N Scale Freight Car Prototypes?

JMaurer1 Jan 24, 2012

  1. JMaurer1

    JMaurer1 TrainBoard Member

    Is there a website or a list of what an N scale freight car used for an actual prototype? Something similar to the N scale passenger prototype website by Fred ¤¤¤¤¤ (http://www.trainweb.org/fredatsf/protopass1.htm). I know that some cars are obvious (or seem to be obvious)...MT's steel 40' box car is a model of the 40' PS-1 box car made by Pullman Standard beginning in 1947 and continuing well into the 1950's. At the same time, Atlas makes a PS-1 too...only with a completely different door choosing to model the PS door that was introduced in 1956 (or is it a Superior 6 panel door?). Anyways, is there a list anywhere of what cars are what? Thanks for any help.
  2. Kenneth L. Anthony

    Kenneth L. Anthony TrainBoard Member

    Good question. I have been working on this question for 40 years, primarily concentrating on Santa Fe transition era and freight cars on railroads that ran in Texas.
    And I don't have complete answers.
    If there was a place I could contribute something...
    But I am supposed to be writing my thesis and can't set up and maintain such a site.

    I will look through my haphazardly-collected list of sites and see what I see...
  3. wcfn100

    wcfn100 TrainBoard Member


    Be careful for what you ask for.

  4. Kenneth L. Anthony

    Kenneth L. Anthony TrainBoard Member

    Here is a quick list of prototype single-door boxcars built between the late 19-teens and the late 1950s, with models.

    40’ single-sheath wood sides, outside framed USRA Atlas 41771
    40’ single-sheath wood sides, outside framed USRA MTL 28000 series
    40’ double-sheathed wood sides, USRA MTL 42080
    40’ double-sheathed wood sides, Minitrix 3189
    40’ single-sheath wood sides alternate-ARA Howe “A” truss outside frames, Atlas A1g 2361
    40’ single-sheath 1924 Pratt “W” truss outside frames, Concor 1301
    40’ steel (similar to X-29) (marked “Yugo”)
    40’ steel PRR X-29 design Red Caboose RN-17010-5
    40’ steel USRA steel-side rebuild Atlas 45816
    40’ steel B&O wagon-top Quality Craft/ Gloor brass kit
    40’ steel 1932 ARA Atlas #50 000 120
    40’ steel 1937AAR Intermountain BLW-1081
    40’ steel AAR Arnold Rapido
    40’ steel AAR Atlas Aig #2203
    40’ steel “AAR” Mount Vernon Concor #10001
    40’ steel AAR Deluxe #14010
    40’ steel 12-panel Intermountain #66016
    40’ steel PS-1 w 6’ wide door MTL #20000 series
    40’ steel PS-1 w 7’ wide door Roco 285404
    50’ steel MTL #31000 series
    50’ steel PS-1 Model Die Casting #81802

    Probably needs some explanation, but I put it up now and maybe can add. Or somebody can correct my mistakes.
    Does this help?
  5. JMaurer1

    JMaurer1 TrainBoard Member

    I have a place where I can keep the info, the hard part is collecting it. Thanks to Ken for the start. If anyone else has any additional information I will continue to collect it and once I get enough I'll post it (at Sacramento-Valley-Ntrak.com).
  6. BarstowRick

    BarstowRick TrainBoard Supporter

    In answer to the original question...there isn't such a list.

    Over the years and before the internet, there was only one way to communicate. I used to house my pigeons next to the hen house but they didn't much like each other. Ok, it wasn't that bad.

    Wig wags or model railroad, aka toy train magazines. Most of the reviews of the train equipment produced for N scale and from it's conception to the late 90's was seldom 100% accurate. Suffering a serious image problem. Oh, there was a few prototypes that slipped through the cracks. They were either toy looking in appearance, oversized, had the wrong ends, roof walks, stirrups you could hang a cow on, 3 inch hand rails and ladders with steps set to far apart and not to forget the welded (molded on) brake wheels. It was pathetic.

    Thankfully, the Kadee family came along and started producing some very accurate models. Causing or subsequently forcing the N scale manufacuturers to make a shift toward quality products. Ultimately setting the standard for N scale. Todays, Micro-Trains.

