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First Look Review
N scale
N 1932 ARA Box Car
N 1932 ARA Box Car NC&StL* (Small Dixie Line) Road # 18491
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by: Frederick Boucher [ JPTRR ]

Originally published on:
RailRoad Modeling

Atlas has released their detailed N scale 1932 ARA Box Car with new paint schemes. The model is offered with five different variations of bodies, ends and roofs.

    A goal of the American Railway Association (ARA) in the early 1920s was to produce an all-steel box car that could be recognized as a standard by the member railroads.*

The result was the ARA 1932 design which incorporated partial structural integrity in the sides instead of all in the frame. It was a design that, while not a “cookie cutter” design, heralded the age of a common design for any railroad instead of in-house designs from a railroad’s mechanical department.

    Although the original design presented in 1923 produced in excess of 60,000 cars, it wasn't until a new design was presented in 1932 that the member railroads gave their approval.*

These cars were eventually built with a variety of roofs and ends; some were welded. Most had Youngstown doors and 7-rung ladders. Apparently the standard interior height was not standard as the floor would vary from railroad to railroad.

    After extensively testing five prototypes in 1933, over 14,500 cars were produced for twenty-three railroads throughout the following decade. This design soon evolved into the 1937, Modified 1937, and Postwar AAR box cars.

    Although not the most popular design produced, numerically speaking, the 1932 ARA Standard box car is considered one of the most important designs in railroad history.*

Nashville, Chattanooga & St Louis Railway
Referred to as “Grandpa's Road” the Nashville, Chattanooga & St Louis Railway (NC&StL) was a classy Class I railroad in the Mid-South.
    The NC&StL (pronounce "Saint" with the initials) was chartered in Tennessee on December 11, 1845 and served the people of the south until it was absorbed by the Louisville and Nashville railroad in March 1957. The NC&StL's tracks reached from Paducah, Kentucky south to Atlanta, Georgia with a major branch from Bruceton, Tennessee to Memphis, Tennessee.

    The Nashville, Chattanooga & Saint Louis Railway was originally known as the Nashville and Chattanooga, the "N&C" for short; or just plain "NC."**

    The railroad operated a series of passenger trains: Dixie Express (once the coach section of the all Pullman Dixie Flyer and at another time the interim name of the Dixie Limited, Dixie Flyer, Dixie Limited (formerly the Dixie Express, formerly the Chicago and Florida Limited), Dixieland (winter season only until early 1950's), Dixiana, Dixie Flagler (ran evey third day; later renamed the Dixieland) and Dixie Mail aka Dixie Flyer - Mail and Express. Thus, the railroad's nickname was
    The Dixie Line. Additionally, the railroad operated these named trains: Quickstep (name dropped before 1910, then known as Nos. 3 and 4), Lookout (formerly the Nashville/Chattanooga Express), Georgian, City of Memphis, Volunteer, Night Trains (formerly the Memphis Limited), Nashville/Hickman Local, plus a through sleeping car from The Tennessean on Nos. 3 and 4.***

The Dixie Line ordered 500 1932 ARA box cars from Pullman-Standard Car Manufacturing Co. in June 1937. Designated XM30, they were numbered 18000-18499. NC&StL specified 9'-4" interior height, flat ends, and the 11-panel ARA flat roof.

N 1932 ARA Box Car
Atlas packs this ready-to-run N scale model with a lot of detail, including:
    • Friction-bearing trucks
    • AccuMate® couplers
    • Separate ladders
    • Brake detail
    • 5 body styles:
      “Long tab” body, Murphy panel roof, 4/4 Dreadnaught
      1. “Long tab” body, 11 panel flat riveted roof, flat riveted ends
      2. “Short tab” body, Viking corrugated roof, Buckeye ends
      3. “Long tab” body, Viking corrugated roof, 4/4 Dreadnaught ends
      4. “Long tab” body, Murphy panel roof, flat riveted ends

You may notice the model looks warped. This is distortion of the small model under close-up photography.

Atlas securely packs this model in a formed cradle with a fitted top. Plastic film protects the model from scuffing; the cradle is held inside a hard clear plastic jewel case that both protects and displays the model.

