CORRECTED COPY Re: [RealSTMFC] N&W BL and BLa boxcars

Benjamin Hom

Scott Chatfield asked:
"A friend of mine who is very much a modern day modeler wants to try his hand at kitbashing an N&W class BL or BLa boxcar (Ralston 1923).  Has a kit for these ever been done?  I have no photos of these cars.  Ideas?"

A search of the online Virginia Tech Norfolk Southern Collection turned up two Class BL boxcar images:

A check of the July 1935 ORER turns up the car series N&W 67000-67999, 791 cars, 40 ft 6 in IL, 9 ft 1 in IH, 10 ft door opening.  This series in the January 1940 ORER is occupied by 31 ft IL, 11 ft height of top chord above rail twin hoppers as the Class BL boxcars were rebuilt to Class SK stock cars in the mid-1930s.

The first photo, N&W 67332 is of the cars as built; the second photo, N&W 67910, is of the cars with a new steel-sheathed roof.  A search of the N&W Historical Society online archive turned up a general arrangement drawing of Class SK, which shows a radial roof and 7/8 Murphy ends.  My educated guess is that it's the same radial roof used for the Class BK USRA SS boxcars (N&W 120000-120799) as modeled by Westerfield kit 3365.

As far as I know, no kits have been offered.  The quick and dirty approach would be to used the Tichy model with their #3058 7/8 end and the NERS/SSCo. auxiliary door conversion parts as a starting point for the cars as built as the car height is the same.  The cars with the upgraded steel radial roofs would be more challenging; you would either have to scratchbuild a roof for the Tichy model or use Westerfield 3365 as a starting point (which would give you the roof) and replace the ends (a bit more challenging with this kit as it features a one-piece body).

However, the fly in the ointment is the spacing of the truss members.  Note that the "panel" to the left of the door opening is slightly narrower, and the one to the right of the door opening is slightly wider.  This is not as easily corrected; my recommendation is to use a Westerfield 7201 CP USRA "clone" flat kit as a starting point (as it also gives you the 7/8 Murphy ends), cut out the two "panels" in question and splice in new scratchbuilt "panels", and scratchbuild the radial roof if you're doing a later car.

Ben Hom

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