Green Bay & Western Lines
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GBW #834

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A Kar-Line kit from the 1960s.

Here's a pretty unique model... the only pre-painted boxcar kit to have the red paint scheme (that I'm aware of).

This model is an HO Kar-Line kit from the 1960s. Prior to starting it I was under the impression that the car body in the kit was an Athearn car. But the sides and ends are slightly different than the mid-1970s era Athearn boxcars that I have, so I have my doubts. But the level of detail is certainly similar.

Other than the unique paint scheme, probably the best thing about the kits is the sprung Central Valley trucks, which were pretty state-of-the-art for the time, or so I have read. I replaced the Kadee #5 couplers which came with the kit with #58s.

Is the car very accurate? Well, although Kar-Line probably did a good job at the time, by today's standards it's really not that great.

First of all the car body - if you think the molded-on grab irons and fat stirrups may stand out when looking at this picture, you should see it sitting in Norwood Yard on my layout next to a Kadee GB&W car. And the car sides should be welded on these cars, not riveted.

The red color seems pretty accurate - especially after seeing the color slide of a red boxcar at the All-Star Railroad Night in Milwaukee in May 2002. The brake wheel is black - is that correct for these cars, or do you think it would have been red? And yes, the car is as glossy as the photo indicates.

The GREEN BAY ROUTE HERALD is pretty atrocious. I think those dashed lines are a carryover of the "illusion" of a dashed border that was caused by bolted-on heralds on some of the steam tenders. The heralds should be smaller, just about as wide as the spacing between rivet lines.

The HOME OF THE PACKERS logo is neat - that's hard to find on any HO decals, let alone pre-painted cars. The GREEN BAY AND WESTERN lettering is the right size, but it should be lower on the car, with the top of the lettering about even with the second ladder rung.

The minor lettering seems reasonable, although when these cars were painted red I believe that there were white horizontal lines above and below the reporting marks. The NEW 6-61 date missed by about ten years. I thought these were delivered in the early 1950s.

A great model? No. But it is a unique model, and one that will go to work on my layout. (It was made at a time when my "model railroading" was limited to a battery-powered O gauge stamped metal steam train on a 4'x6' piece of plywood.)

I thought about weathering the car, but after writing this review and realizing all the shortcomings of the car, I don't think that weathering would help, and probably only hurt since the car actually is pretty hard to find and kind of a collector's item. Should I dullcoat it?

There really isn't a "decal alternative" to this car (right now).

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Updated July 11, 2015