Saturday, January 14, 2023

MILW Rib-Sided Boxcars (Part 1) - Accurail vs Rib Side Cars

Happy New Years...

well, two weeks late.  New Years Eve we had a very severe snow storm that knocked power out for 50 hours and no internet for another 5 days, so I couldn't really do a "New Years Blog" like I've done in previous years.  So it looks like 2023 is starting off a couple weeks late.  As I'm writing this, we're having more storms, more snow.  Soooo, it's time to hunker down over my modeling workbench and see what kinds of trouble I can get into in 2023!

Story of Two Boxcars...

In the last three years I picked up one of the new Accurail Rib-Sided boxcar kits.  These are signature cars of the Milwaukee Road of the steam era into the 1970s.  Recently, I pulled out the kit along with a club member's kit from Rib Side Cars (out-of-business now) that I was asked to build for him.  (Note, yes, I'm cheating in this first part from a blog post I started in spring 2022).

Out-of-the-box comparison of the Rib Side Car kit (top) and the Accurail re-tooled kit (bottom).

I've decided to build these two models side-by-side and see what changes Accurail has made to the tooling.  So enjoy the double vision build blog.


Rib Side Cars

Here's the box-end info on the Rib Side Cars kit.

Thankfully the box info does include the info on which car numbers this kit should be!  This is one of 1000 cars built for the MILW, and also notes the "Route of the Hiawathas" slogan paint scheme.

Box art on the top, pretty nice artwork.

Let's open the box...

Parts of the Rib Side Cars kit.  There's also a grabs and screws/coupler bag.

The kit has earmarks of tooling similar to the old CB&T Shops kits of the 1990s.  This kit was purchased in the 2006-2007 timeframe based on the lable on the bottom of the box.  Two different doors are included.  One a Youngstown and the other more of a Superior/RibSide style door.  I'm not sure if it's a Superior door or a Milwaukee design door, which actually matches the ribs in the carside.

EB Products Bettendorf trucks and decal numbers come included in the kit.

The trucks included are sprung with metal wheelsets.  These trucks may be replaced before being put into service with something more like the Accurail Bettendorf AAR trucks, which are not sprung.

Accurail's Version

Accurail's Box info for kit #3992, MILW 21078

The Accurail #3992 kit is lacking much of the detail regarding which version of the car we have here exactly.  If I look at the website and cross check against the kit number, I can work out which version this car is... but it would be nice if they had a bit more text stating which version this is.

At least it does include the slogan info "Route of the Electrified Olympian", but no info as to the size of this group of cars, though the number at NEW date of 7-40 on the model indicates this is the preceding group of cars, below 21188, which is the RSC kit group's lowest number in the 1943-44 built group of cars.

Here's the contents of the Accurail kit spread out.

The Accurail kit comes with a ladder and detail sprue, roof piece, and a steel roof walk sprue.  Accurail Bettendorf AAR trucks are included, along with steel axled plastic wheels and Accurail couplers, which will be replaced with KD couplers.

Direct Comparison

I should note at this point that these two kits are of slightly different prototypes.  The Rib Side Cars (RSC) kit is a "short rib" version, which stop short of the grabs and ladders, and the Accurail kit I picked up is the version with the long ribs, extending all the way to the car end.

Rib Side Cars (Top) & Accurail kit (Bottom)

The RSC body has holes for separate Tichy Train Group grab irons, while the Accurail model has their typical thin cast-on grabs.

The Accurail car has the ribbed doors cast as part of the body and no option for the Youngstown door version.  I'm not sure if any of the long rib cars had youngstown doors.  Some research will need to be done before I select which doors will be going on the RSC kit.  There are also some slight differences to the right ends of the door tracks in the tooling.


Both cars have the same underframe, down to the cast-on frame members, large injection gate, and brake gear mounting holes.

Comparing the underframes of the two models. RSC top, Accurail bottom.

Structurally the models are almost identical, the Accurail car even still has the RSC ownership tag in the BL end of the car, although the Accurail model also has their ownership marks cast into the interior of the car body and roof.  Other than that, I can't see any tooling changes to the underframe part of the mold.

MILW 21078

The unnumbered short-ribbed car was returned to it's owner before I did much construction on it in 2022, so I'll only be showing construction work on the MILW 21078 (Accurail kit) from this point on in 2023.

Underframe of MILW 21078 - probably with misplaced Reservoir. - Oops!

The AB Brake components were then attached.  The parts are rather crude and I may eventually decide to add the other brake lever and rods to super detail the UF.  The arrangement of the main reservoir is rather strange that it's not on the other side of the underframe.  This may be a mistake that I didn't notice until writing this, so before the car enters service, I may end up correcting that by Part 2.
I worked on the trucks and couplers.  I'm not going to cover in detail here other than to say that I used Kadee scale-head couplers along with IMRC wheels in Tichy "Bettendorf" AAR cast trucks.

Floor weight installed with RTV Silicon.

I glued in a floor weight with RTV Silicon.  Note the coupler screw holes drilled all the way into the interior and tapped for 2-56 screws.

Left side of MILW 21078 on her trucks.

Once the basic body mechanicals were assembled, I then worked on cutting the ladders and brake staff rod from the sprues and gluing them to the body of the car, following the instructions.  Pretty simple stuff, nothing really to write home about.  Hopefully the ladders don't get knocked off, I suppose if it becomes an issue, I could drill and pin them in place with some 0.012" PB wire, which should help the sheer strength of the joint.

A-End with lumber door.

The small lumber door on this car will probably be put to great use on the Jawbone Branch, as I expect this MILW car will be bringing in lumber products from the PNW.

B-End with power hand brake and brake step installed.

I still need to put on the brake wheel itself as of these photos being taken.

In Closing

Right side of MILW 21078, still needs tack-boards added.

I still need to glue the roof on and then put on the roof-walk end supports and tack-boards.  In the next part I'll be covering finishing up of the MILW 21078, maybe doing some weathering as well.  It should be fun, but I'm not looking forward to doing weathering outside during the blizzards we're having in Nevada right now!

Jason Hill

Related Articles:

Freight Car Overview Index Page - All my freight car related blog posts in one place

Milwaukee Rib Side Cars - Article by Randall Hammill - Comparing Exact Rail, IMRC, Sunshine, and Accurail/Rib Side Cars.

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