News & Reviews Product Reviews Member Reviews Fox Valley Models B&O Wagon Top Boxcar

Fox Valley Models B&O Wagon Top Boxcar

By Angela Cotey | November 17, 2011

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Fox Valley Models BO Wagon Top Boxcar
Fox Valley Models B&O Wagon Top Boxcar
If you receive the monthly NMRA Magazine, you may have noticed the Fox Valley Models announcement of a Baltimore & Ohio M53 “Wagon Top” Boxcar in HO & N scale. I have very clear memories of this car from my very early childhood so I asked my local hobby shop (LHS) to put one aside for me when they came in (promised for July/August, arrived late September). I finally got a chance to go over last week to get it.

Very briefly, it’s a beauty! I got the HO 1937 version, the only one that’s appropriate for my 1943 era and planned east coast port railroad. The others, which I understand have not been released yet, are a 1941-1942 green REA version used only in passenger service, and red 1945-1946 small logo and lettering version (the one I really remember) and 1962-1966 small logo and large lettering version. The LHS manager said he thinks there will be three road numbers in each version but has only seen the one that I got.

I compared the model to the photograph in my 1940 Car Builders’ Cyclopedia and everything matched perfectly (within the limits of my vision with a 3X magnifier on my work desk lamp). Overall, the car is more brown than I remembered but the red in my memory may have been the rusty steel mill dust that coated just about everything (that wasn’t covered with coal dust). The lettering is so good that I could read the trustee information on the car side although, on the photograph, I can only see that there is some lettering there.

At first, I thought the draft gear projected too far from the ends of the car body but then I noticed the DURYEA CUSHION UNDERFRAME lettering on the car (and in the prototype photograph). That explains the draft gear projecting “too far”. There are also some extra piping or rods and a boxy sort of thing on the underframe. I don’t know if these are accurate for the Duryea Cushion gear that was on these cars. I couldn’t find a matching photograph or drawing in the Car Builders’ Cyclopedia but I have seen similar appliances on prototype cars with cushion underframes.

Speaking of the underframe, the brake detail is good but not ridiculously complex. It’s not contest quality but it’s better than most and, of course, more than passes the 3 foot test. Detail on the entire car is very sharp with separately applied grab irons and ladders that appear to be perfectly scaled although I didn’t measure them.

Mechanically, the car is 0.1 ounce overweight; that’s good because I see absolutely no way to add weight. The couplers are Kadee or awfully good metal compatibles but were both a smidgen low. I replaced them with Kadee #158 “Scale” couplers and Kadee .015″ washers on the body bolsters put the couplers at exactly the right height. The all metal wheelsets look good but I think this car deserves semi-scale wheels with a narrower tread.

One word of caution: The screws holding the trucks and couplers look like tiny Philips head screws; they aren’t. They have X-slots in the heads but the slots are of uniform depth. Your Philips head screw driver will turn without engaging the screw. Use very small straight screw drivers.

The only thing I plan for getting this car ready for service is to replace those wheelsets and give the car a history with some medium weathering to highlight the lack of eaves on this design.

This car is a bit pricey at $30.95 MSRP and more than I ever expected to pay for a box car. On the other hand, I probably have several other cars that I’ve put more into with added details, weathering supplies, trucks, couplers, etc. but without making them look as good as this one.

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