Walthers-P1K USRA composite gons

Eric Hansmann

Something caught my eye on the Model Railroader New Products list yesterday
(6/14). Walthers is releasing a 40-ton drop bottom gondola as a part of their HO
scale Trainline series. I wondered what this could be....a 40-ton....drop

I quickly checked their web site and had no luck. I tried again in the Advanced
Search, using the same phrase as the New Product release wording - 40-ton drop
bottom gondola. There it was! It looks like they are reissuing the Proto1000
USRA composite gondola, without labeling it as a USRA gondola. I guess there
would be too much confusion with the USRA Mill Gondola(?).

Here's the link to my search results:


Roadnames include: AT&SF, C&NW, GN, MILW, NYC, and RI.

In reviewing the product images, I noted these interesting details.

AT&SF - Has a built date of 4-30 (??)
C&NW - Has a 7-37 reweigh date
GN - Has a large herald in the center of the car
MILW - Has MILW reporting marks and a 5-46 New date
NYC - Painted BLACK and has the Lines OVAL!!!
RI - Has a reweigh date in 48

I am only familiar with the NYC paint and lettering, and it follows the as built
style. Models with a later New or reweigh date seem suspect to me.

All models have cast-on grab irons and ratchet hand brake components.
Additionally, these models in the sample images are equipped with AAR cast steel
sideframe truck ("Bettendorf") and an AB brake system air tank. IIRC, those
underframes are cast metal so backdating the brake system would/could be a
challenge. I do not know if Walthers has redesigned and/or reengineered the
underframes. The prototype gondolas were equipped with KD air brake systems and
Andrews trucks, as built.

As per a handy USRA composite gon roster, here are additional comparative

The AT&SF was not alloted USRA composite gons.

One of the C&NW car numbers is wrong. C&NW 24642 should be an odd numbered car
as the C&NW did not number any USRA composite gons with even numbers within this
number range.

The GN was not alloted USRA composite gons. I-GN was, but that was not the same

MILW received clones, but Walthers is offering these MILW cars with numbers that
were assigned after these were rebuilt with steel sides.

The NYC cars actually have proper numbers that were a part of Lot-389G.

The RI was not alloted USRA composite gons.

So out of 12 models in this release, only two wear truly correct paint and
lettering (NYC) and one C&NW car has a proper number. I am uncertain if the C&NW
paint and lettering follows the prototype. These gondolas have a potential to be
solid, layout-ready models that can beef up a 1920s through early 1930s HO scale
layout at a low cost. Sadly, only a few of these models follow specific
prototypes but only if the brake systems and trucks are changed.


Eric Hansmann
New Paltz, NY

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