Need boxcar recommendation

Discussion in 'HO Scale Model Trains' started by MasonJar, Oct 3, 2005.

  1. MasonJar

    MasonJar It's not rocket surgery

    Looking for additional boxcars (up to ~dozen or so) to populate my modular layout.

    Era: 1920s and 1930s (steam :))
    Location: Southern Ontario
    Road: Canadian National

    Would like to have mostly lettered for CN, but other roads welcome. Data-only also acceptable, as I can add dry-tranfers/decals.

    Prefer easy to assemble, and easy to handle as these will be run at a club setting, and will be transported often. Some molded on details acceptable.

    I know about the Accurail outside braced boxcars, but are there any I am overlooking? Price is also a factor.

  2. TomPM

    TomPM Another Fried Egg Fan


    I would go with the Accurail cars. Accurail offers a decal sheet with 10 (?) numbers on it that goes over the number on the car. You order the sheet from an insert in the kit and they cost $3.00 US. I bought sets for the LNE OB boxcars and a Kyle covered hopper.

    I am not sure about the availabilyt of Athearn 40' wood boxcars. You may have to go the undecorated route there, however.
  3. MasonJar

    MasonJar It's not rocket surgery

    Thanks Tom.

    I figured the Accurail ones were probably my best bet, but you never know what you're missing...! ;) I do like them precisely for the molded on details, as they are much more forgiving of handling than some of the more delicately detailed models.

    I will look into the Athearn ones. I could technically also use some steel sided cars, but prefer the wood (outside brace or double sheath).

    Any other suggestions?

  4. EngineerKyle

    EngineerKyle Member

    I like Athearn... about 5 bucks each... easy to assemble. replace the couplers and wheelsets, though
  5. MasonJar

    MasonJar It's not rocket surgery

    Thanks Kyle.

    Welcome to The Gauge... :)

    Do the Athearn boxcars come in configurations suitable for the 1920s and 30s?

  6. EngineerKyle

    EngineerKyle Member


    Not sure... my rolling stock is HO from the 50's and 60's... kinda a generic world.

    I don't think so.... Say, where could I get a quick answer to a question I have about reversing loop modules?

    I'm about ready to convert to DCC and have a Bachmann EZ commander ready to replace my old MRC transformer. My layout has reversing loops. Can I use the DPDT toggles that are already there with the DCC system, or, must I install the reversing loop modules I have on order first?
  7. MasonJar

    MasonJar It's not rocket surgery


    Thanks for the extra info.

    Try your question in The Gauge's DCC forum.

  8. Conrail

    Conrail Member

    I'm not sure what they may offer in the specific era you model but the Branchline yard master series is very nice for what you are looking for. As mentioned the Accurails are nice also (probably your best bet) I have bought several. If you go with the Branchlines just don't get the "Blueprint" series, they are extremely nice but take about 4-6 hours to put togeter each and the details are very fragile. I also purchased a C&O box car made by a company called "Front Range" that was a nice unit. It was a step up from Accurails but nice and sturdy with just a few seperate details to put together. I liked the fact that the ladders are a seperate non molded item & are not really thin "scale" sized ladders that are to fragile to be handled often. Nice kits. Again I'm not sure of whats available in the specific era but the P2K "timesaver" kits are nice also. Just some things for you to consider. Good luck! :thumb:
  9. Glen Haasdyk

    Glen Haasdyk Active Member

    I would recomend both the Athearn and Accurail kits, it adds a little variety in look and height in a train. I would figure that the Athrean wooden sided cars would be the the thirties since I believe all boxcars being built were steel by the fifties (correct me if I'm wrong, I'm used to it!)
  10. MasonJar

    MasonJar It's not rocket surgery

    Again thanks for the info.

    Glen, that is a good point to vary the consist in the train by using kits from different manufacturers. I have not seen the Athearn wood sided cars - do you have a link to a pic?

    That is something in general I need to learn more about. There are PS-1, ARA, and AAR boxcars. I don't know the difference...! I do know that there were some steel boxcars prior to WW2, just as there were all-steel hoppers too. When the steel was needed for tanks, etc, wood was (re)substituted in many cases.

