Like most people, I have a freight car fleet that includes older models, in most cases reflecting the more limited kit possibilities of the past, along with newer models. Back when there was little out there in the way of 40-foot box cars, I modified and upgraded Athearn box cars to represent lots of things that they really can’t do.
But before I go there, let’s look at what the cars can be taken to model. Example: SP had two classes of box cars with the sharp-corner Dreadnaught ends which the Athearn car models, B-50-18 and B-50-19. Replacing the dreadfully thick Athearn running board with wood strips, and the dreadful Athearn brake wheel, and a correct height door (or at least clipping off the huge Athearn door claws) does make a more presentable model, especially if you carry on to replace molded grab irons and steps. You’ve got something that can at least represent the 2750 cars in those two classes.
But SP had a lot more prewar 40-foot cars than those. Since the original Athearn ends are only really right for the two classes mentioned, I’ve considered replacing them with Red Caboose Dreadnaught ends, with the W-corner-post curved shape, which would also solve the appearance problem of the molded-on Athearn end ladders. One could then be creating stand-ins for classes B-50-20, -21, and -23. But they are still stand-ins. And this is important: the three classes listed comprised 5244 cars, far more than the B-50-18 and -19 cars.
Furthermore, adding those ends, keeping in mind that one is faced with cutting the ends out of the Athearn body and fitting new ends, leads to a natural question: how worthwhile is the work to “improve” the Athearn cars this far, still with molded-on side ladders, vs. just building a Red Caboose kit (or nowadays, searching out an RTR car from RC)?
Here’s my decision for now. I’m leaning toward the view that the old cars which stand in for those W-corner post classes really aren’t worth further work, and I plan to replace all of them with later kits, which have better details anyway. The old cars can be put on sale.
This same reasoning will apply to older models of other car types too. As I make progress on those, I’ll post them here.
And if photos are of interest, I can post some of those too.