James Day, a regular exhibitor at TCS and many other events recently posted to our e-group (TrainColSoc) a tale of woe about a relatively recent purchase

James wrote: In around 2010 I bought a new four car set of Walther’s Life-Like Proto 1000 NYC R17 subway cars. They were lovely and looked good trundling around on the high level track of my US road and rail layout. They were last used in public at the TCS event at Leicester in 2014

 Yesterday I was doing some checking, cleaning sand servicing items ready for the 2017 season. Three of the subway cars were fine, but one looked really odd. The Zinc chassis plate had swollen and bowed, pushing the ends of the car out and raising the height of it by over half a cm.


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A Subway car as it should be

Unless I can get a damaged car to cannibalise, or a spare part from Walthers, which seems unlikely (although I have asked), this beautiful and expensive allegedly ‘quality’ item is a write off, at less than ten years old!


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The distorted chassis

The subway cars are of course long out of production and are now going for around three times what I paid, even allowing for the recent plunge in the value of the pound. 

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The distorted chassis - side view

Hopefully only one has the rot, so far!

While James has since written that Walthers have replied to say they are trying to find him a replacement part, so might be a happy ending for this car, from the subsequent comments on the e-group this problem of “zinc rot” seems to be by no means an isolated case with modern ‘quality’ production. Many collectors have thought this was an historic problem. It seems it may be a current one as well. Or as Andrew Emmerson commented on James's post: The lesson of history is that people do not learn the lessons of history.

Andrew has also produced some interesting notes on this topic with links to further reading. It is available as a PDF article 13534493561426065224Adobe Icon.svg.med notes-on-zinc-rot to read or download here.