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In-Box Review
26' Ore Car with Load
HO RTR 26' Ore Car with Load, UP/CMO #396370
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by: Frederick Boucher [ JPTRR ]

Originally published on:
RailRoad Modeling

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Athearn continues to expand their popular Ready To Roll series with this sharp 26-foot ore gondola. Suitable for c. 1958 to present, these models feature metal wheels, photo-etch parts, separately applied ladders, knuckle couplers, and sharp lettering. Athearn currently lists 64 different 26' ore cars in seven road names (and two undecorated choices), and both a high and low body.

26-Foot Ore Gondola

Gondolas are one of the most numerous and versatile freight cars. They haul coal, ore, building materials, grain, vehicles, scrap, rails, ties, lumber, steel, and practically everything one would move by rail. Gons range in length from 26' to over 60' depending on the intended load. These 26' ore cars carry heavier material so their size is limited, yet they ride on 100-ton trucks.

Athearn states this particular rail car was produced beginning in 1958. These can still be found on railroads today. I can not find any prototype information on its manufacturer.

HO RTR 26' Ore Car with Load, UP/CMO #396370

Athearn packs this model in their blue and yellow carton with a plastic front window. It is securely held in a form-fitted cradle by a clear fitted top. It is spared chaffing by a thin plastic film.

Athearn produces high and low sided versions of the 26' car. The outside molding is free of ejector marks, sink holes, and flash. One edge has a rough seam line blemish.

The body is an externally braced container and is sharply molded as a single piece. The sills are thick. There is no interior detail and unfortunately has large ejector marks on the floor. The molded ore load will hide these but that does not help you if you want to model empties returning to the mine. This body sets upon an underframe with basic frame and structural detail molded on.

The underframe secures the body via the screws that hold the trucks on the frame.

Overall length of this ore car model is 27 feet, and 32 feet length over couplers. It weighs 3 ounces with the load installed; per National Model Railroad Association Recommended Practice 20.1, the car should weigh 2.86 ounces.


For a ready-to-run model, it is very detailed! Included are:
* Factory applied separate ladders, grab irons, and roping eyes
* Brake wheel and chain
* Photo-etched brake platform
* 'Clasp brake' trucks
* Machined RP25 profile metal wheels
* McHenry scale knuckle spring couplers
* Factory applied separate brake set with air cylinder, triple valve, and air reservior

Your RTR 26' ore car will glide over your rails on simplified low friction black Celcon 100-ton Roller Bearing trucks. And does it roll! During photography it took off and zipped off the end of the photo track! Unfortunately the nice metal wheels are not blackened. Nor is the brake platform.

The ladders are flexible Celcon or Delrin.

The McHenry couplers are secured with screws.

Finish and Livery

The model is molded in color with a shiny smooth surface. Weathering, or at least a shot of Dullcote, will make the appearance more realistic.

Athearn sharply prints all the operational data, reporting marks, and Union Pacific's emblem and slogan. The model represents Union Pacific CMO 396370, a former Chicago St. Paul Minneapolis & Omaha (CSt.PM&O, the “Omaha Road”) car acquired by UP when they bought the Chicago & North Western in 1995. CNW had merged CMO in 1957. Athearn makes these cars with three different numbers.


The sharp printing is top-notch. The individual ladders enhance the appearance beyond measure. It rolls brilliantly--maybe too freely! Knuckle spring couplers are great additions. You have many choices of road names and two choices of body heights.

On the minus side, the bright shiny wheels and unpainted photo-etched brake platform stand out like sore thumbs. The body sides are too thick for scale. The good air brake detail has no piping; this can be easily added. It is a tad too long.

Overall this is a fine Ready-To-Roll ore car. Recommended.

Please remember, when contacting retailers or manufacturers, to mention that you saw their products highlighted here - on RAILROADMODELING.

Click here for additional images for this review.

Highs: Printing is top-notch and individual ladders enhance the appearance beyond measure. It rolls brilliantly and boasts knuckle spring couplers.
Lows: Bright shiny wheels and unpainted photo-etched brake platform stand out like sore thumbs. The body sides are too thick for scale.
Verdict: Overall this is a fine Ready-To-Roll ore car.
Percentage Rating
  Scale: 1:87
  Mfg. ID: ATH97663
  Suggested Retail: $18.98
  Related Link: 26' Ore Car Series
  PUBLISHED: Mar 15, 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.


yeah, metal wheels and knuckle couplers are always a plus
MAR 16, 2011 - 04:32 PM

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