    Still the performance of locomotives left much to be desired until Mr. Kato set up shop. At first, we all kind of wondered what was going on but it wasn't long and Mr. Kato, engineered a superb operating locomotive. The word got out and things were about to change SO, I retired my pigeons

    So, what am I jacking my jaw off about? The point is it would be easier to give you a list of what is prototype, then isn't. Now let me think, no, no, not that either, unuh, no, still thinking. Heck, that's most of my older stuff.

    Kenneth A., has you off and running and I would concure with his list. Most, not all, of what they are producing today is fairly accurate...to a point. There is still the toy train B-mann market but it is what it is and for a good reason. After all where did we get our love for model trains in the first place.
    Last edited by a moderator: Jan 26, 2012
  7. y0chang

    y0chang TrainBoard Member

  8. Kenneth L. Anthony

    Kenneth L. Anthony TrainBoard Member

    36' Truss-rod Boxcar

    I am trying to trace prototypes for N scale cars from earlier prototypes to later. The Bachmann old time cars from the civil war and old wild west period are probably earliest, but I have never had the model and don’t know a lot about the prototype, so...

    On to the
    36’ wood truss-rod boxcar as represented by Roundhouse/ MDC #8779.
    I bought a couple for $1.99 at a used stuff table for some truss-rods and kitbash material. I’ve had them unbuilt for 2 years or so. I assembled one last night so I could take a picture.


    Characteristics of the model:
    36 foot length (shorter than the ubiquitous 40 foot boxcars of the 40s and 50s)
    Wood double-sheathed sides, wood ends, peaked wood roof, wood running board (roofwalk)
    4 truss-rods. Wood underframe.
    Arch-bar trucks. Vertical brake staff.
    Minor detail- Wood doors with a metal “strap” reinforcement across the middle of the door.

    Close prototype: Santa Fe class BX-K. Built 1902. 2500 cars. Lasted into early 1930s.
    Photo Figures 2.52, 2.53 on p.59, Santa Fe Boxcars 1869-1953by John C. Dobyne III (Santa Fe Railway Rolling Stock Reference Series- Volume 4).
    Differences between prototype and model-
    The Santa Fe cars had vertical-sliding end lumber doors near the top center of both ends. When the car was too fully loaded with lumber, a few more boards could be loaded through the end doors. They could easily be modeled using the unneeded reefer hatches supplied with the Roundhouse/MDC kit, with Plastruct channels for the vertical tracks to slide the door down.
    The door of the model has a metal brace across the middle of the door apparently as a reinforcement, not found on the prototype cars.
    The model also has end ladders which did not come on the prototype cars as delivered—but they were added when required by ICC regulation between 1911 and 1916.

    Another close prototype: Illinois Central #1041 and #1861 as shown on p.6 of Railroad Car Journal No.1 (August 1971). #1041 built 1891, #1861 built 1892.
    Like the Santa Fe cars, these cars have wood doors with no center reinforcing strap and were built with no end ladders. They also have end lumber doors but they slide to the side rather than down. #1041 has outside brake beams on the trucks.
  9. Kenneth L. Anthony

    Kenneth L. Anthony TrainBoard Member

    Another 36’ wood truss-rod boxcar
    Fine N Scale #2102 36- truss rod. Set of 2 in 1 resin kit.
    Very similar to MDC car. Spookshow shows 2 door variations. One does NOT have the horizontal strap mentioned above which deviates from the Santa Fe and Illinois Central prototypes. I don’t have this kit and no pictures. You can see it on spookshow
    Or see 2 photos, showing 2 door variations and (EDIT) at the Fine N Scale website, http://www.finenscale.com/rollingstock.html

    Disclaimer: My only interest in Fine N Scale is I like their stuff.
    EDIT: I wrote that you could order from webstie where they have their pictures. But then I made my post and checked the link, and found they sell through dealers, apparently not direct. They have a list of dealers...

