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Atlas Santa Fe class BX-177 boxcar in N, HO scales

Read this review from the March 2019 issue of Model Railroader
Atlas Santa Fe class BX-177 boxcar in N, HO scales
Atlas Santa Fe class BX-177 boxcar in N, HO scales

An Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe class BX-177 plug-door boxcar is now available in N and HO scales from Atlas Model Railroad Co. Don’t confuse this Master Line car with the BLMA (now Atlas) class BX-166 double-plug-door boxcar that I reviewed in the March 2016 Model Railroader. The BX-177 boxcar is a newly tooled model, featuring a single door on each side and the signature angled exterior post on each side of the door.

Topeka built. Santa Fe built its class BX-177 boxcars (numbered 621600 through 622099) at its Topeka, Kan., shops in 1975. The boxcars were fitted with Evans Dual Air Pak air-inflatable bulkheads and had the mechanical designation XLI (equipped boxcar between 59'-8" and less than 79'-8").

The BX-177 boxcars are still in service today on the BNSF Ry., part of its 780985 through 781425 series. As of January 2018, there were 121 BX-177 boxcars on the BNSF roster.

One car, two scales. Both models have a one-piece plastic body with painted etched-metal crossover platforms and a separately applied brake wheel and uncoupling levers. The HO model has factory-installed and painted wire grab irons on the sides, freestanding plastic stirrups and end ladders, and separate door rods. The lower door track is mounted on stand-off brackets.

The N scale boxcar features molded grab irons, stirrups, end ladders, door track, and door rods.

The paint on both models is smooth and evenly applied. The printing is opaque and crisp, with even the smallest lettering legible under magnification.

Both boxcars have plastic underbodies. A steel weight is secured to the top with two washer-head Phillips screws. The center sills, crossbearers, crossties, and body bolsters are molded details.

The air reservoir, AB control valve, brake cylinder, and lever support brackets are separately applied. The brake pipes are freestanding on both boxcars.

By the numbers. I compared both models to data published in Robert C. Del Grosso’s BNSF Railway Freight Cars: Volume One (Great Northern Pacific Publications, 2004). The distance over the strikers and door opening dimensions match published data. The distance between truck centers is a scale foot short on both models.

I tested the HO scale car on our Wisconsin & Southern Troy Branch layout, which has no. 5 turnouts and 30" radius curves. The boxcar ran without incident while being pushed and pulled. One minor issue was that the trainline air hoses would occasionally snag on the rails as the car passed through turnouts.

The N scale car performed flawlessly on our Red Oak layout, which has Peco medium no. 6 turnouts and 13" curves.

Atlas has done a wonderful job capturing the lines of Santa Fe’s class BX-177 boxcar in HO and N scales. The railroad-built car is sure to be a standout on your model railroad.

Price: N scale, $31.95; HO scale, $46.95
Atlas Model Railroad Co.
378 Florence Ave.
Hillside, NJ 07205
Era: 1975 to early 1990s (Santa Fe), 2005 to present (BNSF Ry.)
Road names (12 numbers per scheme): Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe (as-delivered scheme) and BNSF Ry. (post-2005 herald). Also available undecorated in both scales.
• 36" metal wheels (correctly gauged in N and HO scales)
• Magne-Matic-compatible couplers (N) and Kadee-compatible metal whisker-style scale couplers (HO), mounted at correct height
• Weight: N scale – 1.5 ounces (.3 ounce too heavy based on National Model Railroad Association Recommended Practice 20.1). HO scale – 4.9 ounces (.4 ounce too light).

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