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First Look Review
HO scale
ACF 60' Auto Box Car
ACF 60' Single Door Auto Parts Box Car
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by: Frederick Boucher [ JPTRR ]

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Atlas has released this HO ACF 60' Single Door Auto Parts Box Car as part of their Master Line. This model, Conrail 278559, is item 20 003 070.

ACF 60' Single Door Auto Parts Box Car
    Built by American Car & Foundry in the late 1960s and early 1970s, the 60’ Auto Parts Box Cars serviced assembly plants and component suppliers across the nation. The cars were equipped with either single or double doors, offering easy access to the freight inside, serving the auto industry well with their versatility. Many of these cars can still be found in service today throughout North America. - Atlas

Sixty-foot box cars go back to at least the beginning of the Twentieth Century, when Northern Pacific built No. 101069 in 1899. Others followed but the capacity of these cars exceeded the technology of the trucks they rode upon. During the Great Depression, the Pennsylvania built a single copy, perhaps to haul American-LaFrance fire trucks. Later PRR built some 60-ft "auto" cars. As the auto industry burgeoned, railroads began to re-equip to handle the traffic. By the 1960s great long auto rack cars and huge 86-foot box cars expanded train lengths. Those carried relatively light components; heavy castings filled 50- and 60-foot cars. The nature of railroad traffic pooling saw a riot of road names in trains service the auto industry, a characteristic that model railroaders love. American Car and Foundry and several other manufacturers built these cars.

    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.

    ACF Industries LLC is a leader in the manufacture and fabrication of specialty railcar parts and miscellaneous steel products. While the Company’s primary purpose is to compliment the new car and repair car market, it also provides manufacturing support to other manufacturers of steel products.

    ACF Industries LLC is headquartered in St. Charles, Missouri and our manufacturing facility is located in Milton, Pennsylvania.

the model
HO 60' Auto Parts Box Car (Single Door). Atlas securely packs this model in a form-fitted cradle. It has small soft pads to protect the ends from scuffing. There are no instructions nor a parts list. The model is ready to join your consist as soon as you have it out of the box. Or, you can admire the model via the plastic viewing window in the carton.

The first thing I noticed is the crisp paint and lettering. Then I saw the fine raised and recessed detail, including the big single door. When removed from the box the finesse of the molding is apparent, as are the attached half-height side ladders and grab irons, stirrup steps, and other details.

Capped by a diagonal panel flat roof, it features 16 panels per side, wide 10-foot single sliding doors with low tack boards, 3/4 Improved Dreadnaught ends. ACF used a stepped side sill. This obscures some of the nice underside detail but not the 70-ton trucks the car rides upon. Molding is sharp and I found no noticeable flash, seams, sinks nor ejector circles. It has a die-cast metal underframe holding cushion draft gear.

Features that Atlas promotes are:
    70-ton roller-bearing trucks with blackened metal wheels and adjustable screws
    Authentically painted and lettered detailed body with sliding doors and distinctive "Precision Design" recessed panels
    Prototypically designed roof and ends with full rivet detail
    Detailed die-cast metal underframe for improved operation
    Separate brake system and air reservoir
    Cushion underframe with extended coupler pockets
    AccuMate® operating knuckle couplers with mounting screws
    Roof overspray

AAR Mech. Designation: XAP
Capacity: 6480 cu. ft.; 180000 lbs
Doors: 10 ft. wide, 11 ft. high.

It tracked well over my code 83 track, including a code 80 single slip switch.

The following are molded very close to-scale. Atlas uses separately attached ladders and grab irons, which also include the stirrup steps, and brake wheel. Each end has a photo-etched see-through end crossover walkway. Tack boards are molded on. While the brake wheel has a chain under it, that chain does not continue below the walkway. Nor are cut bars included.

Underneath the car is the air brake system with the reservoir, cylinder, and triple valve, piping, forks and brake rods and levers. Interestingly (To me.), all of that detail is integrally molded with the frame. That frame looks good, as does the underside structural detail. Quite impressive! However, they did not include air hoses at the ends.

The blackened metal RP-25 wheels look good and don’t have as much shine as some metal wheels. The trucks are held to the underside by plastic pins. AccuMate® knuckle couplers equip the model.

Atlas made this model so that the doors can be opened.

paint and markings
The fine surface detail is not obscured by the quality paint. This is Conrail 278559. I read that CR inherited these cars from PRR but can find no hereditary information. I only found one site of limited information in the road number range: CR 278459.

Much of that stenciling is so minuscule that I could not read it without a magnifying glass! Stenciling is sharp and legible although the year of the built date on the two-panel Consolidated Stencil Panel is unreadable.

Four road names are available for this single door model. (Four are also available for the double door model.) Each has two road numbers.
    Conrail (Brown/White)
    Cotton Belt (Brown/White)
    Norfolk & Western (Blue/White)
    Western Maryland* (Brown/White)

Modelers of eastern and mid-western railroads from the late 1960’s through the present will need several of these 60’ ACF auto box cars in the roster. Atlas' Master Line series of models are the top of their line and this HO replica tracks well and should prove trouble free over time.

I think the level of detail is sufficient. The blackened metal wheels look and perform very well. I appreciate the factory mounted knuckle couplers.

Two things which disappoint me are the lack of air hoses and cut bars.

I will be happy to have this well detailed modern auto box a modern era layout. It is a fine model and I recommend it.

Please remember, when contacting retailers or manufacturers, to mention that you saw their products highlighted here - on
RailRoad Modeling.

NEB&W Guide to 60-Foot Steel Box Cars - Roster

** ACF Industries LLC. About ACF. n.d.

UMSL University of Missouri–St. Louis. B-3: The ACF Industries Archival Collection. n.d.

Mid-Continent Railway Museum. American Car & Foundry Company. 09 April 2006.
Highs: Sharp detail including separately applied ladders and grabs that are close to scale. Excellent printing and paint. Metal wheels.
Lows: No air hoses or cut bars.
Verdict: I will be happy to have this well detailed modern auto box a modern era layout. It is a fine model.
  Scale: HO Scale
  Mfg. ID: 20 003 070
  Suggested Retail: $27.95
  Related Link: Pictures of CR 278459
  PUBLISHED: Aug 29, 2015
  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 ]. Images also by copyright holder unless otherwise noted. Opinions expressed are those of the author(s) and not necessarily those of ModelGeek. All rights reserved.


This looks nice with decent detail all the way around
AUG 29, 2015 - 07:30 PM

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