    I expect to continue this mini-list but it takes time to track down my models, shoot pix, load them to computer for editing, uploading to railimages, researching prototype and making post to this site.
    Last edited by a moderator: Jan 28, 2012
  10. umtrr-author

    umtrr-author TrainBoard Member

    My UMTRR website (see signature) has a Micro-Trains Body Style Table, which does include prototypes if I have them from a reliable source.
  11. Kenneth L. Anthony

    Kenneth L. Anthony TrainBoard Member

    USRA Double-sheathed boxcars and copies

    Once we pass the wooden cars with truss-rods, the biggest impact on boxcar design came with the USRA double-sheath and single-sheath designs. During World War I, the government tiook over the railroads to coordinate them for the war effort under the United States Railroad Administration (USRA). Allocating materials and factory availability, the USRA decided to establish standard plans for freight cars, rather than each railroad designing its own plans and ordering to its own specifications. There were two main boxcar designs built, with double-sheathed and single-sheathed wood sides. Let’s take up the double-sheathed first, since they were the closest in appearance, at least from the sides, to the older designs.

    Spotting characteristics “AS DESIGNED”*
    40-foot nominal length
    Deep fishbelly center-sill underframe (USRA underframe)
    Double-sheathed wood sides (vertical boards)
    6’ wood door
    Steel ends with 5-5-5 corrugations
    Metal roof (sheet metal panels over wooden subroof)
    Wooden running board (roofwalk)

    USRA had thousands of these built—delivered too late for the war, and sold to railroads. Some of the railroads acquiring the original USRA cars were:
    AT&SF, B&M, CB&Q, C&NW, CRIP, MP, NP, NYC, SLSF, Wabash

    This MicroTrainsLine car, #42080 has most of those characteristics.

    It has an end-mounted brake wheel, which would be typical of a modernization. Ends are 5-5-5 corrugated, roof is metal-type, 17 uniform-width panels and half-width panels at each end. I have found one prototype photo of a USRA car with 14 panels, all the same width, and no discussion that goes into the variations on number of pattern.

    The USRA design was widely successful, and many railroads that did not buy the original USRA cars had copies made to the same plans...but with variations.
    Some used 8-7 corrugated ends instead of 5-5-5.
    Some used end-mounted brake wheels instead of vertical brake staffs.
    Some used different doors, or replaced the original doors with steel ones.
    There MAY have been differences in number of roof panels, but this seems this least noticed and recorded detail.
    And some used a different underframe without the distinctive USRA fishbelly center sill.

    MicroTrainsLines variations
    MTL produced the USRA double-sheathed cars with several alternate details—
    - With USRA fishbelly underframe or “standard” (relatively flat) underframe
    - With vertical brake staff or end-mounted brake wheel
    - I don’t know if they offered models with different doors, but MTL has offered different door styles as interchangeable parts.
    The models were said to be produced with detail variations to match prototypes.

    Here is MTL #42010 with straight (non-USRA) underframe and end-mounted brake wheel.


    Atlas is coming out with its USRA double-sheathed boxcar this year,
    Atlas model # 45700-45766. Estimated delivered, 2nd quarter 2012.
    Information, road names and numbers available at:

    Atlas says it will offer its car with several alternatives:
    5-5-5 or 7-8 steel end;
    fishbelly or “standard” center sill;
    vertical brake staff or end-mounted brakes,
    steel or wood doors.
    The variations will be offered as per their prototypes, and the modeler’s choice of variations can be ordered on undecorated cars.

    More information in print:
    USRA double-sheath 40' boxcars, article with many prototype photos and roster
    Model Railroading _ May88 p.34
    USRA 40-ton double-sheathed boxcar, genl article with several prototype photos
    Railroad Model Craftsman Sept04 p.90

    JMaurer1, Is this information helpful? Shall I go on? Or is it as wcfn100 says, “Be care what you ask for.”
  12. JMaurer1

    JMaurer1 TrainBoard Member

  13. Kenneth L. Anthony

    Kenneth L. Anthony TrainBoard Member

    Bibliography of USRA double-sheathed boxcar photos

    Photos of USRA double-sheathed boxcars

    CNW #65492 USRA 40-ton double-sheathed boxcar
    Railroad Model Craftsman Sept04 p. 94
    (CNW) C StP M & O- CMO #1808 USRA 40-ton double-sheathed boxcar
    Railroad Model Craftsman Sept04 p.94
    GN #23806 USRA double-sheath 40' boxcar _MRRing_ May88 p.31
    GN #23812 USRA double-sheath 40' boxcar _MRRing_ May88 p.30
    MP #45001-45250
    MP #45238 USRA double-sheath 40' 1940s pix _Model Railroading_ May88 p.31
    MP 1919 prototype photo, link:
    This photo from
    Screaming Eagles MoPac site
    NYC boxcar #161277 USRA double-sheath 40' _MRRing_ May88 p.31
    Rock Island #155000-157499 USRA double-sheathed 40' blt 1919
    listed in USRA double-sheath 40' boxcar roster _MRRing_ May88 p.34
    listed 54 Reg as "Z-bar"
    pix #155939 _MRRing_ May88 p.32
    pix #155939 _RailModJournal_ Nov97 p.15
    progressive pix of rebuilding wood-sheath to steel-side
    _RMC_ Sept89 p.53
    SLSF (“Frisco”) #128209CT USRA 40-ton double-sheathed boxcar
    Railroad Model Craftsman Sept04 p.90
  14. Kenneth L. Anthony

