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Murv wrote:
"I wonder if they used boxcars to ship autos back in the day. According to the side the prototype was manufactured in 1927 so they may have been small enough to fit."

Yes, shipping autos in boxcars was "the standard practice" until someone thought up the idea of "auto racks".

The autos were usually "jacked up" at an angle (45 degrees or so?) so that more could be fit inside.

Looks like the double doors were necessary to create a wider opening to aid in getting the autos inside...
 

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Ye Olde HuffnPuff took over the Quality Craft kit line sometime in the '70's IIRC. The Quality Craft kits were better than the older Main Line kits. I have an HOn3 EBT caboose kit from this line that built up very well, better than the contemporary La Belle kit. But, you need to know what you are doing. As the instructions describe the assembly, you will too late discover that with the body assembled and the cupola installed, you can't install the window glass.

As MatroxD notes, craftsman hobbies like model airplanes and trains are moving quickly away from kits toward RTR (or RTF). For now there still seems to be a market for plastic car kits, which is good, and La Belle has been reincarnated with some nice wood kits.
 

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Discussion Starter #23
Hmmnn.. Interesting. I'm pretty new to the "hobby" trains, and I didn't know, until stumbling across your thread, that there are "car" kits.. I think I would love to try one or two(to begin with), as yours are inspiring..

What brands, in your opinion, make good beginner kits, that, run well in the end, look good(your detail I simply cannot replicate), and then, honestly, as I know the skill level increases with experience,are fairly easy to assemble?

Thanks, and great thread! Subscribed!

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These kits I've reviewed are for the most part made of wood and metal. There are also kits made of plastic (Tichy for example), Resin (Funaro & Camerlengo) and all metal (Uhlrich, or brass kits). These are different from for example Athearn where the car is pretty much snap together.

For a wood and metal kit my initial recommendation would be a Silver Streak kit. The Caveat is to read the first review (for the bobber caboose) after reading the DRGW review above. The kits made with lead will be fairly simple to complete, but if you get one with warped pot metal good luck. As mentioned Silver Streak changed hands and quality could be better or worse.
The Mainline kits go together the same way as does a company called A-C Model company but both appear lesser quality. All these kits feature prepainted and lettered sides so you only have to paint the ends, top and bottom to finish them.
If you have any familiarity with wood working and can handle a pin vice and exacto blade without hurting yourself you can assemble these kits. a Dremel is a plus. I use spray paint a great deal from cans, though you can paint by hand too. I use Goo from Walthers as glue, it will hold just about anything together but it stinks.

If you have a mind to make a fairly simple metal kit then look for the Uhlrich kits. They have few pieces but are well detailed and feature prepainted and decaled sides. Brass kits require a different skill, one I haven't tried yet.
I've never made a Tichy kit but suspect they go together like the hundreds of plastic tanks I've built. Resin is different to handle and I wouldn't recommend it for a first kit, though there are some pretty interesting things out there in resin (like B&O wagon top cars, very cool).

If you get really excited about building your own rolling stock you can pick up engine kits. I've built a half dozen and it's even more fun than the railroad cars.

I've added a pic of what one of the simpler kits looks like out of the box. Basically you glue together the top and bottom to end blocks then detail everything.
 

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Hmmnn interesting.. Thank you.. I will try some that you have suggested. I'm pretty good with dremel, and other tools (rc heli, airplane and car guy for the majority of my life), so I am screen grabbing a few names you mentioned.

And you know, it's funny that you mentioned them, but I was wondering about locomotive kits. That will be the next step. I looked at my local online shops site and I believe that they have a few kits. I will start with a caboose (as that is what I am in need of atm),and slowly work my way to engines..

Thank you though for sharing this and giving advice.. I look forward to more of your kit builds.

I am also going to check out the sites of the companies that you suggested, to see what I could order. And the font thing is, the kits that I saw locally, are like half the price of the ready to run models. So as long as the quality is good, I could replace or amend my whole car yard..

This is long, but thanks much again! I apologize if I derailed your thread..


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Unassembled kits have always been cheaper than RTR models.....RTR models start as kits to begin with, so someone has to put those together, and they don't do it for free....
 

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Discussion Starter #26
Hmmnn interesting.. Thank you.. I will try some that you have suggested. I'm pretty good with dremel, and other tools (rc heli, airplane and car guy for the majority of my life), so I am screen grabbing a few names you mentioned.

And you know, it's funny that you mentioned them, but I was wondering about locomotive kits. That will be the next step. I looked at my local online shops site and I believe that they have a few kits. I will start with a caboose (as that is what I am in need of atm),and slowly work my way to engines..

Thank you though for sharing this and giving advice.. I look forward to more of your kit builds.

