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Throwback Thursday: Athearn Rolling Stock Ad, Model Railroader, February 1959


Benjamin Hom
 

This is why I laugh when I see panic over the retirement of Athearn Blue Box kits...some of them were in continuous production for over 50 years by the time kits were discontinued in 2009.  If you can't find these on the secondary market, you're just not trying.


Ben Hom


James Lackner
 

And did any of these (in this advertisement), ever match a specific
prototype? All that I have ever seen is "similar to, but not an exact
match to...."

Jim Lackner


Richard Bale <Rhbale@...>
 

Irv Athearn lead a rather frugal lifestyle, just he and his wife in a double-wide trailer a few miles from the office. What made me remember that was seeing the Cadillac's in the Blue Box auto carrier in the ad Ben posted. They were inspired by the big Cadillac driven by the Mrs., one of the few extravagances in the Athearn family.
Richard Bale 

In a message dated 4/11/2019 3:04:42 PM Pacific Standard Time, b.hom@... writes:

This is why I laugh when I see panic over the retirement of Athearn Blue Box kits...some of them were in continuous production for over 50 years by the time kits were discontinued in 2009.  If you can't find these on the secondary market, you're just not trying.


Ben Hom


Garth Groff <sarahsan@...>
 

Jim,

Some but not many. The 40' flatcar (a hold-over from the metal kits, by the way) only has a Rutland Prototype. Their 40' tank car is similar to SP, WP and UP 12K tanks, but has a lot of problems as it was a retool of their foobie 3-dome tank. Their 40' 10'6" IH square-corner boxcar was used only by two or three railroads. Their cupola caboose is ATSF and similar to some CRR cars (different steps), while their bay window is SP. The crane matches up to closely to several prototypes. The hoppers aren't too bad. None of these are perfect, and I'm sure all of you are going to enjoy picking my suggestions apart. In my view, most Athearn cars are useful as fodder for conversions.

Yours Aye,


Garth Groff

On 4/11/19 6:50 PM, James Lackner wrote:
And did any of these (in this advertisement), ever match a specific
prototype?  All that I have ever seen is "similar to, but not an exact
match to...."

Jim Lackner






Bill Keene
 

Garth,

Wasn't Athearn's stock car based upon a Union Pacific prototype?

Cheers,
Bill Keene
Irvine, CA


On Apr 11, 2019, at 11:13 PM, Garth Groff <sarahsan@...> wrote:

Jim,

Some but not many. The 40' flatcar (a hold-over from the metal kits, by the way) only has a Rutland Prototype. Their 40' tank car is similar to SP, WP and UP 12K tanks, but has a lot of problems as it was a retool of their foobie 3-dome tank. Their 40' 10'6" IH square-corner boxcar was used only by two or three railroads. Their cupola caboose is ATSF and similar to some CRR cars (different steps), while their bay window is SP. The crane matches up to closely to several prototypes. The hoppers aren't too bad. None of these are perfect, and I'm sure all of you are going to enjoy picking my suggestions apart. In my view, most Athearn cars are useful as fodder for conversions.

Yours Aye,


Garth Groff

On 4/11/19 6:50 PM, James Lackner wrote:
And did any of these (in this advertisement), ever match a specific
prototype?  All that I have ever seen is "similar to, but not an exact
match to...."

Jim Lackner






Garth Groff <sarahsan@...>
 

Bill,

Supposedly, but I understand it is so bad that I didn't mention same. I seem to remember the roof panels are backwards. Some features on most Athearn cars are prototype, and could be used for slice-and-dice conversions, but you still have to get rid of all the cast-on ladders and such. Often there are, or have been, better solutions available.

Yours Aye,


Garth Groff

On 4/12/19 2:24 AM, Bill Keene via Groups.Io wrote:
Garth,

Wasn't Athearn's stock car based upon a Union Pacific prototype?

Cheers,
Bill Keene
Irvine, CA


On Apr 11, 2019, at 11:13 PM, Garth Groff <sarahsan@...> wrote:

Jim,

Some but not many. The 40' flatcar (a hold-over from the metal kits, by the way) only has a Rutland Prototype. Their 40' tank car is similar to SP, WP and UP 12K tanks, but has a lot of problems as it was a retool of their foobie 3-dome tank. Their 40' 10'6" IH square-corner boxcar was used only by two or three railroads. Their cupola caboose is ATSF and similar to some CRR cars (different steps), while their bay window is SP. The crane matches up to closely to several prototypes. The hoppers aren't too bad. None of these are perfect, and I'm sure all of you are going to enjoy picking my suggestions apart. In my view, most Athearn cars are useful as fodder for conversions.

Yours Aye,


Garth Groff

On 4/11/19 6:50 PM, James Lackner wrote:
And did any of these (in this advertisement), ever match a specific
prototype?  All that I have ever seen is "similar to, but not an exact
match to...."