    Kenneth L. Anthony TrainBoard Member

    USRA 40' single-sheathed boxcars

    The other, and more modern design that came out of the United States Railroad Administration during the First World War was the USRA 50-ton capy single-sheathed boxcar.

    General References
    USRA 50 ton single-sheathed boxcar
    Exhaustive article Model Railroading January 87 p.9
    Railroad Model Craftsman July 2004 p.88
    Scale drawing Model RRer Dec86 p.88

    Prototype spotting characteristics AS ORIGINALLY BUILT (25,000 cars)
    40-foot nominal length
    SIDES: Single-sheathed wood sides with horizontal boards
    Outside-braced steel frame made of 3 “hat” shaped braces on each side of center door making a “Howe”-type truss with diagonals sloping toward middle of car at top like sides of the letter “A”
    Each end of the side has flat strap-steel reinforcements diagonally across the top and bottom corners.
    DOORS: Wood, vertical boards, steel reinforcing brace horizontally across center
    ENDS: Steel, 5-5-5 corrugations
    ROOF: Flexible metal-sheathed (over wood), wooden running boards (roofwalks)
    (The photos seem to show roofs 14 even-length panels long but I have not found an authoritative statement about number of panels.)
    TRUCKS: Andrews cast-steel double-truss
    UNDERFRAME: Flat steel channels (not deep fishbelly “USRA” style)
    BRAKE WHEEL: vertical brake staff (as originally built)

    The USRA design was copied with variations for years afterwards. Most of the copies had “Z-bar” braces instead of the “hat-section” braces used on the actual USRA cars. Many had 8-7 corrugated ends stead of the 5-5-5 pattern of the USRA cars. A few had deep fishbelly underframes like the USRA double-sheathed cars. I will go into the Z-braced copies and variations another time. Most that lasted long enough had their vertical brake staff replaced with an end-mounted brake wheel...

    Micro-Trains (then part of Kadee) came out with their 28000 series USRA single-sheath 40’ single-door boxcar almost 40 years ago. This is one that I repainted. Not as good a paint job as the factory does, but I wanted what I wanted for my particular Texas prototype location. (My kick at the time was Texas affiliates of trunkline systems.)


    The MicroTrains car captures most of the features of the USRA single-sheath design. I think my models came with modern Bettendorf trucks when I bought them ages ago, rather than the Andrews double-truss trucks applied to the prototype in 1919. The model has a metal-sheathed roof like the prototype but not the same number of panels I have been able to count on photos. (It’s hard to read roof details from typical ground-level views.) One odd detail seen in a number of prototype photos, what looks like a door track that extends both to the right and left sides of the doors. The MTL has a door track just toward the right of the door, like most other right-opening single-door boxcars.

    Model variations: MTL cars came with either straight or fishbelly underframes, and either vertical brake staff or end-mounted brake wheel, apparently to fit various prototypes and periods. The Fort Worth and Denver City boxcar I was modeling had the fishbelly.
    For reference, here is that fishbelly...

    Atlas came out with its USRA single-sheathed 40’ single-door boxcar in 2004. The Atlas model has the 14-panel metal-sheathed roof I have seen on many USRA prototype photos. It also has the odd door track of nthe prototype, extending both to the right and left of the door.


    Model variations: Atlas comes with 5-5-5 or 8-7 rib corrugated ends, and flat or fishbelly underframe.