I am also going to check out the sites of the companies that you suggested, to see what I could order. And the font thing is, the kits that I saw locally, are like half the price of the ready to run models. So as long as the quality is good, I could replace or amend my whole car yard..

This is long, but thanks much again! I apologize if I derailed your thread..


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Happy I can help. While l’m mainly writing these reviews to amuse myself it’s a bonus if it inspires anyone. As far as engines go, I bought all my kits off eBay. Tyco, mantua and Roundhouse were the big steam producers and as far as I know they’re all out of business now, but you can always find them online. If you’re big on engine performance plan on remotoring them with can motors, the old motors are not too smooth even new. Best of luck.
 

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Unassembled kits have always been cheaper than RTR models.....RTR models start as kits to begin with, so someone has to put those together, and they don't do it for free....
Not gonna derail(lol, nice pun) this great thread, but that's funny you mention that, because in the rc industry, it's just the opposite. RTR models have made things much cheaper. And it honestly may not be just the RTR status, but a lot of rc has to do, and it's status today is with heavy microchip/computer advancements. Plus, they are larger in physical size (most of the time).

But, yes, even with the large RTR or ARF status that things are today, they are tremendously cheaper than they used to be.. Even when hand assembled(especially sub assemblies), and I'm speaking specifically about helicopters and airplanes, as I know the brands I fly, when parts are assembled by the factory, they are indeed hand assembled, thread locked, and inspected, things have gone just the opposite of what your mentioning..

It was quite a shock actually when I got back into trains, as far as the cost. Comparatively speaking that is..

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It's funny that you mention re motoring them. I have an N locomotive that I believe the motor is shorted. I'm debating on buying another motor, or just leaving the annoying thing to sit as static. It is the first locomotive I've ever fully taken apart, as I was afraid to do so.

But I do love the building process, and then end result of setting your hand work, going from pieces to a moving object. So I'm sure I will end up building cars and locomotives.. Lol, now that you have opened up my eyes and mind to them.. Thanks! :) And yes, you, and your thread have been a tremendous help and inspiration.. Wife may not like it though.. Lmao!
Happy I can help. While l’m mainly writing these reviews to amuse myself it’s a bonus if it inspires anyone. As far as engines go, I bought all my kits off eBay. Tyco, mantua and Roundhouse were the big steam producers and as far as I know they’re all out of business now, but you can always find them online. If you’re big on engine performance plan on remotoring them with can motors, the old motors are not too smooth even new. Best of luck.
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Not gonna derail(lol, nice pun) this great thread, but that's funny you mention that, because in the rc industry, it's just the opposite. RTR models have made things much cheaper. And it honestly may not be just the RTR status, but a lot of rc has to do, and it's status today is with heavy microchip/computer advancements. Plus, they are larger in physical size (most of the time).

But, yes, even with the large RTR or ARF status that things are today, they are tremendously cheaper than they used to be.. Even when hand assembled(especially sub assemblies), and I'm speaking specifically about helicopters and airplanes, as I know the brands I fly, when parts are assembled by the factory, they are indeed hand assembled, thread locked, and inspected, things have gone just the opposite of what your mentioning..
But the RC companies offset the assembly cost by selling more units....when they crash and explode.....:laugh:
 

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But the RC companies offset the assembly cost by selling more units....when they crash and explode.....
Ha! It takes a lot to "re kit" a model these days(I mean a tremendous impact)! I haven't actually seen a re kit, in person or either video (with the exception of course of a turbine jet) in what, a good early 2000's.. Simulators I won't say brought a complete end to, but certainly massively(good high 90's perctentile range) decreased the crash factor.. And then, those things are built like tanks now.. Very over engineered.. Funny comment nonetheless though.....

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Discussion Starter #32
Funaro and Camerlengo Boxcar

