Branchline Yardmaster cars

Discussion in 'HO Scale Model Trains' started by mhdishere, May 17, 2004.

  1. mhdishere

    mhdishere Member

    I posted this on RR-line too, but thought I'd pass it on here too.

    I bought four Branchline Yardmaster USRA 40' boxcars at the Montvale show yesterday, and I thought I'd offer my first impressions of them. I didn't build any of them yet, so these are just kit impressions.

    I did't compare the car to prototype drawings, I intend to use them as generic red boxcars, so I'm not going to worry too much if the car is 1/4 scale inch too high.

    First off, the price is right. I paid $30 for four. The dealer charges $8 each but gives a discount when you buy four. That price includes METAL WHEELS and knuckle couplers (McHenry's maybe? The ones with the plastic spring).

    The painting is good, as is the decalling. I didn't break out the magnifier, but with my 40-year-old eyes everything looks nice. The casting is also nice, I didn't see any flash.

    The basic car is a box that you cement the roof and ends too, so the style of ends is supposed to match what the prototype had.

    Now for the part some folks hate, the model has details cast in place. Brake rigging is cast into the underframe, and grabs and ladders are cast as part of the ends/sides. Before you groan "Bluuuuuue booooooox" let me tell you, these details look NICE. The grabs are thin and have nut/rivet detail where they attach. I doubt that from normal viewing distances you'd be able to tell that they're not wire. I love this since I take no joy in drilling dozens of tiny holes and inserting tiny hunks of wire.

    You have the option of cementing the doors in place or using these brackets that clip the door on so you can move it. Since I havn't built any yet I can't comment, once I do I'll let you know.

    Downsides you ask? Well, the roof and ends of some cars are black, and they look like unpainted plastic, kinda shiny. A zap of dullcote would be in order.

    If you can't tell, I'm highly impressed. For a price about what you'd pay for a blue-box (considering you don't have to add your own wheels and couplers) you have a nice model. Not contest quality for sure, not up to the level of the resin kits or probably even Branchlines Blueprint series (I didn't look at those). But for $8 a pop you could afford to populate your layout with them and you'd find nothing to be ashamed of.

    Once I build them I'll report again on construction, directions, etc.
  2. Ray Marinaccio

    Ray Marinaccio Active Member

    My son won one of those kits as a door prize at a show a few months ago.
    He had no trouble assembling it (had it mostly assembled before we got home).
    I think it looks great and will probably buy more.
  3. IAIS 604

    IAIS 604 Member

    I think Branchline and P2K have some of the best kits in HO!

    They require more work than some other brands, but, unlike Athearn, inAccrurail, and Roundhouse they have really good detail and accurate markings (at least for my Rock Island).

    They are well worth the extra work and time involved to put them together, IMHO!

    Add them to the RTR P2K, Kadee, and Atlas and you have my favorite rolling stock makers.
  4. petey

    petey Member

    I tried some of their Blueprint series. Tedious, and frustrating. Yardmaster is a much better product.
  5. jon-monon

    jon-monon Active Member

    Nice review, love to see 'em all built up!

    You could spend $8/car on trucks and couplers easy, trying to get a cheaper car to work.
  6. Chessie1973

    Chessie1973 Member

    My Mother and I purchased one of the Branchline Blueprint series kits and my first impression of it was that it was not made very well.

    The details were outstanding but the littl eplastic pins they used to hold the trucks on were a joke, one of them was malformed and so distorted it wouldnt fit into the hole for it and it crushed under minimal force even after reaming out the hole a little and cleaning all flash from the parts.

    also the holes in the end of the boxcar that hold the end pieces on were molded far to small for the pins molded on the end caps to fit.

    Thankfully after my mother spent a good 3 hours on what amounts to reengineering the kit to work it is now a good piece of rolling stock.

    It frustrates me to buy a kit that is supposed to be of higher wquality than the blue box kits and have to do so much to it to make it work.

    However it is a good kit overall but the amount of work we had to do to make it a functioning kit was more than I would have expected for what is supposed to be a good quality kit. I am hoping that perhaps the problems were due more to distributor not properly handling or storing the kit.
  7. mhdishere

    mhdishere Member

    I have some P2K gons, and I'm impressed with them too. What impresses me most about the yardmasters is the combination of nice detail and low price, a combination you don't find often. I could easily pay the $30 I paid for my four kits for one kit from another manufacturer and really not get any additional fun out of it. I tend to use craftsman-type rolling stock for special purpose stuff (like the Tichy 120T crane I still have to build), for the rest of my rolling stock I'd be happy with yardmaster-level details. Heck, I was happy with blue-box!

    I noticed those pins, when I get around to building I'll probably see if I can drill/tap them for 2-56 screws. I'll probably try to do the same for the couplers, I don't like glued-on coupler boxes, makes maintenance a headache.

    The holes needing to be reamed seems pretty typical to me though. If two parts have to mate, it's better to make the hole a little small than a little big, you can always enlarge a hole a little but adding plastic is a problem.
  8. Chessie1973

    Chessie1973 Member

    That is exactly what we had to do.

    We tried using a screw but it wouldnt tighten enough and in the process of backing the screw out the entire post cam off the car body and stayed on the shaft of the screw.

    Thankfully in our misc. useful parts box here we have some small little plastic parts used in fiber optic kits my mother assembles at work that are the perfect size for a pivot shaft on a car so we drilled a hole and CA glued this replacement in and it worked fantasically.

    Don't get me wrong, the detail level of this kit was IMHO at or very near the P2K level of detail with all the numerous tiny detail parts included in it but there was a lot of trimming and fitting that was needed that you dont have to do even with a blue box kit.

    Great detail and an overall superior model compared to the Blue box and similar kits, just not worth the price considering the work involved to actually make the kit work properly out of the box.
  9. One thing to keep in mind with kits is that there are varying levels of skills and tools required. Usually the more complicated and detailed the kit, the more time, work, and tools will need to be involved. Look at it this way...the Yardmaster kits can be your next level of modeling. You'll need some tools...a pinvise and small drillbits, an X acto knife, tweezers, and a couople of small screwdrivers. I don't think that I've ever built a plastic kit from Red Caboose, Intermountain, or the old Innovative Model Works that didn't require some drilling out of mounting holes. It's just the way that they are. You can always think about having a couple of these as your own 'craftsman' two or three to have as your 'up front' models. Hey, we all have 'em. I have brass models mixed in with my collection and kits that are so challenging to build they're almost like scratchbuilding! I also have Branchline kits on my shelf waiting to be put together. If you take your time and be careful as you go, you'll have a model that you can be proud of and be on your way to your next level of modeling. My next level? Being more careful and taking my time! :)
  10. Sorry to bring up an old thread but how nice are the Innovative Model Word rolling stock models?
  11. coachC

    coachC Member

    I agree about the "tedious and frustrating" I need to try the yardmaster kit.

    Here's my short take on the blueprint kit...
  12. Dick Elmore

    Dick Elmore Member

    I have well over a hundred Intermountain, P2K, Kadee and Branchline Blueprint kits, (most of them unbuilt), but with a few hammerhanded folks at my club, I won't take them over there. So therefore, since Athearn BB has fat and shallow grabs and fat and unprototypical stirrups, all of my cars at the club are primarily Accurail with a smattering of Branchline Yardmaster. Unquestionably the two best BlueBox type car kits on the market.:thumb:

    Texas Chief
  13. Iguess it all depends on what you are looking for. I myself want nice details and I'm willing to spend the time to get them but I don't want to break the bank for each model. I'm thinking I'll try the branchline blueprint since they are less then $20 and good details. I will wait till I first get my IM models before I buy any more.

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