Rolling Stock

Discussion in 'Getting Started' started by masphx, Nov 2, 2006.

  1. masphx

    masphx New Member

    Rolling Stock

    Hi, new here.

    Just wanted to get my feet wet with the right kind of rolling stock and here what all of you had to say about the different brands. I’m just starting out and my era might be the late steam early diesel time frame. I’m looking for close to the real thing but not but not a train car which is already complete, perfect and expensive. I like putting things together and painting them so I was thinking that Athearn’s normal blue box rolling stock was fine for me.
    Just wanted info about how close to the real thing these cars are and if I buy some what are some upgrades which I could do? What other brands are around which match Athearn's in quality (above or below)?
    Any tips on putting these cars together?
  2. MilesWestern

    MilesWestern Active Member

    You model what scale? HO?
  3. masphx

    masphx New Member

    opps, sorry.
    Yes Ho scale
  4. MilesWestern

    MilesWestern Active Member

    OK, Well I model that era! What locale you thinking about because different regions produce different things:

    In the US (Very generally)
    NE: Steel
    Central East: Coal
    SE: Textiles
    Upper Midwest: Autos
    Lower Midwest: grain
    NW: Apples
    CA: Produce
    SW: Ore

    Where do you want to go today? :D
  5. masphx

    masphx New Member

    I'm still unsure about the location. I'm living in Arizona so it might be desert but not sure.
    Becasue of this I might just start out with some boxcars.
    This way I'm not boxed into a certain industry or area.
  6. MilesWestern

    MilesWestern Active Member

    True, make sure to look at the build dates on the side of the car, to protray an accurate Era. (for example "BLT-10-43" Means the car was built October 1943) Here's the clincher though, There might be a (For example "New-9-62" Sept 1962) which means the car was either rebuilt, repainted, or had heavy repairs done that particular car, or a whole fleet. You can usually open Athearn, Bachmann, Accurail and other manufacturer's boxes to look at the very important lettering.

    Also might want to make sure you don't have two cars with the same number! For example your Pennsy Boxcar has REPORTING marks, a abbreviated roadname and a number, for example that boxcar may be "PRR 27139" the other one in the pic may have an identical number, or it may not, which would be better, because if you plan to operate, you don't want identical cars! :curse:

    You look pretty safe with your purchases though, but for a test: What are your reporting marks, built (BLT) date, and if the have it, the Rebuilt (NEW) date on each of your three boxcars?

    Also on another note, buy Class 1 boxcars, as well as "Podunk Southern RR" (small shortline) boxcars as well! Flatcars, and Gons are always a safe car to buy before you decide where to model! :thumb:

    Also might want to keep in mind, youy can freelance (meaninig having your own railroad, with your own reporting marks and logo as well, but I'd suggest starting out modeling a prototype first ;) )

    Finally, when you decide to model a specific railroad, make sure 1/3-1/2 of all the cars you buy (you don't have to do this, but in most cases, it's true) bear THAT railroad's name.

    Any Questions? :)
  7. kitsune

    kitsune Member

    NW: Apples???

    Miles, Miles, Miles. Lumber!

    The rule of thumb about home road cars will vary road to road. Generally, railroads in poor financial shape had a higher amount off home road cars, while those in better financial shape tended to have a lot of cars from other railroads.
  8. Jim Krause

    Jim Krause Active Member

    Regarding Mileswestern's comment about car numbers-- Accurail will send you add on numbers for cars that you purchase from them. Each kit comes with an order form.
  9. Russ Bellinis

