Northern Pacific 36' Radial Roof Boxcar


At the turn of the century, the Northern Pacific had distinctive boxcars with radial roofs, where most railroads used normal pitched roofs. According to reference material published, there were about 1700 of these cars on the line, So I though I should have some for my Z Scale collection. I chose the version with the Fishbelly Sidesill Underframe, as rebuilt with AB Brakes, as these lasted until 1955, and on through the 1970's in MOW service. This car was from a series numbered 37300 through 38299. 

Z Scale presents numerous challenges when adding details, and something as simple as sliding doors requires compromises to be made in order to represent those details. Here you can see what had to be done to achieve this goal with the doors and the end 

I tried to represent the AB brakes by including an Air Reservoir, AB Valve, and Brake Cylinder out of wood since there are no detail parts available for Z Scale. As you can see, there is room for much improvement by adding wire brake lines. I also used MTL Z Bettendorf trucks to date the car to the 40's and 50's.

The Brakewheel is an N Scale Gold Medal Models part on .008" brass wire, and the grab irons are .006" brass wire formed with tweezers. 28 grabs were used, but I did not bother with the roofwalk grabs as they did not look right on a previous attempt.

Overall, the model captures the flavor of the car, and I plan on making several more. Since I drew all the parts out in Corel Draw, and used a laser to cut them out of .018" thick plywood, the model is easily reproducible.

I made the decals on an Alps MD1000 after purchasing the NP Roman font from Rail Fonts, and using Corel Draw to get the Northern Pacific lettering to arch with the "fit to path" feature. I painted the model with Floquil Boxcar Red, and sealed it with Polly S Flat, then powdered it with Bragdon's weathering powders. I'm happy with the overall appearance of the model, and will build several variations of this car for my collection.