Your 1932 ARA box car is molded to a high standard. Fine rivets are molded on the 10-panel sides. Each end is a steel flat panel type. The roof is a 12-panel flat seam type. The NC&StL XM30 had an 11-panel ARA flat roof. The wheel sets, while plastic, are molded a dirty brown color. They are compatible with code 55 track. Knuckle couplers by AccuMate® are a big plus. If the doors are meant to open, they are too tight to move.

What else does the model offer? Finely molded hardware detail for the doors and sides, opening doors, a small separately applied hand brake wheel and end stand, plus separately attached ladders. Each model ladder is a 7-rung type per the prototype. The entire model is cleanly molded: no flash, no sink holes, no ejector marks, and no seam lines. All that rides upon 40-ton friction-bearing trucks which have good detail for the scale.

A separate running board is attached to the roof.

Look at the photos of the underframe. Plenty of brake system detail including triple valve, reservoir, cylinder, actuator arm and levers, and wire brake rods.

Car knocking
This model rolls nicely on Atlas code 80 track and across a Peco turnout. It measures 40 1/2 scale-feet from end to end and weighs one ounce, per recommended NMRA RP-2O.1 Car Weight of .95 oz.

Paint and Livery
Today's standard of finish is very high and Atlas N keeps the bar set high. I find it incredible just how legible the fine, crisp printing is! Dimensional data, road names and numbers, service markings, Pullman-Standard builder marks - you can read it all.

This box car is marked as NC&StL 18224. It features the The Dixie Lines herald.

Atlas offers this model with three road numbers for each of the six roadnames plus five undecorated versions:
1. Central of Georgia (Streamlined)
2. Erie (1942)
3. Maine Central (1949)
4. Norfolk Southern (Tarwheel Overnight)
5. NC&StL (Small Dixie Line)
6. Seaboard Air Line* (1954-59)
7-11. Undecorated with each body style mentioned above.

Atlas has worked a lot of detail into this little box car. It features exceptional printing and paint. Plenty of fine detail, too. The underside with all that brake detail - too bad the car can't be run upside-down. Knuckle couplers are a plus.

The plastic wheels are not desirable but they are a realistic color. Rivet counters can ding the wrong roof.

This is an impressive model with plenty of detail. It should be an essential addition to steam-diesel transitional era modelers. I do recommend it.

Needless to say, this neat model of “Grandpa's Road” is a favorite of mine! In fact, if it were not for the NC&StL, we probably wouldn’t have this website; NC&StL rekindled my interest in railroads some 20 years ago. I always wondered which railroad it was I drove over traveling to and from the aerodrome I flew from; researching that trivia stoked my interest in railroads, model railroading, thence into RailRoadModeling!

* Atlas Model Railroad Co., Inc. (2013). [Atlas N 1932 ARA Box Car.]

** NC&StL Preservation Society, Inc. (2003.) [http://www.ncstl.com/history/index.htm.]

*** Wikipedia. Nashville, Chattanooga and St. Louis Railway. (3 April 2014.)

Theodore J Culotta. (2004.) AAR Standard Box Car of 1932. Speedwithc Media.

Click here for additional images for this review.

Highs: Exceptional printing and paint. Knuckle couplers and plenty of fine detail, including brake detail and attached ladders.
Lows: Roof is not prototype. Plastic wheels.
Verdict: This is an impressive model with plenty of detail. It should be an essential addition to steam-diesel transitional era modelers.
  Scale: N Scale
  Mfg. ID: 50 001 562
  Suggested Retail: $24.95
  Related Link: 
  PUBLISHED: Apr 15, 2014
  NATIONALITY: United States

Our Thanks to Atlas Model Railroad!
This item was provided by them for the purpose of having it reviewed on this KitMaker Network site. If you would like your kit, book, or product reviewed, please contact us.

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About Frederick Boucher (JPTRR)

I'm a professional pilot with a degree in art. My first model was an AMT semi dump truck. Then Monogram's Lunar Lander right after the lunar landing. Next, Revell's 1/32 Bf-109G...cried havoc and released the dogs of modeling! My interests--if built before 1900, or after 1955, then I proba...

Copyright ©2021 text by Frederick Boucher [ JPTRR ]. Images also by copyright holder unless otherwise noted. Opinions expressed are those of the author(s) and not necessarily those of ModelGeek. All rights reserved.


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