Jim Lackner







Benjamin Hom
 

James Lackner asked:
“And did any of these (in this advertisement), ever match a specific prototype?  All that I have ever seen is "similar to, but not an exact match to...."

The issue with these models, specifically, the two flat cars and the tank cars is that prototype matches are coincidental rather than intentional.  This is why you see the caveat “similar to, but not an exact match.”   


Comments on Garth’s assessments:

“Some but not many. The 40' flatcar (a hold-over from the metal kits, by the way) only has a Rutland Prototype.”

Again, not an exact prototype, though a good starting point for models as illustrated by John Nehrich, Kyle Williams, and Will Gill in past articles in MR and RMC.  Not just Rutland either; keep in mind that the Rutland was under NYC control between 1904-1911, so their freight car fleet reflected NYC design practices.  In this case, this would be Lot 344-F and 345-F flat cars, originally built for the Michigan Central, later going to CASO and NYC during the late 1930s system renumbering.
http://www.canadasouthern.com/caso/images/caso-482857.jpg   

The metal flat car kits feature an interesting combination of stamped metal parts and castings, including a stamped metal strip of stake pockets that fit on the inside of the carbody.
 

“Their 40' tank car is similar to SP, WP and UP 12K tanks, but has a lot of problems as it was a retool of their foobie 3-dome tank.”

Not the tank car from this ad (the 40 ft “chemical” insulated tank car), which is a further development from the tank cars that Garth describes, which are the non-insulated single and three dome tank cars.  What Garth says is true, but these models are salvageable and still the only non-brass game in town for the SP, WP, ad UP 12,000 gallon tank cars.  Tony Thompson has a nice writeup on how to use these models on his blog.

http://modelingthesp.blogspot.com/2011/05/modeling-sp-tank-cars.html  


Plus another writeup on salvaging the “Chemical” tank car model:
http://modelingthesp.blogspot.com/2010/12/upgrading-old-models-2.html  


“Their 40' 10'6" IH square-corner boxcar was used only by two or three railroads.”

Specifically, the combination of 10 ft 6 in IH, 5/5 square corner Dreadnaught ends, 10-panel sides, rectangular panel roof, and Youngstown door makes this ubiquitous model good for only three railroads: IC, SOO, DSS&A.  This is one of the two most ill-used models of all time, decorated in any paint and lettering scheme applied to any prototype 40 ft boxcars, and some 50 ft and 36 ft prototypes too.


“The hoppers aren't too bad.”

None of them were in the ad that I posted…but since we’re discussing them:

- The 40 ft offset quad is the ARA standard 70-ton quadruple hopper, with details modeling B&O Class W-2.  It has not aged well, and the operating doors are especially overscale and toylike.  It is the second of the two most ill-used models of all time, decorated in any hopper paint and lettering scheme and copied by many other manufacturers (Tyco, Rivarossi/Roco/AHM/Mehano, Cox/Bachmann) who offered even more bogus schemes.  (There are actually quite a few legitimate paint schemes for these cars.)

- The three twin hopper models were actually introduced in the early 1970s, making them latecomers in the Blue Box line.  The offset twin is probably the nicest model in the Blue Box line; the composite twin is nice with the exception of reusing the offset model’s tooling for the interior, resulting in interiors that make absolutely no sense; the 7-side post model is a foobie that coincidentally is close to similar PRR and Virginian prototypes.  It also suffers from reusing the offset model’s interior.
 

Bill Keene asked:
“Wasn't Athearn's stock car based upon a Union Pacific prototype?”

Garth replied:
“Supposedly, but I understand it is so bad that I didn't mention same. I seem to remember the roof panels are backwards.”

UP Class S-40-12.
https://donstrack.smugmug.com/UtahRails/Union-Pacific/UP-Freight-Cars/i-VCQBnhr/A
The roof is the biggest issue – the diagonal panels are the mirror image of the prototype.  Otherwise, it’s actually not too bad.


Notes on other cars in the ad:

- The derrick and work caboose are imagineered models to reuse the tooling for the 40 ft flatcar.

- The containers on the frozen food gon are legit models of refrigerated containers, N&W IIRC.

- The TOFC flat is basically a toy, though the trailers are a start for short trailers of the era.

- The Auto Loader is patterned after an experimental Evans prototype, but is shortened to fit the Athearn 50 ft flat car.
http://www.canadasouthern.com/caso/NYC-EARLY-AUTORACK-STORY.jpg  

 
Garth wrote:
“In my view, most Athearn cars are useful as fodder for conversions” and
“Some features on most Athearn cars are prototype, and could be used for slice-and-dice conversions, but you still have to get rid of all the cast-on ladders and such. Often there are, or have been, better solutions available.”

There are often better solutions available…but there’s immense learning value from these projects.  The plastic is easy to work with; the models and parts are abundant and inexpensive if you take your time and keep looking, and the consequences of making mistakes during the learning process are fairly low.  It’s easy to turn up your nose on these models, and going with better models is preferred, but there’s still a lot of fun to be had if you want to use up the ones you already have.


