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In-Box Review
28' Semi-Trailer Van
HO RTR 28' Trailer, Yellow #2 (2)
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by: Frederick Boucher [ JPTRR ]

Originally published on:
RailRoad Modeling


My first addition to my first train set was a Tyco piggyback set in Santa Fe livery. They were a favorite of mine and I still have those two 28 ft. semi-trailers, their flatcar, and accompanying loading dock. Coincidentally, Yellow livery has always appealed to me. That probably explains why I am thrilled that Athearn generously sent RailRoadModeling this pack of two trailers.

At the time of this review, Athearn lists 202 of these models on their website, in HO and N scales. They come in a variety of van designs, with six specific and dozens of uncategorized, company road names.

Yellow Freight System Inc.

Yellow Freight System Inc. is one of the oldest and largest trucking companies in the United States. The company traces its history back to 1924 when Yellow Cab and Transit Company, a bus and taxi company, was founded in Oklahoma City. In 1968, the company name was changed from Yellow Transit Freight Lines to Yellow Freight System Inc., and to Yellow Corporation in 1992. Finally, in 2003 Yellow Corp. acquired competitor Roadway Corp., forming Yellow Roadway Corporation.[1]

Yellow's company color became more orange in 1929 when Dupont was enlisted to improve safety by creating the vehicle color that would be the most visible on the nation's highways. Swamp Holly Orange became the color used on all company tractors.[2].


From the dawn of automotive haulage, trucks continued the synergistic relationship trains shared with animal drawn wagons. Trains carried the tonnage from source to terminals for distribution; trucks could haul goods from the railway terminal directly to the customer’s doorstep. As the American road network improved trucks began carrying more of the nation’s freight with a flexibility railroads could not match. The national interstate system made it feasible for trucks to quickly and economically move product from source to consumer. Eventually it was found that in many circumstances it was better to let railroads, rather than truck drivers, carry the trailer from terminal to terminal. This intermodal combination is common in North America to transport semi-trailers on railway flatcars or spine cars, an arrangement officially known as TOFC (trailer on flatcar). Popularly it is known as Piggyback. Some TOFC vans were painted with a cartoon pig on railroad wheels!

The 28 ft (8.53 m) box trailer (also called a van trailer) is a standard size semi-trailer pulled by a semi-trailer truck (known in the UK as an articulated lorry for semi-trucks). Carrying them on flatcars began after World War Two. Whereas boxcars used to be the usual source of color on freight trains, flatcars covered with trailers began to boast the riot of colors seen racing along the rails. Eventually trailers got bigger and flatcars got longer.

Standard lengths in North America are 28 ft (8.53 m), 32 ft (9.75 m), 34 ft (10.36 m), 36 ft (10.97 m), 40 ft (12.19 m), 45 ft (13.72 m), 48 ft (14.63 m) and 53 ft (16.15 m).[1]

Today intermodal containers have eclipsed the truck trailer for the lion’s share of haulage.

28 Ft. Trailer 2-Pack

These trailers can fit onto any size flatcar. Athearn securely packages a pair of trailers in their blue and yellow carton with a clear plastic display window. They are securely held in a form-fitted plastic cradle with a fitted clear plastic top.

The vans are molded with sharp detail. Each is factory assembled and Ready-To-Roll, hence Athearn’s name of this series! The end doors are detailed with molded hinges, locking bars and handles. There is basic detail on the bottom, including the front landing gear. These can be exchanged with raised gear.

Yellow Trailer Painting and Markings

The paint is smooth and does not obscure detail. All printing is crisp and opaque atop the base color. Container information, dimensional data, and placards are all legible.


Athearn’s 28' trailer is a good model of a common intermodal container. It has good detail and an excellent finish. Offered in many liveries, these models can enhance the colorful “traveling circus” look of a Post-War freight train. Recommended.

Remember, when contacting manufacturers and retailers, to tell them you saw this product here—on RailRoadModeling.net!

[1]. Wikipedia
[2]. YRC Worldwide, Inc.
Highs: Razor sharp painting and printing. Landing gear is interchangeable (raised or lowered).
Lows: No dolly included. Molded locking bar and handle detail.
Verdict: These have good detail and an excellent finish. Offered in many liveries, these models can enhance the colorful “traveling circus” look of a Post-War freight train.
Percentage Rating
  Scale: 1:87
  Mfg. ID: 29155
  Suggested Retail: $24.98
  Related Link: Athearn 28' Trailer Models
  PUBLISHED: Mar 16, 2011
  NATIONALITY: United States

Our Thanks to Athearn!
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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