Resin is a fairly new building material for hobbies (at least, compared to plastic, wood and lead), and its advantage is not obvious to a simple observer: In order to manufacture a plastic model there is a great deal of upfront cost producing the molds, but the price per unit is low. Thus plastic is great if you are going to make hundreds of thousands of something but a poor choice if you are going to make only a few hundred. With resin the cost of making the molds is low (they are poured rubber of some sort) but the unit production cost is higher. In this way resin is similar to metal but resin is a cheaper material than modelling lead (which is actually a combination of tin and antimony). The end result is that resin is a good choice for making limited runs of rare types of cars.
This kit is one of those: Funaro and Camerlengo ‘3701/3702 Great Northern 40’ wood truss rod boxcar with steel center sill hopper doors and decals.’ According to the history blurb the Great Northern was beholden to lumber companies for their business and built all-wood cars long after other railroads switched to steel frames to support their customers. Later they reinforced the frame with steel center sills and this car is one of those. They bought 15,000 of them. Apparently there was at least one of these cars in service until 1959. The version with hopper doors is even weirder and I decided to build that one though I have no idea what it would be used for. There are eight truss rods, not four so these cars could carry some heavy stuff.
So back to resin: resin is in many ways similar to plastic. It takes detail just as well, though usually there is one side without detail. Resin’s flexibility can be varied based on the formula, the resin in this kit is a little softer than plastic. The downside to resin is that it flexes a bit, but doesn’t warn you when you reach the limit like plastic (which turns white) or metal (which goes brittle). Thus if you bend a piece even just a little it may be OK or it may suddenly snap on you. The thinner the piece the more fragile it is, so most structural resin pieces are thicker than any other material. Resin takes power tools well, unlike plastic it doesn’t melt easily and I had no trouble in that regard. I’ve read that resin dust is unhealthy for you, so if you do any significant sanding you should wear a mask.
On wargaming resin models I was able to bend them by soaking in warm water first but this one didn’t have any pieces warranting that. The only pieces that were otherwise compromised were the queen posts, there were three out of sixteen broken off. Fortunately there were queen posts for both versions and I salvaged the broken one from the other set. This kit is mostly resin, with a few plastic pieces for the brake system, some metal rod for pipes, fishing line for the truss rods and copper staples for the grab irons (all 36 of them). I ended up adding two ounces of lead weight to bring it up to the 4.25 recommended for a 40 foot car.
The instructions consist of much written guidance, some good pictures and few diagrams. You are expected to know what the various parts of a railroad car are called and look at the diagram and pictures carefully, at one point it said “Look at the diagram to see where the holes are drilled, but I never saw anywhere it showed the holes. It would have been really nice to see more diagrams and part descriptions because there were a whole bunch of spare parts in the box, although I’m not sure if they were in there when the kit was sold as it had already been opened. I never identified some of the parts, couldn’t recognize them based on the drawings and pictures of the finished kit.
Normal wood model box cars kits have a basic frame made of the top and bottom and two wooden blocks that go at the ends. Everything else is hung onto this frame, the sides and ends are merely decoration, not structural. This kit is different in that the end is the structural piece and the bottom sits inside the sides and ends. Even before starting construction I decided there needed to be some support for the corners so I cut four corner posts out of 3/8” bass wood and made them tall enough to hold the bottom up. I was also worried about weight so I drilled four holes in the corners of the bottom and screwed the bottom in instead of gluing. Turns out this won’t work for the hopper bottom kit as the door latches are connected to the sides of the car.
I hope you like to drill. Just about every piece has a hole drilled into it at one point or another and most of the holes are the teeny tiny bits. I bent my drill bit trying to use a pin vise and ended up shuttling back to the work table numerous times to drill holes with a Dremel. I put a straight pin in the pin vise and pushed a dimple into the piece where the hole went so the drill bit didn’t skip around and miss the right spot. Some of the pieces are so small I broke them with the pin much less the drill bit.
The doors are molded to the body so this isn’t an open door kind of kit. While the grab irons are numerous, most of your time will be spent working on the bottom. Between the truss rods, hopper doors and brake system it’s pretty busy under there. I was worried about the truss rods causing problems with the fragile queen posts and while one of the posts leaned over while tensioning the fishing line nothing broke. I recommend making a rough calculation how long you need the fishing line and cut off the excess, it looks like there’s twice as much as you need and it is so curly you spend as much time working out the snarl as threading the rods.
The decals on this kit are the best I’ve seen so far. It is one of those print it yourself sheets, so you have to cut the paper to fit the decal, but it goes on well and easily, isn’t so fragile you tear it and with some Micro Sol it hugs the complicated surface of the car when dry (horizontal alignment is difficult on wood-sided cars so make sure you’ve got it lined up right when you slide it off). The black dot behind the goat is a separate decal.
A couple other random notes: First, don’t use the spray paint can lid as a painting stand on a windy day. Second, the hopper door latches are the most complicated and ornery assembly on the whole kit. Third, the steps on the end are easily broken so if you don’t mind them not being there I recommend leaving them off.
So overall not a kit for the faint of heart, but if you are patient and careful you’ll end up with a railroad car few modelers will have on their layout. I’ve include a pic of the pieces coming out of the box in case you are interested, and one of the bottom before painting.
 

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Murv wrote:
"The version with hopper doors is even weirder and I decided to build that one though I have no idea what it would be used for."

Probably for "grain service", as boxcars were used for much grain-hauling before covered hoppers purposely-designed for the job came into use in the 60's...
 

