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First Look Review
N scale
50' SIECO Pulpwood Flat Car
50' SIECO Pulpwood Flat Car
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by: Frederick Boucher [ JPTRR ]

Originally published on:
RailRoad Modeling

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Atlas Model Railroad Company, Inc. has released another type of pulpwood flat car in N scale. First released in February 2019, this N Master 50' SIECO Pulpwood Flat Car debuted with seven road names. This sample, item 50 004 861, is lettered as CSX #408232.

Atlas created this model as a SIECO prototype and explains;
    The pulpwood car was designed out of necessity, as previous logging style cars were rebuilt out of boxcars or gondolas. The new design made it easy to haul tree trunks, branches, and other cuts stacked in rows of two (With the ends facing out) between two bulkheads bracketing each end. The Atlas 50’ Pulpwood Car was modeled after a SIECO design, with over 800 delivered in the early 1979’s to the Southern Railway, alone. Over time, as demand for pulpwood at mills has slowly decreased, these cars still serve a vital purpose, hauling logs, telephone poles, and other long objects lengthwise between the two bulkheads. The Atlas 50’ SIECO Pulpwood Flat would fit in on your railroad hauling more pulpwood to the mill or bringing a load of logs out of the forest to be cut down.

N 50' SIECO Pulpwood Flat Car
This model features crisp molding and exceptional sharp printing. Molding and surface quality is high and the acetal trucks look good, too. Packed in a jewel box for safe display or storage, this flat car is nestled in a clear form-fitted cradle with a lid. A thin plastic sheet protects it from scuffing. No parts diagram is provided.

Per Atlas this model features:
    • Crisp painting and printing
    • Durable body
    • Free rolling trucks
    • Detailed brakewheel

Atlas equips it with AccuMate® knuckle couplers (made under license from AccuRail, Inc.). One thing Atlas did not include with this model is a cords of logs.

SIECO pulpwood flats feature simple construction. Replicating it in N is simple and thus this model has good detail. The car rides on Barber S-2 roller bearing trucks holding plastic wheels. The brakewheel does sport good detail.

Flip the car over and you very see basic underframe and brake detail.

Even though all of the bulkhead grab handles are cast on, by the "3-foot rule" of model railroading they do not look clunky.

I searched for CSX #408232. I did not find a photo of it but I did find four of its sisters. Unlike this model, all have six heavy duty posts per side. You can look at them, below, via Click here for additional images for this review.

Performance and Dimensions
I can not find any SIECO prototype dimensional data so I can not judge the accuracy of this model. Atlas lists it as a 50' car and it measures 4 3/16 inches, which by NMRA standards should weigh 1.12 ounces. It is a whopping 40% underweight at .8 ounces. Between end sills, this "50-foot" car measures 56½ feet, 13% oversized. I leave to you, good modeler, if you can eyeball that discrepancy, and if it matters.

I gave this model a push across Atlas Code 80 track and turnouts. It performed well. The coupler height matches other N cars I have.

Paint and Lettering
Atlas' CSX livery is flawless. I can not vouch for the accuracy of the brown color; those aforementioned photos of CSX cars in this road number series show the cars painted in CSX blue.

Atlas offers seven railroads for their SIECO pulpwood flat car:
    Ashley, Drew and Northern (Green/White)
    CSX (Brown/White)
    Illinois Central Gulf (Orange/Black)
    Kansas City Southern (Brown/White)
    Missouri Pacific (Brown/White)
    Richmond, Fredericksburg & Potomac (Blue/White)
    Southern (Brown/White)
Each has two road numbers.

Speaking of road numbers, this car features exceptional printing of dimensional data and other stenciling.

I hate to say it but compared to other Atlas N Master Line flat cars I've examined, this model is basic. It is of all plastic components whereas the Atlas GSI Pulpwood Flat Car features a die-cast chassis, and another N flat car at least has metal wheels.

The highlights are crisp molding and exceptional paint and lettering. It rolls well and features knuckle couplers. (Knuckle couplers are pretty much expected these days.)

On the down side, everything is plastic. The underside is basic. Weight and dimensions of this model are out of tolerance. As mentioned, while I can not vouch for the accuracy of the brown color, photographs of CSX cars in this road number series show the cars painted in CSX blue.

Modelers who are not concerned with dimensional accuracy or NMRA standards, and model the post-steam era and railroads that served the pulpwood industry, can use a few of these Atlas N 50' SIECO Pulpwood Flat Cars.

We thank Atlas for sending this model! Please tell them and retailers that you saw this model here - on RailRoad Modeling.

Pulpwood Cars
Pulpwood was often shipped in box cars or gons, but those regions of the country, particularly the Southeast, which served timber regions, generally had a sizeable fleet of bulkhead and pulpwood flats. (The difference was if the car had a flat deck, it was a bulkhead flat, but if the car had a "V"-shaped deck, it was only suitable for pulpwood.) If the car is loaded, particularly with pulpwood, one can't tell if the deck is flat or V-shaped, so it seems to make sense to group these two types of cars together.

On the other hand, the design of the bulkhead is so distinctive that I would plan my attack on modeling the car by concentrating on these. Many times the roads used cut-down box car ends, but many other versions were built new. I am finding it difficult to categorize the different forms of bulkheads, so I have been neglecting these cars.

There are several sources of bulkheads that I know of that could be cannibalized from other kits if need be.

It should be recognized that bulkhead and pulpwood cars were late-steam developments. Prior to 1930, mechanized loading was still in the development stage. During the Depression, unemployment was high so labor was cheap. On the other hand, capital was all but non-existent due to the stock market crash and the many bank failures. This prolonged the use of manual loading and unloading of all types of cargo, including pulpwood. It made more sense to use ratty old box cars or stock cars for this service than buy new specialized cars.

In the 1931 Cyc., for example, there were no bulkhead flats shown. An "LP" type car was described as "an open top car having solid bottom and fixed sides and ends (either slatted or solid) and provided with side door openings. With or without running boards having guard rails. Suitable for handling pulpwood" (emphasis theirs). In other words, basically these were for roofless box or stock cars.

A "FP" (flat rack) car was "an ordinary flat car provided with side and end racks, with door openings in sides. Suitable for handling pulpwood" (emphasis theirs). Again, they were thinking of a car with sides.

Regular flats were often converted into bulkhead cars, retaining all but the first and last stake pockets. Thus a 15-pocket car, if converted to a bulkhead type, would likely have 13 pockets. In some cases I will discuss the bulkhead versions in the same section as their regular flat siblings, if it seems appropriate.

In Varney's ad in the August 1955 Model Railroader, they introduced a bulkhead flat model. The caption said "More and more, railroads are adding these cars as the 'tree farms' come in bearing." Notice the mid-'50's date of this announcement.

** NEB&W Railroad Heritage Website. NEB&W Guide to Bulkhead & Pulpwood Flat Cars - Introduction [Web.] 25 September 2011, at 18:32.

Click here for additional images for this review.

Highs: Crisp molding and exceptional paint and lettering. Knuckle couplers.
Lows: Everything is plastic and the model is significantly underweight, and too long. Questionable car color.
Verdict: Modelers of the post-steam era and railroads that served the pulpwood industry can use a few of these SIECO Pulpwood Flat Cars.
  Scale: N Scale
  Mfg. ID: 50 004 861
  Related Link: 
  PUBLISHED: Nov 18, 2019
  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 ©2020 text by Frederick Boucher [ JPTRR ]. All rights reserved.


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