I received my shipment of the new Nickel Plate Road 36-foot wooden boxcars from Accurail and as you can see, they are dandy! The car is all brand new tooling and is the first mass produced model of an older type of freight car produced in quite some time.
The cars feature a few more pieces than the traditional Accurail cars but are still pretty easy to assemble IF you display a little patience. Two new general features on these cars are a more detailed brake system and separate two step stirrups. More on those later…
Since I’m getting a few for my own needs and since I needed pictures for this post as well as for the Company Store, I got to work and built one shortly after receiving them.
The underframe is made up of two fishbelly main supports with five cross-members. Between the two main supports, the brake rigging is inserted prior to adding the frame to the floor. You need to carefully study the instruction page diagram to figure out just exactly how the brake rigging fits but it all works out in the end. Don’t forget to add the brake cylinder; I don’t remember seeing anything in the instructions about doing so. Now, carefully hold everything together and install the five cross-members. This gets a little tedious until you get a couple of them in place; that tends to hold everything else in a more stable position to finish. Once that is done, attach the completed underframe to the car’s floor.
I’ve never had much luck with the Accurail supplied couplers so I substituted some other knuckle couplers. They fit easily into the coupler box and were easy to attach using the two small screws. You’ll need a Phillips screwdriver to complete this process. Add the wheels to the trucks but don’t attach them yet. I used double stick tape to attach the weight to the floor. Be careful here… the weight is very close to the length of the floor and if it’s not correctly centered, it may impede the final assembly. If I were a bit more energetic, I would have hacked off a very small section from one end to make positioning it much easier.
The body assembly is simple enough. Add the brake wheel to the brake shaft using a tiny drop of CA then trim it to length and use another drop of CA to attach it to the car body. Now, press fit the floor assembly into the car body. This next step is probably the most tedious part of the whole thing…
There are four two-step stirrups included in the parts that are cast in what appears to be Delrin. Delrin is a slippery engineering plastic that is flexible and tough which are good things. The bad thing is that it does not adhere well using any of the traditional cements or glues that we would normally use in model building. “Carefully” remove the stirrups from the parts sprue. I used a sharp Xacto knife and cut them away. Next, very patiently cut away the little casting pins between the two rungs. This really does take patience and I’d suggest working in the box lid to try to prevent these little guys from flying away when the plastic is cut. I almost lost two of them on the floor in may basement and it took forever to find them.
Once the floor assembly is inserted into the car body, you will note two tiny holes at each corner of the floor assembly. These holes are for the pins on the stirrups. The instructions suggest using a water-based glue to just hold the parts in place. Keep in mind that if you use another type of cement, it may be difficult “down the road” to reopen the car for some maintenance. The choice is yours. It takes some real patience here but as you can see, the results do look good. You may choose to paint the stirrups to match the car body; I didn’t.
Attach the trucks and you are done.
Accurail has done a really nice job with this totally new car. Over the next several months, they anticipate releasing a whole series of cars in different road names based on this model. A sister model has wooden ends instead of the metal ends found on the NKP car. These cars were still around in the early 1950s so you can justify a few of them on your layout unless you model the very last days of the NKP.
PS. — If you want some of these cars, anyone may order from the NKPHTS Company Store where they can be found. The web address is here: NKPHTS The Company Store page can be found at the top of the navigation section on the upper left portion of the home page.