Tasha Oates updated December 9, 2011


Tasha Oates's Tags


Browse Articles » Feature Text View Magazine View

  • Southern Railway 40' Double Door Box Car

    by J.C. Paschal Jr.

    Page 38: An excellent example of the two different methods that are popular for the strap steps on box cars. The left step has been made from brass strip whereas the one on the right was made by filing down the existing plastic step. Each has its particular advantages.
    Prototype Modeler - August 1977 - Page 37 Prototype Modeler - August 1977 - Page 38


    In the mid-1930's, the Southern Rail way built 500 40' 40 tin steel double door automobile box cars numbered from 272500 to 272999. The last car in the series was built in September of 1937. These cars were equipped with automobile loading racks which could be raised and stored against the roof for carrying other commodities. Number 272500 to 272524 were later equipped with end doors on the A end only. These doors were 9'-2" wide by 9'-11" high. Most of these cars were still in active service in 1955; how ever, by 1974 the number had dropped to only 15 and only one of these was from the group equipped with end doors.

    These cars had a capacity of 80,000 pounds with a load limit of 85,200 pounds and a light weight of 50,800 pounds. The inside length is 40'-6", inside width is 9'-2", and the inside height is 10'-4 " which is reduced to 9'-0" with the automobile racks in their stored position. A photo of car number 272999 appears in Volume 17 of the Train Shed Cyclopedia. These cars were equipped with a Miner A-22-XB draft gear and a number 15 brake beam.


    An Athearn 40' steam era steel box car can be reworked to represent one of these cars. To improve the overall appearance of the car, the steps, ladders, grab irons, and running board can be reworked. I will not cover these items. Note that on the car I reworked I only filed down the steps and reworked the running board for a thinner, lower appearance.

    The major difference between the Athearn car and the one we are building is the extra door. The left hand door is slightly different than the right hand door. There is no routing board and the latch handle is on the opposite side as is the lower handle.

    Start by removing the lettering on the car. This can be done by soaking it is a bucket of water with a small amount of laundry detergent overnight. Scrub the car with a stiff toothbrush, rinse it, and allow it to dry.

    Next, build the two right hand doors. You will need four extra doors which can be purchased through your hobby dealer or through Walthers. The 50' double door box car doors look like they may work, but they are too tall and too wide.

    Carefully cut the doors, as shown in Figure 1, with a razor saw. Cut the pieces a little larger than required and use a small fine file to achieve the proper fit. A small amount of the routing board is left on the upper and lower portions of the door and some rivets are left on the center portion. Carefully cut and scrape these off. Fit the pieces together on a flat surface and check for proper size and fit. Rework as necessary. Cut a piece of .060" thick styrene slightly smaller than the door and cement the three pieces to it. Work care fully and the joints will be almost invisible. You could also cement the three pieces in place against the car body side instead of using the styrene back-up piece.

    The latch handle and door handle details must be carefully trimmed off with a sharp modelers knife. Make a new latch handle and door handle of .012" diameter brass wire and cement in place with some quick-set epoxy.

    A hole must be cut in the car side to clear the styrene back-up sheet on the left hand door. Cut the opening a little smaller than required then open it up with a file for a good fit. Also, cut away the door stop at the left end of the original door opening.

    Make an upper and lower door guide of 1/16" square wood. Sand the sides until the size is reduced to match the guides on the car. Cut away the back side of the upper guides to accept the upper portion of the door as shown in Figure 2. Remove the portion of the guide on the bottom of the door to allow the door to fit on a square lower guide. Place the lower guide in place with a quick-set epoxy and quickly place the door in position with plastic cement. Now, cement the upper guide in place with quick-set epoxy.

    Photos by J.C. Paschal, Jr.

    Page 40: Photos of this car after the body shell has been completed. Upper is before painting; lower is after painting and decaling is all done.

    Page 41: The top photos shows the inside of the body shell after modification is complete; the lower photos shows the completed underframe.
    Prototype Modeler - August 1977 - Page 39 Prototype Modeler - August 1977 - Page 40 Prototype Modeler - August 1977 - Page 41

    The beam under the doors must be extended under the left hand door. Cut away as shown in Figure;3 and add an extension as shown, made of .040" styrene sheet. Scrape the paint away in the joint area and cement in place with plastic cement.

    Add the brake wheel and paint the body Box Car Red. After the color coat is thoroughly dry, add a gloss coat over the areas to receive decals. Study the photos for the placement of the decals. Table I indicates what decal sets are needed and which letters are to be used. After the decals are dry, spray the car with a dull coat of clear.

    Add the brake rigging, using the Cal Scale Westinghouse AB type brake set. To install the brake rigging, it will first be necessary to place the car weight on the top of the floor, then add the brake rigging to the underbody. Install the couplers and trucks, snap the underframe into place and you're ready to roll. Coupler release rods on each end of the car will add a little extra to the detail.

    Article Details

    • Original Author J.C. Paschal, Jr.
    • Source Prototype Modeler
    • Publication Date August 1977

    Article Album (5 photos)

    Share - Report