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Model Information: Single Sliding Door Rib Side Without Roofwalk FMC. Originally designed by MDC Roundhouse. This tooling was acquired by Athearn in June of 2004 and re-released under the Athearn name. The MDC releases referred to this tooling as "FMC 50 Foot Boxcar - Single Door". Athearn refers to them as "FMC 5347 Box Car(sic)", but they are the same model.
The MDC Roundhouse releases typically came as kits (though some later releases were RTR) with an unpainted pewter underframe and truck-mounted couplers and blackened low-profile metal wheels. The Athearn releases have a nicer set of wheels (also low-profile). The Athearn models are always Ready-to-Run (RTR). The Athearn models have painted (black) underframes that are also metal (likely pewter or whatever MDC used). Athearn moved the couplers to become body-mounted and changed the coupling system from Rapido to McHenry. After inspecting them closely, I am not sure they can be swapped for MTL couplers without filing off part of the underframe, but I could be wrong. This presents a problem as McHenry couplers don't always play well with other couplers on long consists where that is a lot of force on each coupling point. The body has remained unchanged with the only detail part being the brake wheel.
The newer releases of this body style (as of 2017) market this boxcar as specifically modelling the FMC 5347 prototype.
Over 4,300 cars were produced from 1975-1979 by FMC's Portland, Oregon plant. The cars were delivered in numerous colorful shortline paint schemes, as well as the nationwide car pool fleet of Railbox. Many secondhand cars were later seen in Class 1 railroads and large leasing company fleets under additional shortline reporting marks.
Unlike many of their contemporaries which contracted with European firms to produce their products, MDC made their own toolings. They made several popular body styles and produced them for road names that many other vendors (even Micro-Trains) wouldn't touch. This made them popular with modelers. Also, their un-assembled "kits" permitted a lower price point so they were popular with "runners" as well as "modelers".
Of particular interest was the attention given to modern 50 foot steel boxcars. They made some attempt to accurately mold the differences into distinct models to represent each of the major prototype manufacturers products. They have distinct toolings not only for the different products from FMC, BFF and PS, but also multiple models for each of these manufacturers including "standard" vs "Youngstown" doors and "waffle" vs. "rib" sides. In total they produced 13 different versions of the 50 foot steel boxcar.
Item created by: Steve German on 2016-04-02 19:29:42. Last edited by gdm on 2018-02-16 08:30:14
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