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Walthers HO scale well car

Read this review from Model Railroader magazine
Walthers HO scale well car
Walthers HO scale well car

A Gunderson rebuilt all-purpose 53-foot well car is the first intermodal car in the WalthersProto lineup. The model features die-cast metal and plastic construction, wire grab irons, and etched-metal walkways nested in plastic frames.

The Gunderson 53-foot well cars were built in the 1990s as 48-foot cars. As 40- and 53-foot intermodal containers grew in popularity during the late 1990s into the 2000s, the need for 48-foot well cars declined. However, the cars were relatively new and still in good condition. Instead of scrapping them, Gunderson rebuilt the 48-foot cars into 40- (by removing eight feet from the middle) and 53-foot (adding 21⁄2 feet to each end) cars.

The 53-foot well can handle containers from 20- to 53-feet long; containers ranging in length from 40- to 53-feet can occupy the top position. The floor design also accommodates two 28-foot trailers or one trailer up to 57-feet long in the well.

Walthers HO scale well car
The die-cast metal well car features wire grab irons and etched-metal walkways in plastic frames.
walthers HO scale well car with double stacked 53-foot containers.

The Walthers model features a one-piece die-cast metal body. Smaller details, such as the brake hardware, steps, hand brake assembly, and draft-gear box covers are plastic.

The model’s dimensions closely follow data published in the April 2012 Official Railway Equipment Register. The one discrepancy was the distance over the pulling faces, which was a scale foot too long since model couplers are typically oversize.

Our sample is decorated as DTTX no. 469543, part of TTX Co.’s GW13SF class (car numbers 469216 through 471999). The paint is smooth and evenly applied. All of the printing is crisp, with the small type legible under magnification. The placement of the TTX logo, reporting marks, and most stencils match prototype photos of the full-size 469543. A few small stencils are in different locations than the prototype.

The Walthers model lacks fifth wheel hitches, which is accurate for the DTTX cars. The Florida East Coast and St. Mary’s Ry. West LLC car should have them. Cal-Scale and Details West offer fifth wheel hitches.

I tested 53-foot containers from a variety of manufacturers in the well. Those from Kato and Walthers, which both measure a scale fraction of an inch under 53 scale feet, fit in the well easily. Containers from Atlas and Athearn are a scale 53 feet long. Though the containers seat properly, the fit is tight.

The empty car weighs 4.6 ounces, which is 1.5 ounces too light based on National Model Railroad Association recommended practice 20.1. Each Walthers 53-foot container will add 1.8 ounces to the car’s weight.

The 33" metal wheelsets are correctly gauged. The Proto-Max metal couplers are mounted at the correct height.

I tested the empty car on our HO scale Wisconsin & Southern project layout. The car ran smoothly across the model railroad, which features no. 5 turnouts and 30" radius curves.

Intermodal trains are a big part of today’s railroad scene from coast to coast. The team at Walthers did a great job capturing the lines of this contemporary rebuilt car. Whether running empty or with a container or two, the rebuilt Gunderson 53-foot all-purpose well car will look right at home on a modern HO scale intermodal train.

Price: $39.98

Wm. K. Walthers Inc.
5601 W. Florist Ave.
Milwaukee, WI 53218

Era: mid 2000s to present

Road names: TTX (DTTX reporting marks), Florida East Coast (Hurricane herald and reporting marks only), and St. Mary’s RR. Two road numbers per scheme; also available undecorated

▪▪33" metal wheelsets, correctly gauged
▪▪Factory-installed brake gear and grab irons
▪▪Proto-Max couplers, body-mounted at correct height
▪▪Weight: 4.6 ounces (1.5 ounces under National Model Railroad Association recommended practice 20.1)

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