Trains.com

Subscriber & Member Login

Login, or register today to interact in our online community, comment on articles, receive our newsletter, manage your account online and more!

Modern boxcar roofs

1054 views
13 replies
1 rating 2 rating 3 rating 4 rating 5 rating
  • Member since
    April 2021
  • 1 posts
Modern boxcar roofs
Posted by Saffron Springs on Friday, April 16, 2021 7:11 PM

Are all modern boxcar roofs silver / galvanised steel?

I model in N scale and micro trains boxcars generally have the same color body and roof. Should i paint the roofs silver to be more prototypical or do some cars have the same color roof and sides?

Thanks guys.

 

 

  • Member since
    December 2015
  • From: Shenandoah Valley
  • 8,029 posts
Posted by BigDaddy on Monday, April 19, 2021 10:48 AM

Some have the same color as the sides.  If you don't have a place near you where you can safely railfan, check out youtube railcams

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=et-3-BMSv38  

Henry

COB Potomac & Northern

Shenandoah Valley

  • Member since
    February 2015
  • 569 posts
Posted by NHTX on Tuesday, April 20, 2021 2:23 AM

     I reccommend you use Google Earth to "fly" over a fair-sized railroad yard near you.  Most recent construction boxcar roofs will appear a light grey color, similar to oxidized, unpainted galvanized steel, much like a chain-link fence.  Older car roofs will appear an overall rust brown.  Older roofs that have had repairs done will usually appear rust brown, with a grey sealant applied to the panel seams.

  • Member since
    September 2003
  • 16,246 posts
Posted by Overmod on Tuesday, April 20, 2021 2:36 AM

One idea of silver roofs is to cut down thermal gain from solar radiation.  Where that is not a factor (or unimportant to penny-pinching car ownership) expect something else to be used -- mastic to seal leaks?  Paint with good rust coverage?  Paint gotten cheaply, or 'on hand' from some other use?  Good aluminum paint can be expensive...

  • Member since
    September 2003
  • From: Omaha, NE
  • 9,959 posts
Posted by dehusman on Tuesday, April 20, 2021 8:05 AM

Overmod
The idea of silver roofs is to cut down thermal gain from solar radiation.

The idea of "silver roofs" is to not spend the money to buy paint to paint them.  The roofs are made of plain galvanized metal because it doesn't need paint and since its the roof, nobody sees it.  

Dave H. Painted side goes up. My website : wnbranch.com

  • Member since
    September 2003
  • 16,246 posts
Posted by Overmod on Tuesday, April 20, 2021 8:40 AM

dehusman
The idea of "silver roofs" is to not spend the money to buy paint to paint them. 

Changed the potentially deceptive wording.

Over the years I have seen references to roof coatings reducing heat gain or deterioration of 'membrane' on car roofs, though.  I kept the reference I made accordingly -- but modelers should keep dhusman's point in mind.

  • Member since
    January 2017
  • From: Southern Florida Gulf Coast
  • 12,492 posts
Posted by SeeYou190 on Tuesday, April 20, 2021 9:00 AM

Welcome to the Model Railroader magazine discussion forums. We are glad you have found us. Your first few posts will be delayed by moderation, but this will ends soon enough, usually after just a few posts. Please stick around through the delays and become part of the crowd.

Saffron Springs
Are all modern boxcar roofs silver / galvanised steel?

I do not model the modern era, but I still paint my roofs lots of different colors and use all kinds of weathering patterns.

I see the roofs of my models all the time, and I want some variety to look at!

-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.

  • Member since
    October 2008
  • From: Canada
  • 1,482 posts
Posted by cv_acr on Friday, April 23, 2021 12:36 PM

Overmod
 

Over the years I have seen references to roof coatings reducing heat gain or deterioration of 'membrane' on car roofs, though.  I kept the reference I made accordingly -- but modelers should keep dhusman's point in mind.

That doesn't really sound like your references are talking about steel roofs...

  • Member since
    October 2008
  • From: Canada
  • 1,482 posts
Posted by cv_acr on Friday, April 23, 2021 12:38 PM

Saffron Springs

Are all modern boxcar roofs silver / galvanised steel?

Yes.

Saffron Springs
Should i paint the roofs silver to be more prototypical or do some cars have the same color roof and sides?

Yes.

 

It's quite common for roofs to be unpainted; some roofs might get painted/oversprayed, but they're still galvanized steel underneath.