Ben Hom










Steve and Barb Hile
 

I have what I have always presumed to be an Athearn metal UP flat car where the stake pockets pop up through openings in the car side.  However, it is a 53'6" length car that someone in the past has nicely assembled.  Is that what you are thinking of, Ben, or did they do both?
 
Steve Hile



From: main@RealSTMFC.groups.io [mailto:main@RealSTMFC.groups.io] On Behalf Of Benjamin Hom
Sent: Friday, April 12, 2019 9:44 AM
To: main@RealSTMFC.groups.io
Subject: Re: [RealSTMFC] Throwback Thursday: Athearn Rolling Stock Ad, Model Railroader, February 1959

James Lackner asked:
“And did any of these (in this advertisement), ever match a specific prototype?  All that I have ever seen is "similar to, but not an exact match to...."

The issue with these models, specifically, the two flat cars and the tank cars is that prototype matches are coincidental rather than intentional.  This is why you see the caveat “similar to, but not an exact match.”   


Comments on Garth’s assessments:

“Some but not many. The 40' flatcar (a hold-over from the metal kits, by the way) only has a Rutland Prototype.”

Again, not an exact prototype, though a good starting point for models as illustrated by John Nehrich, Kyle Williams, and Will Gill in past articles in MR and RMC.  Not just Rutland either; keep in mind that the Rutland was under NYC control between 1904-1911, so their freight car fleet reflected NYC design practices.  In this case, this would be Lot 344-F and 345-F flat cars, originally built for the Michigan Central, later going to CASO and NYC during the late 1930s system renumbering.
http://www.canadasouthern.com/caso/images/caso-482857.jpg   

The metal flat car kits feature an interesting combination of stamped metal parts and castings, including a stamped metal strip of stake pockets that fit on the inside of the carbody.


“Their 40' tank car is similar to SP, WP and UP 12K tanks, but has a lot of problems as it was a retool of their foobie 3-dome tank.”

Not the tank car from this ad (the 40 ft “chemical” insulated tank car), which is a further development from the tank cars that Garth describes, which are the non-insulated single and three dome tank cars.  What Garth says is true, but these models are salvageable and still the only non-brass game in town for the SP, WP, ad UP 12,000 gallon tank cars.  Tony Thompson has a nice writeup on how to use these models on his blog.

http://modelingthesp.blogspot.com/2011/05/modeling-sp-tank-cars.html  


Plus another writeup on salvaging the “Chemical” tank car model:
http://modelingthesp.blogspot.com/2010/12/upgrading-old-models-2.html  


“Their 40' 10'6" IH square-corner boxcar was used only by two or three railroads.”

Specifically, the combination of 10 ft 6 in IH, 5/5 square corner Dreadnaught ends, 10-panel sides, rectangular panel roof, and Youngstown door makes this ubiquitous model good for only three railroads: IC, SOO, DSS&A.  This is one of the two most ill-used models of all time, decorated in any paint and lettering scheme applied to any prototype 40 ft boxcars, and some 50 ft and 36 ft prototypes too.


“The hoppers aren't too bad.”

None of them were in the ad that I posted…but since we’re discussing them:

- The 40 ft offset quad is the ARA standard 70-ton quadruple hopper, with details modeling B&O Class W-2.  It has not aged well, and the operating doors are especially overscale and toylike.  It is the second of the two most ill-used models of all time, decorated in any hopper paint and lettering scheme and copied by many other manufacturers (Tyco, Rivarossi/Roco/AHM/Mehano, Cox/Bachmann) who offered even more bogus schemes.  (There are actually quite a few legitimate paint schemes for these cars.)

- The three twin hopper models were actually introduced in the early 1970s, making them latecomers in the Blue Box line.  The offset twin is probably the nicest model in the Blue Box line; the composite twin is nice with the exception of reusing the offset model’s tooling for the interior, resulting in interiors that make absolutely no sense; the 7-side post model is a foobie that coincidentally is close to similar PRR and Virginian prototypes.  It also suffers from reusing the offset model’s interior.
 

Bill Keene asked:
“Wasn't Athearn's stock car based upon a Union Pacific prototype?”

Garth replied:
“Supposedly, but I understand it is so bad that I didn't mention same. I seem to remember the roof panels are backwards.”

UP Class S-40-12.
https://donstrack.smugmug.com/UtahRails/Union-Pacific/UP-Freight-Cars/i-VCQBnhr/A
The roof is the biggest issue – the diagonal panels are the mirror image of the prototype.  Otherwise, it’s actually not too bad.


Notes on other cars in the ad:

- The derrick and work caboose are imagineered models to reuse the tooling for the 40 ft flatcar.

- The containers on the frozen food gon are legit models of refrigerated containers, N&W IIRC.

- The TOFC flat is basically a toy, though the trailers are a start for short trailers of the era.

