t include wheels so I’ll need to order some. I’m looking for some with spokes and metal treads. I recall Grandt Line offering some Fairmont speeder wheels for On3, in fact I think I still have a set of the styrene ones here. Ratio and Hornby offer the wheels I think I’d like to use and I may order some just to see if they’ll work. The Ratio sideframes are very close, only a couple millimeters too long, but otherwise should be perfect. I’ll be starting with the trailer, the “Bird Cage”, first.

I’ve been looking into sound as well for this model. I’m worried this will push me further toward DCC, something I am resisting. Perhaps sound can wait.

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