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Model Railroading > Athearn 86' Hi-Cube Box Cars

Date: 08/02/01 14:42
Athearn 86' Hi-Cube Box Cars
Author: CSX_CO


Picked up a Athearn 86' ft Hi-Cube Box car for the first time, and am in the process of assembling it. I pulled out the calipers to check the size of the wheels, and they appear to be 33" wheels. Upon closer inspection of the body, it says the car is equipt with '36" Cast Steel Wheels'!

So I ask...which size is correct? Do the prototype's have 36" wheels? Would adding 36" wheels make the coupler height so far out of whack that I would be better sticking with 33" wheels?

Thanks in advance
Practice SAfe CSX

Date: 08/02/01 16:03
Another Question "CSX Car Blue"
Author: CSX_CO

What's a good match for the blue CSX applies to it's freight cars? Polly Scale CSX Blue is too light in color.

thanks in advance.
Practice Safe CSX

Date: 08/02/01 16:17
RE: Athearn 86' Hi-Cube Box Cars
Author: BCM

If you tell me the railroad and car number, I'll check the ORER and find out what size it should have...

But short of that, here is a general rule:

Most 86' boxcars have 33" wheels and a maximum weight - which is equal to the light weight (LT WT) plus the load limit (LD LMT) - of 220,000 lbs. If the sum of the LT WT and LD LMT is equal to 263,000 or 286,000 lbs then the car should have 36" wheels (that applies to all types of hoppers, covered hoppers, gondolas, boxcars, tank cars, and standard flat cars).

Additional Note: Most manufacturers do not realize the significance of the weight data that they print on the sides of their cars and thus you will commonly see models from some manufacturers where the sum of the LT WT and LD LMT is equal to some number that is not exactly 220,000 or 263,000 or 286,000 lbs (the three standard design maximum weights of cars - which account for at least 95% of the total car fleet). That is a sure sign that those cars likely have incorrect printing on them. Why?

Most railroad freight cars are built to the maximum design load of the body and freight trucks. For an overwhelming majority of all car designs that maximum design weight is either 220K, 263K, or 286K lbs. When they are new, all cars are weighed and the empty car weight (to the nearest 100 pounds) is stenciled below the car number as LT WT xxx,x00. That weight is then subtracted from the maximum design weight (220K, 263K, or 286K for most cars) to get the maximum load that the car is designed to carry. That maximum load (as determined from that subtraction) is then stenciled under the car number as LD LMT yyy,y00. As the weight of a freight car changes during its career (due to shop repairs, extra supports or equipment, etc...), the load limit is always adjusted accordingly as well...

Example: A standard design 1980s "100 ton" boxcar with 36" wheels. Car has maximum design weight of 263,000 lbs. If the car when empty weighs 65,400 lbs (LT WT), then the load limit (LD LMT) should be (EXACTLY!!!) 263,000 - 65,400 = 197,600 lbs. If five years later the car is weighed again and found to be 65,500 lbs, then the LT WT on the car side would be changed to 65,500, and the LD LMT changed to 197,500.

Modern freight cars with maximum design weights of 286,000 lbs will also have a little rectangular box printed on the sides of the car which has "286K" inside the box.

Hope this helps,

Date: 08/02/01 16:18
RE: Another Question "CSX Car Blue"
Author: chilli

I've noticed that on several cars from several manufacturers (not just this list's favorite "take your best shot at Athearn!"), that due to clearances for bolster and wheel swing on certain radii, that you have to go with a smaller diameter wheel (33 in your case) or start chiseling away. I can't say for certain, but I'd bet some hycubes were built with 33 wheels, the tonnage on those cars is not much compared to say a paper hauling box, or a grain hopper. I'm sure someone will correct me.

I know 33 inch wheels rub the bottom of MDC gondolas, so ground away the plastic to avoid the problem. Lots of auto carriers have 28 inch wheels for lower clearances. Same deal with anything but 28" wheels on Walthers's ore cars....

It's one of those "check your specific prototype" things...

Date: 08/02/01 16:20
RE: Athearn 86' Hi-Cube Box Cars
Author: kenw

the difference is only 17 thousanths of an inch.

Date: 08/02/01 16:43
RE: Car number
Author: CSX_CO

Number is CSX 180556

Date: 08/02/01 17:49
RE: Car number
Author: BCM

Is that an Athearn kit #2955? If so, that is a new car number. The original #2955 car number was CSXT 180668. You might keep an eye out for that one as well...

