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BLMA Models HO scale 62-foot insulated boxcar

Read this review from Model Railroader magazine
BLMA Models HO scale Santa Fe insulated boxcar
The BLMA HO scale model features many prototype-specific separately applied detail parts.

A well-detailed injection-molded plastic model of Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe’s class BX-166 62-foot insulated boxcar is the latest offering from BLMA Models. The ready-to-run car features double plug doors framed by canted exterior posts, an assortment of separately applied details, and Kadee no. 156 couplers.

Santa Fe’s Topeka, Kan., shops began work on the class BX-166 cars in 1974. The boxcars are similar in design to the class BX-155, BX-161, and BX-177 cars, but have two 8-foot insulated plug doors on each side instead of one.

The class BX-166 cars were originally used in beer service. When built, the cars were painted in the railroad’s Indian Red paint scheme with the large Santa Fe circle-cross herald on the left and “Shock Control” or “Super Shock Control” lettering on the right. In later years, the cars were repainted in a simplified mineral red scheme. Some repainted cars had a small circle-cross herald applied in the upper left corner, while others had reporting marks only.

Though some cars from this class are still in beer service more than four decades after being built, other cars have been re-assigned to recycled paper service. Of the 300 cars built, fewer than 100 are in service today. The cars are now part of BNSF Ry.’s 780718 through 780975 series.

The model features a one-piece body with separately applied wire grab irons, plastic stirrup steps and ladders, and etched-metal crossover platforms. Wire uncoupling levers run from a bracket on the lower left end of the car to the draft-gear box cover.

The model’s dimensions closely follow data published in the April 2012 Official Railway Equipment Register and Robert C. DelGrosso’s BNSF Railway Freight Cars Volume One (Great Northern Pacific Publications, 2004).

Well-executed scale 8 foot double-plug doors are a separate one-piece casting glued into a recess in the body. The left door has a defect card holder and tack board; both doors have crisp rivet detail and separate plastic closure rods. The lower door tracks are mounted on stand-off brackets.

Not to be overlooked is the separate underbody. The air reservoir, control valve, and brake cylinder are separate parts with free-standing piping. The crossties, crossbearers, center sill, bolsters, and cushioned underframe are molded. As on the prototype, the levers, brake rod, and lever-support brackets are visible from the side.

The mineral red paint is smooth and evenly applied. The white lettering is crisp, opaque, and matches prototype placement. The Keep Off stencils on the sides and top of the draft-gear boxes are a nice touch.

A steel weight screwed to the underbody from the inside accounts for most of the model’s 5.1 ounces of weight. This is .15 ounce too light based on National Model Railroad Association Recommended Practice 20.1. The 36" metal wheelsets are correctly gauged. The couplers are body-mounted at the proper height.

I ran the car on our HO scale Wisconsin & Southern project layout. The model negotiated no. 5 turnouts, but it would look better on no. 6 or larger.

I’ll raise a glass to BLMA’s HO scale Santa Fe class BX-166 insulated boxcar, which is also offered in N scale. The company currently offers the beer-hauling boxcar in the Indian Red scheme as well, and three different BNSF Ry. schemes will be available later this year. So whether you’re modeling 1974 or 2016, you’re sure to find a car correct for your modeling era.

Price: $39.95

BLMA Models
302 District Ct.
Fullerton, CA 92832

Era: 1974 to present

Road names: Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe (mineral red with and without circle-cross herald, Indian Red with “Shock Control” and “Super Shock Control” slogans). Twelve road numbers per scheme.

▪▪36" metal wheelsets, correctly gauged
▪▪Etched-metal brakewheel platform
▪▪Kadee no. 156 couplers, mounted at correct height
▪▪Separately applied wire grab irons and uncoupling levers
▪▪Weight: 5.1 ounces (.15 ounce too light based on National Model Railroad Association recommended practice 20.1)

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