- The Auto Loader is patterned after an experimental Evans prototype, but is shortened to fit the Athearn 50 ft flat car.
http://www.canadasouthern.com/caso/NYC-EARLY-AUTORACK-STORY.jpg  

 
Garth wrote:
“In my view, most Athearn cars are useful as fodder for conversions” and
“Some features on most Athearn cars are prototype, and could be used for slice-and-dice conversions, but you still have to get rid of all the cast-on ladders and such. Often there are, or have been, better solutions available.”

There are often better solutions available…but there’s immense learning value from these projects.  The plastic is easy to work with; the models and parts are abundant and inexpensive if you take your time and keep looking, and the consequences of making mistakes during the learning process are fairly low.  It’s easy to turn up your nose on these models, and going with better models is preferred, but there’s still a lot of fun to be had if you want to use up the ones you already have.


Ben Hom










Tim O'Connor
 


Twenty years ago on the Freightcars mailing list we compiled a list (based on what
was known at the time) of likely prototypes for Athearn freight cars



I marked with a "*" those cars for which far better/more accurate
models are (or soon will be) available (unless you really WANT to
model a Rock Island wide vision caboose on a recycled underframe!)

==========================================================================

 model            prototype

 Rotary Snowplow        Lima-Hamilton 1948 -- possibly SOO/UP/CRI&P   !!
 200 ton crane          Bucyrus-Erie?                                 !!

 bay window caboose     SP C-40-4, built by PC&F 1961                 !!
*cupola caboose        ATSF 1750-2200, needs toolboxes both sides    !!
*wide vision caboose    Rock Island, unique short wheelbase rebuilds  !!

 40' stockcar           UP S-40-12, with reversed roof panels         !!
*40' steel boxcar       1942 AAR 10'6" Soo/IC/DSS&A                   !!
*50' dbl dr steel box   ATSF Fe-24 if you don't count the S-corners   !!
                        Coincidentally similar to CNW/GTW/MKT/IC cars !!
 40' grain loading box    UP BF-50-3 rebuilds if you don't count ends   !!
 40' hicube ribbed      PC&F SP/SSW B-70-36                           !!
 40' hicube smooth    UP BF-50-4?                                   !!
 50' Railbox            XAF10 but it has the wrong roof               !!
 86' hicube 4-door      Greenville                                    !!
 86' hicube 8-door      Thrall                                        !!
*40' DS boxcar          based on 1938 GN cars but too tall            !!

 40' offset hopper      1928 ARA B&O/MP/MILW/B&M/C&O/ERIE/NH          !!
 34' composite hopper    1943 War Emergency                            !!
 34' offset hopper    1940's AAR many many owners, Atlas makes      !!
                        a similar model but it has different ends     !!

*40' steel reefer       PFE R-40-23 also built for NP                 !!
 40' wood reefer        PFE R-40-24 but it's a stretch                !!
 50' mech reefer        PFE R-50-6/R-70-8/10 except for ends/roofs    !!
 50' ribbed reefer      PFE R-70-12                                   !!
 57' mech reefer        PFE R-70-20                                   !!

 3-bay covered hopper   PS2 4740 1968-1972?                           !!
 4-bay covered hopper   ACF 5250 late production version up to 1971   !!

 40' single dome tank   GAT/SP O-50-13 ignoring dome/rivet errors     !!
 62' tankcar            ACF possibly based on GN fuel car in 66 CYC   !!

 20' smooth container   ?
 20' ribbed container   ?
 40' ribbed container   ?
 40' TOFC trailer    Fruehauf possibly based on PFE/FGE trailers   !!
 45' TOFC trailer    Fruehauf Z-Van                                !!
 48' container          Monon design                                  !!

 40' flatcar        Rutland by coincidence                        !!
 85' piggyback flat     Pullman 1960-1961                             !!
 85' all purpose flat   4 feet shorter than the prototype             !!
 heavy duty flatcar     Commonwealth cast steel; model is oversize    !!
 40' pulpwood flatcar   based on a rather obscure MP prototype        !!

 Husky Stack            Gunderson
 5-unit well cars       Gunderson Maxi-III

 gondola canisters      similar to D&H cement cannisters              !!

Athearn cars with no clear prototypes or at least embroiled in debate
=====================================================================

*50' flatcar            many 13-pockets cars existed but none that    !!
                        match it -- can cut down to 12-pockets and    !!
                        model MILW road 46' cars                      !!

 25' TOFC trailers      who knows

 34' ribside hopper     rumored perhaps to be similar to N&W cars?    !!

*50' sgl dr steel box   based on 1942 ARA drawings but no prototypes? !!
                        Irv probably took photos of B-50-22, but then !!
                        used the wrong drawings to model it. :^)      !!

*50' plug dr boxcar     based on 1960's ACF but with 1942 ends. Much  !!
                        better model was produced by Front Range      !!

