...for serious HO scale traction modelers..
Our Current Catalog
Our Business Plan:
Custom Traxx continues to support HO scale electric traction modelers by supplying authentic detailed decal finishing sets, heralds, destination signs and other markings for streetcars, and interurban railway vehicles as they ran in most American and Canadian localities. There are also a small number of decals and parts that can be used for electric railway vehicle modeling in 1:50, O and 1:24 scales. However, the realities of the current HO scale market has led us to concentrate more and more resources in the Ready-To-Run arena, hence our partnership with Bowser Manufacturing in the development and production ready-to-run streetcars. Check Section IV of our catalog for some current projects.
When we first opened our doors in 1992, there were no 'serious' HO scale ready-to-run injection molded traction models, unless you stretch the definition of scale to include the Bachmann Brill and PCC and the IHM/IHC Brill (In reality a Toronto Class F streetcar) and Boeing USLRV. Bowser Manufacturing of Montoursville, PA realized that the days of their four metal bodied but unpainted traction kits (PCC Streamlined Trolley, Brill Suburban 1906 Semi-Convertible, IRR Lightweight Interurban and LVT 800 series Jewett) had run their course. They had updated the drive unit used for decades in 1999, but that did little to spur renewed interest in the cars. It was obvious that some sort of ready-to-run, painted and decorated traction vehicle was the only answer.
Bowser formed a strategic alliance with Custom Traxx in 2007 to pursue a ready-to-run trolley. After considerable thought the team chose the F-line (ex-Philadelphia) PCC for development and production. They visited China in 2008 and selected their supplier after evaluating several. In 2009-2010, they released HO scale models of all fourteen of the ex-Philadelphia PCC cars that opened that now famous line in 1995. The team then released HO scale models of PCC cars that ran in Birmingham, Boston, Cleveland, Detroit, Los Angeles, Minneapolis/Saint Paul, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, San Francisco, Shaker Heights and Toronto. All of Bowser PCC cars now feature a dynamically balanced flywheel and motors mounted with added vibration insulation, making these some of the most smoothly and quietly operating models commercially available after some "break-in". Product improvement has continued on the PCC car models with four distinct modifications being made over the production span.
The success of the PCC car project resulted in the Bowser New Orleans 900 series streetcar being released in early June 2014. These include New Orleans RTA streetcars 972 (St Charles), 963 (Canal) and 952 as it exists today on San Francisco's F line. Also available were similar cars representing Atlantic City, Chicago, Philadelphia Rapid Transit and Philadelphia Suburban Transit. Some of the cars sold out almost immediately. These were the first Bowser streetcars equipped with ESU LokSound. Bowser has shifted to a 21-pin plug for DCC decoders and this allows the cars to be DCC/Sound ready. All one needs to do to convert a non-sound car to sound is to add a Plug-in ESU LokSound decoder. The speaker is already in the car. Another Product Improvement activity has led to the overhead-track power switch being relocated on the bottom of the New Orleans car, eliminating the need to disassemble the car to make that change. See the next photo of the preproduction car and the location of the switch indicated by the red arrow:
All future Bowser traction products will now have these same features. Note the model of New Orleans car 972 below:
The New Orleans cars sold out fast as soon as they arrived in June 2014. Bowser is planning another run of the St Charles cars with different numbers along with some "red" Riverfront cars.
The Bowser/Custom Traxx team is now actively working the ex-Kansas City All-Electric PCC car project. These 160 unique cars were built for the Kansas City Public Service (KCPS) in 1946 (75 cars) and 1947 (85) cars. Their uniqueness was a lack of standee windows, which were standard on all other post-war all-electric PCC cars. KCPS President Powell Groner,when he saw the standee windows on the proposed cars, he told the Transit Research Commission that he would have :"none of those little apertures" on his cars. So they were removed for KCPS and only KCPS. Some of these cars would have second careers beginning in the 1950s in Philadelphia (40), Tampico (10) and Toronto (30). 79 cars even provided parts for new PCCs being built in Brussels, Belgium. 22 of the cars sold to Toronto would find their way to Philadelphia and San Francisco in the 1970s. The team, currently intends to have models of all these cars available by the end of the year.
Other projects include a Ready-To-Run version of the Brill 1906 Semi-Convertible streetcar based on New Orleans "Desire" car 453 and a modern low floor Light Rail Vehicle. Progress on both projects will be reported in the Trolleyville times and the Bowser web site.
Custom Traxx still has a huge stock of HO traction decals and all are produced by Rail Graphics of South Elgin, Illinois. Some of our decals are out of stock due to lack of demand. Serious modelers should note that many of our decal sets contain more than one sheet. The lack of just one sheet can cause a set to be listed as "Currently Out Of Stock". Modelers are urged to inquire as to what portion of "Currently Out Of Stock" sets are available and arrangements can be made to provide individual sheets. We can and are willing to accommodate special runs of at least 25 decals sets but be advised that runs as small as 25, or any amount less than 50 can be expensive, resulting in costs at least twice the cost of the decal set as currently priced in our catalog. Partial prepayment may be required for such orders. Please feel free to contact us for more detailed information.
