New Accurail 36-foot Box Car Models

The new Accurail HO scale 36-foot box cars kits are being released. I recently picked up two undecorated car kits with the fishbelly center sills and corrugated metal ends. It’s exciting to open the box on a new model for the first time, especially a model that fits into my modeling focus. Let’s take a look at this new kit.

The car shell has very nice detail. Bolster ends, brake staff stirrup, doors, and grab irons are cast into the one piece body. The running board, running board latitudinals, and brake step platform are separate castings that are snapped into place on the body casting. A touch of styrene cement on the mounting pins inside of the car secures these parts in place.

The underframe has a few parts to assemble, but these are engineered for an easy fit. Here are a few images of the underframe parts and assembly

The brake rods and levers are a one piece casting. This needs to be threaded through one fishbelly center sill then the other center sill needs to be carefully positioned to thread the brake rods. These images show the first car I built. For the second car, I installed the K brake component on the center sill before getting the brake rods into place.

There are five separate cross members to install across the centersill. These are keyed for an easy fit. A spot of styrene cement on the joints holds things in place.

After the cross members are in place, the centersill and cross member assembly can be installed on the underframe. Tabs key the correct placement and styrene cement can be applied to these once they are in place on the underframe casting.

I use Accurail Proto:HO scale couplers. The underframe has holes to make these easy to install. The lid of the coupler gearbox does not need to be used on these models. There is the usual hole to mount the Accumate couplers that come with the kit, or to install Kadee couplers.

The car shell can be snapped into place and the double rung sill steps fit into their locations. The sill steps are cast in engineering plastic and are designed for a press fit into their locations.

Tahoe Model Works AC&F arch bar trucks were substituted and the model was ready for service!

The second car had extra details installed to the car body shell. No extras were needed for the underframe. Supports for the brake platform and the running board ends were made by fitting 1×3 styrene strip to the support area then cutting the piece in half lengthwise to present a finer detail. A retainer valve and retainer line were added using a Tichy Train Group casting (found on the K brake parts sprue)  and 0.008-inch brass wire. Uncoupling levers were bent from 0.0125-inch brass wire and installed with eyebolts at the pivot points.

The extra details did not take long to install. Like many things, the work is more tedious than difficult. A pair of modified Walthers T-section Bettendorf trucks were installed. This car will be painted and lettered for the Nickel Plate Road.

There are many possibilities for these models. Replacing the grabs with ladders to reflect a specific prototype would be an update to make these distinctive. Sanding the Murphy roof castings and installing scribed styrene for a wood roof is another possible update. Adding a half door and door track to the left of the main door would push these closer to Michigan Central prototypes. Ray Breyer has four prototype summaries available here on the blog . These mainly follow the initial roadnames Accurail announced for these models but you can find lots of inspiration in those files. I know a few modelers are already modifying their kits to reflect cars that were moved to maintenance service in the post-WW2 years.

I look forward to adding several of these to my 1926 fleet. I guess I need to fire up the paint booth again.

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16 thoughts on “New Accurail 36-foot Box Car Models”

  1. I suggest using the Precision Scale Retainer Valve part #PSC31796 instead of the Tichy part. They come four to a packet and they are very fine jewel like replicas of the real thing.

  2. Eric,
    Thanks for the review. It looks like these kits have a lot of potential. The few changes you made really add.

      1. Eric,
        Thank you. I was hoping for the kit’s ends to be visible on both sides for another project, but I welcome any new boxcar. These cars have some similar lines to cars I model in the 1960s era by way of MofW boxcars. Your review and upgrades are appreciated.

  3. Hi Eric:
    Those screw heads on the coupler box covers annoy me. Is it practical to use a flat head screw – perhaps 0-80 or 1-72 – sized so that the screw head has minimal exposure? For the KaDee 711’s which I use, a flat head 0-80 holds just fine and is even with the cover. In most plastic floors the brass screw makes its own thread.
    Dick Bradley

    1. Dick, I just used what came with the Accurail Proto:HO couplers. I think they are 0-80 screws. Other 0-80 screws can probably be adapted to the installation. – Eric

  4. The construction details – namely the brake rigging and stirrup steps – sound identical to the approach used for their gondolas. I’m a big fan of this approach – a very good compromise between fineness and ruggedness.

  5. Great write-up, Eric! Other than the D&RG and D&SL are there any western US railroads that used boxcars that resemble these cars? While I am sure some eastern railroad cars wandered onto the Tonopah and Tidewater, it probably wasn’t extremely common.

    1. Thanks for stopping by, Nevin! I think one of the only western lines that had similar box cars to these Accurail models would be the MKT. The Santa Fe had lots of 36-foot double-sheathed box cars but they had truss rods and I think they were a little shorter in height. Many other western roads went with larger 40-foot cars early in the 20th century. Look at the Harriman car designs and the huge number of Great Northern 40-foot truss rod cars. But the NYC shortys got around. With the large numbers in service, it’s only natural that one or two my have visited your line. – Eric

  6. Accurail model 1303 is a model of MP 120583, and the 120000–120849 series shows 134 still in use as of January 1953 ORER.

    These cars with K brakes were banned from interchange service during 1953. Does anyone know if they were still in home road service in 1954, or if any were changed to AB brakes so they could be used in interchange service in 1954?

    1. Thanks for the info, Chuck. I do not know if any of those MP cars were upgraded with AB brake systems. Have you checked with the MP historical group? – Eric

  7. I just bought this little kit and I was planning on adding some detail I got one that is pre painted and I need the touch up color I believe it is Mineral red / brown does anyone have a suggestion for a good match ? I know floquil does not exist anymore. The kit is the same as the above kit it is the Nickel plate road version.

    1. Allen, I use a craft paint that comes close to the color. I have a few bottles of red and brown shades to touch up details on different models. I do not worry about an exact match as weathering will blend it together. – Eric H.

      1. Thanks Eric I have another question if I were to get the undecorated kit where could I source decals for the kit ?

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