The giant boxcars generally used in autoparts service are an impressive sight and a popular car in any scale or on the prototype. The large sides provided the perfect canvas for railroads' colorful logos and paint schemes in the 1970s and 1980s and many continue to roll the rails today.
Even in N scale, these big cars will stand out in any yard. Bluford Shops has created a beautiful model of a common prototype and continues to roll out new schemes regularly.
Most paint schemes are available in three numbers, as an individual car and a two-pack. MSRP is $29.95 and $59.70 respectively.
Beginning in the late 1960s, railroads and carbuilders worked together to create a new type of boxcar which could efficiently handle large, but relatively light auto parts. These included things like doors and body panels. These parts are often built at remote factories and then brought by rail to assembly plants.
At the time of their construction, these cars were bigger than anything else on the rails. They could not be run on some routes because of their clearance requirements. Fortunately, these cars often run in dedicated pools or routes, so they only need to travel over a specific line.
While there were construction differences between builders and even orders, most cars had similar dimensions and features. The most common variation was the number of doors on each side. Most had two, some had four.
The large flat sides of these cars made them the perfect canvas for bold graphics and logos which were common in the 1960s and 1970s.
Many of these cars remain in service today. In addition to auto parts, they also carry other large and light loads like appliances. Some have even been repurposed for trash service.
The Bluford Shops model nicely captures the look of these impressive cars. Based on a Pullman Standard prototype, these cars could be found on railroads all across North America. Bluford Shops offers the car in both four and eight door versions, with new roadnames and paint schemes announced in every run.
The plastic carbody is well detailed. The underframe features only basic details, but there is nothing missing that you could notice with the car on the track anyway. The ends feature etched cross-over walkways and very nice renditions of the cushioned draft gear boxes normally found on these cars.
With any large car, the number one question is always what its minimum turning radius is. As is, the car is designed to negotiate an 11 inch radius. A kit is included however that will allow the car to navigate tighter curves.
All of the paint and lettering on the Conrail model I reviewed was very evenly applied and even the smallest data was crisp and readable. This car wears a common paint scheme and three numbers are available. Bluford Shops also offers other Conrail schemes, including some patched predecessor cars, showing a clear commitment to offering a great variety.
These cars look great out of the box and no extra assembly is required unless you want to add the curve kit.
The model features plastic wheels. Replacement metal wheels would improve tracking.
A little weathering would also help complete the car. Any effort spent on that long roof would be sure to attract attention.
These cars tend to operate in regular pools between assembly plants. Often these operations move over multiple railroads, so it is not uncommon to see "foreign" cars together. And since the destinations could be thousands of miles apart, you don't have to model one of these massive facilities on your railroad. Although N scale would make such a facility a little more practical.
When serving auto plants, these cars are often seen in both general freight trains and in dedicated trains with auto racks. Cars are often found in groups, but single cars can also be found, especially when in other services.
However you use them, these big cars are sure to add a new dimension to the trains on your railroad.