    I will go into roadnames and photo references for the USRA prototypes and models another time.
  15. Kenneth L. Anthony

    Kenneth L. Anthony TrainBoard Member

    Roadnames for USRA 40’ Single-sheathed boxcars

    Reference list of Published photos
    (If you can’t find these magazines, this still gives you a partial list of major roadnames)

    B&O #287017 for cement loading Model Railroading January 1987 p.12
    C&NW #? 5-5-5 Model Railroading January 1987 p.12
    C&O had USTA cars, I can’t find photos
    D&H #17194 Railroad Model Craftsman July04 p.91
    D&H 17295 Model Railroading January 1987 p.15
    Georgia RR #? Model Railroading January 1987 p.15
    Milw #703035 Model Railroading January 1987 p.10
    MILW #703425 Railroad Model Craftsman July04 p.89
    N&W had USRA cars like this, Atlas #41987, 41988. I can’t find proto pix.
    NYC 277371 Model Railroading January 1987 p.11
    Matches Atlas #41985, 41986
    PRR #38333 w corrug door Model Railroading January 1987 p.15
    PRR #44076 Model Railroading January 1987 p.14
    Reading had USRA cars like this, Atlas #41989, 41990. I can’t find proto pix.
    SP #26685 Model Railroading January 1987 p.9
    SP #26685 Rail Model Journal November 1997 p.16
    SP #27353 Model Railroading January 1987 p.10
  16. Kenneth L. Anthony

    Kenneth L. Anthony TrainBoard Member

    Z-braced “USRA style” single-sheathed boxcars

    Extensive article Model Railroading Feb88

    The USRA single-sheath design was so successful, many copies in addition to the cars actually built for the USRA were ordered by various railroads. However, there was a subtle change in many of the copies. The “hat” shaped cross section of the braces allowed water to accumulate, which eventually rusted through the braces and weakened them. To correct this, most copies based on the USRA design used a brace with a cross-section bend on each side, somewhat like a squared-off letter “Z.” Here is a diagram showing the difference.


    The difference is so small, it is practically invisible in N scale without a magnifying glass. It would probably be impractical to mold such a structure in plastic as a one-piece shell.
    The same models sold by MicroTrains and Atlas as USRA single-sheath boxcars can be used to model many of the Z-brace variations.

    The actual USRA single-sheath boxcars did NOT have the heavy fishbelly underframe but a few of the Z-brace copies did. Both MicroTrains and Atlas offered cars with both fishbelly and straight underframes, and generally attempted to put the right underframe on the right prototype.

    Some Z-brace copies had different ends and roofs. I have looked through cars and catalog listing of cars to see if I found any with the USRA single-sheath design sides but other ends or roofs and could not find any. Anyone who insisted on a model of one of those cars would have a difficult jobs.
    On the other hand, swapping doors on a MicroTrains car would be easy.

    Here is a partial list of Z-bar USRA-style single-sheathed boxcars for which I could find photos and other information.
    ACL #13066 Model Railroading February 1988 p.13
    Ann Arbor #73839 w Vulcan ends Model Railroading February 1988 p.11
    (CB&Q) C&S #13500-13999 USRA single-sheath
    5-5-5 ends #13576 & plan, _Mod RRer_ Dec86 p.89
    Information along with a published photo of a car belonging to Burlington-subsidiary C&S told me that Burlington itself and subsidiary Fort Worth and Denver also got identical cars and I used that as a basis for my FWD repaint.
    CB&Q #16027 with fishbelly underframe Model Railroading February 1988 p.11
    CB&Q #16734 Model Railroading March 1989 p.18
    CB&Q #25402 with fishbelly underframe, Inverted Dreadnaught ends Model Railroading February 1988 p.11
    CB&Q #25709 Railroads, An American Journey (Ball) p.187
    CNJ #18091, in 1950s Model Railroading February 1988 p.13
    Atlas # 41981, 41982 is very close, follows 1920 USRA appearance
    C&NW #46212 shorter 7/8 radial roof Model Railroading January 1987 p.12
    CP #236320 7-8 ends Model Railroading January 1987 p.11
    Matches Atlas #41979, 41980
    D&H #17225 Model Railroading February 1988 p.10
    DM & IR w Youngstown corrugated door Model Railroading February 1988 p.11
    Maine Central #35052 wood ends w vertical beams Model Railroading February 1988 p.13
    Atlas #41983, 41984 has arch-bar trucks like proto, similar except for 5-5-5 steel ends
    MKT #76666 Model Railroading February 1988 p.9
    MKT #76666 American Car & Foundry (Kaminski) p.171
    Atlas model #41872 matches except door track that extends to left of door
    Now that I have noticed this, I think I will take a chisel blade and cut off the part of the door track to the left of the door to match prototype pictures. I don’t fault Atlas at all for using the same mold for a 97% same car, and it is an easy fix. For my “someday” project list.
    MKT #95653 Model Railroading February 1988 p.10
    MP # 90212 color pix in 1953 Model Railroader June98 p.74