    Russ Bellinis Active Member

    A lot will depend on whether you are a rivet counter or not. I like to model locomotives that are close to prototype looking. If there are minor differences, I don't mind. I really don't care about freight cars, if they look good. I've heard for years that no one knows what the prototype is for Athearn's 40 foot boxcar. Accurail is known to make compromises, their Ps1 boxcar has different underframe detailing than an accurate model of a Ps1 would have. I think they used an ARA underframe with the Ps1 body details. Personally, I like Athearn blue box and Accurail kits. I like individual grab irons & ladders rather than cast on grabs & ladders, but it isn't too difficult to carve off the grabs and add brass grabs. Also the cars are cheap enough, that I don't mind making a mistake on one. The one problem with the Athearn blue box kits of some models is that they were designed in the 1950's & 1960's when operating doors were a big deal in boxcars rather than accuracy. The result is that the door slider detail & roof hatches on ice reefers in the Athearn blue box line are grossly oversized. The cars run good with a change in wheel sets. Both Intermountain and Life Like make very nice wheel sets that will replace the stock Athearn wheel sets. The same thing regarding wheel sets applies to Accurail, MDC, & Concor brands. They all use plastic wheels with steel axles. The steel axles tend to rust which creates rolling resistance, and the plastic wheels tend to pick up junk off the rails. I had some Athearn cars that would derail all over the layout a few years ago before I knew about the problem with plastci wheels. I discovered that the wheel treads had filled with junk so that I had no flanges left!! A good cleaning in rubbing alcohol from the local drug store got my cars "back on track."

    Other good low cost brands to consider, Concor makes nice low priced kits. Their trucks are held on by large plastic pins that are designed to have a tight fit in the frame, but tend to loosen up and fall out. The fix is to tap the hole in the Concor frame for a #6 screw and use short #6 screws to mount the trucks, or fill the hole with styrene and glue, then drill it with a #50 drill bit after the glue has dried. Then you tap it with a #2-56 tap and install the trucks with #2-56 screws and washers. The other manufacturer that I have had good experience with is Roundhouse Model Die Casting. The company has since been bought out by Horizon who also bought Athearn. I think they are continuing to offer Athearn blue box kits, but are offering Model Die Casting as r-t-r only. You can still find MDC kits left over at hobby shops. The MDC kits are different in that they use die cast metal underframes with plastic bodies mounted with screws. The frame is unpainted and will have a bit of casting flash that needs to be cleaned off and the frame painted before you build the car. The advantage with mdc cars is that the die cast frames are heavy enough that the cars generally weigh close to NMRA standards. Athearn, Accurail, & Concor cars are all lighter than the NMRA standards call for, and need weight added to get them up to the NMRA standard reccomendation for reliable operation.
    Sorry for the length of this post, but I hope it answers some of your questions.
  10. MilesWestern

    MilesWestern Active Member

    Oh, yeah! :oops: How about Apple-wood!! APPLE wood, that's it! :rolleyes: :D Anyways, Kitsune is right, lumber products dominate the NW, as well on short notice, I thought "Red Washington Apples!" :rolleyes: Oh well!

    Anyways, any ideas?
  11. doctorwayne

    doctorwayne Active Member

    Miles, just a bit of a clarification on your otherwise excellent reply regarding built dates, etc. When a car was built, say in October, 1924, the "Built" date would read 10-24. For the first 30 to 48 months of this car's existence (this time frame varied in different eras and for different car types), the notation "New", located near the car's " Lt. Wt." ("light" or "empty" weight) would also be followed by the same numbers: 10-24. What this denotes is that this car, when new, weighed the amount shown as Lt. Wt. After the appropriate time period had passed, the car was required to be re-weighed. If the weight had changed, the revised weight would be stencilled over the original weight. (Car weight could change due to repairs or modifications.) Regardless of whether or not the car's weight had changed, the "New 10-24" would be painted over, then the area re-stencilled with a 2 or 3 letter shop symbol, followed by the date of the re-weighing.
    For many years, until about 1948, it was advantageous for railroads to rebuild cars rather than purchase new ones, as rebuilding a car was considered an expense and was therefore tax-deductible, whereas a new car was a capital expenditure and so not deductible. Rebuilding often meant stripping a car down to the centre sill and building everything else new. Supposedly, PFE employees used to say, of their extensive rebuilding program, "We jacked up the car number and put a new car under it." Regardless of the extent of the rebuilding, the original "Built" date would still appear on the rebuilt car, often with a notation elsewhere that the car was "Rebuilt" or "Reconditioned", followed by the appropriate date.
    I hope this clears up any misconceptions. Lettering on models, especially older ones, is not necessarily correct, although the trend is towards greater accuracy.

