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Blue Box 50' wooden express reefer kit finished, coupler issues solved

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Blue Box 50' wooden express reefer kit finished, coupler issues solved
Posted by Lastspikemike on Wednesday, September 15, 2021 2:51 PM

Undecorated original kit never been touched. Easy enough to assemble, just s few brake details. True colour boxcar red and black cat CPR decals went on. Not too bad express truck details, quite nice for the price.

Coupler boxes won't accept Kadee shanks. Even Bachmann EZ Mate II are a tight fit. Couplers are low also. Two Kadee grey washers under each truck and still a tad low. No more room for washers because the truck bushing is too short to allow for more. 

I have other blue box items that will take a Kadee #5 or 148 and the couplers can be set at correct height. 

I also have a Roundhouse 50' wood reefer built by someone else. Similar but noticably different moulds used. Coupler height is correct. Trucks are express trucks but different leaf spring arrangement. Roof hatches are also different, more like the real CPR style. 

Alyth Yard

Canada

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  • From: Mpls/St.Paul
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Posted by wjstix on Wednesday, September 15, 2021 2:59 PM

Interesting, I don't think I've ever seen an Athearn BB car that wouldn't accept the standard Kadee 5? Maybe one of the newer "whisker" kind would fit - and I would try a "medium shank underset" one, that has the coupler head sitting higher up so you can remove the washers.

https://www.kadee.com/ho-scale-couplers-c-274_276_284/147-ho-scale-140series-whisker-metal-couplers-with-gearboxes-medium-932-underset-shank-p-297.htm

 

Stix
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  • From: west coast
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Posted by rrebell on Wednesday, September 15, 2021 3:01 PM

Use wisker offset  coupler.

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Posted by MisterBeasley on Wednesday, September 15, 2021 3:04 PM

Can you cut off the coupler boxes and replace them with Kadee draft gear boxes?

It takes an iron man to play with a toy iron horse. 

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Posted by doctorwayne on Wednesday, September 15, 2021 3:22 PM

This is my Athearn Blue Box express reefer, with some slightly modified details...

...lettering is C-D-S dry transfers.

If your car is lettered for CPR, it should be CPR maroon, rather than boxcar red.  The Black Cat decals are very well done and much more correct than they were many years ago.

I also added a few extra parts for the brake gear...

...and used Kadee #5 couplers, with the Athearn snap-on covers...

There are two Kadee #209 (.010") grey washers on each of the truck-mounting bosses of the car's bolsters, putting the couplers at exactly the proper height.

Is the coupler itself too low, or are the gladhands for uncoupling simply too low? I've had several where pliers were needed to adjust the gladhands, even though the couplers' heads were at the correct height.

Wayne

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Posted by Lastspikemike on Wednesday, September 15, 2021 6:23 PM

Thanks for all this input. 

The coupler heights are workable but now I think about it again (thanks) the obvious solution is underset couplers.

I was surprised the Kadees didn't fit. It may be paint layers artificially increasing the height of the wedge retainers for the spring clip. I'll take a closer look.

My Roundhouse express reefer is maroon with black roof and "gold" lettering but I didn't have those decals for the BB kit. The roundhouse model should akso have black ends like the express baggage boxcars of which a I have a few. I like to run express freight cars at the head end of my passenger consists, they were common and became more so later in the eras. As for greyhound bus freight trailers sometimes more revenue was earned from those express freight cars than from the passengers...

The BB roof is wrong anyway (CPR built their own with standard sloped roofs instead of arched) and some former express reefers were converted to regular freight use and then painted "brown" with white lettering but still had express trucks and the lettering "equipped for passenger service". So I kind of winged it and decalled it "for passenger service" but painted it and decalled it white on brown for freight service.

CPR long reefers weren't 50' either apparently, but more like 45' or so. Etc. An example of a "brown with white lettering" repainted express reefer is shown in Riddell's Vol 2 at page 58 (Canadian Pacific colour guide to freight and passenger equipment) That one has script lettering whereas mine is block. Black cat are usually pretty accurate and the decals I used are labelled for wood reefer fish belly under frame white lettering on brown 1928-1960's so....???? 

Alyth Yard

Canada

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Posted by Lastspikemike on Wednesday, September 15, 2021 6:59 PM

Well, more thanks are due for encouraging me to address these issues.

I keep a ridiculous inventory of couplers, replacing the stock as I use them. I find it satisfying to just decide to fix an issue without waiting for time to go down to my LHS for the one part I need so I keep a stock.

Kadee #147 medium underset are a perfect fit and the Kadee washers are now removed. Turns out there was just a bit too much paint on the coupler clip wedges. I scraped it off with an exacto and lo and behold the Kadee shank is no longer too thick. Coupler height is now perfect and the couplers swing freely. I am pleased. Glad  I posted. 

