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Robin's rails?

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  • Member since
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Robin's rails?
Posted by NVSRR on Sunday, February 19, 2023 6:52 PM

I have this 60' boxcar and another. got them off ebay and they are from Robin's rails.  it is a clean mold. but the detail set added mostly just ladders is less than impressive. What else can anybody tell me about them?

SHane

A pessimist sees a dark tunnel

An optimist sees the light at the end of the tunnel

A realist sees a frieght train

An engineer sees three idiots standing on the tracks stairing blankly in space

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Posted by dknelson on Monday, February 20, 2023 11:30 AM

Robin's Rails was one of the fairly early efforts to go beyond the shake the box level of detail on Athearn/Model Die Casting yet still utilize styrene for the material.  There were others such as McKeen at about the same time.  Similarly outfits like Bev Bel were trying to enhance the paint and lettering schemes on plastic freight car kits.  

So where Athearn had most detail molded on, Robins Rails (at least the PS1 boxcar I am familiar with) had separately applied detail, somewhat in the same spirit of the much older Kurtz Kraft plastic kits of the late 1950s which were the real groundbreaking efforts in plastic.  The point was that more traditional wood and metal kits had separately applied parts and there was a generation of modelers who rejected plastic for that reason.  It took a while to bring those modelers into the fold and accept plastic.  It is hard to convey just what a difficult step that was for many older and very talented modelers.  

Robins Rails kits were reasonably well thought out but not perfectly designed.  If you have built an Intermountain or Red Caboose/IMWX or Pacific HO or original Proto2000 freight car kit you'll feel right at home with the Robins Rails methods but will need to tinker to gets things to fit as nicely.  You will note that the instructions and the kit are both rather vague on the topic of underframe rodding and brake detail.  

Most of the separately applied parts that came with a Robins Rails kit are now available as after market parts from other sources (Tichy for example) with much better and finer detail.  So you could improve the kit -- at a cost, but you might already have a supply of such parts.  All I can say is that a "pure" Robins Rails kit, if assembled with care, builds up into a nice enough looking model but any given Kadee PS1 or carefully built Intermountain kit would look better but -- again -- that comes at a cost.  Each of us has his (or her) own interior notion of where detail, accuracy, and cost have to be balanced.  

By the way this might seem childishly obvious but should you decide to build a Robins Rails kit read the instructions thoroughly before starting AND highlight in your instructions sheet just when to add the weight to the interior because if you follow the instructions literally and build step by step there comes the horrible moment when you say to yourself "hey wait a minute.  This thing's light as a feather!"  And I seem to recall the weight did not fit the way the kit designer seemed to think it would.  Similarly I find it easier to add some if not most underframe rodding and brake detail before the underframe is attached to the car but many modelers disagree with that preference of mine.  

I think there would be many experienced modelers who would simply advise you to spent your time and energies elsewhere than on a Robins Rails kit.  I say go for it but think about replacing ladders and grabs and handbrake details and running boards from other sources 

Dave Nelson

  • Member since
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  • From: Detroit, Michigan
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Posted by Soo Line fan on Monday, February 20, 2023 12:29 PM

To add to what Dave has said, Robins Rails was a company which started up with AHM items such as a PS-2 hopper, either bought from AHM leftovers or directly from the manufacturer (Rivarossi, Roco, etc).
 
They did some custom decorating using Athearn / MDC undecorated cars similar to what Bev Bel did. These were typically in standard Athearn / MDC boxes.
 
Later they made some rolling stock of their own, notable the 60 ft car and a 50 ft box car.
 
Ironically, Bel Bel also sold these cars with different paint schemes.
 
At one time Con Cor sold the 60 ft cars. Not sure if they or who ended up with the molds.
 
A very interesting book could be written on both the history of many companies as well as their products.

Jim

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Posted by maxman on Monday, February 20, 2023 12:40 PM

dknelson
I say go for it but think about replacing ladders and grabs and handbrake details and running boards from other sources 

Paint it Conrail and you won't need no stinking running boards!

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Posted by NVSRR on Monday, February 20, 2023 12:45 PM

Sounds like some pieces are missing.     No weights in the kit at all.    And only a set of ladders.  Crude ladders at that.      The two I got are 60' cars.   Sounds like I need to get a whole detail package if I decide to build these.  Maybe worth putting on the shelf for a later project and look out for detail sets in the mean time.      
shane

A pessimist sees a dark tunnel

An optimist sees the light at the end of the tunnel

A realist sees a frieght train

An engineer sees three idiots standing on the tracks stairing blankly in space

  • Member since
    February 2007
  • 472 posts
Posted by Graham Line on Wednesday, March 1, 2023 7:05 PM

Robin's Rails was a spinoff of E&B Valley, which produced a straight-sided two bay covered hopper kit.  RR had a fairly decent single-sliding-door 50-footer, a flat kit gondola, and a few other cars.  They were current in the early 80s or so.

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Posted by riogrande5761 on Friday, March 3, 2023 8:44 AM

I believe those kits were supposed to come with weights so it sounds like it went missing.  You can always go buy some automotive stick on weights from an auto parts store to add to the inside over the trucks to bring it up to proper weight.

Those kits are crude by todays standards.  I have one of the decorated versions.  You can look for aftermarket parts if they are not up to your standards.

Rio Grande.  The Action Road  - Focus 1977-1983

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Posted by dti406 on Friday, March 3, 2023 10:05 AM

I have built a number of these kits and modified others, one of their problems is the 60' car is not tall enough, the person who did the dies measured the top of car dimension to include the roofwalk and should not have but they make a nice car anyway. Also the modeled car uses the short wheelbase frame so the prototype car would fit inside a Plate C diagram due to clearance problems at some Ford plants where the majority of these cars were to be sent to. By making a couple of cuts to the frame and turning the components around you can make the longer wheelbase cars.

Here a few of my cars made from the the Robbins Rails/A-Line/Concor kits.

Here, I modified the wheelbase, removed the rivits as Thrall cars were welded, and changed the doors to match the prototype.

This car I left as is except I removed the roofwalk and used a Walthers cushion coupler pocket on the car and the wheelbase is the stock one as that is what was used on a Wabash car.

D&TS car with the longer wheelbase and Walthers Cushion Coupler pocket.

MP car with the short wheelbase and Details West Cushion Coupler pocket.

NYC car with substitute doors, short wheelbase and Walthers Cushion coupler pockets.

Clinchfield car, with long wheelbase, new doors, Walthers Cushion Coupler pockets.

There were a couple of articles in the 1980's Model Railroad Craftsman on modifying these cars that I used for these models as inspiration. By the way I had purchased some Athearn 50' car weights that I used in the cars with no weights, those were produced by A-Line and did not come with weights.

Rick Jesionowski

Rule 1: This is my railroad.

Rule 2: I make the rules.

Rule 3: Illuminating discussion of prototype history, equipment and operating practices is always welcome, but in the event of visitor-perceived anacronisms, detail descrepancies or operating errors, consult RULE 1!

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Posted by dknelson on Friday, March 3, 2023 11:06 AM

Nice work Rick.  Time & skill can make a silk purse out of a kit that many of us would put on the "maybe someday" shelf.

Dave Nelson

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