 50' plug dr ribbed box maybe North American leasing cars? Then again !!
                        possibly just a mish-mosh of designs          !!

 50' DD Railbox         by a stretch one can imagine this is based on !!
                        an SP prototype but I think it's coincidental !!

*40' chemical tankcar   frankly, a mess                               !!

 40' 3-dome tankcar     grossly oversize                              !!

*50' gondola            a shortened 1941 Greenville gondola           !!

 gondola containers     similar to N&W gondola containers?            !!

 covered gondola        nicely done roof for a short model            !!



On 4/12/2019 2:24 AM, Bill Keene via Groups.Io wrote:
Garth,

Wasn't Athearn's stock car based upon a Union Pacific prototype?

Cheers,
Bill Keene
Irvine, CA


On Apr 11, 2019, at 11:13 PM, Garth Groff <sarahsan@...> wrote:

Jim,

Some but not many. The 40' flatcar (a hold-over from the metal kits, by the way) only has a Rutland Prototype. Their 40' tank car is similar to SP, WP and UP 12K tanks, but has a lot of problems as it was a retool of their foobie 3-dome tank. Their 40' 10'6" IH square-corner boxcar was used only by two or three railroads. Their cupola caboose is ATSF and similar to some CRR cars (different steps), while their bay window is SP. The crane matches up to closely to several prototypes. The hoppers aren't too bad. None of these are perfect, and I'm sure all of you are going to enjoy picking my suggestions apart. In my view, most Athearn cars are useful as fodder for conversions.

Yours Aye,


Garth Groff

On 4/11/19 6:50 PM, James Lackner wrote:
And did any of these (in this advertisement), ever match a specific
prototype?  All that I have ever seen is "similar to, but not an exact
match to...."

Jim Lackner







--
Tim O'Connor
Sterling, Massachusetts


Tony Thompson
 

Steve Hile wrote:

I have what I have always presumed to be an Athearn metal UP flat car where the stake pockets pop up through openings in the car side.  However, it is a 53'6" length car that someone in the past has nicely assembled.  Is that what you are thinking of, Ben, or did they do both?

    I have a model like that, lettered B&O, and have understood it was a Varney model. Probably Denny knows. <g>

Tony Thompson




Benjamin Hom
 

Steve Hile wrote:
"I have what I have always presumed to be an Athearn metal UP flat car where the stake pockets pop up through openings in the car side.  However, it is a 53'6" length car that someone in the past has nicely assembled.  Is that what you are thinking of, Ben, or did they do both?"

They did both.  The Athearn models have a stamped flat car body with rectangular openings that allow the stake pockets on the strip to protrude from the car body.  This allowed squared off stake pockets using this type construction. 


Tony Thompson wrote:
"I have a model like that, lettered B&O, and have understood it was a Varney model."

The Varney model was also stamped metal, but the stake pockets are in the same stamping as the carbody, and have a circular cross section.


Ben Hom


Tony Thompson
 

Good summary by Ben Hom, and helpful list re-posted by Tim O'Connor. Just one comment that may not be widely known:

UP Class S-40-12.
https://donstrack.smugmug.com/UtahRails/Union-Pacific/UP-Freight-Cars/i-VCQBnhr/A
The roof is the biggest issue – the diagonal panels are the mirror image of the prototype.  Otherwise, it’s actually not too bad.

      The UP diagram drawing for this class shows the roof the way Athearn modeled it (with panels reversed). Could the Athearn people have had access to this drawing and used it? Otherwise getting so familiar a product as the diagonal-panel roof wrong seems improbable.
        As Ben observed, the rest of the car isn't terrible, but replacing the roof is not fun. Ask me how I know.

Tony Thompson             Editor, Signature Press, Berkeley, CA
2906 Forest Ave., Berkeley, CA 94705         www.signaturepress.com
(510) 540-6538; e-mail, tony@...
Publishers of books on railroad history






Clark Propst
 

I used Athearn sides on this kitbash. In retrospect might have been just as quick to scratch the sides with better sill relief. Might be done in the same amount of time it took to cut the Athearn sides loose and fix?
CW Propst


Tim O'Connor
 

Clark

Isn't the Athearn car too tall compared to the prototype cars? That would seem to be an argument
for scratch building the sides if one wanted to be completely accurate.

Tim O'




On 4/12/2019 1:26 PM, Clark Propst wrote:
I used Athearn sides on this kitbash. In retrospect might have been just as quick to scratch the sides with better sill relief. Might be done in the same amount of time it took to cut the Athearn sides loose and fix?
CW Propst

Attachments:



--
Tim O'Connor
Sterling, Massachusetts


Tony Thompson
 

       Another Athearn "raw material" model of significance is the 50-foot gondola (really about 48 feet). Though it has no prototype and is evidently a shortened 52'6" car, it can be, and has been, used to model lots of prototypes, often by splicing in one more panel from a sacrifice car. It was also the basis for a Shake 'n' Take model at Cocoa Beach a few years ago, cutting it down to a 40-foot DT&I car (originally devised by Richard Henrickson). 
       I summarized my own construction of that project in a blog post, which if you're interested is at this link:


       The Athearn gondola's rivets are somewhat oversize and the ends useless, and the end panels on the side are an unusual arrangement . . . but the model has had its uses over the years.

