Accurail HO scale Milwaukee Road boxcar

Accurail has added a 40-foot Milwau-kee Road ribbed-side single-door boxcar to its range of HO scale freight car kits. But this isn’t a newly tooled model. Instead, the manufacturer has revived the former Rib Side Cars tooling.

The prototype. The Accurail kit is based on Milwaukee Road ribbed-side boxcars from the 18000 through 21187 series. These cars were built by the railroad between October 1939 and September 1940 at its shops in Milwaukee, Wis. The key spotting feature of this group of single-door boxcars is the full-length ribs. On later cars, the ribs ended at the ladders and grab irons.Our sample is decorated as Milwaukee Road no. 31163, part of the railroad’s 31129 through 31228 series.

The model is lettered to match prototype cars that were rebuilt and renumbered by the railroad in 1962 and 1963.

The model. The Accurail boxcar has many of the same features of the Rib Side Cars model Andy Sperandeo reviewed in the February 2004 issue of Model Railroader. The car still has a plastic body (sides, ends, doors, floor, and underframe); separate ladders, Hutchins roof, tack boards, steel running boards, running board supports, and draft-gear box covers; and AB brake components. The grab irons, door hardware, and stirrup steps are molded.

What’s different this time around is the lettering. The Rib Side Cars version of the boxcar featured decals for the road numbers, end reporting marks, and re-weigh dates. Accurail prints all of this data on the model. However, Accurail does offer renumbering decals for $4, postpaid.

The trucks and couplers have also changed. The Rib Side Cars model included E-B Products AAR-type (“Bettendorf”) sprung plastic trucks and McHenry scale couplers. Accurail includes its own plastic solid-bearing Bettendorf trucks with Delrin wheelsets and Accumate couplers in the kit.

Assembly. I built the kit following the 14 steps in the instructions. Unlike other Accurail boxcars, the running board casting doesn’t have pins that fit into holes on the roof. You’ll want a ruler handy to make sure the casting is centered and overhangs the ends properly.

The underbody has a basic rendering of the welded underframe assembly used on Milwaukee Road ribbed-side boxcars. The pieces parallel to the car sides should be Z channel. The crossmembers and body bolsters lack flanges.

The brake detail consists of a control valve, air reservoir, and brake cylinder. I had to trim some of the molding gate (from the manufacturing process) for the brake cylinder to seat properly.

Measuring up. I compared the Accurail boxcar to prototype drawings in the Railway Prototype Cyclopedia: Vol. 13 (RP CYC Publishing Co., 2006) and the June 1988 Mainline Modeler. The distance between truck centers and over the striker castings matched published data. The wheelbase on the trucks is a scale 5'-9" instead of 5'-6".

Lettering placement matches a prototype photo of a car from the 31129 through 31228 series published in Doug Nighswonger’s Milwaukee Road Color Guide to Freight and Passenger Equip-ment: Volume 2 (Morning Sun Books Inc., 2000). The inside height is listed as 9'-7", but it should be 9'-2".

The boxcar performed without incident while being pushed and pulled on our Wisconsin & Southern layout, which has no. 5 turnouts and 30" radius curves.

Welcome back! As a modeler of the early 1970s, I’m glad that Accurail has added the Milwaukee Road 40-foot ribbed-side boxcar to its product range. Though the car is sold out at the manufacturer, it’s still available at hobby shops and through online retailers. – Cody Grivno, group technical editor

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