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First Look Review
HO scale
50' Plug Door Box Car
50' Plug Door Box Car KO&G Road # 30012
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by: Frederick Boucher [ JPTRR ]

Originally published on:
RailRoad Modeling

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Atlas' Master Line series is their premier line of rolling stock. Item 20 002 974, a 50' Plug Door Box Car in the livery is of the plucky Southwestern regional Kansas, Oklahoma and Gulf railroad.

Blocking the Box car
Sliding door box cars were basically the build standard prior to World War II. It wasn’t until after the war that many railroads experimented with the use of plug doors, similar to those used on many refrigerator cars, on their box cars. The tight seal of the plug door, accompanied by insulated sides, ends, floor and roof panels, allowed these new box cars to carry perishables where temperature control was important but refrigeration wasn’t necessary. This design, classified by the AAR (Association of American Railways) as “RB” or “RBL”, meaning bunkerless refrigerator cars, gained popularity in the mid 1950s and the following decade saw over 3,000 similar cars built for a number of different owners. - Atlas

Atlas 50' Plug Door Box Car
This model is the former Branchline "Blueprint Line" which Atlas acquired. Branchline models were well received by finicky modelers and upon release, they dominated the then-current models available from Athearn and MDC. I did not research how many releases there have been of this model although no previous issues are shown on Atlas' website. This release proclaims New Paint Schemes!

Atlas' model is assembled and ready to run. It includes a set of optional air hoses and lines, and cut bars. Injection-molding is sharp and I did not find any visible flash, mold seams, sink dimples nor ejector marks. What does this model offer?

* Highly detailed, ready-to-run model with accurate painting and printing
* Late improved Dreadnaught ends
* Overhanging diagonal panel roof with or without roofwalk as per the prototype
* Straight-side sill body design
* 8/8 panel, riveted sides
* Highly detailed underframe
* Separately-applied ladders, grab irons and latch bars
* Blackened metal wheels
* AccuMate® couplers

Branchline weighted their models with two 1/2 inch steel nuts. I will not break open the model to check verify if Atlas has changed this. While the models originally used pins to hold the trucks to the frame, Atlas wisely replaced these with screws.

KO&G's 50' insulated box cars had 50 feet of internal length, 8'-2" door openings and were built in March, 1957 (3-57) by PC&F. This model measures 51' from striker face to striker face, and 55' from coupler to coupler. It weights 4.7 ounces, which is .2 ounces heavy per NMRA RP-20.1 Car Weight. I found the couplers to be the correct height and this RBL rolled with no trouble through a code 83 No. 6 turnout and single-slip switch.

Most noticeable are the separately-applied ladders, grab irons and latch bars. It does not end there. Tack boards are applied. The brake wheel end features an etched stand, pressure retaining valve and pipe, and brake rod. The roof walk is etched metal.

Molded on detail includes clean rows of small rivets, door hanging channels, and door stops.

Underneath the car is an underframe of great detail, too. The model designers included rivets on the inside of the sill and along the stringers and other structural components. A single molded piece includes the frame and brake components, including the air pipes and brake rods. Those components hang down below the sill for a realistic profile. Included is a set of optional air hoses, brackets, lines, and cut bars.

The trucks look good. At first I thought the springs were separate metal parts yet they are molded on the side frames. Those nice metal wheels are advertised as blackened but they are a shiny steel.

Paint and Markings
Branchline started out painting models for other model makers. Atlas continues the tradition of excellent painting. Coverage is thin yet opaque.

This release of the 50' Plug Door Box Car offers six liveries for five railroads, and an undecorated version. Each road name features three road numbers.

1. Burlington Northern
2. Burlington Route
3. Rio Grande (Original)
4. Rio Grande (Late)
5. Kansas Oklahoma & Gulf
6. Pennsylvania Railroad
7. Undecorated

Kansas Oklahoma & Gulf took delivery of their 50' plug door box cars, No. 30009-30013, painted in a blue livery, perhaps due to MoPac's influence. (KO&G also used the 30000 number series for 40' box cars.) I do not know when they were repainted aluminum, as this model represents. Maybe the data stenciling will be a hint and, speaking of that data, the stenciling is sharp and legible, as is all the lettering.

Sealing the Door
Atlas' new Master Line release of HO 50' Plug Door Box Car is an impressive model. These new cars for these five railroads are welcome. All the separate factory-applied parts boost the model into a class above many RTR (ready-to-run) models. Sporting sharp molding and separately-applied ladders, grab irons, latch bars and other pieces, this model is a joy to inspect; in operation it should be trouble-free.

I appreciate that the coupler cut levers and air hoses are included if the modeler wishes to increases the detail level another notch. Paint and printing is extraordinary!

Those nice metal wheels are advertised as blackened but they are a shiny steel. That is the only thing I will criticize.

I think this is a fine model and it should give trouble free operations. Recommended!

KO&G was part of the Muskogee Roads.
    The Muskogee Roads were a system of railroads under common management headquartered in Muskogee, Oklahoma and controlled by the Muskogee Company of Philadelphia. The Muskogee Roads were the only Class I railroads to be headquartered in Oklahoma and had a major impact on the development and livelihood of the region.

    The Muskogee Roads were the Midland Valley Railroad, Kansas, Oklahoma and Gulf Railway, and the Oklahoma City-Ada-Atoka Railway. The Muskogee Company also controlled the Osage Railway.

    The Midland Valley was a 325-mile railroad connecting Wichita, Kansas and Fort Smith, Arkansas founded in 1903 and majority owned by C. Jared Ingersoll, one of the founders of the Muskogee Company. Upon the creation of the Muskogee Company in 1923, the Midland Valley became part of the Muskogee Roads.

    The Kansas, Oklahoma and Gulf was born as a successor to the bankrupt Missouri, Oklahoma and Gulf Railway. Baxter Springs, Kansas served as the most northern point on the railroad with Denison, Texas to the south and 308 miles between. The Muskogee Company acquired ninety-five percent of KO&G stock. Bridge traffic from the Missouri Pacific Railroad handled by the Kansas, Oklahoma, and Gulf route was a major source of revenue for the Muskogee Roads.*


* Wikipedia. Muskogee Roads. [Web.] 9 August 2015.

NEB&W Guide to Branchline Rolling Stock Models. [Web.]

Trainweb.org. Screamingeagle. MoPac Factsheet. [Web.] 16 April, 2008.
Highs: Sharp molding and separately-applied ladders, grab irons, latch bars and other pieces, and optional air hoses, brackets, and lines. Superior painting and lettering.
Lows: Those nice metal wheels are advertised as blackened but they are a shiny steel.
Verdict: HO 50' Plug Door Box Car is an impressive model. It looks great and should give plenty of service before the first stop on the maintenance track.
  Scale: HO Scale
  Mfg. ID: 20 002 974
  Related Link: 
  PUBLISHED: Sep 19, 2015
  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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