Tony Thompson             Editor, Signature Press, Berkeley, CA
2906 Forest Ave., Berkeley, CA 94705         www.signaturepress.com
(510) 540-6538; e-mail, tony@...
Publishers of books on railroad history






Dave Lawler
 

I believe the Athern, ATSF offset cupola steel caboose is a reasonable stand in for a group of Grand Trunk Western cars.
Dave Lawler


Benjamin Hom
 

Tony Thompson wrote:
"Another Athearn "raw material" model of significance is the 50-foot gondola (really about 48 feet). Though it has no prototype and is evidently a shortened 52'6" car, it can be, and has been, used to model lots of prototypes, often by splicing in one more panel from a sacrifice car. It was also the basis for a Shake 'n' Take model at Cocoa Beach a few years ago, cutting it down to a 40-foot DT&I car (originally devised by Richard Hendrickson). I summarized my own construction of that project in a blog post, which if you're interested is at this link:
https://modelingthesp.blogspot.com/2012/01/shake-n-take-modeling-project-dt.html 

The Athearn gondola's rivets are somewhat oversize and the ends useless, and the end panels on the side are an unusual arrangement . . . but the model has had its uses over the years."

Richard's articles in the September/October 1982 and November/December 1982 issues of Prototype Modeler are still favorites.  The second article is online at Trainlife and include C&O, DT&I, EJ&E, and SP conversions.


Ben Hom







Benjamin Hom
 

Dave Lawler wrote:
"I believe the Athe[a]rn, ATSF offset cupola steel caboose is a reasonable stand in for a group of Grand Trunk Western cars."

They should be - GTW acquired 34 ex-ATSF waycars and kept them in service into the 1990s.  Here's a model done by George Dutka.

Ben Hom



Steve and Barb Hile
 

Here is a snap shot of the metal car.  It would appear that they were only made for a brief time, as I see a 1954 ad in MR listing 40 and 50 foot flat cars as new.  Just a few years later, Athearn moved into plastic.
 
I have liked this model, but struggle just what to do with it.  It has 13 stake pockets, where its UP prototype had 14.  And the lettering is mushy and has Serves All The West on both sides.  It is nice and heavy with metal underframe center sill.
 
Steve Hile



From: main@RealSTMFC.groups.io [mailto:main@RealSTMFC.groups.io] On Behalf Of Steve and Barb Hile
Sent: Friday, April 12, 2019 11:35 AM
To: main@RealSTMFC.groups.io
Subject: Re: [RealSTMFC] Throwback Thursday: Athearn Rolling Stock Ad, Model Railroader, February 1959

I have what I have always presumed to be an Athearn metal UP flat car where the stake pockets pop up through openings in the car side.  However, it is a 53'6" length car that someone in the past has nicely assembled.  Is that what you are thinking of, Ben, or did they do both?
 
Steve Hile


From: main@RealSTMFC.groups.io [mailto:main@RealSTMFC.groups.io] On Behalf Of Benjamin Hom
Sent: Friday, April 12, 2019 9:44 AM
To: main@RealSTMFC.groups.io
Subject: Re: [RealSTMFC] Throwback Thursday: Athearn Rolling Stock Ad, Model Railroader, February 1959

James Lackner asked:
“And did any of these (in this advertisement), ever match a specific prototype?  All that I have ever seen is "similar to, but not an exact match to...."

The issue with these models, specifically, the two flat cars and the tank cars is that prototype matches are coincidental rather than intentional.  This is why you see the caveat “similar to, but not an exact match.”   


Comments on Garth’s assessments:

“Some but not many. The 40' flatcar (a hold-over from the metal kits, by the way) only has a Rutland Prototype.”

Again, not an exact prototype, though a good starting point for models as illustrated by John Nehrich, Kyle Williams, and Will Gill in past articles in MR and RMC.  Not just Rutland either; keep in mind that the Rutland was under NYC control between 1904-1911, so their freight car fleet reflected NYC design practices.  In this case, this would be Lot 344-F and 345-F flat cars, originally built for the Michigan Central, later going to CASO and NYC during the late 1930s system renumbering.
http://www.canadasouthern.com/caso/images/caso-482857.jpg   

The metal flat car kits feature an interesting combination of stamped metal parts and castings, including a stamped metal strip of stake pockets that fit on the inside of the carbody.


“Their 40' tank car is similar to SP, WP and UP 12K tanks, but has a lot of problems as it was a retool of their foobie 3-dome tank.”

