Saturday, March 23, 2024

International-Great Northern Box Car 17109

 When I moved my Minneapolis & Northland Railroad Company to my present home twelve years ago, I still had several bank boxes of wire in my storage area that was removed from under the railroad prior to its move.   After collecting cars for many years, a friend is now building a railroad.  He asked me if I would like to part with a couple of the boxes of wire.   I said, “Sure.”  When I was asked, “How much is it going to cost?”  Since  I had passed on Atlas 1932 design box cars I asked if he had one he could part with.  End of story, an Atlas RTR 1932 design box car, kit 20 001 258, lettered for the International-Great Northern (I-GN),numbered 17109 came into my possession.

Upon arrival I opened the box with the new Atlas RTR (ready-to-run) 1932 design box car lettered for I-GN 17109 to view the new box car; however, I really wanted to view the freight car on the railroad.  Therefore, I removed the car from its box and placed it on the Soonor Wye in Minneapolis on my railroad.   Your eyes immediately catch the I-GN reporting marks and Missouri Pacific herald.  The I-GN was a sub of the Missouri Pacific, thus the 24 inch Missouri Pacific herald.

I-GN Box Car 17109 sitting on Soonor Wye
(Click or tap on this or any image to enlarge)

Atlas Model Railroad Co., Inc. did a good job of producing this 1932 design ARA box car when compared to prototype photos, including B end, of I-GN 17156 and 17149 in The American Railway Association Standard Box Car of 1932 (Speedwitch Media, 2004).  In the book with detailed coverage of the 1932 design and numerous photos, the Missouri Pacific Lines chapter states “the Missouri Pacific initiated its purchases of 1932 cars with a 300 order for its subsidiary, the International-Great Northern.”

The prototype steel cars were built by American Car & Foundry in June of 1936 and assigned to series 17001-17300.   Features of these cars included 4/4 Dreadnaught ends, Murphy panel roof, wood running boards, Youngstown corrugated steel doors with Creco door fixtures, metal brake step and Universal brake wheel.  And, the cars rode on 40 ton trucks.

I-GN 17156 photo found in The American Railway
 Association Standard Box Car of 1932
       Courtesy of Ted Culota

Off to the computer to put the new car into the data base and print a car card for box car I-GN 17109.  The International Great Northern box car was ready for service on the Minneapolis & Northland Railroad Company.  Normally printing a card card is the final step to put the a car in service on the M&N Railroad.  Well, not the final step this time.   Once I-GN 17109 was sitting on the Great Northern Interchange, I-GN 17109 just did not look right.  Why?  A 1932 freight car running in the late spring of 1955 should show some weathering.

I-GN 17109 on Great Northern Interchange
 needing weathering.

Box car I-GN 17109 went back to the workbench for weathering.   Just a quick application with a makeup brush of Pan Pastes Paynes Grey Extra Dark 840.1.  Since it was on the workbench removal of the molded on sill steps and uncoupling levers would not take long.  Therefore, molded on sill steps were cut off and replaced with A-Line #29000, style B, sill steps installed into holes drilled with a #76 drill.  And, molded uncoupling levers were cut off and replaced with wire uncoupling levers and brackets bent from Tichy Train Group (Tichy) #1106, .0125 phosphor bronze wire (PBW).   Of course, the new installed details had to be painted.   Therefore, the new details were hand painted Vallejo Model Air Brown RLM 26 with a touch of  Vallejo Model Color Black 70.950.  When the paint was dry, details were weathered with black eye shadow makeup applied with a mico brush and weathered box car  I-GN 17109 was returned to the railroad.

Sill steps and uncoupling levers replaced.

The next day I decided box car I-GN 17109 still could use a few changes.  Back to the workbench.   The plastic molded ladder rungs were cut off and replaced with wire ones bent from Tichy #1101, .010 diameter PBW.  Again I-GN 17109 now looking better was returned to Soonor Wye on the railroad; however, still not done.   

Wire rungs installed on kit ladder styles.

After ladder rungs replaced with wire rungs
I-GN 17109 was placed on Soonor Wye.

Once the ladder rungs were replaced why not make a few additional changes on the B end and the underbody.   And, I did.

The funny looking retainer valve, oversize retainer line, strange looking bell crank and oversize brake rod were cut off. 

Easy to see strange looking retainer valve and
bell crank as oversize retainer line and brake rod.

New detail parts installed were as follows:

  • Retainer valve, resin one from spare parts box
  • Retainer line and brackets, Tichy # 1100, .008 diameter PBW
  • