N Scale Freight Car Prototypes?

JMaurer1 Jan 24, 2012

  1. Kenneth L. Anthony

    Kenneth L. Anthony TrainBoard Member

    Still Other Prototypes for the Atlas/ Lifelike X-29?

    Now for some of the other roadnames in which these N models came decorated...
    I have a Santa Fe car, and I have a fairly comprehensive library of Santa Fe information. I can confidently say Santa Fe didn’t have these. Someday, I may want to strip my model and reletter it for something else, maybe NYC. I have a car that came painted for NYC Pacemaker Service, and we know NYC had cars like this, so it seems likely the model is close to something. However, the Pacemaker cars pretty much stayed on online dedicated service, so I don’t need on my Santa Fe layout.

    For railroads other than Santa Fe and NYC, it’s harder to count them out. I don’t have information for every car owned by every railroad in every time period.
    However, I do have an April 1954 Official Railway Equipment Register which gives dimensions and AAR Mechanical Designation for nearly every car in interchange service on that date. The X-29s had an internal length of 40’6” , internal height of 8’7” and classification XM with description “all steel.”

    I have “Made in Yugoslavia” X-29s lettered for Western Pacific and Nickel Plate. Neither of these had boxcars of these dimensions in 1954.

    Cars listed in Irwin’s Journal Atlas A1g site:
    #2381 Penn Central #65638
    #2382 Canadian National #523975
    #2383 New Haven #36409
    #2384 New York Central #174478 “Pacemaker”
    #2385 New Haven #40045
    #2386 Denver & Rio Grande Western #67598
    #2387 Linde Industrial Gases LAPX #2199
    #2388 Port Huron & Dertoit #1275

    Penn Central surely had some old Pennsy X-29s left, and we’ve covered NYC.
    Canadian National had some boxcars for similar dimensions in the 503500-513152 series.
    New Haven had some INSULATED boxcars with 8’6” inside height.
    D&RGW didn’t have cars of these dimensions in 1954.
    And Port Huron and Detroit did not own ANY cars in revenue service in 1954.

    The Linde boxcars are not really boxcars but BOXTANKS, so the Register does not give inside dimensions. I could not determine whether Linde had any boxtanks in X-29 type bodies. From the 1940s, they housed their internal tanks in bodies almost identical to 1937 AAR specifications, except that they did not have the “tabs” along the side sill where car sides connection to underframe crossbearers. That’s because the whole box superstructure was made to be removable.

    Atlas A1g Linde boxtank on Irwin’s

    Like all the prototype Linde boxtank photos I have found, the Atlas A1g is “correct” (ie conforms) in having a straight side sill without the “tabs” or gussets on the side sills.

    I built an approximate model of one of the later Linde boxtanks that had the 1937 AAR-type superstructure. I used a Concor 40’ steel boxcar, filed away the half-ladders on the right sides of the ends, removed the “tabs” from the side sills and added a strip along the bottom to make it more or less straight. Also added a little piece of plastic on the end of the car to represent end doors used to access certain valves, etc on the internal tanks. Would have been better if I had inset the little door into the Dreadnaught ribs. I used a Microscale decal.


    I understand there are some kind of hatches on the roof that I have never seen in pictures and I didn’t model.
    Anyway, if you HAVE the old Atlas A1g, it is somewhat like something real.
    I wouldn’t go out of my way to track down any of these old cars UNLESS I had a 1925-1950 MoPac layout, or I really wanted a corrugated end X-29.
    Just my druthers. Next we look at some newer, better quality X-29s, from three different manufacturers.
  2. Kenneth L. Anthony

    Kenneth L. Anthony TrainBoard Member

    X-29 boxcars in N

    Three manufacturers have offered X-29 boxcars in N in recent years: Fine N Scale, Red Caboose, Micro Trains Lines. Only one of these, Fine N Scale, currently shows the X-29 model in online catalogues, so we’ll look at that one first.

    Fine N Scale offers N kits primarily with resin bodies and etched metal detail parts. I do not have this model, but I have built their Pennsy round-roof auto box and their Santa Fe Caswell gondola with pleasure, satisfaction and all that.
    Per www.finenscale.com, their X-29 is offered in a 2-car kit for PRR regular freight service, a 2-car kit with 1 Nickel Plate and one WLE car, and a kit for one PRR X-29 express boxcar. Their website shows a shot of each car. They look like the same body, differing only in paint and lettering.

    Here is a link to a picture on Spookshow:


    All the Fine N Scale X-29s include 10-panel sides, straight side sills, flat ends, Creco-style 3 panel doors, vertical brake staff, and what appears to be a flat panel roof.
    It is a classic X-29, as-built.

    Prototype X-29s came in a lot of variations. Let’s see what the other manufacturers have offered and how they are like and/or different from the Fine N models.
    I have a “Red Caboose” brand X-29 in PRR. (My apologies to Red Caboose for photographing it without installing the vertical brake staff they provided.


    I also have two Red Caboose models painted and lettered for New York Central, and labeled as X-29s. The Red Caboose model has 10-panel sides. I don’t know if NYC had any car likes this but they had thousands that were ALMOST identical except for having 8-panel sides.

    Red Caboose announced the PRR X-29s in the November December 1997 issue of N Scale magazine, “shipping early ’98.” The announcement ad listed 5 PRR paint variations, and showed a PRR prototype photo of a car with a 5/6/5 Youngstown-style corrugated gate, not the 3-panel Creco-style door on my model.
    Orther roadnames in the announcement ad included N&W, L&NE, W&LE, C&O, B&M, NKP, Seaboard, Main Central, DT&I, Erie, B&O, CNJ and Chicago Great Western.
    It did NOT include New York Central.

    Spookshow has photos that show the
    Red Caboose X-29 with both Creco 3-panel doors and Youngstown-style corrugated doors.


    The PRR car clearly shows a vertical brake staff. No brake wheel appears in the photos of the LNE or B&M cars, and it is not clear whether they are supposed to have a vertical brake staff which simply has not been installed, has broken off, or have an Ajax-type brake gear on the far end of the car not shown.

    The Red Caboose website does not list the X-29 models and they appear to be out of production. Their products are now distributed through Intermountain.

    Micro Trains Lines has made four variations of the X-29, but they may not call them that! According to the Unofficial MicroTrains website at Irwin’s Journal,


    they are listed as AAR/USRA boxcars, and were introduced from 1999 to 2004.

    MicroTrain’s official website
    generally lists only currently available, recent releases and forthcoming announcements, and I don’t have an official MTL listing for these cars.

    These cars have the characteristic features of PRR X-29 boxcars, with Pennsy’s variation of the proposed-but-not-built USRA 40’ steel boxcar design. Especially they have the PRR’s 10-panel sides rather than the 8-panel sides of the USRA steel design or its New York Central near copy.
    (Also, MTL has pretty accurate models of the USRA single-sheathed and double –sheathed boxcars but does not call them USRA...)
    These MTL cars also have the straight side sill characteristic of both the X-29 and the NYC version of the USRA-steel boxcar.
    The MTL X-29s are in four groups, by variation in the body. MTL supplied its X-29s with 2 door styles, 3-panel and 5/6/5 corrugated, but it does not appear a particular body style series always had the same doors.

    MTL 120000 series Murphy roof (standing seams...)

    MTL 120200 series Flat panel roof

    MTL 120500 series Murphy roof, vertical brake staff

    MTL 120700 series Overlapping flat panel roof, vertical brake

    Since each of the four body types might have a choice of 2 door styles, the MTL cars have 8 possible variations. “But wait, there’s more!” There are a few X-29 style prototypes with Superior doors. The doors on the MTL boxcars are openable...and replaceable. And MTL sells replacement Superior doors. So three possible door styles on four body types makes 12 possible variations.

    Next time, we can see which prototypes fit the variations possible with these three brands of cars.
  3. Kenneth L. Anthony

    Kenneth L. Anthony TrainBoard Member

    All three makers of N scale X-29s boxcars (Fine N Scale, MTL, Red Caboose) have models that fit the combination of 10-panel sides, flat ends, vertical brake staff, Creco 3 panel door. Like this car cropped out of a railroad yard scene photographed during World War II for the Office of War Information, and available in a very large format digital image through the Library of Congress. (www.loc.gov)

    PRR #95040
    XM (X-29) 40’6” IL, 8’9” IW, 8’7” IH 3034 cuft.
    X-29, 10 panel side, flat end, 3 panel door, vertical brake staff.

    This car has a flat panel roof which a car from MTL series 120700 would correspond.
    (Note: doors sometimes vary within MTL series. Not ALL 120700 series cars would necessarily have this door.)
    (Also note: Red Caboose X-29s come with 2 different door styles, so not ALL Red Caboose X-29s would necessarily match this car. Fine N Scale’s one style matches this car.)

    I have found published photos of other PRR cars which MAY match the same model. However, the prototype photos do not always show the ends. I am taking the PRR flat end as the “default” when the photos do not plainly show one way or the other. “Roster” shots like these from alongside the side rarely show the roof clearly.

    PRR #51580 10 panel side, Creco 3 panel door, vertical brake staff , flat end
    Builders photo Prototype Modeler October 1978 p.26

    PRR #52119 10 panel side, Creco 3 panel door, flat roof, MAY have flat ends and vertical brake staff which don’t show.
    1950 photo Prototype Modeler October 1978 p.16

    PRR #56734 10 panel side, Creco 3 panel door, vertical brake staff
    1950 photo Prototype Modeler October 1978 p.16

    PRR #569056 10 panel side, 3 panel door, flat ends, vertical brake staff
    Scale drawing Model Railroader January,1955, p.80

    PRR #94794 Model Railroading April 1987 p.57
    3-panel door, 10-panel sides, ends? Vertical brake staff

    PRR #570270 10 panel side, Creco 3 panel door
    1951 photo Prototype Modeler October 1978 p.20

    Other railroads had X-29 copies with features that match the same model. Here’s another one from a WWII Office of War Information photo:

    B&O #270117
    XM 40’6” IL, 8’9” IW, 8’7” IH 3056 cuft.
    X-29 copy, 10 panel side, flat end, 3 panel door, vertical brake staff.


    Nickel Plate NKP #215336 Mainline Modeler April 1993 p.36
    10-panel sides, flat end, 3 panel Creco-type door, vertical brake staff

    Nickle Plate NKP #25336 Model Railroading April 1987 p.56
    10 panel sides, 3 panel doors, flat end, flat panel roof, vertical brake staff

    Wheeling & Lake Erie WLE #25038 Model Railroading April 1987 p.56
    10 panel sides, 3 panel door, can’t tell about ends, roof or brake gear.
  4. Kenneth L. Anthony

    Kenneth L. Anthony TrainBoard Member

    X29s from Red Caboose and MTL but NOT Fine N

    To my knowledge, the 3-panel Creco-style doors on Fine N Scale X-29s are cast on, so not easily replaceable. This makes them not suitable for modeling X-29s that have other doors such as Youngstown-style with 5/6/5 corrugations. However, Red Caboose X-29s come in both Creco 3-panel and Youngstown corrugated doors, and MTLs cars also come with both style doors, and the doors are easily replaceable.
    MTLs come in a choice of vertical brake staff or Ajax style.
    The Red Caboose have the very top of the vertical brake staff supplied as a delicate loose part to be attached by the modeler. It would be easy to add an Ajax brake gear box, such as the one on a car-end-part-sprue from Intermountain, at the top of the end. Would not even ben hard to scratchbuild your own.
    Here are some of the parts I have accumulated from MTL (in a LHS) and Intermountain (via special order). I cannot guarantee they are currently available.


    The MTL with two styles of roofs, have the greatest variety of styles.

    Here are some of the X-29s and X-29 clones you can model with Red Caboose and MTL cars.

    PRR #92419 “Merchandise service” flat end, 5/6/5 corrug door, 10 panel sides, flat roof, probably Ajax brake gear.
    1950 photo Model Railroading April 1987 p.58

    B&O #274539 Model Railroading April 1987 p.52
    Flat end, 3 panel door, 10 panel sides, flat panel roof, Ajax brake gear.
    (use MTL 120200 series –OR Red Caboose flat door model and modify brake gear)

    PRR #2370 in express box service on a Santa Fe Fast Mail Express.
    flat end, corrug door, 10 panel sides. (Ajax brake gear)
    Warbonnet 2nd Quarter 1997 p.27
    MTL series 120200 with corrugated door OR
    Red Caboose with corrugated door, AND Ajax brake gear modification.

    PRR #57606 flat end, corrug door, vertical brake staff, 10 panel, roof probably flat.
    Model Railroading April 1987 p.57
    Could be modeled with a Red Caboose X-29 that has the corrugated door,
    OR MTL series 120700 with Youngstown corrugated door.

    PRR #568689 10 panel side, flat end, vertical brake staff, 5/6/5 corrugated door Proto photo in Red Caboose ad N Scale NovemberDecember, 1997, p.77
    Same as PRR #57606

    B&O #278971 in 1961 Model Railroading April 1987 p.52
    Flat ends, corrug door, 10 panel sides, flat panel roof, Ajax brake gear.
    MTL series 120200 with corrugated door, OR
    Red Caboose with corrugated door, with modification for Ajax brake gear.

    B&O #278695 1969 photo Model Railroading April 1987 p.49
    5/5/5 corrug door, flat ends, 10-panel, flat roof. I can’t see the brake gear fior nsure but in 1969, it has probably been changed to the Ajax style.
    Use MTL series 120200 with corrugated door, OR
    Red Caboose with corrugated door, with modification for Ajax brake gear.

    Here is one that COULD could be replicated with a little work, using the MTL series 120200 or 120700 depending on the brake gear. I cannot SEE a vertical brake staff in this photo so it may have an Ajax brake on the opposite end we can’t see. Which would use a MTL 120200 series...plus some modifications

    Erie #70367
    XM steel 40’6” IL, 8’6” IW, 8’6” IH, door 6’

    (cropped from WWII U S Office of War Information photo)

    The easy modification would be replacing the door with a wood door from MTLs USRA single-sheathed or double-sheathed boxcars, part # 499 20 920.
    The fussier modification would be sanding the rivet detail off the flat ends of the car to simulate wood ends and add bracing. Probably a job only for an ERIE fan who wants a particular car, or a car-basher who really likes variety in his or her fleet.
  5. Kenneth L. Anthony

    Kenneth L. Anthony TrainBoard Member

    USRA & X-29 style cars with McroTrainsLines models

    X29s and USRA-design steel boxcars that can be modeled only with MTL models because only MTL offers the alternative of a standing seam roof.

    CNJ #21026 Model Railroading April 1987 p.55
    3 panel door, 10 panel sides, Ajax brake gear, standing seam (Murphy) roof, ends not shown.
    (use MTL 120 000 series)

    Maine Central 5530 Model Railroading April 1987 p.54
    10 panel sides, flat end, 5/5/5 corrug door, Ajax brake gear, raised seam roof.
    Use MTL series 120000 with corrugated door.

    Lehigh & New England LNE #8413 10 panel side, 5/6/5 corrug door, Ajax brake, standing seam roof.
    Prototype Modeler October 1978 p.21
    MTL series 120000 with corrugated door.

    Some prototypes with no practical model for this one...
    NYC/ CCC&StL USRA 1923 steel boxcar model Model Railroader May06
    8-panel, 7/8 corrug end, 3 panel door, vertical brake staff
    I had said that the X-29 model with 10-panel sides could stand in for the New York Central “USRA-design steel” boxcars with 8-panel sides (and Red Caboose has offered them, and I’ve got them...) This car however not only the 8 panel sides, it also has a 7/8 corrugated end like some USRA wood-sheathed cars. Could only model with a lot of chopping...

    There are several more “USRA-style” NYC 40’ all-steel boxcars here:
    Model Railroading July1987
    They all have the 8-panel sides, which is not too noticeable. But they also all have the corrugated ends. Oh well, I have a couple. I’m going to run them...

    One more that’s hard to model:
    B&O #276382 Model Railroading April 1987 p.52
    Flat end, 5 panel door, 10 panel sides, flat panel roof, Ajax brake gear.
    I thought one could use the MTL 120200 series for the ends, sides, roof and brake gear, and
    the 5-panel Superior door could be modeled with a replacement MTL Superior door, part #499 20 915.. but it turns out MTL’s Superior door is a 7 panel. You might get away with a 6 panel but the 7 panel just looks too different from a 5-panel.

    One that may be”close enough”
    Reading RDG #101659 8-panel, corrug door, (flat end? Picture doesn’t show)
    I THINK it has Ajax brake gear, hard to tell.
    XM steel, wood lining, Z-bar, 40’6” IL, 8’6” IW, 9’3” IH, 6’ door, 3185 cuft.

    EXCEPT for the 8-panel sides, this could be an MTL #120000 with a corrugated door.

    I am about out of X-29 boxcars and variations that are like or somewhat like existing models.
  6. Kenneth L. Anthony

    Kenneth L. Anthony TrainBoard Member

    PRR X23s and ATSF BX-33s

    Before going ahead from the X-29s to more modern boxcars, we can go backwards to one.
    A somewhat obscure model I have heard of ONLY on “spookshow,”
    the Remington Locomotive Works (USA) PRR X-23 Outside Braced Box Car
    link to spookshow’s picture:

    Pennsy’s CLASS X-23 40-foot boxcar was built 1912 to 1918, and all gone by 1955.
    It has pressed steel framing, vertical wood sheathing and a heavy fishbelly center sill much like the USRA center sill. The USRA underframe may possibly have been based on it.

    Scale drawing and construction article Model Railroader Apr1971 p.36. This artic;le has no prototype photos and shows a wood door. If you have that MR 75-year disk, you can call it right up. Or if you are like me and have over 50 years of MR in boxes and etc,, you can move shelving and layout sections out of the way to get back to it. The magazine got a letter that the wood door was wrong or at least not typical. The writer claimed X-23s usually had flat plate steel doors
    Correction to above plan show the steel doors Model Railroader July, 1971 p.14; prototype photo of PRR #40001 p.15

    Another scale drawing, Carstens’ Rolling Stock Planbook p.10
    additional sources of plans reported by MRRing June90:
    Photo PRR #42399 Mainline Modeler May87 p.4 (in ad)

    I could not find prototype photos of X-23s on google, but found several photos of apparently accurate models.

    So Where do we go forward from X-29s?

    Autobox versions of X-29s? PRR had them but I don’t know of any N models...
    Chronologically, the AAR/ ARA standard boxcars would come next. However, that opens up a whole series of boxcars with several varieties.

    A design that follows up on the USRA single-sheath (“outside braced”) and USRA double sheathed wood-sided cars would be the USRA steel rebuilds. (Atlas model)

    This is the first boxcar here of which I have my own photo, albeit a photo of a car converted to non-revenue company service, a Santa Fe WX-33 (former BX-33)


    Notice that the car has a corrugated end like USRA wood sheathed boxcars, and the heavy “fishbelly” dcenter sill underframe. BUT look how the steel side was mounted onto the old car’s ends, floor and roof, not quite fitting. Note the straight bottom of the side sill and the offset between side and floor. Those are specific spotting characteristics of the rebuilds.

    CLASS BX-33
    40' steel USRA rebuild, 1940

    History of class, Santa Fe Modeler 2Q90 p.11

    Chart of reblt USRA boxcars extant in 12 time periods,
    1945-77. Santa Fe Modeler 2Q90 p.11

    Extensive article on USRA rebuilds including data &
    dimensions on ATSF cars;
    RR Mod Craftsman Sep89 p.53-61; Oct89 p.75-81
    BX-28, -31, -32, -33, -36 steel rebuild USRA 40-ton double-sheathed boxcar,
    genl article Railroad Model Craftsman Sept04 p.96

    Photo #145059 Warbonnet 1Q 2000 p.27
    Photo #145064 condemned 1969 Santa Fe Freight in Color Vol.1 (Bx) p.13
    Photo #145380 Santa Fe Boxcars 1869-1953 p.117
    Photo #145388 Railroad Model Craftsman Sep89 p.57
    Photo #145388, ATSF Color Guide to Frt & Psgr Eqpt p.47
    Photo #145389 Santa Fe Paint & Letter p.33
    Photo #145389 Santa Fe Modeler MarApr84 p.7
    Photo #145389 Santa Fe Modeler 2Q90 p.8
    Photo #145389 RailModJournal Jun92 p.15

    More later on the N MODELS.
  7. Kenneth L. Anthony

    Kenneth L. Anthony TrainBoard Member

    In my last post, I failed to identify fully the shot of the Santa Fe rebuilt USRA boxcar downgraded to work train service. It was Santa Fe WX-33 #202293, photographed in Conroe, Texas in November 1983. I was surprised that this old roster shot got picked as one of the prototype photos of the week.

    Here is another one, a rebuilt BX-33 that still had a trace of its Super Chief logo when photographed in May 1983 on a farm outside of Somerville, Texas. I don’t think it shows in the photo but I could even read its reporting marks as ATSF #145312.


    Now... A funny thing happened on my way to writing a post about conformance between models of USRA 40’ boxcars rebuilt with steel sides and their prototypes.
    I do not have any of the models yet. I was thrilled several years back when Atlas came out with the rebuilds. Right away, I saw the distinctive side sill where the steel sides were added to the old car frame. (The Conroe photo with the aluminum MOW paint wearing off clearly shows the bottom of the side sill.) I intended to get some, because they were a feature of Santa Fe freight car history... an evidence of how Santa Fe modernized from most of their old wooden cars by rebuilding rather than replacing. Somehow, I didn’t get around to getting any. Maybe resisting pre-ordering. Also going through nuncertain personal times.
    In January 2011, Atlas announced “new paint schemes” and I noticed it included cars lettered for Missouri Pacific subsidiary Saint Louis, Brownsville and Mexico. I have been wanting something in St.L.B.&M. partly because it ran within 17 miles of where I live, and because I have wanted to have representative cars from Texas subsidiaries that operated in the 1950s belonging to big trunkline railroads. I ordered the two road numbers from my not-quite-local hobby shop. Forgot about it and also ordered same two car numbers from an online dealer. Never came. A couple weeks ago, I got an email from Atlas announcing they are raising prices April 1 and I can buy some stuff from them on-line quick before price goes up and they sell out. (Sell out?!?! What about my pre-orders?) I e-mailed my online dealer and he replied the cars, expected in August 2011, have not yet been released. I did not try my not-quite-local dealer because he is only open 3 hours on Friday, 8 on Saturday, maybe 2 on Sunday, and it takes him more time than he has available to figure out what he has or hasn’t gotten on special orders.

    So... I have been trying to compare model and prototype based on the pictures and information in the Atlas announcements. Atlas says the rebuilts come in several variations to match prototypes.
    5-5-5 or 7-8 rib ends
    Fishbelly or standard underframe
    Wood or steel doors
    In checking roadnames, I noticed there were Santa Fe cars offered back in the June 2006 announcement and again in the January 2011 announcement. Hmmm. What was the difference? Just different numbers? Or different “name train” slogans? It turned out the June 2006 cars offered a choice of slogans as used around 1950... “The Chief” or “Grand Canyon.” The January 2011 offering was a car with more modern paint and graphics, the big 8-foot tall circle and cross adopted about 1959—too new for my 1957 layout. I could see the road class BX-80. My Santa Fe rolling stock books told me that BX-80 was a BX-36 car “rebuilt” mostly by using heavier trucks and bolsters to give it a 100 ton capacity. The ¾ view photo in the Atlas announcement showed the side, end and roof and really looked impressive. It showed a cut lever for the coupler- I had NEVER seen that on any mass-produced N model. Looked like individually applied grabs, and individually-applied grabs on the corners of the roof. Wow! And the photo of the Santa Fe car was so much sharper than most of the illustrations, which looked like drawings. I went to compare the few ¾ view photos with the side view renderings.

    Then it hit me. The ¾ views showed rebuilt boxcars with 10-panel sides, but the profile views showed cars with 8-panel sides. Two different body styles! I wonder if all the ¾ views are actually of HO or O models rather than the actual N models. Maybe I had better hold off on the conformance article until I k now more about the models.
    I would appreciate hearing from anyone who has a car from the early releases of the N scale rebuilt boxcar models. Especially if 8-panel sides or 10-panel sides.
  8. Kenneth L. Anthony

    Kenneth L. Anthony TrainBoard Member

    I think of the ARA/AAR standard 40’ boxcar as THE typical boxcar of the late steam and transition era... the ordinariest of the ordinary. But it still has lots of variations.

    It was a standard of design and dimensions agreed upon by members of the American Railroad Association (ARA) which changed its name to the American Association of Railroads (AAR) between the time the first standard was set, and the first cars were actually built--- hence the double name for the first cars—1932 ARA and/or 1932 AAR standard boxcar.

    The standard changed through the years, mostly in height. Eastern railroads with low tunnel clearances did not want to vote for a standard car that would not fit their tunnels The 1932 standard called for a car with a 9’4” inside height I found a photo of a car that fits the “standard,” but it is not typical in two details.

    This is a blowup of part of a World War II era Office of War Information photo from the Library of Congress.

    Erie #76918 (series 76500-76999) 1932 AAR Buckeye ends (6 large corrugations) and Viking roof. (note the small corrugations between the ribs)
    XM steel 40’6” IL, 8’9” IW, 9’4” IH, 6’ door 3311 cuft


    The untypical features are the ends and the roof. The ends are “Buckeye” with six large corrugations. The car has a Viking roof, with panels that have small corrugations and big ribs where the panels meet. I don’t know of any N scale model manufactured that has either of these two features. The AAR standard allowed railroads to pick ends, doors and roofs from various suppliers, so these are not a part of the standard. Some doors and ends and roofs are very typical at certain times, but not required in order to meet the standard.

    However, the photo of the Erie car does illustrate several features of the ARA/AAR standard design. The backbone of the design was the ARA underframe AND the way it attached to the car sides. The ARA underframe was a fairly shallow underframe- you might call it a “plain” or flat underframe, not heavy like the USRA fishbelly. Still is was strong when properly attached to the rest of the car. Now the photo does not show the actual underframe. It does show a major spotting feature of an ARA/AAR standard boxcar—the little “tabs” or gussets hanging down from the side. Those are the “giveaway” detail. You can easily see there is a longer trapezoidal tab near each end of the car that lines up with the truck bolster. Harder to see, there are smaller tbs spaced along the bottom of the car side. These are the points where the carside connects with the underframe crossbearers. Almost all AAR standard boxcars have these “tabs,” and models that do not necessarily have the underframe exactly right generally have the “tabs.” It is one of the most visible parts of the design.
    (By the way, PS-1 40’ boxcars also have these tabs. PS-1 40’ boxcars are an adaptation of the AAR design, using Pullman Standard’s welded seam construction and very large stampings for ends, eliminating rivets. The steel-side “rebuilds” of the old USRA wood-sided cars, converted during the same time the AAR standard cars were being built “new” do NOT have the tabs but a different kind of side sill.)

    Here is a photo of a steel-side rebuild to show the difference in the side sill. This is a restored car photographed on the Eureka Springs, Arkansas tourist railroad in 1992.


    The other characteristic of the AAR design in its 1932, 1937 and 1942 versions: the sides are made up of 10 steel panels with a single row of rivets. (Some late 40s variations have 12 panels and I’m going to cover them separately...)

    12-panel sides ATSF class Bx-62 blt 1952 photo 1981 at Conroe TX


    Here next is a car that fits the 1937 AAR standard with a ten foot inside height. I’m not sure when it was photographed, maybe 1975 or so. I got the dimensions from an October 1971 Official Railway Equipment Register. I believe the roofwalk is gone, but the ladders have not been cut down. Can’t tell bout the roof. This is a more typical “AAR standard” boxcar.

    Meridian & Tombigbee #2009 Dreadnaught ends, 10 panel riveted.
    Series 2000-2049 40’6” IL, 9’2” IW, 10’ IH, 6’ door, 3714 cuft.


    Compare it with the Erie car. It has the “tabs” on the bottom of the side sill, the ten-steel-panel sides with riveted seams. Characteristics that mark it as AAR standard. Those “tabs” are different from the “rebuilds” and also different from the X-29s.
    The AAR cars share the 10-riveted panels with the rebuilds.
    The X-29s have 10 panels with a DOUBLE row of rivets with this car has single rows.
    And finally, this car has riveted seams, whereas the PS-1 has welded seams. (Sometimes hard to tell the difference is photos AND in models!)

    The 1942 AAR standard went to 10’6” inside height. Buyers of boxcars often specified newer designs of roofs and ends as they were available and acceptable, so they often show up on cars built in certain periods, but NOT as part of the standard.

    I have located N scale models of ARA/ AAR 40’ standard boxcars built ca 1970 by Arnold Rapido, Atlas and Lifelike, and more recent models by Atlas in quite a few variations, Bachmann, Concor/ Kato, Deluxe Innovations, and Intermountain.
    I will wade in next time and try to sort out which models go with which standard, and which railroads, and which models “might” be made into “something.”
  9. Kenneth L. Anthony

    Kenneth L. Anthony TrainBoard Member

    Oops! I made not one but TWO goofs in the preceeding thread #48.
    I said "I don’t know of any N scale model manufactured that has either of these two features..." The Buckeye ends and the Viking roof on Erie #76918. Well, it was true and accurate that I didn't know.

    But I find out that Atlas has /is manufacturing its 1932ARA 40' boxcars in 5 different body variations, and Atlas has offered Erie boxcars in this number series with these features. My apologies to Atlas, and more importantly, kudos to Atlas, for making all these variations.

    The other mistake- I said Atlas made an AAR or ARA boxcar back in its early 1970 days. I found mine and it turned out to be a PS-1.

    I'm going to try to get these straightened out some more, before more foot in mouth.

    By the way, I was going to edit oiginal post, and I can't find an "edit" button. I have seen it before (and had to use it.) Is it up only until another post has been made on the thread, or until a certain time period goes by. Or has it been eliminated as a side casualty of various improvemnents in the website program?

    EDIT: Now I see edit button is there. I guess it is there for only a limited time...
    Last edited by a moderator: Mar 22, 2012
  10. wcfn100

    wcfn100 TrainBoard Member

    I think all the releases up until the SOO box car where true to the prototype. The SOO car was the first release that should have had a 12 panel roof which Atlas didn't do. The NdeM car ventures into MTL territory with the wrong roof, doors and ends. If they do the CGW car, it will have the same issues.

  11. JMD3

    JMD3 TrainBoard Member


    Sorry for the late reply. But I checked my Red caboose X-29's. And I have three types. Original PRR flat ends with three panel (Creco door), Flat ends with corrugated (Youngstown) doors. And Dreadnought (?) ends with corrugated doors. All have the Red Caboose flat roofs and vertical brake wheel. I'll get photos of the last type as soon as I can.
  12. Flash Blackman

    Flash Blackman Staff Member TrainBoard Supporter

    I am amazed at what some of you guys know about boxcars and rolling stock. :thumbs_up: It's like talking to Russell Straw about passenger trains. I just can't get it all into my head. I need to re-read this thread slowly.

    JMD3, welcome to TrainBoard
  13. Kenneth L. Anthony

    Kenneth L. Anthony TrainBoard Member

    The 1932ARA 40’ boxcars- Prototypes for the Atlas 2008 release

    Atlas has produced/ is producing the only N scale models I have found of the 1932ARA standard 40’ boxcars. Atlas started with a 2008 release, continued with a 2009 release and has another release which is supposed to have finally arrived and be going out to the hobby stores right now. I preordered from 2 different sources and haven’t gotten my latest released yet.
    The 1932ARA standard was the first such standard the railroads could finally agree upon, more or less. The standard covered dimensions, underframe and those “tabs” on the side sill where the underframe connected with the sides. The Atlas models I have examined seem to match the 1932ARA standards as closely as I can measure. Different roads still disagreed about the best doors, roofs and ends, so the standard allowed several variations. Atlas’s 1932ARA boxcar program so far covers five prototype variations with different combinations of roofs, ends, and side sills. A great job by Atlas (IMHO).

    A photo of the Atlas Central of Georgia model illustrates what they call body style 1 with “long tab.” The car has medium length “tab” extensions over each truck bolster, and a shorter “tab” aboard one panel width toward the center of the car from the truck bolsters. The “long tab” is the extension from the left side of the door that runs 1 ½ panels long toward the left.

    Link to Atlas model photo:

    What Atlas means by its “short tab version” is this.
    Link to Atlas model photo...
    On this Erie model, the extension down on the side sill just to the left of the door runs only a scale foot or so. There is another small “tab” about one panel width further to the left. A hard to catch detail. If they hadn’t told me, I might have missed it, though I can’t miss the Viking roof.

    I don’t have either a prototype photo of the Central of Georgia car either to post or link here. I have a published prototype photo: Model Railroading magazine, August 1988, p.43
    I don’t have rights to post it here. The photo shows a car almost identical to the Atlas model. The model depicts the car as it was from 1937 to 1957 according to the text in MRRing. In 1957, the car was repainted and it changed only with the addition of the phrase The Right Way in kind of Italic script lettering over the C.G. reporting marks. If you want that, you’ll have to find “The Right Way” lettering. There was still another lettering variation on these cars in the 1960s with very large lettering. Atlas came out with a Central of Georgia car with THAT lettering variation in its 2009 release.
    Link to Atlas model:

    I saw a DVD the other day with the title “Atlas Shrugged.” OUR Atlas, Atlas Model Railroad Co. has not shrugged. It is supporting us with this series! (unsolicited praise...)

    Atlas Clinchfield model (link to pix:)
    Published prototype photo: Model Railroading magazine, August 1988, p.44

    Model is right in line with this prototype photo (link)


    Now here is one I can vouch for from personal experience and proud ownership, Atlas model
    Of Missouri Pacific subsidiary, IGN (International and Great Northern). Not to be confused with Great Northern. IGN ran from Texarkana across
    Texas southwestward to Laredo, with a line to Houston. Became part of MP proper in 1950s and then absorbed into UP.

    I wondered about the black tackboard, but found it in prototype pictures.

    Missouri Pacific prototype pix

    World War II era photo from US Office of War Information, Library of Congress.

    Published prototype photo MP 30404: Model Railroading magazine, August 1988, p.41
    Missouri Pacific had these cars under their own reporting marks, MP 30000-32499,
    International & Great Northern 17001-17300.
    And New Orleans, Texas & Mexico NOT&M 17301-17500

    Who knows? If Atlas keeps this series going, maybe they will come out with cars lettered for MoPac and NOT&M... Atlas is being real nice about these.

    Atlas model of Maine Central boxcar (link):

    The published prototype photo I found shows a different paint scheme but it describes the pre-1957 appearance as matching this scheme. : Model Railroading magazine, August 1988, p.43 Car dimensions and details match.

    The last in the 2008 release is the Atlas Warrior River Terminal model (link):


    This shows what Atlas calls Body Style 2. Plain ends like a PS-1, plain panel roof, “long tab side.” I had never heard of this railroad. Sounds like a little short line. I haven’t been able to find any photos of this car. According to my 1954 Official Railway Equipment Register, the Warrior River Terminal had only 20 miles of its own track, but interchanged with dozens of different railroads in almost half of the 48 states. Ran from New Orleans to Minnesota and from the eastern reaches of the Ohio River to the western navigable limits of the Missouri with its 20 miles of track. How can that be. Because it was owned by Federal Barge Lines and interchanged by water. This car would be suitable for any railroad with a river port on the Mississippi watershed, or the Gulf Intracoastal Waterway for that matter.

    The Atlas 2009 releases of 1932ARA boxcars... another time.
  14. Kenneth L. Anthony

    Kenneth L. Anthony TrainBoard Member

    Oops—I left one thing out of the discussion of the Warrior River Terminal model.
    The 1954 Official Railway Equipment Register shows these cars as having a 10 foot internal height. The 1932 ARA standard called for 9’4” interior height. I do not have this model to measure, only my IGN boxcars. Their External Measurement would be consistent with a 9’4” internal height. They are what Atlas calls Body Style 1. The Warrior River car is Body Style 2. Probably the same height, but I don’t have one to measure.

    The 1954 Official Railway Equipment Register shows Warrior River Terminal as owning only 20 boxcars total, #900-919. Atlas numbers its two available numbers correctly, as #900 and #919, the first and last in the prototype series.
    As I said earlier, I haven’t been able to find any prototype pictures of the Warrior River Terminal Cars, so I can’t vouch for their X-29 style flat ends. I don’t believe anyone else has ever made anything like this car at all, so this is probably the best model to represent this car, despite the 8” height difference.
  15. wcfn100

    wcfn100 TrainBoard Member

    These cars did indeed have flat ends and the 10' interior height was an error in the ORER, they're 9'4" like other cars.

  16. Kenneth L. Anthony

    Kenneth L. Anthony TrainBoard Member

    1932ARA standard 40’boxcars. Atlas 2009 release

    Thanks, Jason wcfn100. It's interesting to delve into these things. I have a layout which represents a port with a small car float across the harbor...and it could conceivably have car barge traffic. I wonder what kind of shipment and traffic pattern the WRT cars had...

    Now, on to
    1932ARA standard 40’boxcars. Atlas 2009 release

    Central of Georgia 1960s paint scheme shown in previous post

    Erie 1932 paintscheme

    Prototype photo cropped from WWII Office of War Information photo
    Link to Atlas model:
    Erie 1947 paintscheme: much bigger Erie herald, brown door.

    Postwar prototype photo in print: Model Railroading magazine August 1988 p.40
    I can image some but not all cars being repainted, giving an excuse to run very similar but slightly different cars.

    Louisiana and Arkansas
    1956 Prototype picture Model Railroading March 1989 p.46
    The 1956 photo has a KCS herald at right end where model has an L&A herald.
    Mention in print, no photo: Model Railroading magazine August 1988 p.39

    Seaboard “Orange Blossom Special”

    Prototype picture with Orange Blossom slogan Model Railroading March 1989 p.47
    There is a photo from the same prototype car series with a different slogan “Route nof the Silver Meteor” in Model Railroading October 1987 p.34.

    Union Pacific #182500
    Atlas only made 1 number for this car.
    But Union Pacific only had one car, and one number.
    Prototype photo in print: Model Railroading magazine August 1988 p.41
  17. Kenneth L. Anthony

    Kenneth L. Anthony TrainBoard Member

    1932ARA boxcars- Atlas 2012 release

    Atlas 1932ARA boxcars announced last year as “Expected 1st quarter 2012”

    Clinchfield “Quick Service”

    The model resembles an Early 1960s Prototype photo published in
    See Model Railroading August 1988 p.44

    Kansas City Southern (subsidiary Louisiana & Arkansas)

    This model matches the 1956 prototype picture in Model Railroading March 1989 p.46

    Nacionales de Mexico
    I can’t find a picture of this in this paint scheme. nI suspect this is an as-built scheme from 1940s. I understand a lot of the Mexican boxcars had radial roofs.

    Nickle Plate

    The model appears to have the Viking roof as delivered
    1971 Prototype photo: Model Railroading August 1988 p.42 does not have the NYC&StL lettering. Mainline Modeler April 1993 p.2

    Small photo from a Car Builders’ Cyclopedia, probably a builder’s photo, reproduced in an ad in Mainline Modeler April 1993 p.2 shows the NYC&StL lettering that appears on the Atlas model.

    Atlas says the 2012 release is to include a new body style #3 with short tab body, Hutchins radial roof, 4/4 Dreadnaught ends. Interesting. Anybody know of ANY mass-produced N boxcar of any design with a radial roof?
    (I’ve got some cabooses with radial roofs...)
  18. wcfn100

    wcfn100 TrainBoard Member

    The NdeM and CGW are identical with 12 panel flat roofs, 7/8 Murphy ends and Carbuilder's doors. None of these features have been made by Atlas.

  19. Kenneth L. Anthony

    Kenneth L. Anthony TrainBoard Member

    Other prototypes for ARA1932 not modeled (yet) by Atlas in N scale.
    NC&StL “To and Thru Dixieland”
    Chesapeake & Ohio
    Western Maryland
    Prototype photos for the above shown in ad for O scale model (not Atlas)
    Mainline Modeler April 1993 p.2

    The ad also lists other prototypes for the ARA1932 not pictured.
    New York Central
    Seaboard Air Line
  20. JMaurer1

    JMaurer1 TrainBoard Member

    Thanks for all of the work you have been doing. This is a HUGE amount of incredible information, much more than I was ever hoping for. Thanks!

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