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Pickles for Your Model Railroad

A recent inquiry from a prominent S scale modeler about Pickle cars prompted some additional research.

Since Pickle Cars, Vinegar Cars and Salting Stations are a unique industry for a model railroad layout, and there are regular inquiries about this industry, I thought perhaps it might be useful to summarize some of the major resources available to modelers.

Pickles & Vinegar Industries Book

Without a doubt, the major resource available is the book Pickle & Vinegar Makers of the Midwest - The history and operations of two fascinating industries by David J. Leider. Self-published in 2015, the book is 140 pages chock full of prototype information, excellent prototype photos, drawings and plans along with some references to the modeling press. The book features chapters on the Midwest pickle industry, the manufacture of pickles, pickle transport, vinegar history, vinegar manufacture and factories, vinegar transport along with numerous charts, tables and plans, including car data from selected issues of the  ORER. If you're looking for THE reference on these industries and the railroad cars that served them, then this book is what you need. The book is currently available on Amazon as well as directly from the author.


If you're interested in the pickle industry, but not at quite that level of detail, then obtain a copy of the eight page article The Pickle Industry and Railroading, also by David J. Leider, published in the December 2011 issue of Railroad Model Craftsman. This article summarizes the pickle industry, salting stations and and rail transport supporting it along with some prototype photos. 

Another great reference source for the modeler on Pickle Cars is the December 2009 article L. C. Forman Co. Pickle Tank Car by Harold W. Russell, MMR, published in the NMRA"s Scale Rails magazine. The article includes information about the car, the pickle factory it served, and information about building a model of the car including pickle tank car drawings along with prototype photos. 

Are you interested in building a Salting Station for your Pickle Car to serve? A great reference for this is David J. Leider's article Building a Pickle Salting Station published in the March 2009 issue of Railroad Model Craftsman. This eight page article take you through the construction of a Pickle Salting Station and includes salting station drawings, prototype photos, along with construction information and photos for the model.

In addition to the book and articles cited above there have been numerous other articles in the various model railroad publications about pickle cars, salting stations, vinegar cars, and construction of models of these. There is a more complete bibliography listed below.

Looking for more information? Contact the National Association of S Gaugers Russell M. Mobley Memorial Library via Email -- include your membership number and inquire about the availability of the PicklePack.


Blunt, Dennis V. “A Factory for Those Pickle Cars.” Model Railroader, Feb. 1961, pp. 29–34.
Brechbiel, Martin. “Building a Simple Vinegar Tank Car.” O Scale Trains, Sept. 2005, pp. 31–34.
Brechbiel, Martin. “Building Lauther's Perfect Pickles - Part 1.” O Scale Trains, July 2006, pp. 40–46.
Brechbiel, Martin. “Building Lauther's Perfect Pickles - Part 2.” O Scale Trains, Sept. 2006, pp. 4–11.
Carstens, Harold H., editor. “Heinz Vinegar Tank Car.” Rolling Stock Plan Book, Model Craftsman Pub. Corp., 1961, p. 31.
De Young, Bruce. “Scratchbuilding a Styrene Classic in Wood.” NMRA Scale Rails, Dec. 2009, pp. 35–39.
Houle, Tom. “Scratch Build a Pickle Car - Part II.” O Scale Trains, Sept. 2003, p. 59.
Houle, Tom. “Scratch Build a Pickle Car.” O Scale Trains, July 2003, pp. 11–17.
Jones, Robert A. “The Old El Paso Pickle Works.” S Gaugian, May 1992, pp. 30–33.
Larson, Paul. “Pickle Works (Lineside Industries, No. 3).” Model Railroader, Jan. 1955, pp. 40–41.
Leider, David J. “Building a Pickle Salting Station.” Railroad Model Craftsman, Mar. 2009, pp. 61–68.
Leider, David J. Pickle and Vinegar Makers of the Midwest: the History and Operations of Two Fascinating Industries. Self-Published, 2015.
Leider, David J. “The Pickle Industry and Railroading.” Railroad Model Craftsman, Dec. 2011, pp. 82–89.
Leider, David. “Model a Soo Line Pickle Car in HO Scale.” Railmodel Journal, Feb. 2002, pp. 15–19.
Nehrich, John. "Vertical Tank Pickle Cars." NEB&W's Guide to Steam-Era Freight Car Modeling, 1995, pp. 549-550. (now also available via the subscription web site NEB&W Railroad Heritage Website)
Nehrich, John. "Horizontal Tank Vinegar Cars." NEB&W's Guide to Steam-Era Freight Car Modeling, 1995, pp. 550-551. (now also available via the subscription web site NEB&W Railroad Heritage Website)
Odegard, Gordon. “20: Pickle Car.” Easy-to-Build Model Railroad Freight Cars, Kalmbach, 1971, pp. 79–82.
“Pickle Car, Murdoch & Co.” The Model Railroader Cyclopedia, 1941; Railroad Equipment Prototype Plans, Kalmbach Pub. Co., 1940, p. 88.
Rose, Byron. “Freight Cars of the Thirties: The Heinz' 34-Foot Billboard Reefers (and Her Contemporaries)'.” Model Railroading, Apr. 1988, pp. 38–43.
Rose, Byron. “The Pickle Car Fleet, Part II: Some HO Scale Models IN COLOR.” Model Railroading, May 1988, p. 57.
Rose, Byron. “The Pickle Car Fleet, Part III: HO Scale Pickle Car Kits (Westerfield).” Model Railroading, Dec. 1988, pp. 12–13.
Russell, Harold W., and Thomas Heagerty. “L.C. Forman Co., Inc. Pickle Tank Car.” NMRA Scale Rails, Dec. 2009, pp. 30–34.
Schulz, Irv. “A House for Heinz.” Model Railroader, Feb. 1987, pp. 106–107.
Schulz, Irv. “Pickles and Vinegar on the Hi-Iron.” Narrow Gauge and Short Line Gazette, Sept. 1978, pp. 33–35.
Schulz, Irv. “Still More Pickles and Vinegar.” Narrow Gauge and Short Line Gazette, Mar. 1979, pp. 39–41.
Stevens, Eric. “Pickle Car (Dollar Car Series).” Model Railroader, Nov. 1956, pp. 46–52.


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An active modeler in 1:64 scale (S scale) since 1998 and a relatively new On30 modeler, Michael's primary interests are in model railroading, structure modeling and control systems for model railroading. Michael is a life member of the National Model Railroad Association (NMRA), a member of the National Association of S Gaugers (NASG) and the Bristol S Gauge Railroaders.

Michael and his wife Deane Louise co-own Pine Canyon Scale Models, a manufacturer of S Scale and O scale structures.

Michael is a past chair of the NMRA's Digital Command Control (DCC) Working Group and was a contributor to the NMRA's DCC Standards activities. Michael continues to play an active role in the use of NMRA DCC in S Scale model railroading.

Michael previously served as the NASG National Secretary and Librarian for the NASG's Russell M. Mobley Memorial Library.


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