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Discussion Starter #35
Is it really a hopper door on top, or just the walkway to the ladder?
The hopper doors are on the bottom. The pictures in the instructions show a normal roof, so it can't be loaded from the top. I've been thinking about it, and I think they would block the side doors about halfway up with some kind of gate, use a chute directed inside the doorway to fill the car partway, then close the full doors to keep out the rain. They would open the doors on the bottom to empty it and use shovels or brooms to push the rest over once the grain stops falling. Maybe someone else knows better than that.
 

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Discussion Starter #36
Ambroid Center Flow Hopper

This box was part of a lot of 11 cars I bought off Ebay, and I had two reservations about completing it: First, my railroad is steam only, not even any automobiles on it and while this car isn’t new anymore it definitely looks like it was produced in the post-steam era. Second I have a basic philosophical problem with making the model of an all-steel car designed to haul plastic out of wood. I know it sounds stupid, but it just doesn’t seem right. In the end the desire not to waste the 7-ish dollars I paid for the car overruled my reservations and I went ahead and built one. We’ll see if the other ever gets built.
This is ‘Ambroid No. 3 Second Series Special “1 of 5,000” two-in-one ACF Center Flow Hopper Car’. It is a two-car kit of an early version of the common modern hoppers made with rounded sides, model CF-3500. According to the blurb provided this kit was produced only three years after the prototypes went into production and on the internet it says center flow hoppers were introduced in the 1960’s, so who knows how many were actually produced before they started sloping the ends as is typical for modern cars? I was also able to find a few pictures of this particular model in a search.
Everything I said about the previous Ambroid kit applies here: This is an extremely complicated model made out of a bunch of strips of basswood. Much of the expectation is you just follow along with the diagrams. That said there were a few unique features in this kit. Most obvious is that there are curves. The tank made out of two big chunks of basswood cut round. There’s a hole in the middle and if you don’t want to look through the entire car I recommend plugging it with something. On the prototypes I assume there is an angled plate inside the holes but the holes are open in the diagrams. The curves make alignment critical and measuring from the centerline is vital to keep everything symmetric. The end supports are soft lead and probably bent wrong so keep that in mind too.
On the other hand the big chunk of wood in the middle of the kit makes a nice solid foundation to hang everything else on. This kit doesn’t need any extra weight. Unfortunately most of the rest of the prototype is made of angle iron, which translates in the kit to 3/64” angled basswood. It strikes me as being particularly fragile and I hope it never takes a dive to the floor because the ends will probably be crushed. If I had more gumption I would have replaced some of the most exposed pieces with brass but like I said, I was hesitant to build the kit at all, much less spend more money on it. By the way, I got the catwalks to appear level by gluing them in place then turning the whole car over and lying it upside down then pushing all the pieces flat against the table top. After the glue set the catwalks were flat.
So that’s pretty much it, the kit is challenging to build but if 60’s covered hoppers fit on your layout this is an uncommon version that will attract some attention anyway. Now to ‘cleanse my pallette’ with something more appropriate for the steam era. I’ll post photos of the finished model when the painting and decals are done.
 

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Don't know how uncommon that car is/was, Atlas produced it in plastic with the following description:

Introduced in 1961 by ACF® to haul sand, clay, salt, grain and bulk plastics, this Cylindrical Hopper was the first commercially successful tank-type covered hopper car design. A few of the more than 4,000 cars of this type built through 1966 can still be seen in service today across the United States.
https://www.modeltrainforum.com/attachment.php?attachmentid=470266&stc=1&d=1540956574
 

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One thing to keep in mind when building older wood craftsman kits - consider using some sanding sealer (obtainable where model airplane kits are sold) to apply to the wood. Make take 2 or 3 applications, with sanding in between, to smooth out the surface and make it more like metal.
 

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Discussion Starter #39 (Edited)
Here are the pictures of the final product. The decals yellowed a bit with age, and I added a few details I didn't notice before on the diagram. I had to file the coupler pockets narrower so the trucks had enough play for the layout, and I decided not to include the corner rungs for the same reason.
BTW, thanks for the hint on sanding sealer. I'd been looking at the local hardware store and all I could find was paint sealer in gallon buckets. This car looks like it was made of wood and the paint didn't cover so great because of it. OTOH, the yellowed decals aren't quite as noticeable as they'd be on a consistent shade of white.
After running it around the layout a few times I found it is really top heavy. Number 4 turns at the front of the train pull it right over, though more gracefully than a flat sided box car. Gotta be the lead catwalks.
Overall I must confess I'm a bit disappointed by this kit. The fact that you can buy it RTR takes some of the fun out of it (thanks for raining on my parade), and the car is just plain ugly. Oh well, as Bad Santa says "They can't all be winners."

(P.S. I know I said no diesels on my layout, but a family friend picked up a box of random stuff at a yard sale and there were three of the buggers in there. Two still run and the BL-2 is kinda cute in a puppy dog way. Anyway, jury is still out on their fate.)
 

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