New box car coming soon!


Trainfest was recently held in Milwaukee and a number of new model railroad products were announced. Of particular interest is an HO scale model that should become a favorite of anyone modeling the 1910-1950 time span. Accurail has announced a 36-foot, double-sheathed box car addition to their line. The model is mainly inspired by a 1914 New York Central box car design, similar to the above image. There will be a few variations available with different ends and center sills. Here’s the Accurail announcement as a PDF.


Artwork from the Accurail product release sheet.

This new Accurail model is the first widely available, 36-foot box car model introduced since the MDC/Roundhouse cars in the early 1970s. The model represents a newer prototype and many lasted in service to the K brake interchange ban of 1953. Several railroads upgraded the brake systems for continued service. Other lines used these cars in maintenance service after 1953, while some lines converted the cars to cabooses, rider cars, and line side sheds over the years.

Many modelers do not realize that freight cars of the early 1900s follow many standards. The Master Car Builder’s Association (MCBA) issued recommended standard box car dimensions on December 2, 1901. These new standards were strongly influenced by Eastern railroad clearances. The New York Central & Hudson River Railroad changed their (1892-1902) standard box car design in 1902 to fall in-line with the recommendations. In 1907, the MCBA tweaked the design by adding more steel components to the under frame and added some length. The 1902 car was 36-foot, 10-inch, while the 1907 design is 37-foot in length. The same designs were used on Michigan Central and Lake Shore & Michigan Southern boxcars.


The new Accurail model is based on New York Central car designs built in the 1910-1914 time frame as inspiration for the new models; generally NYC lots 309-B through 320-B. Many of these box cars had a similar look, but had hardware appliance variations. The prototype cars seemed to have a common body but different ends, roofs and underframes. The car body with the wood ends should reflect earlier NYC lot 234-B through lot 243-B that were built in 1910. Thousands of cars with wood ends would be upgraded with corrugated steel ends through the late Teens and 1920s.


I know what you are thinking, “I don’t model the New York Central.” Think of box cars in a pool of available freight cars and review the overall numbers of cars in service. Keep in mind that the NYC box car fleet represented about 10% of all box cars on North American rails. That kind of quantity should be considered as you consider additions to your model fleet.

The numbers of shorter box cars dwindled as time marched along. Many of the better built NYC short cars lasted the longest in service. The K brake interchange ban of 1953 spelled the end for many of these cars, in addition to many older 40-foot, wood-sheathed cars. For those modeling an earlier era, these new Accurail models will add nicely to the fleet.

Many other railroads had 36-foot box cars in service that had similarities to these NYC box cars. Here are a handful of examples from my own digital files.

The Buffalo, Rochester & Pittsburgh listed 2,287 box cars in the 1926 ORER. All were 36-foot cars.


The Baltimore & Ohio listed 40,088 box cars in the 1926 ORER. 15,291 were 36-foot cars, but not all cars followed a similar design.


The Nickel Plate Road listed 14,939 box cars in the 1926 ORER. 11,698 were 36-foot cars.



The Delaware & Hudson listed 4,270 box cars in the 1926 ORER. 3,770 were 36-foot cars.


The Delaware, Lackawanna & Western listed 15,295 box cars in the 1926 ORER. 13,184 were 36-foot cars.


1,316 of these Missouri-Kansas-Texas 36-foot cars were listed in the 1926 ORER. Another 7,500 were listed in another number series.
1,316 of these Missouri-Kansas-Texas 36-foot cars were listed in the 1926 ORER. Another 7,500 were listed in another number series.

I’m excited about this upcoming Accurail release! Not only does it cover a key New York Central prototype for the Teens through the 1940s, but there are a range of lettering possibilities for other railroads. Many thanks to Kyle Coble and Ray Breyer for sharing prototype data and photos to illuminate this post. Feel free to share a comment in the section below. Please follow the instructions so your comment can be posted. All comments are reviewed and approved before they appear.

9 thoughts on “New box car coming soon!”

  1. Eric, can you tell me the photographer and the collection that the MKT car was in? This is going to be a great little SHAKE_N_TAKE project and there are a couple other cars there will make good online projects as well.

  2. Eric,

    Do you happen to know if any of these prototypes were built before 1908? I’d like to pick up some, but 1910 just misses the mark for me!


    1. Chris, as noted in the prototype info from the MCBA guidelines, “The 1902 car was 36-foot, 10-inch, while the 1907 design is 37-foot in length.” I would say you could easily use the model as the basis for cars built since 1905. The straight steel centersill model with wood ends could be a starting point. Adding needle beams, queen posts, and truss rods will effectively back date the model for use in your time frame. Indeed, for modelers of the 20s and 30s, there were many 36-foot double-sheathed box cars with steel centersill retrofits that retained the truss rods. The initial versions announced by Accurail offer a great starting point to model a variety of prototypes. – Eric

  3. I think there were a few these 36′ cars on the Central Vermont. Am interested in which of the available models is best for modeling the CV. Of course a NYC car could also beed seen on the CV.

  4. Thanks for the write-up on what looks like it will be a great car badly needed in the model railroad world.

  5. I think this is an excellent car kit in the works. Love the simplicity of Accurail and I think I can be willing to overlook small differences for the advantage of having an easy to acquire boxcar that has the right look for my 1915 B&O layout.

  6. Thanks for the write up. As an aside, Steve Funaro, who markets several 36 foot kits, mentioned in one of his clinic presentations that many roads kept 36′ cars on the roster due to customer demand — customers (many in the Northeast) with older buildings with loading doors built to a 36′ standard could not accommodate longer 40 foot cars. I believe he was referring to NH, but same or similar would be true of NYC.

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