For years the ubiquitous 50′ exterior post Railbox car was missing from the N scale market. Microtrains and Model Die Casting had made them years ago, but up until about a year ago, finding them was hit or miss. Then Athearn bought MDC and started re-releasing their “Berwick” box cars. One of their first roadnames was the older Railbox scheme, followed by the more modern one. I thought I had hit the jackpot.

Then they did the combo door ABOX cars. Then Atlas’s Trainman line came out with their awesome 50′ cars in Railbox’s original paint scheme. Then Fox Valley Models announced that they would be releasing Railbox cars now too.

So now I have to figure what’s going on. Which cars are accurate? Is it realistic to have multiple different styles of Railbox cars on my roster?

Like most times I have a modeling question, the first thing I did was hit up The Railwire with my questions. Luckilly, we have some guys who are far more into freight cars than I am, chief among them Chris VanderHeide.

Chris answered my question in spades. Even though he’s an HO modeler, his freight car knowledge knows no scale bounds, and he set me straight.


There’s no such thing as a specific “50′ Railbox car.” The Railbox cars were all generally the same size (although some of the early ones may have been shorter plate “b” as opposed to plate “c” cars.) First and most obviously, there are the combination door (ABOX) and single door (RBOX) cars.
The ABOX cars seem to be mostly (exclusively?) built by FMC and Pacific Car & Foundry.

The Athearn combo-door boxcar is the FMC version.

The RBOX cars are all 50′ cars with a 10′ sliding (no plug) door. These specs were followed by several builders: FMC, ACF, Pullman-Standard, Berwick Forge & Fabricating and Pacific Car & Foundry. Pullman-Standard and FMC seem to be definately the most common.

The Atlas Trainman car represents an ACF car.

The Fox Valley car would appear to be an FMC.

Athearn also has the FMC car in N.
Athearn advertises a “Berwick” car in N scale, but this is a blend of mostly Pullman-Standard and PC&F features. Not accurate for anything. The SIECO car is nice, but Railbox didn’t have any of these AFAIK.

The Athearn (ex-MDC) double door car is an FMC car of the same generation/design, but Railbox specifically didn’t have double door cars. Same goes for the plug door FMC boxcar.

In HO, Athearn also has the three FMC cars (single, double, combo door), an ex-MDC pullman-standard car (5277 cuft, not to be confused with the rounded-eave 5344 cuft) and the really old “50′ Railbox” car which is also an ACF like the trainman (go with the Trainman over athearn on this one. This is really old athearn). (These last ones don’t appear to be in their N scale listings)
Branchline Trains has a proper (and very nice) Berwick car in HO, no N scale.
Intermountain also has a Pullman-Standard car in HO which is much nicer than the x-MDC tooling.

For more of the discussion on these cars, you can read the thread from The Railwire here.

N Scale Models

You can click on the images below for larger versions.

Athearn (ex-MDC) 50′ RBOX Model

These generic boxcar models were released around 2005 and are incorrect models. The body style represents no particular car, being a combination of Pullman Standard and PC&F features, as Chris noted above. These cares are decent stand ins for bulking up your fleet, but would not be my first choice.

Railbox RBOX 2091, built date of 4-77.

Railbox RBOX 2096, built date of 4-77.

Atlast Trainman 50′ RBOX Models

These inexpensive cars are pretty accurate (if not right on) models of Railbox prototypes.

RBOX 33604 – built date of 7-79

RBOX 33677 – built date of 7-79

Athearn (ex-MDC) 50′ Combination Door ABOX Models

ABOX 51057 – built date of 2-79

ABOX 51235 – built date of 2-79