Those new Tangent 86 foot auto-parts boxcars are nice. Really, really nice actually. But I've got a bunch of the older Athearn models running around on the layout. They can be had, often new in the box at train shows for $5 to $15. With just a little upgrading, I think they look fine, and operate much better as well. Here's my latest addition to that group of freight cars
First picture shows the extra weight I've added to the inside of this boxcar. I find that simply adding a couple of half-inch steel nuts epoxied onto the stock steel weight really help with the tracking of these boxcars.
The Athearn cars of course came with plastic wheels, so I change those out for metal wheels, which I paint and add rust powders to. The stock Athearn coupler system for these cars is pretty archaic, so I've changed them out for Details West coupler boxes, which look and operate a whole lot better.
After a little cleanup with a file and painted flat black, the Details West CC-1024 cushion coupler pockets replace the stock Athearn coupler style.
I actually kind of liked the way the boxcar looked just in the primer, and for a moment wondered about leaving it that way.
However the forces of common sense prevailed, and I went ahead and painted the model blue as it's to be a car that's been re-painted and re-lettered from GTW to CNA. I'll be wanting to have the model appear at least a little bit faded, so instead of using GTW blue (a pretty dark shade), I first tried Rock Island blue, but that turned out to be too light in colour for what I wanted.
Rock Island Blue looked to be too much of a powder blue shade.
I ended up spraying L&N blue overtop of the Rock Island Blue and liked the result much better.After the paint had dried overnight (and much of the next day) I had masked off the ends in order to spray white in the upper areas for the Excess Height and car number decals.
After cutting out and applying a total of 50 separate decals to the boxcar, I cut off the oversized plastic stirrup steps, and replaced them with etched brass ones. Here's my finished, but as of yet unweathered, boxcar out on the layout on it's first trip to the auto parts plant.
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