After a recent train show with plenty of 'shake the box' kits from Athearn and Roundhouse available unbuilt and in the box I thought we could take a look at building a basic shake the box HO scale model train kit. Hopefully this will help some readers who are new to the hobby or reentering the hobby.
We'll the use still very common Athearn Blue Box kit for today's sample. Hobby shops were once flooded with these HO scale shake the box kits. They were very reasonably priced and can be found on most layouts. Even though Athearn no longer produces these kits they can still be found at hobby shops and at train shows in large numbers.
Today's subject is this 40' TP&W boxcar. This car was purchased from my local L.H.S. in December for use in the virtual ops between the .N.Y.C.T.L. , K.P.D. and A.P.R.R.
With the rust wire brushed away, the metal weight, car floor and under frame have been sprayed flat black. Try not to spray too much in the coupler boxes on the ends of the frame.
A look at the kit parts and some of the materials used. Kadee #5 couplers are on the lower right. The car floor that will be visible with the car door open has been painted tan to simulate wood flooring. The 96 cent can of flat black is used when possible. I try to save the $4.99 can of Testors Dullcote for the shell when possible.
Here is the meat and potatoes of the whole kit building process. Do the couplers line up with the Kadee Height Gauge? They do now! This car required one Kadee red washer (envelope in background) on each bolster to achieve the correct height. And does the car roll freely. These are the two most important things for any model train.
TP&W #627 being shoved into an industry siding. The car is now in revenue service and is being loaded.
Newer kits on the hobby shop shelves include these Kit Classics from Scale Trains dot Com. Easy to build and fun to operate. These kits come with metal wheels which is a big plus and a semi scale knuckle coupler which looks very nice. Under the stresses of railroad operations the couplers however were prone to failure and replaced with Kadee couplers. If not having ops sessions I wouldn't worry about the couplers. They worked fine just running around the layout.
So there it a basic primer on building a shake the box kit. Here are some past car builds that readers may find helpful;
Have an Accurail car, check this build from 2013;
ConCor Express cars:
Not sure what coupler to use, check the Kadee Web Site;
Coupler installation and adjustments