1:29 SCALE AAR BOXCARS
Manufacturer: ARISTO-CRAFT TRAINS/Polk's Model Craft Hobbies, Inc., 346 Bergen Avenue, Jersey City, NJ 07304. Price: ART-46003 Santa Fe and ART-46021 Southern Pacific Overnight boxcars $49.95 each suggested list.
THE LAST TIME we reviewed an ARISTO-CRAFT boxcar, in our October/November 1992 issue, the car was undecorated. Our current samples are notable for their accurate paint and lettering. Still, it seems worth repeating what we wrote last year before we evaluate the new paint jobs:
Boxcars are everywhere on most railroads and, for many years, the most common piece of rolling stock almost anywhere in the country was the 40 foot steel boxcar. The American Association of Railroads (AAR) version appeared in one guise or another on nearly every major line and eventually found its way to nearly every minor one, too. ARISTO-CRAFT could hardly have modeled a more familiar prototype.
They did it accurately, too. In 1:29 scale the model's dimensions are 40 feet 9 inches over the end sills, 10 feet 6 inches wide, and 11 feet 10 inches high from the bottom of the end sill to the top of the roofwalk. Those are extremely close to the dimensions of the actual cars.
AAR boxcars came with either six or eight foot doors; the ARISTO-CRAFT model has the eight foot option. The door has a working latch and slides open, revealing a floor with simulated wood planking. The door guides are a little heavier than perfect scale in order to withstand the frequent handling often accompanying outdoor use.
Another nice touch is ARISTO-CRAFT's use of separate parts for the end ladders (plastic), brake hardware (also plastic), and grab irons (brass). The underbody "AB" brake rigging also consists of separate pieces and has good detail.
The Bettendorf trucks are crisp castings with working springs and show attention to such important details as brake shoes and journal box lids. The treatment ARISTO-CRAFT gives the roof is equally careful.
The only real discrepancy appears to be the angle of the body bolsters. They are steeper than they should be and cause the car to ride high. Manufacturers generally do that to allow trucks more room to swing so they can negotiate the unnaturally tight curves on most layouts.
The boxcar is mostly plastic. The assembly of our samples was first rate with no glue spots, scratches, or other blemishes. Incidentally, aside from our two samples, ARISTO-CRAFT offers boxcars in no less than 28 other roadnames.
The couplers are ARISTO-CRAFT's knuckle type and they worked well. The car operated through all our trackwork, including 2 foot radius curves, with no problem.
Now let's look at the new finishes:
In both cases, the base colors are accurate, smooth, even, opaque, and show no evidence of sags or runs. On the Santa Fe boxcar, where the roof is black and the sides are red, the mask line on our sample is perfect with no overspray or ragged edge. The underbody of both cars is black. So are the truck sideframes. For some reason, ARISTO-CRAFT has decided against painting the grab irons; they are bright brass. That means many modelers will have to find matching paint and carefully apply color with a brush or airbrush.
ARISTO-CRAFT has spent considerable effort perfecting the graphics, and the results are evident. They are generally clean, sharp, and opaque. The lettering styles are correct. Some manufacturers only approximate them but ARISTO-CRAFT duplicates them. Lettering appears on the car ends, an important detail. And, speaking of details, ARISTO-CRAFT has begun paying tribute to clubs around the country by printing such postings as "ASSIGNED SERVICE RETURN TO: DEL-ORO PACIFIC RR VIA NEAREST INTERCHANGE". That appears in a yellow box on the all black Southern Pacific Overnight boxcar.
The decoration on our samples is impressive. Overall, the samples were excellent and, more than that, ARISTO-CRAFT offers one of the most accurate and well detailed mass-produced boxcars in the hobby.-RR