    MP #94610 Inverted Dreadnaught ends, radial roof Model Railroading February 1988 p.12
    Northern Pacific #20101 8-rib Dreadnaught ends. Model Railroading February 1988 p.12
    Portland Terminal #4031 wood ends w vertical beams Model Railroading February 1988 p.13
    SP/T&NO #52156 single-sheath wood ends Model Railroading February 1988 p.13
    SP #19022 with Dreadnaught? ends Model Railroading February 1988 p.13
  17. Kenneth L. Anthony

    Kenneth L. Anthony TrainBoard Member

    40’ USRA-style single-sheathed door-and-a-half

    40’ USRA-style single-sheathed door-and-a-half

    Just as the USRA 40’ single-sheathed design was followed with near-copies that used a different cross-section for the outside bracing, it was also used for door-and-a-half automobile boxcars. Door-and-a-half meant they had a standard looking door on the right, opening to the right, and a door that looked to be about half-width on the left, opening to the left. The autoboxes looked as if a USRA car simply had a wider door opening in place of the panel to the left of the door. This left three panels on the left side and four on the right.

    Since these were not actual USRA-contracted cars, but cars ordered by individual railroads, there may have been variations between otherwise similar cars. I just happened to see a photo on a “vintage photos from the Library of Congress” display on a bulletin board just two days ago with a shot of a yard with lots of cars—and one of them looked like one of these door-and-a-half cars.
    I knew that many Library of Congress OWI photos are available online in very large digital formats, AND are in public domain. I tracked down the oroginal and was able to crop out the one car I wanted.


    Photo taken in Santa Fe yards, Belen New Mexico 1943 by Jack Delano for U.S. Office of War Inf ormation.
    The right end of this Wabash autobox has the same bracing pattern as the USRA single-sheathed 40’ car. The left end also looks the same EXCEPT for one panel of bracing “missing.” The half door was out there. Small difference on the sides. On the actual USRA cars, the panels with the bracing seem slightly narrower than the panels on the ends of the sides. Also, the car is slightly taller. Notice how it is taller than the boxcar to the right. And count the end corrugations, 7-5-5 instead of the 5-5-5 on the actual USRA cars. Yes, the autobox is two corrugation taller.

    I looked up Wabash in my April 1954 Official Railway Equipment Register. It lists Wabash series #40000-40999 as an XM (ordinary box) with steel underbody, single-sheathed, composite construction. Internal length . 40’6” Exernal length Extreme width 10’ Extreme height 14’9” Door opening 11’ capacity 40 tons.
    The car is marked “Automobile” in paint almost faded away in this 1943 photo, but not classed autobox in 1954.

    The MODEL for one of these would be MicroTrainsLines 35000 series. Here is a link to an image on Irwin’s Journal Unofficial MicroTrains site:


    Just as the real railroad used the USRA design, it looks as if MicroTrains used the tooling of nthe USRA single-door car and adapted it to the door-and-a-half configuration. I have NOT had none nof these, but it looks as if MTL did NOT raise the height of the car or change the end corrugation pattern.
    Is it close enough for you? I think it’s a good job.
    Sorry, I don’t have a list of prototype roadnames.
  18. Kenneth L. Anthony

    Kenneth L. Anthony TrainBoard Member

    A System to Differentiate “Outside-braced” Boxcars

    I about finished up the USRA single-sheathed boxcars and copies, and was about to go into the NON-USRA single-sheathed (outside braced) cars. The USRA prototypes and models are pretty much variations on one basic design.
    The others, 6 or 8 of them, seem almost all alike, and yet not. They represent somewhat different prototypes. I wanted a short way to describe them, one that I can use on a roster spreadsheet with one line per car and no more than 15 or 20 characters for a description, like 40’ PS-1, or
    X-29 for some steel cars.

    Let’s look at some cars. Here is one of the URA single-sheath cars shown earlier.


