Lifelike and Tyco rollingstock- Prototypes

Discussion in 'Getting Started' started by alexander, Nov 8, 2006.

  1. alexander

    alexander Member


    what are the prototypes for these cars? i have an assortment you see

    also, would it be correct to combine 2 LL 40' boxcars to make a 50" double door boxcar?

  2. Russ Bellinis

    Russ Bellinis Active Member

    I'm not sure, but there may not be a prototype for them. Prior to WW2, model railroads were either scratch built, or kitbashed from Lionel. After WW2, Athearn, Lifelike, Tyco, Bachmann, & Varney started manufacturing trains in what was then a new scale-ho. At that time scale modelers were so happy to get a 40 foot boxcar that was a scale 40 feet long, instead of the typical Lionel toy that was always shorter than scale to go around their tight 27 inch diameter tracks, that no one really paid attention to prototype. When modelers did want to do prototype modeling, they would look at pictures of the prototype and modifiy their models to match the prototype as closely as possible. Through the 50's & 60's brass was prototypical, plastic was not necessarily modeled after a prototype. It was probably sometime in the late 60's that prototype modeling became more popular, and then the manufacturers generally started to pay more attention to whether their models were prototypical or not. One reason the lower priced plastic models might not be prototypical, is they were built to sell for a low price. Tooling is the most expensive part of plastic model building. If I'm a manufacturer and I have paid for tooling to do one type of dreadnought end, one type of roof, & one type of door, why should I spend the money to make something different? The result is that modelers have debated for years as to what prototype Irv Athearn patterned his 40 foot boxcar after. The consesus is that it probably is not patterned after any prototype, but freelanced. The details found on the Athearn boxcar are prototypical in themselves, but no one knows of a specific car that had that roof, with those dreadnought ends, and those doors and that underframe. The situation may be the same with Lifelike and Tyco. Another example is Accurail, they make a Ps1 boxcar and an ARA boxcar, but when they came out with the Ps1, they saw no reason to spend the money for new tooling for the underframe, so the Accurail Ps1 comes with an ARA underframe.

    This has gotten long so I'll finally cut to the chase. If you really care about your models being based on a prototype, all you can do is find pictures in books or on the net to model from, and kitbash those models to look like prototype models. If you don't care that much about prototype, but want a 50 foot double door boxcar, and only have a bunch of 40 footers, have at it. The manufacturers of the prototype did not start with a clean sheet of paper when they built the first 50 footers, they took existing 40 foot cars and stretched them to 50 feet. As far as that goes, when they first went from 36 feet to 40 feet, they stretched existing 36 footer designs.
  3. alexander

    alexander Member

    ok, thanks for that

    i'll have a look at some pics on the net, and the recent article on boxcars in MR

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