Five 60-foot Double-Plug-Door Boxcars, on a Limited Budget

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Lazy Daydreamer
I found myself needing to obtain five 60ft double-plug-door boxcars to serve my 1:87 scale Ford auto assembly plant during the next planned op session. They didn't have to be super-detailed or of 'contest' quality - they just needed to be of the double-plug-door type, not with sliding doors. Because, as an in-the-know expert recently mentioned, Ford only accepted plug-door 60-footers to serve their facilities [a long, bizarre story - don't ask!:rolleyes:].

RTR models were not an option for me because of (1) price, and (2) I wanted to repaint some of them - not easy to do when you have to worry about breaking off fragile factory-installed detail parts in the process. Furthermore, 90% of the RTR 60-footers I've seen on the market are sliding-door models; plug door models are few and far between. So, my most practical [and affordable] solution was to find 5 new-in-box Con-Cor kits of the Greenville 60ft DPD cars on eBay, which I was able to get from various sellers, for a grand total of less than $80 (including shipping).

Of this set, I wanted to have at least one C&O car and one New York Central car - I already had decals for each. The remaining three were factory-decorated for DT&I, PRR, and WP, and would not need repainting.

On the 'plus' side, the Con-Cor boxcars - when fully assembled - look reasonably good from a 3-foot viewing distance, and can be transformed into bulletproof performers by installing additional weight along with Kaydee couplers and metal wheels. The 'minus' side is that I needed to do quite a bit of drilling, reaming, and filing to get some pieces to fit properly. On top of that, 3 of the 5 kits had broken coupler pocket covers - this problem alone added an extra hour to the total assembly time for a single kit (more about that later).

I'll post the photos in individual 'replies' since I'm going to upload them directly to the forum, instead of linking to a 3rd-party website.


Lazy Daydreamer
The C&O boxcar

I was all ready to set up my airbrush and strip/repaint a Conrail model when I decided to take a look at an Atlas C&O sliding-door 60-footer for reference. That's when I disovered that the sliding doors actually open - and could be removed. Hooray - no painting necessary (I hate airbrushing)! So I broke out the Dremel and carved up the Con-Cor Conrail body shell to get the double plug doors from each side, and did a bit of precision filing to slightly enlarge the openings in the Atlas car to accommodate the plug doors. Here are the pieces after cutting and trimming, ready for assembly:


Lazy Daydreamer
To paint the plug doors, I took some Tamiya Yellow and mixed in a bit of Tamiya Clear Orange to get the deeper shade of yellow as close as possible to the color of the lettering and the C&O logo. I had some leftover Microscale B&O/C&O locomotive decal sets with different sizes of numbers, so I was able to use the smaller ones to renumber the car into a specimen of the correct series. There were even some really tiny numbers that I was able to use for the numbers on the car ends. To purists, this car would be considered a "foobie" - I never was able to locate a photograph of a C&O car in this series, although I did find a photo of a B&O car on page 91 of Craig Bossler's book, The Color Guide to B&O Passenger and Freight Equipment (Morning Sun Books). Here is a side view of the completed car:


Lazy Daydreamer
The New York Central boxcar

As I mentioned earlier, I had enough leftover Microscale NYC boxcar decals, and a half-full jar of PollyScale Jade Green paint to do at least one of my 60-footers in that livery. One thing I really love about PollyScale (Geez, I miss 'em!:() is how they can be applied by hand brushing with the proper size/type of brushes and technique, so I was able to cover a car decorated for Missouri Pacific (which I already have on my roster) and cover it in Jade Green. There was a photograph available on of a car in the series, but it wasn't a Greenville car; probably a Thrall or a Pullman-Standard. And the cigar-band logo decals I had on hand were a tad larger than this particular prototype. So this car, too, would be considered a foobie. But like I said, all I really needed for my purposes was to have it numbered in the correct series. [EDIT: Yikes, I just noticed how blurry these images are - I guess I need to stop using my cell phone camera and go back to using my Canon Digital Rebel!o_O]
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Lazy Daydreamer
The remaining three boxcars

Once I had the first two DPD 60-footers painted and decaled, I figured the last three - which did NOT need to be repainted - would be a breeze. But it didn't quite work out that way.

A recurring problem I encountered was a result of a design flaw, where the top cover of the coupler draft gear box is a thin sheet of plastic that extends out from the floor platform. Since this piece is so thin, it is inevitable that some of these will break off during the shipping and handling process - and three of them had done so in my batch of kits!

Luckily, this was an easy flaw to correct: The coupler pivot is large enough that a hole can be drilled thru its center for a screw, and I had some Evergreen sheet styrene in my scrapbox that was the exact same thickness as the broken-off missing cover. [Sorry, I don't know the exact size since it wasn't in its original package - possibly in the .015 to .020 range?] I had a size 2-56 tap & drill set on hand, which was a perfect fit for one of the bolster screws from the cannibalized Conrail kit, so I used that to fasten the home-made coupler cover plate.

The first photo shows a floor platform with a broken-off cover plate; the second shows a more economical way of adding weight to these cars, by using the largest-size steel nuts available at my local Home Depot - fastened by 3m double-side tape:


Lazy Daydreamer
On my DT&I car, there was an additional problem where one of the tall ladder pieces had a few of its rungs broken off - so I had to mix up some green paint that was a close-enough resemblance to the "teal" green color of the car body, and paint one of the ladders from the cannibalized Conrail kit:


Lazy Daydreamer
My Western Pacific car was quicker to assemble, because I was able to use the floor platform from the cannibalized Conrail kit that still had both ends intact. However, I still had to enlarge and tap-out the bolster holes to accommodate the supplied screws.


Lazy Daydreamer
My Pennsy boxcar would have been the quickest assembly, if not for the fact that I needed to do the same corrective surgery on it that I did for the coupler box cover on the DT&I car. At least I didn't have to drill out holes to attach a roofwalk, since this car is factory-painted as an "excess height" car. I already had a copy of PRR #90158 on my roster; but with a teensy bit of precision scratching, I turned the '8' into a '3' - problem solved:D!



Lazy Daydreamer
Here are all the cars together. These, in addition to the original three 60ft DPD boxcars that were already in my roster, should provide enough traffic for switching-out my Ford assembly plant during one evening's op session:



Well-Known Member
Staff member

Well, out of vanity :) I did do one of the cars for my private rail road. Very basic though CSX Blue with the Royal Pacific Railways decal:

Like I said, nothing fantastic by any means and I have to use Micro Sol on the decals to remove the shiny parts then go ver it all with dull coat.

Yours on the other hand look great, better than great to be honest. I was wanting to paint the doors of mine a different color/shade but it looked like a nightmare trying to mask everything up, remembering I am N Scale.


Lazy Daydreamer
Bob & Garry - thanks for the kind words!

Garry, IIRC, you worked for the GTW for a while - were you still with them when they acquired the DT&I?


Lazy Daydreamer
Ken: Good work and inspirational. Always helps when four of five are properly painted.
Thanks Boris!

I asked my expert friend [the retired Chessie Bayview yardmaster] if it would be prototypical to have cars painted for RRs of the West, serving a Ford plant in Ohio. I was pleasantly surprised when he said that auto-part boxcars were "pooled" among various roads throughout the Continent, that even a Santa Fe hi-cube could spend years being shuttled between an early-stage production facility in Michigan and an end-stage assembly plant in some other Eastern state. That justifies the presence of my Western Pacific, Cotton Belt and MoPac cars. is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to