Here is a model of one of the 2500 USRA Single Sheath Box Cars received by the New York Central and its subsidiaries, Michigan Central (1000 cars), Pittsburgh, McKeesport & Youghiogheny (500 cars).  The New York Central proper received the remaining 1000 cars.  They were the only single sheathed box cars on the system, so are fairly distinctive in that respect.

This is the Tichy kit and was a lot of fun to build.  In fact, I built it a few years ago in the as-delivered form.  Recently I took this model and upgraded it with Kadee semi-scale 33″ wheels (with rib-backs), Proto2000 Andrews trucks, Sergent couplers, Cal Scale air hoses, home made cut levers, a Tichy retainer and line made from .010” wire, a second grab iron on the left side car, a new paint job, Westerfield decals, and weathering.  I had originally built the car with K brakes and retained them as apparently the early rebuilds (noted below) had these before later being replaced with AB brakes.


The upgrade represents a car after a minor rebuilding (or perhaps a better term might be “refreshening”) of a New York Central original when the 160XXX series cars were renumbered to 277XXX.  I have conflicting information about the date for the rebuilding though.  Railway Prototype Cyclopedia 17 has an article about USRA single sheathed cars where it states the rebuilding began in 1937.  In Terry Link’s excellent Canada Southern website (Canada Southern), the rebuild is listed as starting in 1936.  Westerfield information, supplied with the decals, states that the rebuilds began in 1939 and ORER’s are provided as January 1940 (2 cars) while in January 1945 there were 977 cars.  A photo in RP Cyc shows NYC 277361 with a East Rochester reweigh date of March 1942.


My conclusion, based on the citing of ORER,  is that I’m more comfortable with the Westerfield information and so I depict this box car as an early rebuild with a very low number and a reweigh date of February 1940.  If I find out otherwise I can change this, or not, as it really isn’t that big of a deal to me.


The trucks and wheels were soda blasted and painted PollyScale Grimy Black, then airbrush-weathered with Roof Brown for a darker rust.  The truck journals received a spray of Engine Black (representing the oil they contained) and then the truck was lightly dry-brushed with Testors Model Master Dark Gull Gray enamel.

The car body side and ends were painted Pollyscale Mineral Red which is close enough to the color I have seen in color photos of NYC rolling stock.  After that dried, I masked those same surfaces with Tamiya Tape and sprayed the underbody Grimy Black and the roof Steam Power Black (to represent an application of Black Car Cement commonly found on NYC freight cars).  Testors Model Master Acrylic Gloss was applied prior to the decals and then Tamiya TS80 Flat Clear lacquer was liberally applied overall afterwards.  This stuff makes the paint go dead-flat without any chalky or milky residue like acrylic flats (and I’ve tried a lot of them).


The weathering is mild and as follows:  A thinned spray (~50:50) of Steam Power Black was sprayed  lightly on the upper sides (about four passes) and more heavily on the upper ends.  Then a thinned spray of Grimy Black (~50:50) was lightly sprayed on the sides (about three passes) and more heavily on the ends.  The roof was also sprayed with about six or so passes.  Thinned Dirt was lightly sprayed to the underbody with some applied vertically on the ends in-line with where the wheels would be.  Then, I did take True Line Trains Flat Clear acrylic and applied it to the underbody and lower side – the result is a slight dust-effect.


Any black or dark areas received that Dark Gull Gray enamel dry brushing while the trusses and other raised details on the car sides got a heavier Flat Black enamel dry brushing.

This car will be part of the roundhouse service train and I am very happy with the result.

My special thanks go to Eric Hansmann.  Due to the conflicting info noted above, I took a chance and dropped him a line to see how he would handle this.  I was after just his opinion.  Well Eric ended up spending a generous amount of time on me researching what he could and wrote back with other pertinent and interesting info.  Thanks very much Eric.  If you have not seen Eric’s excellent blog, please do (Notes on Designing, Building, and Operating Model Railroads).