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First Look Review
N scale
N 1932 ARA Box Car
1932 ARA Box Car, PRR 36984
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by: Frederick Boucher [ JPTRR ]

Originally published on:
RailRoad Modeling

1932 ARA Box Car is an N scale model from Atlas in new paint schemes. This example, item 50 002 485, is painted for the Pennsylvania Railroad.
    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. 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.

    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.
    - Atlas

How this design differed from other designs is presented by the NEB&W;
    The 1932 box car design represented a significant landmark in freight car development. This design was the first time that there was change in outside height. The previous changes in inside height had been accomplished more or less by changing the height of the floor and using a thinner steel roof instead of a thick wood roof.

    While the 1932 car was halfway between the height of the 1923 ARA "X29" car and the 1937 standard, it represented a great advance in its design features over the 1923 design, including the use of single rather than double rivet seams, and the "saw-tooth" profile of the gussets along the bottom of the side sill.

    The changes were so significant from the 1923 car that Richard Hendrickson argues that the 1932 car was essentially a totally new design. From a modeler's viewpoint, the 1937 and even the 1944 designs were essentially taller versions of the 1932 car.

    The '32 car was built in far smaller numbers than the 1924/X29 type car or the '37 car. (Remember, the '32 car was introduced in the depths of the Depression when it was significant that ANY cars were built. By the time the country was beginning to recover, the '37 car superseded it.)

    A hang-over from the earlier era of non-standardization, the '32 car was built with a variety of ends and roofs. One version used the Standard Railway Equipment's Raised Panel Roof and Dreadnaught End, typical of most of the '37 cars.

Now let's look the model over.

In the Box
Atlas packed this model in a hard clear jewel box with a snap-off lid. The box car is held in a custom fitted cradle, protected from scuffing by a soft plastic sheet.

This is s plastic kit. Molding is high-quality with no flash, sink marks, visible ejection circles or seams. It features some separately applied parts. Molding is sharp. The stirrups are oversized but that doesn't bother me as model railroad cars take a lot of handling and jostling, and have to be able to stand up to it.

Accurate painting and printing
Friction-bearing trucks
AccuMate® couplers

To affect reasonable authenticity, Atlas offers this car with five (5) body styles.
    “Long tab” body, Murphy panel roof, 4/4 Dreadnaught ends
    “Long tab” body, 11 panel flat riveted roof, flat riveted ends
    “Short tab” body, Viking corrugated roof, Buckeye ends
    “Long tab” body, Viking corrugated roof, 4/4 Dreadnaught ends
    “Long tab” body, Murphy panel roof, flat riveted ends

Now we will examine the detail.

This model represents a Pennsy Class X-35 box car. 4/4 Dreadnaught ends frame the body while 10-panel riveted sides make up the "public side" of the car. The "B" end features the brake wheel and platform, attached ladder and a tack board. The brake wheel looks like a Miner 22-inch model D3279 - appropriate for the dates painted on this car.

The sides have nice small rivet detail. While the end ladders are separately molded, the side ladders and grabs are molded on. The doors are molded on and have 5/4/5 doors. All detail is molded on except for the tack board. It is mounted slightly askew.

Atop the Murphy panel roof is a wooden roof walk.

Underneath is a well detailed 0underframe. The full brake gear is molded on.

This box car rides on plastic wheels held in 50-Ton friction bearing trucks.

Physical and Performance
Atlas' N 1932 ARA box cars is 41-feet 6-inches long between strikers, and 47 feet from coupler to coupler. If you want to know how accurate that is then see Click here for additional images for this review to view a PRR mechanical department X-35 diagram. It shows the coupled length as 44' 2 1/2".

It weighs 1 oz, almost perfect per NMRA RP20.1.

I rolled it across Atlas code 80 switches and flex-track. It rolled very well.

Paint and Printing
I don't have my Pennsy paint chips handy but the color of this car looks good. The paint is opaque and does not obscure detail. Atlas printed company and road numbers and stenciling. It is also opaque and crisp, completely legible.

This run has seven road names. Each road name has three road numbers.
    Erie (1945 Paint)
    Pennsylvania RR
    MP (Route of the Eagles)
    Western Maryland
    Soo Line (Modern)
    Roberval Saguenay
    Seaboard* (1934-37 Paint)

The body is painted but the trucks are molded in color.

Atlas' N 1932 ARA Box Car is a good looking box car. Its sharp molding and good detail is enhanced by the separately applied parts. Paint and printing is top-notch. It rolled across Atlas code 80 switches and flex-track very well.

Some items like the stirrups are oversized. That does not trouble me because this is a "working" model railway car intended to be handled and run, not a model railroad car intended for static display on a shelf or ion a diorama. Parts have to be robust not to be fragile.

This N scale ARA box car will be a fine addition to a layout. I think it is an excellent compromise between detail, fidelity, operation and practicality. I am happy to have it on my layout and recommend it.

Please remember to mention to Atlas that you saw this box car here - on RailRoad Modeling.

* NEB&W Railroad Heritage Website. NEB&W Guide to Atlas 1932 ARA Steel Box Car Models. [Web.] 23 September 2011, at 07:41.

Click here for additional images for this review.

Highs: Excellent painting and printing. Good detail including separate end ladders.
Lows: Tack board on one door is askew.
Verdict: This N scale ARA box car will be a fine addition to a layout. I think it is an excellent compromise between detail, fidelity, operation and practicality and I am happy to have it on my layout.
  Scale: N Scale
  Mfg. ID: 50 002 485
  Related Link: 
  PUBLISHED: May 13, 2017
  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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