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N Scale - Bluford Shops - 86371 - Boxcar, 85 or 86 Foot, Auto Parts - Ann Arbor

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N Scale - Bluford Shops - 86371 - Boxcar, 85 or 86 Foot, Auto Parts - Ann Arbor Image Courtesy of Bluford Shops


Stock Number 86371
Brand Bluford Shops
Manufacturer Bluford
Image Provider's Website Link
Body Style Bluford Box Car 86 Foot Auto Parts Double Door
Prototype Vehicle Boxcar, 85 or 86 Foot, Auto Parts (Details)
Road or Company Name Ann Arbor (Details)
Reporting Marks AA
Paint Color(s) Red
Print Color(s) Black
Coupler Type Generic Magnetic Knuckle
Coupler Mount Truck-Mount
Wheel Type Injection Molded Plastic
Wheel Profile Small Flange (Low Profile)
Item Category Rolling Stock (Freight)
Model Type Boxcar
Model Subtype 86 Foot
Model Variety Auto Parts Double Door
Prototype Region North America
Prototype Era NA Era IV: 2nd Gen Diesel (1958 - 1978)
Scale 1/160



Prototype History:
The three major automobile manufacturers in the United States, Chrysler, Ford, and General Motors, each developed specifications in the 1960s for specially built boxcars to transport automobile parts (not actual cars). They stated, if you build this type of car, your will be welcome to pick up and drop off parts at our plants. Thousands of these cars were built in the 1960s and 1970s. Three railcar manufacturers, Greenville, Pullman-Standard and Thrall took up the challenge and constructed 86 foot boxcars.

These cars are not only distinctive for their length (86 foot, also listed as 85 foot) but also for the fact that they were designed for a post-roofwalk world so they took advantage of the fact they didn't need to leave room for the roofwalk and instead are simply built taller. Hence they are considered High-Cube cars. They come in two major varieties: 8-door and 4-door. The eight door types were typically made for use at GM plants and have two sets of 9 foot doors on each side. When these doors are full opened, they created a pair of 18 foot opening on each side of the car. Their 4-door sisters, as specified by Ford and Chrysler, had one pair of 10 foot doors centered on each side, permitting a 20 foot opening.

As containers gradually replaced these cars for use in the auto industry, many were re-purposed for use in other industries that involve low-density commodities such as scrap paper.

Road Name History:
Ann Arbor was formed in 1895 to reorganize the bankrupt Toledo Ann Arbor & North Michigan. It ran from Toledo, Ohio through Ann Arbor, Michigan northwest to the coast of Lake Michigan at Frankfort. There, railroad car ferries forwarded the traffic to four ports across the lake. The rail portion was almost exactly 300 miles. Detroit Toledo & Ironton had control of the company between 1905 and 1910. In 1925, the Wabash took control of the Ann Arbor. As diesels began to arrive (mostly Alco FA's and RS1s) they came in Wabash blue, gray and white but with Ann Arbor lettering and a "marine" version of the flag on the nose. This is where it gets a bit complicated. Wabash was controlled by the Pennsylvania Railroad who, in the early 60s, was planning their merger with the New York Central. They knew they would not be permitted to control Wabash through the merger and began arranging marriages to limit any negative impacts. They arranged for Wabash (whom they controlled) to be leased by Norfolk & Western (whom they didn't control but had considerable influence over) as part of N&W’s consolidation with Nickel Plate, Akron Canton & Youngstown, and Pittsburgh & West Virginia. For some reason, Ann Arbor was to stay in the PRR sphere and not go with the Wabash. So prior to that merger, Wabash sold the Ann Arbor to the Detroit Toledo & Ironton (whom PRR also controlled.) That was in 1963. At that point, AA traded in their blue, gray and white for DT&I orange with Ann Arbor lettering. As the 60s pressed on, demand for cross-lake ferry rail service dwindled until only the two Wisconsin routes remained. By 1972, AA was down to 15 locomotives. A year later, they declared bankruptcy. The line operated in receivership until April 1, 1976 which was Conrail's first day of operation. After a short time, Conrail announced that it wasn't interested in operating any AA route north of Ann Arbor, but the state of Michigan wanted to keep the road together. So Michigan Interstate took over as the designated operator of the Ann Arbor Railroad. “Michigan Interstate Railway Company Operator” lettering was applied to the short hoods of many AA locomotives. In 1982, all ferry operations ended and the following year AA was split between the Michigan Interstate, the Michigan Northern and the Tuscola & Saginaw Bay (later the Great Lakes Central.) Then in 1988, a new company bought the section from Toledo to Ann Arbor. That is the current "Ann Arbor Railroad." Ann Arbor joined the Watco shortline group in 2013.

The Ann Arbor Railroad owned a subsidiary, the Manistique and Lake Superior Railroad (M&LS), from somewhere shortly after that line's origin in 1909 until it was abandoned in 1968.

Brand/Importer Information:
Bluford Shops began in 2007 as a side project of two model railroad industry veterans, Craig Ross and Steve Rodgers. They saw a gap between road names available on N scale locomotives but not available on cabooses. They commissioned special runs of Atlas cabooses in Atlantic Coast Line, Central of Georgia, Monon, Boston & Maine and Southern plus runs on Grand Trunk Western and Central Vermont on the MDC wooden cabooses. While these were in process, they began to develop their first all new tooling project, 86' Auto Parts Boxcars in double door and quad door editions in N scale. By January of 2008, Bluford Shops became a full time venture. Along with additional N scale freight cars and their own tooling for new cabooses, they have brought their own caboose line to HO scale. They also have their popular Cornfields in both HO and N. The future looks bright as they continue to develop new products for your railroad.

The town of Bluford in southern Illinois featured a small yard on Illinois Central's Edgewood Cutoff (currently part of CN.) The yard included a roundhouse, concrete coaling tower (which still stands) and large ice house. Reefer trains running between the Gulf Coast and Chicago were re-iced in Bluford. Things are more quiet now in Bluford with the remaining tracks in the yard used to stage hoppers for mines to the south and store covered hoppers. Intersecting the IC line in Bluford is Southern Railway's (currently NS) line between Louisville and St. Louis. Traffic on this single track line remains relatively heavy.

Item created by: gdm on 2017-05-02 12:02:51

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