login   |    register

In-Box Review
Box Car Craftsman Kit
Toledo & Western Box Car
  • move

by: Frederick Boucher [ JPTRR ]

Originally published on:
RailRoad Modeling

  • move

Toledo & Western Box Car
Item: HO-45
Category: Multi-media craftsman kit, mainly wood

Railroad modelers once had to build their models out of whatever was at hand: wooden crates, tin, whatever they could get their hands on. Then came model companies. Train models were made of cast metal, wood, card stock, paper, tin, and eventually 'modern' materials: plastic, resin, polyurethane, etc.

LaBelle Woodworking Company dates back to 1947. LaBelle is under the new ownership of a fellow craftsman modeler who bought the company and moved it to Cheyenne, Wyoming a few years ago. Depending on when your LaBelle model was produced, your information will show LaBelle from three towns in Wisconsin, one in Indiana, and now Cheyenne.

LaBelle models have a good reputation for accurately, and are mainly of 'golden era' rolling stock. The kits do not include trucks or couplers. These can be bought from LaBelle.

LaBelle serves modelers by offering more than just their model kits, including:

    Services offered
    Old Instruction Sheets
    Hints and Pointers
    Historic Files

La Belle
Wood craftsman-type kits of c. 1900 freight and passenger cars. Very accurate freight cars. The kits come with decals (originally they included dry transfers), so it would be easy to use other lettering sets, in case you wanted to use the kits for other prototypes. (Frankly, applying decals with all the necessary water to make them snuggle down is a scary proposition for a finished and potentially warp-able wood model, but I guess it can be done successfully.)

The kits date back to at least the mid-'60's. Back then craftsman kits normally included grabs made from 20 mil wire. Westerfield, I believe, introduced the thinner 15 mil wire grabs (the prototype should have about 10 mil thick grabs). I don't know if the La Belle kits have been upgraded for today's finer standards, but you might want to check and replace the grabs in these kits
if need be. (And don't forget that if your pike is post-1911, you would want to add additional grabs/ladders to meet the 1911 Safety Standard Appliances Act, so there were handholds on both the right corner of each side and left corner of each end.)

La Belle's web site has a drawing of each kit, but I can't make out the car number on most of the images. Jim Wilhite of La Belle says the kits were developed 55 years ago, and a lot of the original research material has been lost.

I think these kits are now being laser-cut.

Thinking about building these types of models: (click here for an informative article about building craftsman stripwood kits).

This is my assembly blog: (click here for BUILDING: LaBelle Box Car)

Toledo & Western Box Car
This was an "steam" road that started in 1901, and 1909 was reclassified as an electric line. In 1935, it ceased operation with parts going other lines.

The box car is numbered 203, and Wilhite says it was built by ACF (unknown date).

In 1905, the T&W had 20 box cars in the series 200-220, which were 34 feet long inside and 7 ft. 2 ins. high (12 ft. 9 ins. to the top of the running boards.) This was their only class of box cars on their miniscule roster of 46 cars. Despite being classified as an electric line, they did have one steam logo (and three electric locos), and I would think that unlike a lot of interurban equipment, these box cars would have gone off line.

In '24, there were 13 cars left in the 202-215 series. In '27, there were four cars left, 210-212, and 215, almost half their minuscule roster at the time of four box cars and five flats. In '32, they only had flats left - no box cars.

I also think this is a pretty generic box car, and could easily (and pretty accurately) be painted and lettered for other c. 1900 roads.

This Kit
LaBelle packed this kit in a simple cardboard top-and-tray box. Inside are:

    1 x baggie of plastic fittings, stamped metal rivet corner straps, wire grabs, styrene stirrups
    2 x brass wires
    2 x cast metal queenposts
    22 x wooden parts, including 18 cut, scribed and milled pieces
    Decal sheet (waterslide)
    Injection sprue of 26 KC air brake system parts (by Tichy)
    Injection sprue of 48 hardware parts (by Tichy)
    Nylon cord

The basic body is built with a milled underframe/floor, center sill, bolsters, scribed ends, doors, sides, roof panels, running boards, and a formed roof. The scribed sheathings are cleanly cut and very thin. The roof is also cleanly cut.

