RTR Freight Car(s)

Discussion in 'HO Scale Model Trains' started by CN1, May 18, 2004.

  1. Chessie1973

    Chessie1973 Member

    Ok , If I may present a little graphic demonstration on the differences of RTR versus kits.

    Athearn specifically.

    I have here two Athere Boxcars. One is a kit, and the other is a RTR.

    Attached Files:

  2. Chessie1973

    Chessie1973 Member

    Upon first glance these two boxcars have only differences in paint from the two pics I have shown thus far.

    Not to illistrate the differences in details

    A simple shot of the ends of both cars up close should do I think.

    Attached Files:

  3. Chessie1973

    Chessie1973 Member

    You will notice that the Conrail Boxcar has molded on ladders, the brakeman stepis as well.

    The CSX boxcar has individually applied ladders, and a Metal mesh step for the brakeman.

    Now the kicker.

    Price for the Athearn BB Kit. Approximately 8 dollars.

    Price for the Athearn RTR. Approximately 18 dollars.

    Thus the question is this. Do you want to pay for the details before hand and have a great looking model out of the box, or do you prefer to "upgrade" your rolling stock to the RTR level of detail?

    Sorry for the number of back to backposts but I think these shots illistrate in detail the major differences in RTR versus Kits for those less initiated in the MRR world rather well. And I apologise if my tone was a bit condescending as I just got home from a long night at work and I am a bit tired.
  4. Fred_M

    Fred_M Guest

    Ok, IMHO the Atherns blue box isn't really a kit. For $8 (off the sale rack $14 reg.) I purchased a Proto 2000 PS2-CD hopper. It has as good of detail as the RTR, if not better. It comes with real Kadee couplers and blackened metal wheels. It will take about as long to assemble as the blue box will to upgrade. It's the better value is it not? Don't overlook that the blue box would require $1.25 for kaddee couplers, $1 for wheels, paint to match the shaved off ladders, a new brake wheel, brass rods, a small expensive drill bit, and lots and lots of time. I own prob 50 blue boxes so i'm not knocking them, just submitting it might be more fun and cost effective for somebody who likes to build rolling stock to build one of these nice million part kits rather than upgrade a bluebox or entry level toy quality unit. BTW, I have had this kit for 2 months and can't seem to find the time and motivation to do it. Fred

    Attached Files:

  5. Chessie1973

    Chessie1973 Member

    Excellent Point Fred.

    Another good quality high detail kit is the Blueprint Roundhouse kits.

    The only problem I have found with the more detailed kits like the P2K and Blueprint ones is that some of those parts are so tiny and fragile it seemsimpossible to remove them from the sprues without damaging or breaking them. I own three P2K cars and love them all, two Clicnhfield Flat cars and a Coal Hopper. All three were very fun to build and they look great when your done without having to modify the kit at all.
  6. MasonJar

    MasonJar It's not rocket surgery

    Hi Randall,

    My question is which is the RTR and which is the kit? I have heard that a lot of the so-called RTR require that the extra details (like better ladders and brake wheels) must actually be applied after purchase...?

  7. Chessie1973

    Chessie1973 Member

    The CSX car is the RTR.

    If you look closely (sorry for the bad pictures my camera's Marco mode is terrible) you will see that the ladder on the CSX is actually individualy applied steps and that the step for the brake wheel is actually a metal mesh not a molded shelf like on the Conrail car.

    IMHO I would put that Athearn RTR car up against P2K or Atlas in the level of Detail. I was genuinely surprised at the lvel of detail that came out of the box on that car. It had metal wheels, all those nice individually applied detail parts and everything already on it straight out of the box. all I had to do was throw a set of Kadee #5's on it and it was ready to go on my layout. but it came with the accumate couplers with the real springs not the little plastic finger type so it could have run as is right out of the box.
  8. pdt

    pdt Member


    The directions in the first P2K kit I built (the Mather stock car) recommended heating a sharp knife blade over a flame, such as a candle, before removing the small parts from the sprue. It actually worked, and it's the method I had to use to remove the thousand or so grab irons from the sprues in all of their kits I've built over the years.
  9. RioGrande

    RioGrande Member

    I prefer to use the Sprue nippers like the ones sold by P-B-L, those work excellent and are easy to use with extreemly small risk of ruining parts. If you are careful, no trimming is required at all.
  10. Dave Plummer

    Dave Plummer New Member

    Randall -

    That lower Athearn PS box was offered both RTR and as a kit. I think the model represented a quantum leap forward for Athearn in that the kit offered separate ladders, steps, grabs, door latches, etc... for less than $10. I added end platforms and coupler cut levers and had models on par with the Branchline Blueprint series cars.

    Dash10 -

    The P2K 4427 is a classic and the best hopper value to be had in high quality kits. Honest to God, I've built over 50 of them and have the process down to just over an hour. I have another 30 on hand that will be repainted into various schemes from Oddballs Decals.

    As for RTR, well, its the new norm and not likely to change. Interestingly though, I'm starting to see a lot of Genesis, Intermountain and Red Caboose cars gathering dust at considerably higher overhead costs than the old blue boxes. I'd hate to be a store owner trying to accurately guess my inventory purchases these days.

  11. RioGrande

    RioGrande Member


    That Conrail box car looks strangely like a Model Die Casting car, not Athearn. Am I right?

