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This review is from Model Railroad News, Vol. 6, Issue 6, June 2000. Reprinted with permission of Lamplight Publishing.

ACF 60’ Auto Parts Boxcar by Atlas O

Review by David Otte

Atlas O has released American Car & Foundry 60’ Auto Parts Boxcars in both Double Door and Single Door versions.

In the post was years, the manufacturing of automobiles had become a giant industry. Both the number of automobile types and models had increased dramatically and with it the need to transport thousands of automotive parts from the factories to the assembly lines located throughout the country.

For the railroads, the moving of auto parts was good business, but it was also very frusta ring. Freight cars had to be dedicated by the railroads to carry specific auto parts such as fenders or wheels and were fitted with special loading devices, bulkheads, crossbars, or other interior fixtures making them highly specialized cars capable of hauling only that specific load. In some cases, railroads had specialized freight cars that were making less than a dozen revenue hauls a year!

These were expenses that neither the automobile companies, nor the railroads wished to continue to incur and by the early 1960s, they had joined together to encourage the rail car manufacturers to develop a new type of auto parts car. This cooperative effort resulted in the creation of two standard car styles: an 86’ hicube boxcar for carrying low density parts such as sheet metal body stampings, and a 60’ car for transporting high density items such as castings and transmission assemblies.

The most significant feature of the new designs was that these cars had no interior fittings. Auto parts were load into containers or onto wire racks that could be easily loaded and unloaded by forklift. Once empties, the containers would be returned to the boxcars for reuse, thereby allowing the cars to be used more efficiently.

It is the later 60’ style auto parts box car that Atlas O has chosen for their recent Big o rolling stock release. The car is available in a single and a double door version. Roadnames being offered for the single door version are: Baltimore & Ohio, Erie Lackawanna, Norfolk & western, and Western Maryland. The double door version comes decorated for: Grand Trunk Western, Rio Grande, Southern and Union Pacific. Undecorated cars are available for both door arrangements.

The Atlas O car is based specifically on the American Car & Foundry’s Precision Design 60’ auto parts boxcar. The Precision Design series came about in the mid 1960s and was ACF’s effort to redesign their 50’ and 60’ cars, thus creating a better boxcar. The use of stronger steel types, reduced weight, and a new standard underframe that could be easily adjusted for higher or lower floor loading capacities were some of the features the new design boasted.

One of the easiest spotting features of the relatively smooth sided, ACF built Precision Design car is the unusual indented, waffle side panels located next to the doorways.  The 60’ cars were offered with three different door configurations: a single 10’ door opening: a 16’ door openings centered on the car side, or a 16’ door opening offset to one side. A few cars were very well equipped with plug doors.

Well over 3,000 of these cars were built for a number of railroads between 1966 and 9172. Road known to have purchased the ACF cars included: B&O, C&O, Canadian Pacific, D&Ts, Rio Grande, Erie Lackawanna, Grand Trunk Western, Illinois Central, Kansas City Southern, Milwaukee Road, Katy, SP, Cotton Belt, Missouri Pacific, N&W, rock island, Southern, UP and Western Maryland.

The overall dimensions of the Atlas O models compare well with prototype drawings. The car measures 17.25” long over the couplers. This would translate to 69 scale feet which is right on the money. Also, the wheelbase measures 11.5” long an the height of the car above the rails is about 3.75”-both dimensions are within 3 scale inches of the prototype.

The quality of the plastic injected molded body is excellent, with numerous add-on details including: ladders, door latches, tack boards, see-through end platforms, end railings, and brake wheel. The Atlas O model even features sliding doors and simulated shock control couplers!

The diecast car floor and plastic frame on the underside of the car depict sill framing and gussets, as well as extensive brake gear details. The accurate die cast, sprung, 70 ton-roller bearing trucks display separately applied brake shoes behind the side frames.

The Atlas O Auto Parts cars exhibit all of the appropriate characteristic of the real SCF cars. The proper number of side panels are represented on both of the versions being offered, as are the correct roof deign and end walls. The indented waffle panels identifying the boxcars are Precision Design are present, with the single door version correctly having panels next to one side of the door, and the double door version having them on either side of the doors. Furthermore, Atlas has made their double door car rendering with a slightly deeper side sill than that of the single door version-which is one of the few differences noticeable in the construction of the Precision Design single door and double door prototypes.

As expected, the quality of decoration on both of our single and double door review samples is impeccable! Paint application was perfect and the lettering was crisp and opaque. Both our B&O single door car and Southern double door car displayed prototypical car information and were numbered in the proper car series. The B&O purchased 288 of both the single and double door boxcars from ACF in 1970-1971. The Southern bought 15 single 10’ door opening cars in 1968, and 57 with 16’ door openings in 1970.

The first thing we discovered when placing the 17.25” long cars on the test track was that they will NOT negotiate O31 curves. As with more and more of the scale size equipment being produced these days for 3-ral track, O54 curves are becoming necessary. Actually, these scale cars look more at home on O72 curves, but negotiated around our O54 test track just fine. As with our experience with previous Atlas O rolling stock tests, both samples rolled freely and very smoothly, with the magnetically operated die cast couplers functioning as reliably as ever.

Also, Atlas O is offering the ACF cars in 2-rail ready-to-run. The 2-rail versions come equipped with plated metal wheelsets and Kadee compatible couplers.

When it comes to these ACF Auto parts cars, the A in Atlas must surely stand for ACCURACY! Hi-railers as well as scale modelers will really appreciate the outstanding job Atlas O has done in producing these auto parts cars. If you model any time period from the late 1960s to the present, you will definitely want to add a couple of these to your list of modern rolling stock.



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