News & Reviews Product Reviews Staff Reviews Tangent Scale Models HO postwar boxcar

Tangent Scale Models HO postwar boxcar

By Cody Grivno | February 7, 2024

| Last updated on March 8, 2024

Model based on Pullman-Standard Southern Pacific Lines 40’-6” prototype

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Color 3/4 view of HO scale boxcar painted brown with black and white graphics.
This Tangent Scale Models HO postwar boxcar is decorated as Southern Pacific No. 102230. The B-50-28 class car is decorated in the 1950+ as-delivered scheme. Cody Grivno photos

A line of Pullman-Standard Southern Pacific Lines 40’-6” postwar boxcars is now available from Tangent Scale Models. Designed from PS blueprints and field measurements of full-size cars, the HO scale models include prototype-specific details, new American Steel Foundries 50-ton A-3 Ride Control trucks, and Kadee scale couplers.

The prototype

Many railroads looked to improve their boxcar fleets at the end of World War II, and Southern Pacific along with subsidiaries St. Louis Southwestern (Cotton Belt) and Texas & New Orleans were no exception. Between the end of the war and 1953, SP added more than 19,000 40-foot boxcars to its roster.

The sample we received is decorated as SP 102230, part of the railroad’s 102100 through 103599 series built by Pullman-Standard under purchase order P-3057 between September and December 1950. The full-size car was part of SP’s B-50-28 class, the largest in its postwar boxcar fleet. Espee had 3,000 cars, and subsidiary T&NO rostered 1,500 cars.

Though PS produced the boxcars, these weren’t the usual welded-side PS-1 40’-6” cars. The SP cars had riveted sides, 7-foot doors, and an inside height of 10’-0” instead of the more common 10’-6” to accommodate online clearance restrictions.

Model features

Color image showing details on HO scale boxcar painted brown with black-and-white graphics.
The B-50-28 boxcar has many prototype-specific details, including eight-rung ladders, an Apex brake step, and Miner handbrake. All of the boxcars feature 33” metal wheelsets and Kadee scale couplers.

The Tangent Scale Models HO postwar boxcar has a one-piece injection-molded plastic body with many separate, factory-applied parts. The B-50-28 model features a see-through Apex brake running board with wire corner grab irons.

Freestanding details on the sides and ends of the car include bracket-style grab irons, eight-rung ladders, stirrup steps, and placard and route boards. The B end of the car features an Apex brake step, Universal handbrake housing, and Miner handbrake.

The B-50-28 model is fitted with 7-foot Youngstown doors. Though the doors are individual pieces, they’re not positionable. The lower door track is a factory-applied part with stand-off detail.

Color image showing underbody details on HO scale boxcar.
Underbody details on the Southern Pacific 40’-6” boxcar include a mix of molded and separate, factory-applied detail parts. The American Steel Foundries 50-ton A-3 Ride Control trucks have separate brake beam detail.

The underbody is a separate plastic casting. A pair of steel weights measuring approximately 1” x 5” are attached to the top with two washer-head screws.

Underneath, the casting has molded floorboard and stringer detail. The draft-gear boxes, center sills, body bolsters, bolster blocks, crossties, and crossbearers are cast as a single unit. The draft-gear box covers are secured with screws. Additional features include wire uncoupling levers and rubber air hoses.

The air reservoir, brake cylinder, and control valve are all separate parts. The “Bess 9-19-50 P.S.C.M.Co.” stencil on the air reservoir is a nice touch! An assortment of formed metal and plastic pipes, rods, levers, and hangers round out the underbody details.

Test time

Rooftop view of brown HO scale boxcar.
Here’s a rooftop view of the Tangent Scale Models HO postwar boxcar. The class B-50-28 boxcar is fitted with a see-through plastic Apex running board with wire corner grab irons.

Our class B-50-28 boxcar is decorated in SP’s 1950+ as-delivered scheme with Roman-style lettering. The Boxcar Red paint is evenly applied, and the placement of the graphics follows prototype images that I found in books and online. The model’s dimensions closely follow data published in the January 1959 Official Railway Equipment Register (Railway Equipment and Publication Co.).

The boxcar rides on American Steel Foundries 50-ton A-3 Ride Control trucks with correctly gauged 33” metal wheelsets. The trucks, which have separate brake beam detail, are molded to match the body color and have raised foundry data. The Kadee scale couplers are mounted at the correct height. At 4.7 ounces, the boxcar is .9 ounce too heavy per National Model Railroad Association Recommended Practice 20.1.

To see how the car performed in an operating environment, I put the car in a transfer run from Milwaukee to Jones Island on our Milwaukee, Racine & Troy staff layout. The boxcar comfortably navigated the layout’s 24” radius curves and No. 6 turnouts while being pushed and pulled in a train.

Color photo of HO scale boxcar painted brown with white and blue graphics.
Also included in this run of boxcars is a St. Louis Southwestern model in the as-delivered 1951-plus scheme. The model features the Cotton Belt Route herald and “Blue Streak Fast Freight” slogan.

The full-size SP postwar 40’-6” boxcars could be found throughout North America, and Tangent Scale Models offers many versions to cover the service lives of these cars. If you model any time between 1950 and the 1970s, you’ll want to get a few of these cars for your fleet.

Facts and features

Price: $52.95 (undecorated kits, $50.95)


Tangent Scale Models

P.O. Box 6514

Asheville, NC 28816

Era: 1950 to 1970s (as decorated)

Road names: Southern Pacific (as-delivered 1950+ class B-50-28, as-delivered 1953+ class B-50-32 with Texas & New Orleans reporting marks, and 1960+ repaint) and St. Louis Southwestern (as-delivered 1951+). Six to 12 road numbers per scheme. Undecorated kits (1965+ and 1968+ rebuild bodies, both with 10-foot doors) and painted SP Boxcar Red but unlettered (Five- and seven-panel Superior door and Youngstown door) also available.


  • 33” metal wheelsets, in gauge
  • Kadee scale couplers, at correct height
  • Weight: 4.7 ounces (.9 ounce too heavy per National Model Railroad Association Recommended Practice 20.1)
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