LaBelle is serious about pleasing their customers! I bought this kit at an estate sale and can't tell if it was milled before the new owner acquired the business; the underbody framing was milled off-center -- hampering alignment of other underside components -- and fuzzy with splinters. LaBelle saw this in my review and wrote to your reviewer that this is not normal. He offered to replace the underbody and brake gear, and I had the package within the week. The underbody is milled to a high standard.

Individual pieces of scale lumber stripwood is provided and cutting is required. The stripwood is color-coded.

Both metal needlebeams & queenposts parts are weakly cast with soft detail and seam lines. Nylon cord used to simulate iron truss rods set upon the Queenposts after you string them through the underbody floor. Fine open turnbuckles are provided to thread the cord through.

Two small diameter soft brass rods are included for brake rods, air piping, and a brake wheel post.

Instructions, Decals, Painting
Assembly instructions consist of four pages, two of text, two of diagrams. Page one and two are mainly line art: isometric and plan illustrations for mounting the Westinghouse "K" brake set, forming the hand grabs and wooden walkway laterals, and an isometric and plan exploded box car body diagram.

Textual directions require study to follow. Basic painting guidance is to paint the superstructure box car red, and the underbody black. Simple as that!

You will have to do some drilling if you chose to mount all of the detail hardware. Only one size of drill diameter is mentioned although a different size is required for the grabs. Drill bits are sized by gauge, millimeter, and inches. Although they are packaged marked with one or maybe two sizes, none of my dozen or so drill sets are labled with all three sizes. It would be very useful and appreciated if craftman manufacturers footnoted the sizes required for a kit, i.e., 1/64 drill is comparable to a No. 78 / .016 mm bit. Perhaps LaBelle will add this information to their website?

LaBelle does tell us to use arch bar trucks but does not suggest any source for the trucks or couplers; they do sell Kadee products on their website.

The decals look good: sharp and thin.

I am building this model. Please see the build log in the forums for progress photos.

By and large this is a nice kit. Cutting and scribing of the wooden parts is sharp. Included plastic detail parts are high quality. The poorly milled underbody is disappointing and hampers assembly. As does lack of drill size information.

Proceed carefully and you should be able to assemble an impressive model. Recommended.

. John Nehrich. NEB&W Guide to La Belle HO Rolling Stock Models. Overview. http://railroad.union.rpi.edu/index.php/NEB&W_Guide_to_La_Belle_HO_Rolling_Stock_Models. 15 August 2011.

. John Nehrich. NEB&W Guide to La Belle HO Rolling Stock Models. Box Cars. HO-45 Toledo & Western Box Car. http://railroad.union.rpi.edu/index.php/NEB&W_Guide_to_La_Belle_HO_Rolling_Stock_Models. 15 August 2011.

Click here for additional images for this review.

Highs: Sharply scribed wooden sheathing and an accurate design. Tichy hardware sets and wire grab irons. LaBelle is very serious about customer service.
Lows: Lack of drill size conversion information. Four-truss queenposts are crudely cast.
Verdict: An fairly simple craftsman kit of an accurate wooden box car. Proceed carefully and you should be able to assemble an impressive model.
Percentage Rating
  Scale: 1:87
  Mfg. ID: HO-45
  Suggested Retail: $23.75
  Related Link: La Belle Woodworking Toledo & Western Box Car
  PUBLISHED: May 10, 2012
  NATIONALITY: United States

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 2020 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 AeroScale. All rights reserved.


What's Your Opinion?

Click image to enlarge
  • move
  • move
  • move
  • move
  • move
  • move
  • move
  • move
  • move
  • move
  • move
  • move
  • move
  • move
  • move
  • move
  • move
  • move
  • move
  • move