 

  • Member since
    July 2006
  • From: Northfield Center TWP, OH
  • 2,059 posts
Posted by dti406 on Friday, April 23, 2021 1:11 PM

They may be galvanized but some may be painted white like the beer reefers from eel river and Exactrail.

Also the Evergreen Freight car roofs were painted a dark gray.

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!

  • Member since
    May 2015
  • 5,117 posts
Posted by ericsp on Sunday, April 25, 2021 2:31 AM

dti406

They may be galvanized but some may be painted white like the beer reefers from eel river and Exactrail.

Also the Evergreen Freight car roofs were painted a dark gray.

Rick Jesionowski 

 

 

Somebody new to model railroading probably has no idea about the Eel River cars. For those new they are cars similar to the RBLs made by ExactRail but not the same cars. They were last made by Rail Shop models several years ago.

When I have seen RBLs that BNSF repainted it appeared they also painted the roof (no they did not appear to be rusted).

"No soup for you!" - Yev Kassem (from Seinfeld)

  • Member since
    February 2015
  • 569 posts
Posted by NHTX on Sunday, April 25, 2021 12:52 PM

     RBLs or in plain-speak, bunkerless refrigerator cars, are actually very heavily insulated boxcars.  The roofs of these cars are usually a light color to reduce solar radiance heat gain which means white or light grey.  The Eel River models mentioned are models of the Pacific Car and Foundry (PC&F or more recently PACCAR) and the major differences, just like the prototypes, are in the door widths, 10 or 12 feet.  These cars were mainly employed hauling Coors beer from Golden, CO.

     The Eel River model was offered as a "flat" kit which means the roof, floor, ends and sides are all seperate pieces which assemble to form the carbody.  The later model by Exact Rail is a 12' door, ready-to-roll car.  Excellent and informative articles for someone in the hobby less than 20 years appeared in the April 2000 issue of "Model Railroader" magazine and, the November/December 1981 issue of the now-defunct "Mainline Modeler" magazine.  

     The PC&F RBLs were operated by western roads such as ATSF (Santa Fe), BN (Burlington Northern), D&RGW (Rio Grande), MP (Missouri Pacific), SP (Southern Pacific), SSW Cotton Belt), and WP (Western Pacific).  When empty, they always went back to Golden for another load of "Colorado Kool-Aid".

     PC&F was not the only builder of RBLs.  A hint what appears to be a regular boxcar might be a RBL is the presence of a plug door.  If a plug door is present, check the AAR car code next to the "CAPY" or, "LD LMT" line in the car data to determine if it is an "X" type boxcar or an "R".

  • Member since
    May 2015
  • 5,117 posts
Posted by ericsp on Monday, April 26, 2021 9:22 PM

There are also a lot of uninsulated boxcars with plug doors.

The builders of RBLs that I can think of are PCF, FGE, Evans, and CBQ.

Eel River Models and later Rail Shop also made a 12' door car. The side sills are different than the ExactRail car. The ERM/RS 12' door car is a model of SP class B-100-35. The ER car is a model of SP class B-100-49.

"No soup for you!" - Yev Kassem (from Seinfeld)

  • Member since
    March 2002
  • From: Milwaukee WI (Fox Point)
  • 10,869 posts
Posted by dknelson on Tuesday, April 27, 2021 10:56 AM

One thing I have noticed in recent years during railfanning - where I like to be on a bridge above the tracks if possible - is that I am seeing cars which presumably had galvanized steel (unpainted) originally but after years of service, and perhaps some fork-lift driver "oops" events, the roofs have become dented and perhaps not even entirely watertight any more, and a gray sealant has been "painted" on the roofs (indeed I have even seen roofs where the "paint brushes" were set down and fastened into the sealant and are still there!) as part of the coopering process.  That sealant is the same dull silver gray as duct tape.  The color may be similar to unpainted galvanized steel but the texture is entirely different!

I have seen entire boxcar roofs coopered in this manner but I have also seen the sealant just applied to joints between the metal panel segments on the roof

Dave Nelson

Subscriber & Member Login

Login, or register today to interact in our online community, comment on articles, receive our newsletter, manage your account online and more!

Users Online

Search the Community

ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
Model Railroader Newsletter See all
Sign up for our FREE e-newsletter and get model railroad news in your inbox!