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In-Box Review
N scale
40' Plug Door Box Car
N 40' Plug Door Box Car Penn Central #350610
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by: Frederick Boucher [ JPTRR ]

Originally published on:
RailRoad Modeling

Atlas N
Trainman series
Scale: N
Type Plug door box car
Item #: 33007

Fruit Growers Express cars were a staple of manifest freights for decades and leased their cars to specific railroads. Atlas released this N scale Penn Central FGE insulated box car as part of their extensive Trainman series. It is equipped with AccuMate® knuckle couplers.

Fruit Growers Express
Fruit Growers Express (FGE) was a railroad refrigerator car leasing company that began as a produce-hauling subsidiary of Armour and Company's private refrigerator car line. Its customers complained they were overcharged. In 1919 the Federal Trade Commission ordered the company's sale for anti-trust reasons.

The company is now controlled by the CSX Corporation.

Incorporated on March 18, 1920 the firm took possession of 4,280 pieces of rolling stock, repairs shops at Alexandria, Virginia and Jacksonville, Florida, and numerous ice plants and other facilities scattered throughout the East Coast on May 1. By year's end, the Chicago and Eastern Illinois, New Haven, and Norfolk and Western railroads became major stockholders.

In order to compete with the Pacific Fruit Express and Santa Fe Refrigerator Despatch in the west, FGE and the Great Northern Railway formed the Western Fruit Express (WFE) on July 18, 1923, a move that added 3,000 cars to the equipment pool. By 1926, FGE had expanded its service into the Pacific Northwest and the Midwest through the WFE and the Burlington Refrigerator Express (BREX), its other partly owned subsidiary (formed in partnership with the Chicago, Burlington and Quincy Railroad (CB&Q) on May 1). That same year, FGE purchased 2,676 36-foot-long (11 m) reefers from the Pennsylvania Railroad.

In February, 1928 FGE formed the National Car Company as a subsidiary to service the meat transportation market. Customers included Kahns, Oscar Mayer, and Rath Packing.

Refrigerator cars have been on the rails for over a century. They have progressed from using ice to using mechanical and chemical methods. There are 19 AAR classifications of refrigerator car types, including the "RB" -- no ice bunkers — heavy insulation.

40' Plug Door Box Car Penn Central #350610
This model is securely packed in a plastic cradle held in a clear hard plastic case. A thin plastic sheet protects the box car from scuffing against the cradle and case lid. The model is factory assembled and ready-to-run.

My first impression was 'Look at the sharp small detail and that sharp printing'!

The trucks and wheels are plastic. I’ve got to admit, the plastic wheels look better because they don’t have that shine of metal wheels found on larger scales. The trucks are held to the bolsters by plastic pins. These reefers commonly rode on Bettendorf or Barber type trucks, however, the model trucks appear to be A. S. Foundries® Ride Control® 50-ton types.

The model is molded without any noticeable flaws. One scale drawback of N is the couplers. Though they are way too big, that is par for N scale; I have only found one aftermarket brand that is more to scale. Not only that but the couplers are mounted on the trucks.

The surface detail is good. All detail is cast on. The ladders, grab irons, stirrups, and roof details appear a bit overscale yet are better than previous N scale offerings. Underside detail consists of sharply molded floor boards, frame, and air brake detailing. The end brake wheel is separate and well done.

Model features:

• Prototypical painting and lettering
• Friction-bearing or roller-bearing caboose trucks as appropriate
• Factory-equipped with AccuMate® couplers
• Accurate painting and printing

The box car is 42 scale-feet long from sill to sill, and 45 feet 9 inches from coupler to coupler. It weighs .6 ounces. NMRA RP-20.1 Car Weight suggests the weight should be .98 ounces.

Finish and Markings
The paint is smooth and opaque without obscuring detail. Basic FGE livery is Armour Yellow, brown ends and roofs, and black underframes.

Incredibly sharp, legible printing finishes the finish. I had to use a magnifying glass to read much of the data! Aside from dimensional data the information you can read:

* PC (for Penn Central)


* AX 12 76


* BUILT ACF 6 1955

The car was built in June 1955. "AX" is in lieu of "NEW" and indicates the car was rebuilt or had a major servicing in December 1976.

Atlas N offers the car in the following roadnames:

- BC Rail
- Detroit, Toledo & Ironton
- Penn Central
- Seatrain
- Fruit Growers Express
- ThermIce Corporation
- Burlington Northern (RBWX)
- Canadian National
- Columbus & Greenville
- Frisco
- Green Bay Western
- Pacific Great Eastern

All have two road numbers.

I am impressed with this model. N scale of today has the detail only found in larger scales a decade ago. The molding of the body is crisp. The fidelity of the molded detail is impressive, ladders and walkways are over scale. Painting is smooth and markings are sharp. Overall this is a good model for N-scalers who want an insulated plug door box car of the middle diesel era. Recommend.

Wikipedia. Fruit Growers Express. [Web.] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fruit_Growers_Express. 13 April 2011.
Highs: Sharp printing and smooth finish. Sharp detail and knuckle couplers.
Lows: Over scaled detail.
Verdict: Overall this is a good model for N-scalers who want an insulated plug door box car of the middle diesel era.
Percentage Rating
  Scale: N Scale
  Mfg. ID: 33007
  Suggested Retail: $11.95
  Related Link: 
  PUBLISHED: Aug 31, 2011
  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.


I have been an N scale model railroader since 1968. I feel I must make the following comments on your review: The Atlas box car is a very nice model, but is not representative of the current state of the art in N scale. The tooling dates back to the 1970's and the only upgrade is the trucks/couplers. (with working knuckle couplers, MicroTrains compatible, replacing the Rapidos of that period). In the 1970's the lettering on Atlas cars was very good. I looked at several cars in my collection and found the lettering to be sharp and readable. The lettering today may be marginally better due to improved technology. The paint an the car in the photos is actually thicker than the paint on the 1970's models. At some time (I think in the 1980's) the Fed government banned the paints used, requiring new formulas to be developed. The reformulated paints generally do not cover as well thus requiring slightly thicker application. Even in the 1970's, the Atlas cars were not state of the art. That title belonged to Kadee N Scale (now MicroTrains). Atlas does make some current state of the art cars as do Red Caboose, MicroTrains and others, but a lot of their line dates from the 1970's. On my 1970's Atlas cars I remove the roof walks, scrape them thinner using a razor blade and glue then to the roof. MicroTrains roof walks (which are thinner) can be adapted to fit and there are also aftermarket brass products. MicroTrains also sells brake wheels which a little finer than those on the Atlas car. The older tooling Atlas cars are good, rugged models for someone who wants to operate a N scale model railroad. They are substantially less expensive ann generally more durable than the current state of the art models. They are 4-5 times their 1970's cost, but I guess I shouldn't complain about that. My retirement income is more than 10 times my 1970's working income.
SEP 08, 2011 - 10:09 PM
highway70, Thank you for the history and expertise of this model! I appreciate it!
AUG 13, 2012 - 01:17 PM

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