Master Line series is their premier line of rolling stock. Item 20 003 312
, is a 50' Double Door Box Car in the livery of the stylish Midwest-Southern regional St. Louis–San Francisco Railway (affectionately known as the “Frisco”).
At the end of World War II, railroads ordered large numbers of 50’ AAR boxcars with a standard design that was first widely used in the late 1940s. This design was based on the original 1937 AAR design but was modified in the post-war era to include: improved dreadnaught end and diagonal panel roofs with standard or overhanging design. These 50’ box cars were a common sight on American railroads well into the 1970s and 1980s. - Atlas
Master Line 50' Double Door Box Car
I strongly suspect that this model is the former Branchline "Blueprint Line" which Atlas acquired. Branchline models were well received by finicky modelers and upon release, they dominated the then-current models available from Athearn and MDC. According to a research site;
Branchline has tried to cover all variations with these kits, including the early and late Improved Dreadnaught end (nicknamed "rolling pin taper" c. 1944-'53 for the early and "banana taper" for the late version, post '54), dartnaught (no minor ribs), and the NYC's unique Despatch ends from the mid-'50's. Also three roof types (all post '49), three side sills, and two types of doors. (In theory, 72 different possible variations!) For more information on the prototypes, see our section on 50-foot box cars with Improved Dreadnaught Ends.*
I did not research how many releases of this model there have been although no previous issues are shown on Atlas' website. This release proclaims New Paint Schemes!
Atlas' model is of an AAR design. It is assembled and ready to run. It includes a set of optional air hoses and lines, and cut bars. Injection-molding is sharp and I did not find any visible flash, mold seams, sink dimples nor ejector marks. What does this model offer?
State of the art highly detailed tooling
Add-on ladders, grabs and detail parts
Early or late Improved Dreadnaught, “Dartnot” and Despatch ends
Diagonal panel (DP), overhanging DP or Despatch roofs
Correct fishbelly design side sills
7’ and 8’ Youngstown doors over a 15’ door opening
Fully detailed underframe
Free rolling trucks with metal wheelsets
Prototypical paint schemes
This model is highly detailed and expertly molded and strikes a dominating presence.
Branchline weighted their models with two 1/2 inch steel nuts. I will not break open the model to verify if Atlas has continues that. While the models originally used pins to hold the trucks to the frame, Atlas wisely replaced these with screws.
My inspection finds the model to be in conformance with NMRA Standards and Recommended Practices, with RP-25 wheels. It weighs 4.5 ounces, exactly as recommended by per NMRA RP-20.1 Car Weight. It measures 51' from striker face to striker face, and 55' from coupler to coupler. My trusty old Kadee coupler height tool finds the couplers to be the correct height. With a gentle push, Frisco 7004 rolled with no trouble through a code 83 No. 6 turnout and a code 80 single-slip switch.
Beautiful surface detail includes rows of hundreds of to-scale rivets, gussets and brackets, door stops, and tack boards. Attached details include the air brake system including brake rods and chains, ladders, grabs, brake wheel, brakeman platform, stirrups, and roofwalk.
Unattached pieces include the air hose and cut bars.
These box cars had a nice long life but if you model into the 1980s and beyond, and care about historical accuracy, then this model will need modifications. In 1966 the AAR/FRA banned roofwalks on new cars ordered after March, with 1974 set as the compliance target date to have existing walks removed. Those dates were moved back but by 1983, it was illegal per the Federal Government to have roofwalks. That said, you can find photographic and eye witness proof that not all were gone even into the 1990s!
This model is of an AAR design. SLSF ordered theirs from Pullman-Standard. You may notice that their prototypes had Pullman-Standard ends and this model has Dreadnaughts. A Frisco modeling site listed a few more deviations but unless you really want a Frisco
Frisco model, you will not notice them.
Paint and print
The fine detail is not obscured by excellent painting. It covers completely with no runs or blemishes.
Printing is first-rate and all the incredible stenciling is legible if you want to magnify it enough: truck spring travel is 3 1/2 inches; I-W steel wheels and more.
Each road name is available in two road numbers. Six roads are available in this release.
Maine Central (Orange/Green)
New York Central* (Green/Black/White)
Santa Fe (Brown/White)
Southern Pacific (Brown/White)
The excellent painting compliments the excellent molding and detail.
The model features sharp molding and separately-applied ladders, grab irons, latch bars and other pieces, and optional air hoses, brackets, and lines. It is decorated with superior painting and lettering. I do not have any real complaints other than the air hoses and cut bars are very tricky to use.
Atlas has released a great looking model of a common box car of the era. Modelers of the Transition Era should appreciate this model and could use many on their layout. Recommended.
Disclosure: I am a great fan of the St. Louis–San Francisco Railway; when I rekindled my passion for railroads some 20 years ago, one of the most helpful groups of railroaders were "Frisco Folks" of various Frisco interest groups. I am not currently an active member of any of them yet the SLSF is still one of my favorite railroads.
Please remember to tell vendors and retailers that you saw this model here - on
* Rensselaer Railroad Heritage Website. NEB&W Guide to Branchline Blueprint Series 50-Foot Double-Door Box Car Models.
[http://railroad.union.rpi.edu/index.php?title=NEB&W_Guide_to_Branchline_Blueprint_Series_50-Foot_Double-Door_Box_Car_Models.] 23 September 2011.
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