    Now here is one that is NOT a USRA design.


    There are differences in doors, ends, roofing. But the main and most obvious difference is way the side bracing is laid out. The bracing on the USRA car seems to have tall skinny sections, the other car longer sections, although both cars are about the same height and length.
    (Sorry if they don’t come out on the screen quite the same size. I am still getting the hang of my Photoshop program.)
    The main difference is the number of sections on the side. The USRA car has 8 sections or panels, the old car only 6.
    So one is an 8-panel design, the other a 6-panel.
    Alright, here is another 6-panel car. Besides such details as doors, ends...


    The main difference is that the tops of the diagonals slant to the outside on the Santa Fe car, making something like the sides of a letter “W”, while on the Pennsy car and the FW&D car, the tops of the diagonals slate toward the middle of the car, like the sides of a big letter “A”.

    There is a shorthand way to describe these truss arrangements, one that has been used for TRUSS BRIDGES almost 200 years.
    The PRATT truss has diagonals sloping towards the outside.
    The HOWE truss has diagonals sloping toward the inside.


    My Mnemoic (memory device) is that their meaning is opposite their middle letters.
    The Howe truss is “A” shaped and the Pratt truss is “W” shaped.

    So a shorthand description of our 3 cars, all 40-foot single-sheathed, outside-braced wood, is
    8-panel Howe
    6-panel Howe
    6-panel Pratt

    We have about 8 6-panel outside-braced cars to study, so this will help us tell them apart.
  19. Kenneth L. Anthony

    Kenneth L. Anthony TrainBoard Member

    40’ 6-panel Single-sheathed Howe truss boxcars

    Several early N-scale manufacturers and importers sold models of 6-panel “outside-braced” boxcars that look rather similar. Most were Howe truss cars—with the diagonals slanting toward the middle of the car at the top. These were made/sold by Atlas/Mehano, Atlas/Roco, Arnold/Rivarossi, American Tortoise/Minitrix/Model Power and maybe Bachmann. They are hard to tell apart and easy to confuse.
    One way they’re all alike. In the old days, “everybody and their brother” finished all their box cars, refrigerator cars and stock cars with the same black plastic roofwalk representing a modern steel rectangular-grid roofwalk. And of course, they are wrong for all the wood cars as-built. That’s easy enough to fix with a roofwalk part from MicroTrainsLines, or stratchbuild from wood or styrene. So I’ve said enough about the roofwalks, and I’m just going to ignore them for the discussion.
    Let’s start with a real oldie, an Atlas “first generation” car, lettered for Chicago and Illinois Midland, C&IM#8045.


    Spotting characteristics: 40 foot nominal length, single-sheathed 6-panel Howe truss sides, Younstown-style corrugated steel door, steel end with 4-3 corrugations, end-mounted brake gear (Ajax style), Steel rectangular panel roof, steel roofwalk.

    I have a car marked “Arnold” on the underbody and I can’t find any difference from the
    Atlas car except the Arnold name and the paint.


    Same spotting characteristics as the Atlas cars. I could not find these in Arnold Rapido catalogs of late 1960s and early 1970s, so I am guessing they are made by Rivarossi for the Arnold brand.

    These cars fit the characteristics and appearance of a semi-standard design of the late 1920s called the alternate-ARA single-sheath.
    [Wouldn’t you know it? The more common and widely-produced N-scale 6-panel boxcars are the “alternate ARA” design (Howe truss), while the one called simply ARA, presumably more “standard” (Pratt truss) is less commonly modeled in N...]

    There is a general description and identification of the alternate-ARA design in Rail Model Journal November 1997 p.17
    It has a photo of Georgia & Florida #8060 and a list of other prototypes: A&WP, C&G, Georgia, L&A, MP/IGN, SL-SF, WofA, WF&S.

    CB&Q #26216 Model Railroading March1988 p.36
    IGN #9401-9900; NOT&M 3601-3720 Model photo & scale drawing Southwestern Prototype Modeler MayJun77 p.10
    IGN #9835 4-5 dreadnaught end NMRA Builletin Apr76 p.27

    I model Santa Fe and this is on my list of “close” cars to modify/kitbash. It is similar to Clinton & Oklahoma Western/ Santa Fe Class BX-22 as shown in Santa Fe Boxcars 1869-1953 (Dobyne) p. 103. It would need to replace the corrugated steel door with a wood one.