Just checked the 1999 ORER and CSXT 180556 is indeed an 86' boxcar. According to the ORER it has a capacity of 146K. Given the approximately 60 ton (120000 lbs) weight of the empty car, if the car only had 33" wheel the the capacity would be in the 100K range, thus CSXT 180556 does have 36" wheels. The double check using the printed car data (I have an Athearn #2955 as well) shows the sum of the LT WT (119100) plus the LD LMT (143900) is exactly equal to 263,000 pounds - thus by the printing the car should have 36" wheels.

The couplers on Athearn 86' boxcars have a known tendancy to "droop" at the ends, which addition of 36" wheel sets should actually help.


Date: 08/02/01 18:57
RE: Dreaded "Droop" on Athearn long cars
Author: chilli

While I don't run that many, I have found making a "cradle" from styrene so that the coupler end of the drawbar is held at correct height works. Kinda like how Walthers' does it's long cars without the fancy turning mechanism.

Doesn't someone make conversion kits for the Athearns so they end up just like the Walthers'? Like Walthers'? Thought I saw something in a recent MR about it or on their Terminal Hobby Shop web.

Date: 08/02/01 19:10
Author: emdgealc

I checked the WALTHERS catalog for 2001

Modelflex has L&N gray
L&N blue
L&N gray

Polly Scale L&N gray

Some years ago Model Railroader in the 70's had a article on the L&N and the various colors and mixtures to match the L&N fleet.

They had pictures of many different pieces of equipment and how hey were lettered, I am afraid that I can not locate the magazine, I was looking for it last week.

For L&N gray they suggested reefer gray. For the yellow they used reefer gray

ON your question on the blue I do not remember the specfic mixture, somehow I seem to recall that there was a mixture of dark blue and reefer white. We painted a lot of cars with this then we used medium blue as it matched the new cars that passed from MObile and Montgomery during the 70's

You might pose this question to the Yahoo club for the L&N search with the word "ELLEN" THey used this word instead of L&N.
Quite a few of the modelers whose name appears in the magazines with article s about the L&N and other southern roads. This includes Stu Thayer, Jim Six and others are members on that group.

Also do not forget the L&N Historical Society, they have annual cars sales and they may have the info.

Also the Book by Steve Johnson L&N color guide to freight and passenger cars VOL.1 that was published this year.

You I can help further use the trainorders address

Date: 08/02/01 19:15
paint goof
Author: emdgealc

DUH I thought he was asking about L&N blue, Time to call the end to the overtime and to go home

Excuse the post.


Date: 08/02/01 20:06
RE: paint goof
Author: tankertoad70

To avoid the coupler "droop" on the 86' boxcars, I found a Walthers "swing coupler" kit that holds the coupler against the body. It eliminates the coupler mounting device that comes with the kit and has resulted in very smooth operation.

Date: 08/03/01 03:53
RE: Coupler Droop....
Author: zman1437

I have about 65 of the Athearn 86' high cubes and I solved the droop problem by cutting the coupler arm right before the swivel and CA'ing it to the bottom and end of the car. You must have a fairly large miunimum radius (I use 40" as a minimum). For ease of assembly and coupler reliability I have used only 33" wheelsets. Since most of my cars cost under $5, I want to keep the cost down (metal wheels and KD coupler are a must). The Walthers part is nice, but just doesn't fit into my budget. After a little styrene here and there, the pocket looks pretty good.

Date: 08/03/01 08:12
RE: Coupler Droop....
Author: ncng

I have mounted the Kadee couple boxes to the body of the car. I have a minimum radius of 30" and have had no problems with operating the cars. The droop problem caused just too much reliability problems. Besides de-couplings the extension from the bolster frequently would bind. Removing them extension has really helped.

Date: 08/03/01 08:49
RE: Coupler Droop....
Author: toledopatch

The Walthers swing coupler kit is intended to help modelers whose railroads have tight-radius curves. If you have a wide minimum radius there should be no problem with attaching the coupler in a fixed position -- just like the real thing! I have about a dozen of the Athearn kits "in storage" for my future model railroad and I guess I just hope I'll have the space for a wide minimum mainline radius.

Date: 08/03/01 08:55
RE: Prototype
Author: CSX_CO

Well, these cars, along with 89ft flat cars (Autoracks included), have considerable coupler swing in them. I would say you get 6" to a foot swing in either direction. It may even be more. On shorter cars, you only get a few inches swing.

That's why crossed drawbars are much more common on longer cars. You can get incredible differences in the position of the coupler.

I too agree with the poster that says Walthers has a good set up on their autoracks. It allows for this swing, and isn't exaggerated too much to negotiate tight curves.

Practice Safe CSX

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