Please read the Forum Code of Conduct   >>Click Here <<

Main Menu

Updating old time boxcars (sort of)

Started by Trainman203, April 13, 2016, 05:57:23 PM

Previous topic - Next topic


I've always liked these 36' wood boxcars but they always seemed a little old for my 1940s layout.  I also thought that these models sat oddly high on the archbar trucks .  So I tried putting Andrews trucks on one, with the results below, much more suitable to occasional use on my road ..... Even though the lettering style and roads are really a little early.



Archbar trucks, not the first type of truck but an early type,  were prone to failure in several ways and after 1900 began to be replaced by others not quite so stick-built.  Andrews trucks were an interim type between archbar and the fully cast types like bettendorfs that we are more familiar with.

Here is an interesting article about freight car trucks...


Those would feel right at home on my 1920's layout ;D If ya really can't live with them, well..............

Want my mailing address? LMAO :D



Quote from: Trainman203 on April 13, 2016, 05:57:23 PM
Here is an interesting article about freight car trucks...
And that nugget of data is indeed interesting,
QuoteA big selling feature of the Andrews design was that journal boxes from older archbar trucks could be reused in new Andrews trucks.
When all esle fials, go run trains
Screw the Rivets, I'm building for Atmosphere!
later, Forrest

Royce Wilson

Who's old time freight cars are you using? 8)



If the Bach Man doesn't mind me saying ....... old Model Die Casting 36' boxcar kits from years ago, they still turn up on eBay and at train shows.  There were stock cars and reefers too, all look more modern with Andrews trucks.  I've seen prototype pictures of such cars with Bettendorf trucks, and tried them on one of these cars, but to me the Andrews trucks look better because they are bulkier and the ones I used, Accurail, let the car ride a liittle lower and lose the high water pants look that the archbars gave.


Also, those cars are custom painted and decaled as part of a specialty line, all Down South Dixie railroads,  offered by my friend's LHS in Gulfport Mississippi.  He runs a few off every year to sell at regional train shows.  There's about 10 or 12 or so such cars, I think I have them all.


Some more Deep South old time box cars......


I am a fan of seeing this done with the old stuff .Some was never reproduced again .Strip the old 2 inch thick lead base paint off the stuff to find out they were actually pretty good models and with a little work.A new gem on the rail.Nice work!


 The too early comment really doesn't make much sense to me. Most roads I'm familiar with ran cars as long as they were cheaper to keep up than replace with many running decades before replacement. I'm sure there were exceptions but I'm speaking in general terms.


I'm working from memory here, so it's likely someone can correct what I'm about to say, or at least clarify it, but the MDC "old time" boxcars aren't really that old in terms of their prototypes; I think they date from around 1900-1905.  This would be late in the era of wooden framed cars, but the 36 foot length and overall dimensions would continue to be produced into at least the 1930s for box cars and considerably later for refrigerator cars meant for meat service (the door spacing for the 36-footers matched that of most packing houses).

Later cars like this would have steel frames and possibly steel ends and roofs.  Some of those steel frames still had truss rods, though often only two rods instead of four.  

Arch bar trucks were built with new cars as late as 1930 (the last order was I believe for some B&O cars that were PRR X-29 clones).  Arch bar trucks were outlawed from interchange service in the United States around 1938, but would continue in service on non-interchange cars such as maintenance equipment or industrial equipment (i.e., logging roads) much later.  There were occasional exceptions to this, and they depended on the interchanging railroad being willing to accept such cars.  The one example I know of was the Duluth, Missabe & Iron Range accepting logging cars with arch bar trucks from a shortline road that connected with it for the haul to a mill.

I don't know the date of the prohibition of Andrews trucks for new construction, but I think the end for interchange service was about 1952.  There would also be similar dates for the end of interchange service for K-type brake equipment as well; this is the type that is often portrayed with the brake cylinder and reservoir as one piece, though a lot of hopper cars (such as the USRA series) were built with a separated version.  

Southern Railway had a lot of steel framed 36-footers, and there are photographs of them in the 1940s with "unit" or "Bettendorf" trucks, steel ends of an unusual type, and those truss rods.

Another road that had a lot of 36 footers was the New Haven, and like the cars on the Southern, a lot lasted late in the steam era.

There were other standards as well, and if you look at some photos of older (ca. 1900 or so) freight cars, you'll notice variations in ladders, hand grabs, and steps that are different from what you saw after an overhaul of standards for those things around 1917 or so, and those rules were in effect essentially unchanged into the 1960s.


Changing from Archbar to Andrews trucks would be appropriate. My old local hobby shop had and employee who was an engineer from the 1950's on. He told me that the Andrews trucks were a common replacement for Archbars because the Andrews could re-use some of the parts of the Archbar, so were more economical.

The other change that was required by the end of the 1930's for interchange service was a steel underframe, so your cars may need to have that added too. It wasn't uncommon for cars to keep their trussrods after having the steel underframe added, so on the layout I don't know if there would be that much difference in the appearance.

electrical whiz kid

I think that might depend on two things at least:  The viewing height of the layout, and the scale that the trains are modelled in.  In my opinion, HO scale would probably be the smallest viable scale, and O scale or S scale would best show off the under-detail at viewing (approx. 48") height.
Anything larger in that same application, would be screaming for detail!

Rich C.


It is my understanding (I still have the rulebook around here someplace) that the maximum age for equipment used in US interchange is 50 years.  I think individual cases could be appealed to the Interstate Commerce Commission (now Surface Transportation Board) for an exception.

Cars with non-standard trucks (arch-bar, journal bearing) can be used on equipment that is not interchanged.
Interchanged equipment must have steel underframes and current brake equipment.

When I worked on the Milwaukee Road (beginning in 1973) we handled some ancient wooden boxes for green hide loading.  They were 36 foot-long cars owned by the Wellsville, Addison, and Galeton Railroad of New York.  Once a car is used for that, it stinks so bad that it is unsuitable for any other lading.  I cannot remember the manufacture date for those cars.

The oldest cars I regularly saw in service were tank cars.  They could be (and were) as old as 1923.  Some used separate steel underframes and were of riveted construction.

Company service equipment could be any age, as it was not handled in interchange.  We had an ancient steam-powered pile driver.  On the DM&E we had a 1916 Jordan Spreader.  It still had the owner's manual inside it!  It was illustrated with the spreader being shoved by a steam loco.




Les I remember a "hide" warehouse back home in South Louisiana in the very early 1960's served by the MP.  One day in August, temp near 100,  I had to walk past it going somewhere.  It was stacked to the ceiling with raw muskrat hides. OH! OH!  OH MAN!!!!!! WHOOOOOOOH!!!! (Gagging sound here).  :o It was just totally beyond unbelievably bad.   I didn't know about "hide service" cars back then, but hide service was definitely the very last job for cars due for scrapping.