    This model has a roof that represents a steel panel with raised rectangular sections. Most of these cars had roofs with flat steel panels. But this roof is more appropriate for these early cars than the “diagonal panel roof” on ANOTHER six-panel Howe-truss boxcar which I will show another time.
    I have one other car which looks identical to the two shown above. In my roster inventory made years and years ago, I noted it as a Bachmann product. However I did not have the box the car came in for reference, and I may have seen a Bachmann car in a catalog with a similar appearance.
    Instead of keeping N scale cars in their original plastic jewel cases, I lay cars of the same type on their side in a tray box where I can see about 30 at once and grab one.

  20. Kenneth L. Anthony

    Kenneth L. Anthony TrainBoard Member

    Mather Patent boxcar “stand-ins”

    At least two or three N models of 40’ 6-panel single-sheath Howe truss (“A”) boxcars were offered in paint schemes that belonged to what are called Mather Patent boxcars. Mather built 36-foot stock cars and refrigerator cars as far back as the 19-teens in a proprietary design called “Mather Patent.” In the late 30s, 1940s, they rebuilt some 40-foot boxcars in their own style. Richard Henderson tells the story in Model Railroading magazine, November and December 1987.

    Here is one of the models we showed previously, called up for reference, Atlas “first generation” catalog #
    lettered for Chicago and Illinois Midland, C&IM#8045.


    The prototype has this same general proportion but it has braces on all six panels on each side, including the end panels. The braces all slant toward the middle of the car
    Also, the prototypes have wood doors, while the models have steel corrugated doors.
    And the prototypes have outside-braced wood ends, versus the model’s steel ends.
    I can’t find a photo that shows the prototype roof.
    So one might say that the 4 of the models 6 panels resemble the prototype.

    One other small detail, almost too small to see or model in N scale. The diagonal braces are an open “U” shape, with a back side against the car sheathing and a flange standing up on each side for stiffening.

    Here are references to photos of the prototypes:
    Pittsburg, Shawmut and Northern #9906 Model Railroading December 1987 p. 18
    Muncie & Western #1234 “The Ball Line” with Mason jar on door
    Model Railroading December 1987 p. 18
    Manufacturers Railway MRS #7540 Model Railroading December 1987 p. 19
    Chicago & Illinois Midland #8078; #8264 Model Railroading December 1987 p. 20
    Gulf Mobile & Ohio #7513 Model Railroading December 1987 p.
    Akron, Canton & Youngstown #3182 Model Railroading December 1987 p.
    Mather Stock Car Co. MCAX #3024 Model Railroading December 1987 p. 20

    A roster appeared in Model Railroading November 1987 p. 12

    Early Atlas N scale had these as:
    Atlas # 2365 Chicago and Illinois Midland C&IM #8045
    Also Atlas #2368 Muncie & Western #1293 “Ball Line” (this model does NOT have jar pix).
    You can find a photo of this model at: http://www.irwinsjournal.com/a1g
    Some manufacturer- I can’t locate which- made a similar car lettered for AC&Y/ Akron, Canton and Youngstown, one of the Mather prototypes.

    According to the Spookshow site, http://www.visi.com/~spookshow/trainstuff.html
    Bachmann made a car lettered for C&IM. I have never had this car nor seen it in any catalog, no mplace except Spookshow. But he has a photo.
    One might almost think it is the same as the Atlas car except for the road number.
    car shown on spookshow site. But notice, it has a wood door, diagonals slanting out at the top (Pratt truss “W”), and steel diagonal panel roof (ends not visible, but I’d bet they are corrugated steel...)

    Soooo. Does the Atlas first generation C&IM boxcar (and the Muncie & Western “Ball Line” boxcar) “have a prototype?” It is off a bit from matching its prototype, but it is not entirely made up either. May be a matter of person standards.
    I like the M&W “Ball Line” car as a “colorful” piece of rolling stock. It belonged to company that manufactured Ball Mason jars and I can imagine the car occasionally delivering a load to a pickle factory or a salsa factory etc. on my layout.
    The C&IM car doesn’t excite me, so for me, I would rather paint and decal it for IGN- it’s closer to that prototype and that’s a road that runs in my state. Your tastes and druthers may well differ.

Share This Page