Intermountain Kit Review

Discussion in 'HO Scale Model Trains' started by mykroft, Jul 16, 2004.

  1. mykroft

    mykroft Member

    Nov 15, 2002
    Likes Received:
    I got lucky and scored 3 40' modified AAR Boxcar kits from Intermountain yesterday. These are 10'6" height with 6' doors, 5/5 Dreadnought ends and Murphy roofs. Here's a mini review for those who haven't tried them yet. The kits are undecs of course (The only way Intermountain sells kits)

    They're roughly comparable to the Branchline Blueprint kits, so I will be contrasting the two.

    The kits go together quite nicely in general. Assembly involves attaching the frame and ends to the main body, then adding details, as opposed to Branchline's sub-assembly based procedure, although you can do the ends either way (As you can for the Branchline kits).

    Assembly steps are:

    Attach the roofwalk to the roof. Two options are given here, you can either remove the mounting posts from the roofwalk (Which are also the sprue) and mount to the roof, or you can drill out the post holes in the roof and mount with the posts. Intermountain recomends the first, and that is what I did. It looks very good. Roof grabs mount in dimples without any drilling.

    Next is attaching the frame to the main body. This requires some sanding of the sprue attachment point to get the frame to fit properly. The frame is keyed (A nice difference from the Branchline kits) and extends from bolster to bolster. There is no frame past the bolsters though. The frame also appears somewhat heavy compared to the Branchline frame, it includes a trainline, which looks very thick. Brake rigging is one piece, with major components mounting directly to the body. The appearance is excellent from the side, but some bits are lacking (Notably there are only two air pipes into the 3 way valve). A 2 piece brake rigging assembly would allow more accurate rigging, but likely wouldn't look any better when the car is on it's trucks. There are seperate pieces for glad hands and the connection between the rigging and the B end brake gear. The glad hands and the extra rigging bit are very well done, and Branchline would do well to borrow the mounting method (their equivalents are much more difficult to mount, and much more susceptible to falling off). The draft gear Intermountain provides is useless. It mush be glued into place assembled, and it doesn't allow one to replace couplers after assembly. This presents difficulties in painting it. I driled and tapped the mounting 2-56 and replaced with Kadee #5 draft gear with the ears removed. Anybody know of a good source of draft gear? The Kadee draft gear has the ears, which I dislike, and has holes if the ears are clipped. Once everything is assembled, there is a fairly noticable gap between the end of the frame and the draft gear, this is visible from the sides. Small extensions to the frame molding would rectify this, or including the draft gear in the frame molding as many kits do.

    Next the ends are mounted, they are keyed, so getting them wrong would require effort. Then comes adding the details, beginning with the B end. Intermountain's B end brake rigging is excellent, and goes on in one piece. It's less fiddly and fragile than Branchline's but looks just as good. The ladders are keyed and go on easily, and then you add the grabs. The grabs themselves are well done, but the mountings are very thick and rather ugly, especially compared to the unobtrusive mounts that Branchline uses. And there's no provision for cut levers. Considering the overall level of detail, the lack of cut levers strikes me as odd.

    the A end is like the B end, but simpler, and then it's time to add the side grabs & ladders, which go on simply. Intermountain has devised a simple and excellent mount for stirrups, which should be emulated. The stirrups are molded to a plate, which mounts to the inside of the body. Simple, robust and excellent looking.

    The door mounts are ingenious, and work very well, allowing an operable door with scale-appearing track. And they simply snap-in. The track does require a little cleanup of flash, but this is trivial.

    It's now time to weight the car. Intermountain unfortunatly choeses not to provide weights, however they are kind enough to specify how muh weight is needed to match NMRA standards. 2oz in this case. I added the weight with stickable lead weights, 1oz over each kingpost.

    It's then a simple matter to add the roof, and you are ready for painting. Roof fit is decent, but could use a little work.

    All-in all an excellent kit, providing a nice model of only slightly lesser detail than the Branchline, but with simpler and faster assembly. Improvements to the end grab mounts and the draft gear, as well as the inclusion of cut levers would make this kit even better. There's a few ideas that Branchline would do well to emulate, notably the B end brake rigging and the door mounts.
  2. NYC-BKO

    NYC-BKO Member

    Jun 6, 2004
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    Thanks for the review, tips and pointers Mykroft. -:thumb:

    Details West has some draft gear boxes, #1022 for that car.