by: Sean Hadfield [ ]
IntroductionIn the late 19th century, pickles and other pickled foods were transported in wooden vats on special flat cars. These cars were used as late as the early 1960's. Roundhouse Trains has presented us with a ready-to-run 40' Pickle Car, lettered for Green Bay Food Co., with a "NEW" date of 11-38. Roundhouse is the "Golden Age of Railroading" sister to wider-known Athearn, under Horizon Hobby, Inc.
The first thing to note is the lettering, which is printed neat and crisp right down to the build date. This is a neat, attractive car with plenty of detail. The cross-bracing cables are fine painted wire, but the grab-irons and stirrups are molded to the body and roof. The hatches have heavy working hinges, so they can be opened or closed, but there are large mold plugs underneath each. The underside details are sparse, like models 40 years older, but viewed from the side or above that's not a concern.
Operation:The car checks perfectly on an NMRA gauge for coupler height, wheel spacing, and flange height. It's hefty, with metal wheels and axles in plastic trucks, so it rolls flawlessly and trails well. The couplers are plastic, but the springs are metal, and the trip pins are magnetic. The couplers are made by McHenry, which is another member of the Horizon Hobby family. They are secured in their boxes by a metal clip, traditionally found on Athearn kits.
Historical:A quick internet search (mainly Mark Mathu's www.greenbayroute.com/1965gbfoods.htm) reveals that the Green Bay Food Company of Green Bay, Wisconsin actually existed from 1931 until they were bought by Dean Foods in 1961, and used these cars at their plant, served by the Green Bay and Western Railroad. Unfortunately no prototype photo was found to compare with the model for this review.
Alternatives:A pickle car can be had in a wood conversion to a standard 40' flat using American Model Builders' new laserkit released in September 2011 for $37.95, and previously Westerfield released one in resin, and Tenshodo made one in brass. This is the only current plastic one.
ConclusionThis is an attractive, sufficiently detailed, good working car of an unusual prototype. This isn't state of the art detailing-- the hand grabs could be wire and hinge detail could be finer. For an interesting, attractive addition to your freight car fleet, this car is a good value.
Please remember to tell vendors and manufacturers that you saw this model here -- on RAILROADMODELING!
Click here for additional images for this review.