In-Box Review
Video Review included
N scale
GA 50' RBL Box Car
GA 50' RBL Box Car
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by: Frederick Boucher [ JPTRR ]

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Atlas' N 50’ RBL Box Car was a new model with new tooling when it was released in October 2018. To date there has been only one run of these remarkable models, with five road names. Part of the Master Line series - their premier line of rolling stock - this model is item 50 004 456, bearing the livery of Missouri Pacific No. 780126.

Atlas provides this brief history:
    This 50’ General American Corporation RBL (AAR class for an insulated bunkerless refrigerator car with loading devices), designed in the early 1960s, was revolutionary for its all welded body construction and wide variety of load restraining devices available to customers. These cars were designed for transporting goods that needed to be shielded from extreme temperature variations. While initially used to transport canned goods and newsprint, the cars became very popular for shipping beverages and perishables. While not providing actual refrigeration a refrigerated load could expect to hold its temperature within a few degrees for several days in transit.

Let's knock around this cool car.

The Model
This box car arrives Ready-To-Run (RTR), packed effectively in a two-piece form-fitted cradle. A soft sheet further protects the model from scuffing. That rig is packed in a top-bottom clear plastic jewel case.

If you like trivia about your models, I found this at RR Picture Archives:

AAR Class: RBL: Bunkerless refrigerator car with or without ventilating devices and with or without device for attaching portable heaters. Constructed with insulation in side ends, floor and roof to meet maximum UA factor requirement of 250 BTU/F/Hour for 50 foot cars and 300 BTU/F/Hour for 60 foot cars. Equipped with adjustable loading or stowing device.
AAR Type: R410
Detail Info: Refrigerator Cars, Inside Length: 49ft to 59ft, with cushion draft gear/underframe
Plate: C

Atlas put a lot of effort into this model and highlight these features:

All-new tooling!
Ready to run
Injection molded plastic
Fine scale detail
Separately applied wire cut levers
Etched metal roofwalks
Crisp painting/printing
Etched metal crossover platforms

Looking at this model, I find the molding is high quality. There is no visible flash, sink marks, or ejection circles. My model was factory-assembled without fault. With 13 side panels, it features fine surface detail with raised panel lines for the weld seams, and both recessed and raised components. A diagonal panel roof of Standard Railway Equipment Co. design tops it, and it has 4/4 improved Dreadnaught ends. Atlas equips the model with AccuMate® operating knuckle couplers and brown plastic wheels.

Two 10'-8" plug doors are molded integral with the body, not surprising since plug doors would require extremely clever engineering to make functional yet authentic in N scale. Bracing, brackets, and other structural details molded on the body. Plug doors were designed to securely seal the car to prevent weather from damaging loads like paper, plywood, and other moisture sensitive commodities.

The "roofwalk" running board dates this model to the pre-1966 Association of American Railroads decision to eliminate running boards. Newly built cars did not have them and cars with them had them removed during rebuilds. A deadline was extended that they had to be gone by 1979, although one railroad employee & modeler stated that he encountered them into 1982.

Atlas took this N box car up a notch with separately applied ladders, cut levers, crossover platforms, and brake and air line rigging. The running board and crossovers are etched metal. Wire grabs crown the running board laterals. While the grabs and ladders may not be proto-N thin, they are replicated with fine parts.

Under the car is a cushion underframe with a low pressure hydraulic unit apparatus molded in, as well as the common structure of the floor: sill; crossbearers; stringers; floor panels. If you want to know more about cushioned underframes and draft gear, there is a link below in Sources.

Hanging from that underside is a good looking air brake system. It includes train lines, triple valve, reservoir, cylinder, actuator arm and levers, brake rods, and brake levers. The brake gear looks great as it hangs down enough to see the parts from track level. The only obvious component missing are the air hoses.

End platforms and a Universal hand brake wheel are individually attached.

All of that superstructure rides upon molded plastic 100-ton roller-bearing trucks. Those sideframes look good for N scale. Equally important is the blackened wheels are actually black - too many are just a darken shiny silver.

Topping it all off is the diagonal roof, topped with the aforementioned metal running board, laterals, and wire grabs.

Those are the specific items that make this model a Master Line.

Performance and Dimensions
This model is RTR with wheels in gauge. The couplers do not sag and couple easily. The model weighs 1.2 ounces - 11% more than recommended per NMRA RP-20.1 Car Weight. It is scaled 50'-6" over end sills, and 55'-7" over strikers. (I haven't been able to find dimensional data for the GA RBL so I can't vouch for the accuracy.)

The wheels rolled perfectly through Atlas code 80 switches. To demonstrate hat I made a video - check back soon to see it.

Paint and Lettering
Today's standard of finish is incredible and Atlas keeps that bar raised high. Once again I find amazing just how legible the fine, crisp printing is! Dimensional data, road names and numbers, service markings - you can read it all: NEW 9/64 (September, 1964); "When empty return to WAB RR Decatur, Illinois"; Missouri Pacific Equipment Trust information, etc. There is even a simulated riveted placard along the sill on the "A" end that I did not notice until under magnification! Extraordinary printing!

This first release offers five road names with two road numbers per railroad:
    Conrail (Brown/White)
    Milwaukee Road (Brown/Yellow/White)
    Missouri Pacific (Brown/White)
    Delaware & Hudson (Yellow/Blue)
    Wabash (Blue/White)
I did not find any evidence that Mopac had RBLs in the road number of this model. The closest I came is MP 779897, which you can see via Click here for additional images for this review, at the end of this review. Two others that are close to the road number are MP 780698, and MP 781315 - which was converted into a house! (URLs below in Sources.)

What makes an Atlas Master Line model? They are a step above the Trainman series due to generally more detail and separate parts. I think Atlas' N 50’ RBL Box Car is worthy of the Master Line series. Molding and detail is first-rate. The separately applied metal and plastic parts greatly enhance authenticity and accuracy. To me, the only glaring omission are the brake hoses, but I don't see those on many N models, and Atlas offers them as optional parts. It is also slightly heavy if you care about NMRA RP 20.1.

This model rolls and tracks perfectly. Paint and lettering are superior.

Atlas can feel proud of this model and I look forward to the next release. Highly recommended.

Thanks to Atlas and please mention to them and vendors that you saw this model here - on RailRoad Modeling.

MP 781315.

MP 780698.

Southern Pacific Hydra-Cushion 1964 Brochure. []. December 1964.

Click here for additional images for this review.

Highs: Separately applied wire cut levers and etched metal parts. Rolls and tracks perfectly. Paint and lettering are superior.
Lows: No air hoses. Slightly heavy.
Verdict: This should enhance any N scaler's fleet of modern box cars. I look forward to the next release.
  Scale: N Scale
  Mfg. ID: 50 004 456
  Related Link: 
  PUBLISHED: Sep 26, 2020
  NATIONALITY: United States

Our Thanks to Atlas Model Railroad!
This item was provided by them for the purpose of having it reviewed on this KitMaker Network site. If you would like your kit, book, or product reviewed, please contact us.

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About Frederick Boucher (JPTRR)

I'm a professional pilot with a degree in art. My first model was an AMT semi dump truck. Then Monogram's Lunar Lander right after the lunar landing. Next, Revell's 1/32 Bf-109G...cried havoc and released the dogs of modeling! My interests--if built before 1900, or after 1955, then I proba...

Copyright ©2021 text by Frederick Boucher [ JPTRR ]. Images also by copyright holder unless otherwise noted. Opinions expressed are those of the author(s) and not necessarily those of ModelGeek. All rights reserved.


Video Review

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