  12. MilesWestern

    MilesWestern Active Member

    Excellent response wayne! :thumb: the comment about PFE employees was great! and, I believe when it was rebuilt, it had "RPKD" and then the date (e.g. 10-37) next to it. Cool! Thanks wayne for the compliment too! :)
  13. doctorwayne

    doctorwayne Active Member

    Miles, the "RPKD", followed by a date, refers to the packing in the journal boxes of the trucks. Periodically, the journal boxes would require "repacking" with oil-soaked cotton waste, to prevent "hot boxes", which could result in broken axles. Repacking, and also reweighing, were usually done by the owning railroad, but could be done by any road. Cars with roller bearings, by the way, do not require repacking.
    If you're modelling an era where repacking was still being done, Champ makes some excellent detailing data sets for both repacking and reweighing, complete with station/shop symbols for different parts of the U.S. and Canada.

  14. 60103

    60103 Pooh Bah

    Mason: Most of the simpler car kits (Athearn, MDC) can be spruced up by replacing the cast on parts. There are a lot of parts that are cast onto the body when they should have air space behind them (ladders, handrails) or are just too thick (corner steps). These can be replaced with commercial detail parts or with wire that you bend up yourself. Some modellers enjoy this superdetailing work; others are annoyed that the cars don't come that way to begin with.
  15. Russ Bellinis

    Russ Bellinis Active Member

    You mentioned two groups of modelers, but I belong to a third group. I don't mind carving off grabs, ladders, and steps to install wire or detail castings. What I dislike are the plethora of so called craftsman kits with plastic grabs and superdetail parts. If the grab irons a manufacturer is putting in a kit isn't made out of metal, they are a waste of time and energy to install.
  16. doctorwayne

    doctorwayne Active Member

    You hit the nail right on the head, Russ. :thumb: I'm with you on this one: it's much easier to carve off cast-on grabirons and steps than it is to fill those oversize holes cast into the model for plastic parts, then redrill for scale-size metal parts. While diemaking has advanced tremendously in the last few years, just because you can cast such parts in plastic doesn't mean that it's a good idea. And in my opinion, the same thing goes for those acetal plastic handrails on diesels: most are too thick, they don't hold paint well, so have to be cast in colour, which usually doesn't match the rest of the paint scheme, and while they may be fairly durable, they often bend enough to take a "set", which is impossible to correct. And good luck trying to effect a repair if they break.
    Here's a picture of a Proto1000 36' Fowler Patent boxcar. I bought 6 body shells at about two bucks apiece because the factory screwed-up the paint job. R-T-R, these cars were retailing for $39.95, well out of my range, even for a car that I really wanted. I removed all of the 36 grabirons, the 6 drop-steps (Canadian prototypes), and the two roofwalk corner grabs, along with the plastic vertical brake shaft on each car, then filled the resulting holes (you can't just shave of the grabiron, leaving the "pin", as glue doesn't stick to this kind of plastic), then redrilled for wire parts. I had to bend all of the grabirons from brass wire, too, as they're a non-standard size. While I usually enjoy this kind of work, it did get a bit tedious after a while, but I think the cars turned out pretty well.



  17. Russ Bellinis

    Russ Bellinis Active Member

    It looks great in the pics Doc. I bought a Walthers REA express box car. I haven't had time to build it yet, but one of the things I liked about it was that it came with metal grabs. In fact they are stainless steel to match the color on the prototype car!
  18. brakie

    brakie Active Member

    For your era Athearn,Atlas,Accurail and Walthers will fill the bill perfectly.
  19. Saddletank

    Saddletank New Member

    Freight on a Budget

    For the transition era I like the Accurail option, they seem to cover the period well. The only drawback is most of the boxcar doors are fixed. But they are great to weather.

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