  11. Glen Haasdyk

    Glen Haasdyk Active Member

    Sorry, I don't have a picture, but it does look like an Athearn, same underbody and trucks. It has steel ends, rood and doors but the sides are wood sheathed. That's about the best description that I can give.
  12. doctorwayne

    doctorwayne Active Member

    If I'm not mistaken, the Athearn 40' doublesheathed boxcar is based on a Great Northern car built during WWll. Even so, it is a wooden car and would probably not look out of place in the '30's. Athearn's 40' steel boxcar is loosely based on the 1932 AAR recommended design, so it should be useable. A really suitable car would be the Proto1000 36' singlesheathed Fowler boxcar. CNR owned thousands of these and ran them right up into the fifties. In my opinion, the main drawbacks to these cars are the free-standing, but oversized, grabirons (at least this should make them durable), the fact that the cars are ready-to-run, and the price ($30.00 to $35.00). On the plus side, they come lettered for CNR, CPR, and TH&B and with several numbers available for each. The 50' singlesheathed doubledoor automobile cars from Walthers, while not common in the twenties or suitable for the CNR, would add some nice variety. My favourites for my '30's era layout, however, are the former Train Miniature cars now marketed by Walthers. The singlesheathed forty footers lack the depth of detail offered by Accurail's version but the steel cars, including the ARA version and the Pennsylvania X-29 are just the thing to set the scene with their lower than Athearn rooflines and vertical brake staffs. I've also used the plugdoor version of this car to model the doubledoor and door-and-a-half cars common to the '20's and '30's. Simply shave off the plug door hardware, add cut-down Athearn doors and modify the door tracks as required. I use them to model cars from the northeastern U.S., as these cars were often seen in this part of southern Ontario. Check out the C-D-S catalogue for ideas. Train Miniature also had a version of the USRA doublesheathed car, but it is also a low profile car and therefore not really prototypical. Still, it "looks right", so it's up to you. Accurail's version of this car is more accurate and would be suitable for lots of U.S. roads from this era. If you're willing to fudge the dates a little, TH&B acquired a bunch of these cars from the NYC in the very early '40's. You can letter them using C-D-S set #22 (for the steel boxcar - just eliminate the herald, although they did get the heralds in the '50's). Stewart made a two bay channel sided steel hopper that was also used by the TH&B: I lettered mine with various alphabets from C-D-S, plus the herald from a C-D-S N scale hopper set and Champ dimensional data. Accurail also makes USRA hoppers and panel side rebuilds suitable for NYC and others. Hope this info is of some assistance.
  13. TomPM

    TomPM Another Fried Egg Fan

    Here are a few pictures to help you.

    Accurail Outside Braced boxcar (6 panels):


    A seven panel version is also offered.


    The Erie boxcar is an Athearn Wood Boxcar.


    The Lehigh Valley is also an Athearn wood boxcar. It was an undecorated one that I custom painted and used CDS dry transfers.


    Here is an MDC/Roundhouse Outside truss Boxcar.


    I am not sure how easy the Roundhouse kits will be to find.

    Here is an Athearn wood box car, Athearn 40’ Steel Boxcar, and a MDC Outside braced boxcar:

  14. MasonJar

    MasonJar It's not rocket surgery

    Very cool...

    Thanks again for all the help!!

    Glen - "An Athearn looks like an Athearn" -- very Zen! ;) :D Thanks for the tip - I would not have pursued this option without your initial suggestion...

    Wayne - lots of good info. I do like the look of the Fowler box cars, but at that price, I cannot get many...! I am really looking for something like the Accurail or Athearn kits that will not require much (if any) modification to be about right. With all the handling that these cars will get, I don't want to put too much extra into them.

    Tom - a picture is worth 1000 words!

    Thanks guys.

  15. Russ Bellinis

    Russ Bellinis Active Member

    According to my local hobby shop the Roundhouse kits are pretty much available again. I don't know what got up to Canada from the lower 48 in the 20's and 30's, but Roundhouse/MDC makes a number of wood 36 foot reefers and boxcars with truss rods that are reasonably priced and would look good on a 20's and 30's layout. The cars might be getting old by the 30's, but some would probabvly still be in use.
  16. MasonJar

    MasonJar It's not rocket surgery

    Thanks Russ.

  17. Russ Bellinis

    Russ Bellinis Active Member

    I just thought of something else. I think you could kitbash the MDC truss rod cars by eliminating the truss rods, and putting in some cut down frames to bring them up to something resembling a newer car built in the late 20's or early 30's. Then add a more modern brake wheel. It probably would not be prototype for anything, but might fill out a train without looking too bad.

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