Custom Traxx has also embraced Digital Command Control (DCC) and participated with Train Control systems in the design of their M4T, the first decoder designed for HO traction. We also worked with Soundtraxx for the first high-quality sound decoder for PCC cars and with ESU LokSound for the sound for the New Orleans 900 series streetcar. We are now working with ESU LokSound for a new generation of decoders for the next traction projects. We would be interested in discussing these possible projects with you. Look us up on our Facebook page. For up-to-date happenings in the HO traction world, check the monthly Trolleyville Times, normally uploaded on the first of each month. For hands on traction activity, check out the Southern California Traction Club's new E-Membership, described in recent issues of the Trolleyville Times. Feel free to contact John McWhirter, SCTC Board of Directors.
Custom Traxx offers specific traction parts including selected A-line traction repowering items; Bowser HO scale traction mechanisms, drives and parts; HO scale trolley poles by Miniatures by Eric and HO scale ORR girder rail, turnouts and crossings. Also available are special parts from Bowser and other manufacturers for the operational trolley modeler. We were instrumental in assisting Train Control Systems in the development of the first plug-in DCC decoder designed for a PCC trolley, the M4T. This highly successful decoder has since been upgraded and is known simply as the M4. We were also instrumental in recording sounds for the all-electric PCC cars and conventional cars such as the New Orleans 900 series streetcar. We have instigated some Product Improvement suggestions to Bowser including the simulated super resilient wheels now on all PCC models, addition of windshield wipers and the simulated B-2 truck "sideframes".
We also carry the HO scale Bowser Ready-To-Run PCC and New Orleans Streetcars in both DCC ready and DCC Sound versions.
Miniatures by Eric HO scale Trolley Poles are still manufactured for and available from Custom Traxx, although not shown on the Miniatures by Eric web site. We obtained a large supply in July and quite a few of them have been sold already. They are still $29.95 [HT-XX] per pair and $32.00 [HT-XXs] per pair with Bowser 12508 brass pivots and roof insulators.
Trolley poles with different pole bases available are:
HT-P1/HT-P1s - Greenamyer pneumatic trolley base [Used on Pacific Electric/Sacramento Northern];
HT-P2/HT-P2s - Ohio Brass Form 11 [Used on PCC and current heritage cars];
HT-P3/HT-P3s - Ohio Brass Form 1 [Used on early cars, 1900-1920 era];
nHT-P4/HT-P4s - US (Union Standard) 13 [Simulated four spring base with two springs for better operational reliability];
We still aim for complete customer satisfaction. Prompt service is the norm not the exception. Orders are often sent within hours of receipt and rarely later than next day. We do not keep orders in suspense for days and weeks at a time and we try never to be too busy to talk to customers, trolley fans, and traction modelers. We encourage traction-related calls at 310-990-5422 during normal business hours (Pacific Time). Our business number is a mobile phone to avoid missing your call but we can not take orders when mobile. Our main purpose is to assist you in getting the information that you require for your hobby enjoyment!
Since we cannot take orders while mobile, it is preferred that your fax your order at any time to 310-475-5597or email your order to us. We will acknowledge your order as soon as possible.
Note: All reservations for future items should be submitted preferably via email. The email date determines the order in which orders are filled. This can be critical for items for which there are just a few available.
Custom Traxx accepts Mastercard, Visa and Discover credit cards for your convenience! See section VI, Ordering Procedures, for more details!
Our on-line catalog is updated constantly so the latest information is always on this site. Accordingly, we no longer publish printed catalogs except for special occasions. Also as of June 5, 2015, we are no longer participants in the yahoo hotractionmodeling site. Users of that site should consult this site and Trolleyville for the latest news on the HO scale RTR Bowser trolley projects.
For our complete six-part catalog, click here!
Sometimes Almost Unbelievable 'F-Market' Line:
In 1995, both conventional and PCC type streetcars, after disappearing from almost every major North American city that proudly employed them as the backbone of their transit systems, made a big comeback in San Francisco, California, the last large U.S. city with streetcars in service on its main thoroughfare, Market Street. So when in that city, always take time for at least one ride on the F-line to Fisherman's Wharf and note the cars in service other than the car on which you may be riding. San Francisco, unlike other cities, has embraced the colorful and lovable streetcar and and made them a vital part of their transit system. Service has been increased by over 240% since the line started in 1995. Bring your smart phone, camera or camcorder, and enjoy the ride and the city. We recommend riding early in the day and boarding at the 17th & Castro terminal as the popularity of the line continues to grow beyond all original expectations. Thirteen of the fourteen cars that opened the line in 1995 will shortly be going through a rebuilding process so get your photos quickly as some may emerge with different paint schemes. Two cars are already wearing different paint schemes from opening day in 1995. You can always check the internet or your smart phone to see where all the cars are on the line all the time. You can even watch the movement along the line. To find out what cars are in service and which way they are going, just click here.
Click here to view our current catalog.
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