Empire Belt RR ALcos

Empire Belt RR ALcos
Custom Painted FA / FB Units

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Beat the Heat Boxcar Project

Greetings All,

With the weather in the high 90s and thunder rumbling in the distance an afternoon in the basement train room sounded like a good idea. Looking to be productive but unsure of what I wanted to tackle next I took a look around the layout and noted a boxcar with an open door and shiny black plastic floor. Seeing pictures of 1:1 scale empties I knew they did not look like this. This presented two immediate options. Option 1, close the boxcar door and keep it closed. Paint the inside of the car and floor to better match the prototype. In my model railroading operations I have wanted to get a better understanding of train movements for empties and incorporate that into the action so I went with option 2.

I set up the N.Y.C.T.L. outdoor paint shop on the Patti-O and was able to get several cars done before the rain rolled in. Over the course of several days I beat the heat and was able to get about 20 cars done. Below are some before and after photos of the project.

NYC 47063 is one of several Athearn 50' double door boxcars in the fleet. This car and two similar NYC cars see a lot of action with the KPD - NYCTL Virtual Ops. With their double doors open the black plastic floor is not all that nice.

NYC 47063 times 2. They could definitely look better in their empty door open state

The car was disassembled and the floor painted with tan spray paint 
The cars are back together and look much better with the doors open.

NYC 47207 an Athearn BB car that has been renumbered  and got the floor treatment

Erie Lackawanna 40' boxcar 73510 is another car that sees a lot of action. The outer shell is sprayed gray while the inside is mostly still in it's black molded form.  

I sprayed the inside with gray primer

I then sprayed the floor and exposed metal weight with the same gray primer to simulate a steel floor 

PRR 47135 with a newly painted floor

NYC 80779 with a newly painted floor

All in all I was pleased with the results. This was a very low cost project that was not very labor intensive. 95% of the work was done in the cool of the basement. The spray painting was done outside where the heat was actually somewhat beneficial as the painted parts dried very quickly.  Dunnage and debris added to the inside of the cars may be a phase 2 of this project. For right now I like them as is and the N.Y.C.T.L. is a stickler for clean cars being provided to their customers.

Thanks for reading! 


  1. A really interesting project! Chooch used to make cast resin lumber loads that you could install in cars like this leaving the doors open. I also got an idea years ago at the old Bruce's Train Shop in Sacramento -- they had a display layout that used a Preiser hiker figure with backpack standing on the floor of an empty with doors open. Since a lot of modern-day "hobos" have backpacks, just the change in context turned the figure into a "skeezer". I did this on an Accurail 50-foot car.

  2. You get a lot of visual bang for a little buck on this one John! The painted car floors look great! No problem keeping those doors open at the loading bay!