Review by Tony Cook/photos by the author
Has Penn Central (PC) become that popular? Moloco Trains, a maker of high-quality HO-scale freight car models, apparently cannot keep up with the demand for at least one road name offered for its 50-foot boxcar release. The Penn Central release in question (and the subject of this release) debuted at the Amherst Railway Society Railroad Hobby Show in early 2017 and sold out before the event concluded that weekend. Another production run brought this PC model back, and it again quickly disappeared off the shelves. Though it is out of stock again as I write this review, I’m sure Nick Molo will likely give serious consideration to adding this to a future production run for his company.
Maybe it’s not exclusively the lure of Penn Central and that striking green hue and those curious “worms” making up the road’s herald on the side of this boxcar that caused the commotion for the model. Examine the pictures provided of this boxcar model closely, and see if you spot something out of the ordinary about the decoration. While the presentation is essentially the same with Penn Central spelled out over the reporting marks and data on the left side of the car, and a fairly large “PC” herald resides on the right, the placement of those items shifts in height on each side of the boxcar. This duplicates prototype evidence for PC 360019.
Moloco Trains’ efforts give new meaning to “high end” release, in an era when we’ve grown accustomed to models that are of excellent quality. What might separate Moloco’s work from many others is the intricacy it executes in providing accurate and specific details. When you think that it wasn’t that many years ago that hobbyists might be well satisfied with a representation of a prototype such as this Penn Central example being applied to about any 50-foot boxcar tooling that included a plug door.
Both sides of Moloco Trains’ Penn Central 360019 show the slight variation in the placement of the road’s name on the left side of the car and the altitude of the “worms” herald on the right.
For Moloco Trains’ early 1960s General American Corp. insulated boxcar HO-scale model, you almost had to be there as the parts went on the prototype to truly know, understand, and appreciate all that comes to you fully assembled in this offering. Some of the accurate details include an overhanging Stanray roof with appropriate brackets, as well as Stanray-made R3-4 welded ends with ladders and coupler crossover platforms replicating General American’s design. The boxcar model’s sides include prototype doorstops and gussets, as well as correct angled-notch sill. The sill provided for this Penn Central release is one of two Moloco has in its tooling collection.
The insulated plug door on this Penn Central boxcar is a 10-foot, 6-inch wide offset door with narrow style vertical rods. The brake provided is not simply a generic, round wheel, but you’ll find Moloco includes the correct handbrakes from a variety of manufacturers, replicating what appeared on each road name. Railroads could request a specific type of brake (Equipco, for example) to be included on their rolling stock ordered and made by General American. The boxcar includes a cushioned frame and correct underbody configurations. This detail includes Moloco’s cushioned draft gear coupler boxes and appropriate cushion devices, such as Keystone or Hydra-Cushion types. Additionally, this Moloco Trains HO-scale boxcar comes with the manufacturer’s rubber air hoses, Kadee’s scale-head metal knuckle couplers, and accurate truck sideframes with metal wheels.
The 50-foot boxcars came to Penn Central from New York Central (NYC). Information on these NYC cars, built in 1962, includes a feature not found on other General American examples of this type. The NYC boxcars came with doorstops on the right side located a bit higher than what you’d find on other examples. This doorstop position is reflected on the Moloco Trains’ model. The series of boxcars went to NYC for use in serving General Foods. Out of a fleet of 50 cars, Moloco Trains investigated and discovered that two examples saw repainting into Penn Central livery in 1973. Model Railroad News’ sample is a November 1973 repaint done at Hollidaysburg, Pa. Moloco did the other known PC repaint (360030) as its #13018 release, which is also sold out and likely the subject of another production in the future. If the attention to detail on the boxcar model itself isn’t enough, going the extra length to accurately place a non-matching Penn Central prototype decoration across the two sides of the real boxcar must in that “extra mile” of traveling that makes this release special.
The model weighed 4.3 ounces, and the coupler height checked fine with both an NMRA Mark IV Standards Gage and Kadee’s coupler height gauge. This fully assembled HO-scale General American boxcar model lists for $53.00. It comes wrapped in thin film and rests in a two-part plastic clamshell inside a two-piece cardboard display box.
Additional road names produced for Moloco Trains HO-scale General American 50-foot boxcar include American Refrigerator Transit, Chicago & North Western, Conrail, Erie Lackawanna, Frisco, The Milwaukee Road, Missouri Pacific, New York Central, Nickel Plate Road, Norfolk & Western, Rock Island, and Wabash. Visit Moloco Trains online to view examples. The company also produced a high-end model of Santa Fe’s Bx-97 50-foot boxcar. Coming later this year, watch for the first of Moloco Trains much-anticipated Fruit Growers Express boxcars to arrive. Those who remember comments in the past about the shipping cost of ordering Moloco Trains direct will be pleased to learn that orders are now shipped from the U.S. You’ll also find Moloco Trains available from a number of hobby dealers in the U.S. and Canada. Those dealers include brick-and-mortar shops, online sellers, and dealers frequenting train shows.
Moloco Trains HO scale
General American 50-foot RBL boxcar
Penn Central 360019
#13008-01, MSRP: $53.00
302-5025 Harvard Road
This review appeared in the February 2018 issue of Model Railroad News.