News & Reviews Product Reviews ScaleTrains S gauge 40-foot boxcar

ScaleTrains S gauge 40-foot boxcar

By Cody Grivno | March 4, 2024

Ready-to-run model is based on United States Railroad Administration rebuilt steel prototype

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Color photo of S gauge boxcar painted green with orange graphics
Elgin, Joliet & Eastern is one of 10 paint schemes offered on the ScaleTrains S gauge 40-foot boxcar. The model has a plastic body, wire grab irons, and positionable doors. Cody Grivno photos

The ScaleTrains S gauge 40-foot boxcar, based on a United States Railroad Administration (USRA) rebuilt steel prototype, is in hobby shops now. The model, the company’s second release in its S-Helper Service line, is offered ready-to-run in 10 paint schemes and as a kit in two versions.

The prototype

The sample we received is decorated as Elgin, Joliet & Eastern 7313, part of a group of 450 boxcars that the railroad rebuilt in 1936 and 1937. Upgrades to the cars, part of the EJ&E 7300 through 7799 series, included 10-panel Pullman-Standard Cor-Ten sides, a Murphy roof, Creco three-panel doors, and seven-rung side ladders. The orange-and-green paint on the model was applied to the prototype cars around 1950.

The model

Color photo showing B end details on S gauge boxcar painted green with orange graphics.
The ScaleTrains S gauge 40-foot boxcar has factory-installed and painted wire grab irons, a plastic running board casting with woodgrain detail and wire corner grabs, and a freestanding Ajax brake wheel.

The ScaleTrains boxcar has a one-piece injection-molded plastic body. Freestanding details include positionable doors, wire grab irons, an Ajax brake wheel and housing, brake platform, and placard boards. Molded details include the door stops, stirrup steps, and poling pockets.

Molded floor boards with wood grain detail are visible when the doors are open. There were two ejector-pin marks in the door opening on our sample. Those could be knocked down with a chisel blade and touched-up with dark green paint.

Color photo showing roof of green S gauge boxcar.
On top of the boxcar is a flat panel roof. The one-piece running board casting has pins on the bottom that are secured to holes in the roof with glue. Woodgrain detail on the boards and wire corner grab irons enhance the top of the ready-to-run car.

The roof is a separate, one-piece casting. The plastic running board, based on a wood prototype, has nicely rendered woodgrain and fastener detail at the ends of the boards. The wire corner grab irons are a nice touch.

Underbody detail on S gauge boxcar painted green with black trucks and underbody detail.
The underbody features a mix of molded and freestanding parts. The EJ&E sample has sprung, die-cast metal Andrews trucks.

Molded and separate, factory-applied parts can be found on the bottom of the car. Similar to other wood parts on the model, the molded floor boards have woodgrain detail. The body bolsters, center sills, and crossmembers are cast as a single unit attached from the interior with two screws.

Details on the K brake system include the triple valve, brake cylinder, levers, and retainer pipe. A partial brake pipe, which passes through the center sills near the middle of the car, is located between the cross members.

Our EJ&E sample rides on American Flyer-compatible wheels mounted in sprung, die-cast metal Andrews trucks. The AF-compatible couplers, though a separate piece, would be best described as truck mounted.

Similar to the ScaleTrains S gauge hopper I previously reviewed, the boxcar also includes scale code 110 wheelsets, Kadee-compatible couplers, and mounting hardware. Coupler mounting pads with screw starter holes are molded into the underbody.

Measuring up

The ScaleTrains S gauge 40-foot boxcar uses a common detailed body. Since details on full-size cars, especially rebuilds, can and often do vary between railroads, the model may not be accurate for every road name. For example, the prototype EJ&E cars had a 10-panel body, seven-rung side ladders, and Creco three-panel doors. The model has an eight-panel body, grab irons instead of ladders on the side, and Youngstown doors.

When looking through photos accompanying Patrick C. Wider’s article “Rebuilt USRA double-sheathed boxcars” in Railway Prototype Cyclopedia Vol. 24, the details on the ScaleTrains model are similar to those found on full-size cars operated by the Charleston & West Carolina, Chicago & North Western, Grand Trunk Western, Rock Island, and St. Louis-San Francisco (Frisco).

Our sample, which weighs 5.9 ounces, is neatly painted green with orange graphics, the smallest of which are legible under magnification. The lettering placement follows prototype photos, though the end reporting marks look a bit undersized and the CU FT stencil should read 3250, not 3200. The model’s dimensions are comparable to prototype drawings of similar USRA rebuilds published in RP CYC 24.

With a pair of freight car releases in short order, it’s clear ScaleTrains is committed to serving the S gauge market. The two-bay hopper and 40-foot boxcar have not disappointed. I can’t wait to see the International Car Co. wide-vision caboose, which is scheduled to arrive in late May.

ScaleTrains S gauge 40-foot boxcar

MSRP: $54.99

Features: American Flyer-compatible metal wheelsets and couplers; detailed brake system; factory-applied brake wheel; metal handrails and grab irons; plastic body; positionable doors; scale code 110 wheels and Kadee couplers included; sprung, die-cast metal trucks. Minimum radius, 20”.

Road names: Elgin, Joliet & Eastern (SHS75148 and SHS75149); Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe (with [SHS75137 and SHS75138] and without [SHS75139] “The Grand Canyon Line” slogan); Atlantic Coast Line (SHS75135 and SHS75136); Charleston & Western Carolina (SHS75140 and SHS75141); Chicago & North Western (SHS75142 and SHS75143); Detroit, Toledo & Ironton (with [SHS75146] and without [SHS75147] “Automobile Engines” lettering); Rock Island (SHS75144 and SHS75145); and St. Louis-San Francisco (SHS75150 and SHS75151). Undecorated kit (with Andrews [SHS75154] and Bettendorf [SHS75155] trucks).


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