Leadville Designs sells kits for the 3000 series boxcar as originally built for the Denver & Rio Grande Railroad in 1903. To my knowledge, this version has not been offered before. Featuring a simpler air brake system, end truss rods and wood roof, the car also had less safety equipment than when rebuilt in the early 1920s when a metal roof, modern air brake system and added grabs were applied. I built the HOn3 version priced at $44.95 and it is also offered in Sn3 at $64.95 and On3 at $84.95. All three less trucks and couplers.
If you are not modeling the D&RG or modeling a later time frame, these cars also found their way into MOW service or could be lettered for another road. Since I model the 1949 era, I elected to letter the car for my own road but generally built it as designed. The kit consists of laser-cut wooden parts; 3D printed, etched brass and styrene parts, wire, nylon, and decals. There are two levels of detail possible with this kit. Every detail can be added or some details, later hidden, can be omitted. For the first time, the instructions even note this possibility and provide guidance on when to do so.
As with earlier LD kits, the fit of the parts is superb and the assembly is precise. There are a few points of confusion. One example is the styrene custom cast corner angles, the middle ones of which are to support the end truss rods. The instructions refer to a diagram and a process of double-bending them to form the bracket for the truss rod. I could find no specific diagram other than the car plan, nor could I figure out the process. I elected just to apply them as an angle iron, omitting the end truss rods. I was very impressed by the delicate 3D cast piping attached to the air brake reservoir and the brake system can be added quite easily thanks to this.
No timing is suggested for adding couplers or decals but it is easy to figure out the best stage to do so. I add-ed Kadee no. 714 couplers, requiring a slight enlargement of the end sheathing and Grandt Line D&RGW 3-foot 7-inch trucks. Note that using the stock kit end buffer blocks and brass overlay plates will not allow proper operation of the Kadee couplers. If you wish, modification of the kit parts is easy to allow full coupler operation by removing the bottom half of each. I applied Hunterline Boxcar Brown stain (which is not brown) to the body and Floquil Red Oxide for the metal parts. This replicates the prototype’s slight difference in color between wood and iron parts when painted and weathered.
The underframe is detailed, adding those darned turnbuckles to the nylon truss rods is the most challenging step for me (at least in HOn3). The body is then add-ed and the interior framing, present in other LD kits, is a nice feature. I stained mine a light brown wood color and will permanently park the car adjacent to a loading dock with an open door to show it being loaded. If made operable, be sure to add weight to bring it up to the NMRA recommended practice. A jig is provided to form grabs irons, but I elected to use commercial grabs. I also added four, not two, stirrup steps, and a few extra grabs. Note both the ends and roof have grab irons.
All the door hardware is present and adds a lot to the final appearance. The roof and brake staff and wheel are added last. I used a combination of the kit decals and my own custom road name decals to letter the car. The provided decals are very fine quality and apply eas-ily. They accept decal softening solutions well.
I was pleased with the result. This car joins other kits available for modelers to model the earlier period more easily in Colorado and California narrow gauge. I look forward to more releases from Leadville Designs.
5 Stapledon Cr.
Ottawa ON K2H 9L1