EZ Mate II are fairly good couplers but cost about the same as the far superior Kadee. The Bachmann coupler has a thinner shank which is necessary for some Bachmann stuff and, just for example, my Mantua 2-6-6-2 logger.

I fit Kadee whenever possible. You only need to fit a Kadee once.

Alyth Yard

Canada

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Posted by PC101 on Wednesday, September 15, 2021 8:07 PM

MisterBeasley

Can you cut off the coupler boxes and replace them with Kadee draft gear boxes?

 

I just looked at my PRR car. That is what I did. I removed the BB's coupler box and glued a Kadee #232 coupler box/draft gear to the floor. I used a #5 coupler and a red fiber .015'' washer #208 between the trucks and bolsters. The coupler lines up with the coupler gauge.

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Posted by Lastspikemike on Thursday, September 16, 2021 8:41 AM

MisterBeasley

Can you cut off the coupler boxes and replace them with Kadee draft gear boxes?

 

Yes. The issue I find with this is thickness of the end of the floor of the car to hold the mounting screw. An alternative is to glue the coupler box onto the car floor then later screw the cover on capturing the coupler. Kadee makes narrow coupler boxes about the same shape as the BB originals and one advantage of whisker couplers is they will squeeze into a narrow coupler box.

The Roundhouse reefer assembled by the previous owner has Kadee coupler boxes and couplers instead of the moulded on ones. 

Alyth Yard

Canada

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Posted by PC101 on Thursday, September 16, 2021 3:50 PM

Lastspikemike
 
MisterBeasley

Can you cut off the coupler boxes and replace them with Kadee draft gear boxes?

 

 

 

Yes. The issue I find with this is thickness of the end of the floor of the car to hold the mounting screw.

 

 I punch a hole though the steel weight to clear the coupler mounting screw. 

You could drill the steel weight for the screw to clear. BE SURE TO SECURE THE STEEL WEIGHT DOWN AND PUT A PIECE OF WOOD UNDERNEATH SO IT DOES NOT SPIN UP AND CUT YOU. Step drill bits are wonderful.

I have a very old what I think is called a ''Junior #5 hand punch kit''.

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Posted by mvlandsw on Thursday, September 16, 2021 4:11 PM

I have filed the KD shanks to make them fit into a tight box. You can also do that to correct a slight height mismatch although you may need to place a shim inside the box to prevent coupler droop.

Mark Vinski 

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Posted by Lastspikemike on Thursday, September 16, 2021 6:10 PM

I've seen Kadee #5 filed down to fit Bachmann skinny coupler boxes. I wouldn't go to that effort unless nothing easier worked.

As for the steel weights I have on other models drilled and tapped those weights to accept the truck and coupler box screws, not a problem. The problem I refer to is plastic car floors that are quite thin leaving not much to hold the screws. Gondolas and open hoppers can be challenging because you may not be able to hide the added screw holding pieces.

 I have glued nuts to the inside to address this on other modifications or kits. Also, you can glue small pieces of styrene sheet inside to give more screw holding thickness. There isn't much force on either truck or coupler mounting screws, not much is needed in order to hold. 

When I get a bit lazy and don't complete a project as well as I could it helps to get inspired by posts like these to just redo the slightly substandard work and go that extra step. It pays off when you get to enjoy running the trains.

Alyth Yard

Canada

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Posted by PC101 on Thursday, September 16, 2021 6:38 PM

Lastspikemike

 The problem I refer to is plastic car floors that are quite thin leaving not much to hold the screws.

Do not cut threads compleatly through the plastic floor, leave a little of just the drilled hole to grip the screw threads.

 

I can say that the Athearn BB 50' wood express Reefer car has a plastic floor thickness of .060''

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Posted by Lastspikemike on Thursday, September 16, 2021 8:57 PM

And a substantial steel plate weight 

Alyth Yard

Canada

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  • From: Southern Florida Gulf Coast
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Posted by SeeYou190 on Thursday, September 16, 2021 9:19 PM

All of this is much better explained by someone who has actually assembled untold dozens of Athearn Blue Box Kits and knows how to post pictures.

There... done.

Everyone: You're welcome.

-Kevin

Wink Happily modeling my STRATTON & GILLETTE RAILROAD. A Class A line located in a personal fantasy world of semi-plausible nonsense on Tuesday, August 3rd, 1954.

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Posted by Lastspikemike on Friday, September 17, 2021 8:29 AM

At first I thought this was just good natured ribbing....then I visited the link.

ROFL.

I dunno but my BB kits seem to assemble themselves.

I'm not sure I'd buy even one dozen BB kits. They are cheap and the resulting model is pleasant to look at and to run and durable due to lack of detail. They make good units to practice painting and decalling. I buy mine with my grandchildren in mind. Nobody could possibly mind if a BB car hits the floor. It'd probably survive.

 I do wish my MRR shadow would just resist the temptation to start a p.....g contest.  I mean I do that for a living ... for more than forty years. You're never going to win one...

Alyth Yard

Canada

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