Not the tank car from this ad (the 40 ft “chemical” insulated tank car), which is a further development from the tank cars that Garth describes, which are the non-insulated single and three dome tank cars.  What Garth says is true, but these models are salvageable and still the only non-brass game in town for the SP, WP, ad UP 12,000 gallon tank cars.  Tony Thompson has a nice writeup on how to use these models on his blog.

http://modelingthesp.blogspot.com/2011/05/modeling-sp-tank-cars.html  


Plus another writeup on salvaging the “Chemical” tank car model:
http://modelingthesp.blogspot.com/2010/12/upgrading-old-models-2.html  


“Their 40' 10'6" IH square-corner boxcar was used only by two or three railroads.”

Specifically, the combination of 10 ft 6 in IH, 5/5 square corner Dreadnaught ends, 10-panel sides, rectangular panel roof, and Youngstown door makes this ubiquitous model good for only three railroads: IC, SOO, DSS&A.  This is one of the two most ill-used models of all time, decorated in any paint and lettering scheme applied to any prototype 40 ft boxcars, and some 50 ft and 36 ft prototypes too.


“The hoppers aren't too bad.”

None of them were in the ad that I posted…but since we’re discussing them:

- The 40 ft offset quad is the ARA standard 70-ton quadruple hopper, with details modeling B&O Class W-2.  It has not aged well, and the operating doors are especially overscale and toylike.  It is the second of the two most ill-used models of all time, decorated in any hopper paint and lettering scheme and copied by many other manufacturers (Tyco, Rivarossi/Roco/AHM/Mehano, Cox/Bachmann) who offered even more bogus schemes.  (There are actually quite a few legitimate paint schemes for these cars.)

- The three twin hopper models were actually introduced in the early 1970s, making them latecomers in the Blue Box line.  The offset twin is probably the nicest model in the Blue Box line; the composite twin is nice with the exception of reusing the offset model’s tooling for the interior, resulting in interiors that make absolutely no sense; the 7-side post model is a foobie that coincidentally is close to similar PRR and Virginian prototypes.  It also suffers from reusing the offset model’s interior.
 

Bill Keene asked:
“Wasn't Athearn's stock car based upon a Union Pacific prototype?”

Garth replied:
“Supposedly, but I understand it is so bad that I didn't mention same. I seem to remember the roof panels are backwards.”

UP Class S-40-12.
https://donstrack.smugmug.com/UtahRails/Union-Pacific/UP-Freight-Cars/i-VCQBnhr/A
The roof is the biggest issue – the diagonal panels are the mirror image of the prototype.  Otherwise, it’s actually not too bad.


Notes on other cars in the ad:

- The derrick and work caboose are imagineered models to reuse the tooling for the 40 ft flatcar.

- The containers on the frozen food gon are legit models of refrigerated containers, N&W IIRC.

- The TOFC flat is basically a toy, though the trailers are a start for short trailers of the era.

- The Auto Loader is patterned after an experimental Evans prototype, but is shortened to fit the Athearn 50 ft flat car.
http://www.canadasouthern.com/caso/NYC-EARLY-AUTORACK-STORY.jpg  

 
Garth wrote:
“In my view, most Athearn cars are useful as fodder for conversions” and
“Some features on most Athearn cars are prototype, and could be used for slice-and-dice conversions, but you still have to get rid of all the cast-on ladders and such. Often there are, or have been, better solutions available.”

There are often better solutions available…but there’s immense learning value from these projects.  The plastic is easy to work with; the models and parts are abundant and inexpensive if you take your time and keep looking, and the consequences of making mistakes during the learning process are fairly low.  It’s easy to turn up your nose on these models, and going with better models is preferred, but there’s still a lot of fun to be had if you want to use up the ones you already have.


Ben Hom










Garth Groff <sarahsan@...>
 

Tim,

Thanks for digging this list out. If it is being edited in any way, let me note the ends of the 40' steel reefer don't match the photos in Tony's PFE book. The Athearn car has 4/3 ends. The R-40-23 had 3/3 ends.

Yours Aye,


Garth Groff

On 4/12/19 12:58 PM, Tim O'Connor wrote:

Twenty years ago on the Freightcars mailing list we compiled a list (based on what
was known at the time) of likely prototypes for Athearn freight cars



I marked with a "*" those cars for which far better/more accurate
models are (or soon will be) available (unless you really WANT to
model a Rock Island wide vision caboose on a recycled underframe!)

==========================================================================

 model            prototype

 Rotary Snowplow        Lima-Hamilton 1948 -- possibly SOO/UP/CRI&P   !!
 200 ton crane          Bucyrus-Erie?                                 !!

 bay window caboose     SP C-40-4, built by PC&F 1961                 !!
*cupola caboose        ATSF 1750-2200, needs toolboxes both sides    !!
*wide vision caboose    Rock Island, unique short wheelbase rebuilds  !!

