Friday, 22 April 2016

Review: SDS Models NRY Boxcar

I recently added an SDS Models NRNY ice chilled boxcar to Philden's goods roster. Not only was the HO scale 38' foot wagon an ideal candidate for my short 6' bookshelf layout, but it was also the first SDS model that I have added to my collection. So what were my thoughts?

The roof hatches and end ladder details are what make these models fantastic.

SDS Models' NRY ice chilled boxcar was only released in late 2015 and retails for $180 AUD for a pack of 3 differently numbered boxcars. Let me be perfectly honest upfront. I purchased this model second hand on eBay. Having been tempted with the thought of buying a pack of 3 NRNY models for some time, the idea of purchasing just one model supposedly 'new' on eBay seemed a better choice. However, as is sometimes the case on eBay, some people's definitions of 'brand new just out of the box' are totally different to mine, and the photos below of the bent uncoupling rod tell the story.

The coupling bar at the bottom left of the photo isn't supposed to be bent.... should look like this.

The other noticeable issue I have had to put aside in order to do a fair review, was the missing brake wheel on one side of the model. If you notice under the on marking on the black frame, a four spoke brake wheel should be there as exists at the other end of the rod. So maybe that 'just out of the box' description should have read, 'sorry I dropped it taking it out of the box'. I'll just be content to say I only paid $50 for this model and accept that it is second hand. After all, I bought this with the intention of heavily weathering it to resemble a well-worn and rusted wagon at the end of its lifespan anyway.

Missing brake wheel aside, I love the under frame detail, right down to the wobbly chain.

Personal issues aside, the model has a lot of subtle, yet well-executed detail. Underneath there is enough fine rodding, levers and brake cylinders to keep the fussiest of modelers happy. The icing on the cake for me however, was the real chain used to model the link from the brake wheel to the cylinder cock. It actually wobbles about if you shake the model gently. Although I'd hate the thought of having track work so poorly laid as to see it wobble about as it was running on my layout.

The roof hatches, body profile and close coupling of the NRY boxcars make it an interesting model.

The wheel sets on the SDS model are metal rimmed, which makes them a little different to the chemically blackened wheel sets of the On Track Models VLCX van shown above on the left. What I like about this is being able to look at the model front-on to the couplers and see that striking shiny silver wheel surface. Yet from side-on, the wheels still look dirty and grimy. The model free-rolled without any hassles through a pair of PECO medium radius points, although when holding the model in my hands, one of the bogies felt a little stiffer than the other when it turns. But if it ain't broke, why fix it?

I'm a little unsure of the end ladder spacing where the handles loop over onto the roof. One end seems to be a lot wider than the other, although it does still line up with the cross tread on the roof walkway. My thoughts are that in real-life the ladder was deliberately offset to provide safe access from the shunter's steps.

Unfortunately, it was at this point that I discovered one of the smaller roof hatch handles was also missing, although with the holes not looking as though it had broken off, my guess is it was simply missed during assembly at the factory. It shouldn't come as any surprise to readers to know that if there is an Australian model with a broken part or missing piece, it somehow makes its way into my collection. I have now lucked out with 7 out of my past 10 purchases of Australian designed model railway rolling-stock, and that 30% success rate is a worrying trend at a time when I contemplating what direction to head with my next layout. Anyway, I may just bend some wire and paint it white, or I may even leave it how it is and weather it as a well-used and slightly beaten-up survivor.

My NRNY ice chilled boxcar pulled up alongside the goods shed at Philden. Note the shunter's step and handrails.

There were only 30 of these boxcars produced for the NSW Public Transport Commission between 1973-1974. The welded steel construction was painted white, while inside I believe there was a fibreglass shell similar to the lining of an esky cooler. Ice was dropped in through the 8 hatches on the roof to provide a chilled, insulated boxcar capable of transporting perishables to market. As such, the welded steel sides quickly rusted on account of all the surface condensation. Being time-sensitive traffic, the boxcars were fitted with 2CM high-speed bogies and were often attached to express goods trains. Towards the end of their lives when refrigerated containers were making these boxcars obsolete, their interior linings were removed, the roof hatches welded shut and the boxcars gained an extra loading capacity. I've seen these boxcars still operating in various railway DVD's shot in the late 1990's and early 2000's. They were always tucked in on interstate express freights directly behind the locomotives.

Review Card: SDS Models 38' NSWPTC NRY ice chilled boxcar

My Rating:


Final Thoughts: A well-executed model with a surprising amount of detail.


  1. I wouldn't worry about the top hatch wire, the shunting mishap on the coupling bar. But the handbrake wheel needs replacing,easily luckily. The ladder tops need to flare outwards to allow climbing through, one is too straight.

    1. Thanks for your much-needed advice Ben. I'll gently pry apart the ladder end that is too straight like you suggest and make a new handbrake wheel from some scrap plastic strips. It shouldn't be that hard. As for the coupling bar mishap, you're right. I think it should stay like it is for a bit of character, along with the missing top hatch wire which isn't noticeable anyway. There's noway I would have modeled a ding in a coupling bar, so now that its there, at least I don't have to cringe at destroying what is still a beautiful model. It'll just look like an old work horse.


Thanks for taking the time to visit Philden. I hope you'll book a return ticket soon. Cheers, Phil