    Looking at my 1999 Walthers catalogue, the brown Conrail box car is listed as a 50' Ribbed Side Flat Top Hi Cube with single plug doors #480-1822
  12. Chessie1973

    Chessie1973 Member

    Thanks for the heads up on that PS boxcar.

    If that is a sign of the things to come from Athearn/Horizon then the merger is definitely going to be a good thing for us blue boxers out there.

    I primarily used those two boxcars because they wee the only two cars of similar type and same manufacturer I have on hand at the moment, and they were a good example of the levels of detail differences often found between RTR and shake the box kits these days.

    But you are right. The kits are becoming more detailed to compete with the RTR market more. Hopefully the prices won't climb to high for them as the detail improves.

    To Rio:

    Nope that CSX is an Athearn Ready to Run car. The Conrail is an Athearn Blue Box.
  13. RioGrande

    RioGrande Member

    If that Conrail box car came in an Athearn blue box, it was probably re-boxed by someone - it is definitely a Model Die Casting car - the one I mentioned above. I'm looking right at it in my Walthers Catalogue (1999, page 174 if you have that one) as I type this. No biggie though - did you get it at a train show or swap meet?

    Here is a link to the photo of that 50' MDC hi-cube at Walthers website showing the same box car as your Conrail, just painted for Frisco:
    Compare that to your photo of the brown CR box car above and you'll see they are identical. Walthers doesn't have a photo link for the CR car but it does list your car as part #1822 under the Model Die Casting search.


    I used to have one just like it painted for BN once - yep, MDC.
  14. santafewillie

    santafewillie Member

    Whoa Dave!!! 50 of them! It's taken me 3 years to do 9 and I have 6 more to go. I agree that they are great models for the money. Best looking models on my layout and they weather well.
    I don't know about the athearn or roundhouse thing, but I have several of the Athearn kits of that RTR CSX (other roadnames) and they have the wire grabs etc. I hope Horizon continues that line of thinking...kits and RTR.
  15. Fred_M

    Fred_M Guest

    There would of been a time I would of jumped right into building that kit, but anymore all's I want to do is scratchbuild buildings and do scenery. So a friend came by and I asked, pleaded, and begged him to build it for me. He finally gave in. Maybe I'm one of the reasons that RTR is getting popular, assembling plastic kits no longer do anything for me. The last one I did was a Walthers snow plow and it took me a long time and a lot of will power to complete. Same problem with these undecorated P2K FA2 locos I have. I just can't seem to get around to painting them. The other week I bashed together a SW1500 with a ge cab and brass grabs, that was fun and I got it done in no time, but the P2Ks are still in the box. Right now I'm building a scratched wood warehouse and that too is fun. To me it's cyclic I think. One of these days I'll suddenly get tired of scratch building and go back to kits or electronic do dads. I intend on having fun, that kit looked like work. :D Fred
  16. atsfman

    atsfman New Member

    Dash, like Dave Plummer I build them in mass quanitity, or did until I got my grain cars quota of 400 reached. Once you set up an assembly line technique, they go very quickly.

    Did the same with the IM kits when they first came out. After building one or two, had the assembly procedures down and was able to do multiples in a short amount of time.

    However, arthritis is now causing me some finger joint problems, and can only build kits on days when the pain isn't there.

    Price we pay for surviving.

  17. RioGrande

    RioGrande Member

    The thought of building mass quantities of cars like P2k or Int Mnt kits is too much for me. I've built a few of them, but that takes allot of patients, and during the last 5 years or so, my eyes have gotten so I have to old things farther away. Plus, I've always had trouble find a good gluing technique for small parts... AC thin glue runs and is hard to manipulate, AC gel is often in too big of globs, and the stuff frosts too. Other glues like Testors seems to take to long to dry. Tenax7R is great in some situations - I love it when I can wick it into a hole from the back side.

    Yes, the P2k kits are the best deal running for a detailed car. I remember the 50' box cars were $6 when they first came out, and they were as good as the Int Mnt cars which cost $14 for kits. Even the PS4740 covered hoppers can be found for under $10 for the kits.... but I'm opting to get most of this stuff RTR these days.
  18. hoyle

    hoyle Member

    The BB ACF boxcar i hate the door claws like to replace them the PS hopper like to cut the ends off and rebuild them to look like the IM ones.Have a lot of Front Range 2 and 3 bay center flows need advise on how to put see through walk ways on them and the old IM hoppers.
  19. DT1967

    DT1967 New Member

    I'm not enough of a railfan to notice the bulky awkward details on some brands and styles of cars. I do appreciate the fact that those more robust details stand up to the 3 pair of 0-5-0 freelance skyhooks I have around my layout.

    You know the cars that run/operate best on my layout?

    Old Tyco pulled by a ConCor MP-15!!!!.

    Haven't quite figured that one yet. I'm leaning how to make the kits work but I just some and experience.

    Of course I love building models since I have about 12-15 completed Pola/Tyco kits on the shelves from my original journey into this hobby.

    I do have a kit bast that I'll need help but I don't have to get that one done until December. :)

    I love to read peoples experience and opinions on brands even if mine is different.
  20. Dave Plummer

    Dave Plummer New Member

    I have redone some of the Front Range 4-bay pellet hoppers (since they are STILL the ONLY models availalbe of one of the MOST COMMON cars on the rails today) by using Plano Models walkway kits. You have to buy two kits to cut and splice the walkways and get the proper support thicknesses. These kits dress-up real nice, but they do take some work.


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