 40' stockcar           UP S-40-12, with reversed roof panels         !!
*40' steel boxcar       1942 AAR 10'6" Soo/IC/DSS&A                   !!
*50' dbl dr steel box   ATSF Fe-24 if you don't count the S-corners   !!
                        Coincidentally similar to CNW/GTW/MKT/IC cars !!
 40' grain loading box    UP BF-50-3 rebuilds if you don't count ends   !!
 40' hicube ribbed      PC&F SP/SSW B-70-36                           !!
 40' hicube smooth    UP BF-50-4?                                   !!
 50' Railbox            XAF10 but it has the wrong roof               !!
 86' hicube 4-door      Greenville                                    !!
 86' hicube 8-door      Thrall                                        !!
*40' DS boxcar          based on 1938 GN cars but too tall            !!

 40' offset hopper      1928 ARA B&O/MP/MILW/B&M/C&O/ERIE/NH          !!
 34' composite hopper    1943 War Emergency                            !!
 34' offset hopper    1940's AAR many many owners, Atlas makes      !!
                        a similar model but it has different ends     !!

*40' steel reefer       PFE R-40-23 also built for NP                 !!
 40' wood reefer        PFE R-40-24 but it's a stretch                !!
 50' mech reefer        PFE R-50-6/R-70-8/10 except for ends/roofs    !!
 50' ribbed reefer      PFE R-70-12                                   !!
 57' mech reefer        PFE R-70-20                                   !!

 3-bay covered hopper   PS2 4740 1968-1972?                           !!
 4-bay covered hopper   ACF 5250 late production version up to 1971   !!

 40' single dome tank   GAT/SP O-50-13 ignoring dome/rivet errors     !!
 62' tankcar            ACF possibly based on GN fuel car in 66 CYC   !!

 20' smooth container   ?
 20' ribbed container   ?
 40' ribbed container   ?
 40' TOFC trailer    Fruehauf possibly based on PFE/FGE trailers   !!
 45' TOFC trailer    Fruehauf Z-Van                                !!
 48' container          Monon design                                  !!

 40' flatcar        Rutland by coincidence                        !!
 85' piggyback flat     Pullman 1960-1961                             !!
 85' all purpose flat   4 feet shorter than the prototype             !!
 heavy duty flatcar     Commonwealth cast steel; model is oversize    !!
 40' pulpwood flatcar   based on a rather obscure MP prototype        !!

 Husky Stack            Gunderson
 5-unit well cars       Gunderson Maxi-III

 gondola canisters      similar to D&H cement cannisters              !!

Athearn cars with no clear prototypes or at least embroiled in debate
=====================================================================

*50' flatcar            many 13-pockets cars existed but none that    !!
                        match it -- can cut down to 12-pockets and    !!
                        model MILW road 46' cars                      !!

 25' TOFC trailers      who knows

 34' ribside hopper     rumored perhaps to be similar to N&W cars?    !!

*50' sgl dr steel box   based on 1942 ARA drawings but no prototypes? !!
                        Irv probably took photos of B-50-22, but then !!
                        used the wrong drawings to model it. :^)      !!

*50' plug dr boxcar     based on 1960's ACF but with 1942 ends. Much  !!
                        better model was produced by Front Range      !!

 50' plug dr ribbed box maybe North American leasing cars? Then again !!
                        possibly just a mish-mosh of designs          !!

 50' DD Railbox         by a stretch one can imagine this is based on !!
                        an SP prototype but I think it's coincidental !!

*40' chemical tankcar   frankly, a mess                               !!

 40' 3-dome tankcar     grossly oversize                              !!

*50' gondola            a shortened 1941 Greenville gondola           !!

 gondola containers     similar to N&W gondola containers?            !!

 covered gondola        nicely done roof for a short model            !!



On 4/12/2019 2:24 AM, Bill Keene via Groups.Io wrote:
Garth,

Wasn't Athearn's stock car based upon a Union Pacific prototype?

Cheers,
Bill Keene
Irvine, CA


On Apr 11, 2019, at 11:13 PM, Garth Groff <sarahsan@...> wrote:

Jim,

Some but not many. The 40' flatcar (a hold-over from the metal kits, by the way) only has a Rutland Prototype. Their 40' tank car is similar to SP, WP and UP 12K tanks, but has a lot of problems as it was a retool of their foobie 3-dome tank. Their 40' 10'6" IH square-corner boxcar was used only by two or three railroads. Their cupola caboose is ATSF and similar to some CRR cars (different steps), while their bay window is SP. The crane matches up to closely to several prototypes. The hoppers aren't too bad. None of these are perfect, and I'm sure all of you are going to enjoy picking my suggestions apart. In my view, most Athearn cars are useful as fodder for conversions.

Yours Aye,


Garth Groff

On 4/11/19 6:50 PM, James Lackner wrote:
And did any of these (in this advertisement), ever match a specific
prototype?  All that I have ever seen is "similar to, but not an exact
match to...."

Jim Lackner







--
Tim O'Connor
Sterling, Massachusetts