|Tangent Scale Models photo to display a decorated model|
I posted last week with some prototype information about the Southern Pacific Lines B-50-28 and -29 postwar AAR box cars. I mentioned that I would follow up with my thoughts about the new Tangent Scale Models HO scale offerings for these cars (note: I am not presenting info about the B-50-30/-31/-32 as they are past my personal modeling cutoff date, but the thoughts presented herein apply equally to those models.) Quite simply, these are some of the finest HO scale box cars ever offered, with the overall package rivaling the exceptional Kadee PS-1 models. Considering the price points of $48.95 for undecorated kits and $52.95 for ready-to-run cars, these are a steal compared to other freight car models being released in HO scale for reasons that will become apparent if you continue to read.
I purchased undecorated kits and my thoughts specific to the kits are included at the end of this writeup. However, I will cover the model details first. The car body faithfully replicates the prototype. Of note, these cars featured a version of the Improved Dreadnaught end that has not been replicated to date in HO scale (manufacturers in both styrene and resin have added a narrow thin rib at the top of the end and called it a job well done; however, the other major characteristic, the "flat" horizontal bottom portion of the main top rib on the ends has been ignored.) Tangent has captured both the narrow thin rib (suitably diminutive) as well as the different top main rib. The ends are beautiful. The sides are nicely captured as well, with miniature rivets that are in the same class as those on the Branchline AAR box cars. The characteristic narrow side panels on either side of the door are replicated, as well as the "notched" side sill supports at the body bolsters. The Diagonal Panel Murphy roof is also nicely captured, with fine rivets on the caps at the panel joints. The underframe is beautiful, as well, with fine renderings of the center sills and stringers. Tangent has replicated all the major traits of these cars in extremely fine detail. My only complaint here is that I wish these had been tooled as separate parts to allow me to more easily use them for kitbashing fodder.
As the saying goes, "the devil's in the details" and that is another area where these models shine.
- Instructions for the kits may be found via this link
- On the underframe, the mountings for the brake parts use prototypical brackets and similar fixtures, as opposed to just sticking things into holes in the floor, as many manufacturers do. This really sets these models apart.
- The AB brake set is nicely detailed, with fine representations of the reservoirs and AB valve, plus nicely rendered dirt collector and tee between the trainline (which is also present) and dirt collector. There are wire parts for connections of some of the various brake equipment.
- The draft gear (coupler pockets) are narrower than most manufacturers offerings. They are functionally wide at the opening and taper to match the width of the center sills where they meet the body bolsters. They have a mounting apparatus on the side for the angle cock/air hoses, which are nicely detailed and are cast in a rubberized material, making them extremely durable! This is quite welcome. Another small nit is that the built up models include Kadee couplers, but the kits do not. Why?
- The model includes 50-ton ASF A-3 Ride Control trucks. They may not be as nice as the legendary Kato A-3s, but they are still some of the nicest trucks included with a model that I have seen. One of my few nits with these kits is that they do not come equipped with 0.088" tread width wheelsets. It's about time that we adopt 0.088" the de facto standard and make those who want 0.110" buy them separately. Or perhaps offer the 0.088" wheelsets in the kits as it's highly likely that those buying kits would care more about such things.
- Closing the underframe topic, it is overall the best detailed underframe I have seen on an HO scale mass market model. The fidelity is there and the accuracy is there
- End detailing is also exemplary, including the aforementioned faithful representation of the corrugations
- In the kit there are seven (!) different power hand brake options, including two Miner, two Champion, and one each of Ajax, Universal, and Equipco. Each includes its own mounting bracket and they are "full" parts with chain and rod integral to the parts. These alone are a trove of parts to use on other projects!
- There are three etched metal brake steps, all pre-bent for addition to the model.
- The placard boards for the ends and doors accurately follow the prototype as opposed to being simple, generic three board parts.
- The uncoupling rods are pre-bent and are fine representations of those on the prototype. The mounting brackets are also finely detailed.
- The pressure retaining valve ('retainer valve') includes a nice bracket and piping that runs down the end of the car. The valve appears too small and that is accentuated by the large size of the corresponding pipe (the pipe is styrene and is slightly larger than the prototype, but not grossly so)
- Ladders, grabs, and sill steps are all finely detailed. The ladders are beautiful, faithfully matching the prototype. They are so well-rendered that I worry about their durability, since they are molded in styrene, which is prone to breakage. The bracket grabs are equally finely replicated in styrene. However, any potential damage due to the fidelity is not Tangent's issue. The end sill and latitudinal running board grabs are formed wire, again fine, but obviously more durable. I did have damage to two ladders in the one kit that I inspected. Given the fineness and the material, I suspect this is not unique to me.
- The kits are supposed to include two running boards: Morton and Apex Tri-Lok. My kit included the Morton, but was missing the Apex. Apparently, this is the case with all kits. Tangent may be contacted for the missing Apex part. The parts are styrene and are "see-through". They are beautiful, but again are fragile because they are styrene. Being styrene, they are easier to attach to the roof, though.
- The kits include four pairs of doors: two pairs of Youngstown plus 7-panel and 5-panel Superior doors, as well as corresponding bottom door tracks for each type (note: prototype lower Superior door tracks do have different hardware than the tracks for Youngstown doors and have been mostly ignored by manufacturers, particularly in HO scale. To their credit, Tangent has offered both styles)