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First Look Review
N scale
50' ACF Rib-side Box Car
Precision Design 50' Rib-side Box Car Canadian National Road # 416133
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by: Frederick Boucher [ JPTRR ]

Originally published on:
RailRoad Modeling

Atlas N offers this sharply detailed N scale Precision Design 50' Rib-side Box Car. We examine the crisp molding and excellent printing for Canadian National car number 416133.

    ACF Industries LLC originally known as The American Car and Foundry Company and was formed in 1899. In 1955 ACF Industries, Incorporated became the new name for The American Car and Foundry. Over the years railcar manufacturing and leasing were the major forces in ACF’s economic growth and stability. ACF has weathered many changes and is still committed to the manufacture of new railcar and railcar parts and sub-assemblies. ACF Industries LLC became a successor to ACF Industries, Incorporated on May 1, 2003.*
Built by ACF in the late 1960's and early 1970's in their Precision Design series, these cars were made to allow extra interior space.
    The development of load restraining devices in the '50's made the wood liner inside box cars unnecessary. (The wood allowed a shipper to brace a load because he could nail into the wood.) So the wood was gotten rid of and the outer steel shell moved to the inside of the bracing to give a smooth surface.**

AAR Type: A302
Detail Info: Equipped Box Car, Inside Length: 49' to 59', Sliding door, opening between 9 and 11 feet
Type: Box Car
AAR Class: XP: Boxcar similar in design to "XM", but which is specially equipped, designed, and/or structurally suitable for a specific commodity loading; except, boxcars (XF, XM, XMI) dedicated to the transportation of commodities in paragraph A, Rule 97, AAR Interchange Rules, must be designated "XP".

Atlas' ready-to-run 50' Precision Design box car model comes in both smooth side and rib side versions as per the prototype.


* A prototypically detailed body with realistic ladders, brake wheel and see-through end crossover walkway
* Detailed die-cast metal underframe
* Separate brake system
* Air reservoir
* AccuMate®** couplers.
* 70-ton roller-bearing trucks
* Accurate painting and printing

Molding is high quality with crisp detail. I spotted no flash, sink marks, or other injection molding flaws. It features 14 panels per side, wide 10 foot single sliding doors with low tack boards, 3/4 Improved Dreadnaught ends, and a diagonal panel roof. Half-height side ladders are molded on the body as are the stirrups.

The 70-ton roller-bearing trucks are plastic as are the wheels. The plastic wheels will cause more maintenance than metal ones yet metal ones would drive up the cost.

Overall this is an impressive model!

Atlas packs these models in hard plastic lid-tray jewel cases designed for protection, presentation and stacking. Inside is the rail car securely held in a form-fitted cradle, protected from scuffing by a soft plastic sheet. Atlas included no parts diagram or documentation.

Atlas used separately applied end ladders with connecting railing and separately applied end walkways. The AAR standard hand brake wheel is also attached. Further hand brake detail consists of a molded gear box, chain, and rod.

Underneath the car is the air brake system with the reservoir, cylinder, and triple valve, piping, forks and brake rods and levers. All of that detail is integrally molded with the frame. That frame looks good, as does the underside structural detail.

These plastic wheels look good because they don’t have that shine of metal wheels found on larger scales. The trucks are held to the underside by plastic pins. AccuMate® knuckle couplers equip the model.

This model is 1.1 ounces and 50' 6" feet long. That makes it .2 oz overweight per NMRA RP-20.1 Car Weight.

Paint, Livery and Printing
Paint is smooth and opaque. Atlas' sharp clear printing is extraordinary! You can clearly read that 2" HF Comp shoes equip the car; nominal piston travel is 7" to 9"; dimensional data and all of the road name and road numbers. Much of that stenciling is so miniscule that I could not read it without a magnifying glass! There are two stencils that I can not read, under the door latch and inside the lowest rung of the right end ladders. Amazing!

Seven cars with six road names are offered:
    Atlantic and Western (Blue/Yellow)
    Canadian National (Brown/White)
    Canadian National (GTW) (Brown/White)
    Conrail (Brown/White)
    BNSF (Brown/White)
    Chicago & North Western (Yellow/Black)

Two road numbers are available per road name.

Atlas has created another sharp appearing model RTR Precision Design 50' rib-side box car. Atlas has put effort into refining this model with air brake equipment, plus small and separately attached detail parts, like ladders and hand rails.

I suspect this ACF rib-side box car will be very popular for Atlas: sharp molding, AccuMate couplers, with a superb finish and stenciling. The brown wheels look better to me than blackened metal wheels.

Atlas has made an impressive model of a ubiquitous modern freight car in N for a good price. Recommended.

Please remember, when contacting retailers or manufacturers, to mention that you saw their products highlighted here - RailRoadModeling.net.

* "About ACF Industries LLC." About ACF. About ACF Industries LLC, n.d. Web. 21 Dec. 2014. .

** "Exterior Post Box Cars." NEB&W Introduction to Rolling Stock. Rensselaer Railroad Heritage Website, 3 June 2013. Web. 29 Dec. 2014.

Huemmer, Tim. "Canadian National Railways Rolling Stock Photographic Roster." Railroad Picture Archives, 12 July 2009. Web. 21 Dec. 2014. .

** AccuMate® couplers are made under license from AccuRail, Inc.
Highs: Separately attached ladders over crisp molded detail; knuckle couplers. Excellent sharp printing.
Lows: Plastic wheels.
Verdict: Atlas has made an impressive model of a ubiquitous modern freight car in N for a good price.
  Scale: N Scale
  Mfg. ID: 50 001 287
  Suggested Retail: $25.95
  Related Link: Pictures of CN 416133
  PUBLISHED: Dec 30, 2014
  NATIONALITY: United States

Our Thanks to Atlas Model Railroad!
This item was provided by them for the purpose of having it reviewed on this KitMaker Network site. If you would like your kit, book, or product reviewed, please contact us.

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About Frederick Boucher (JPTRR)

I'm a professional pilot with a degree in art. My first model was an AMT semi dump truck. Then Monogram's Lunar Lander right after the lunar landing. Next, Revell's 1/32 Bf-109G...cried havoc and released the dogs of modeling! My interests--if built before 1900, or after 1955, then I proba...

Copyright ©2021 text by Frederick Boucher [ JPTRR ]. All rights reserved.


Another good looking active layout rolling stock.
DEC 30, 2014 - 08:52 AM

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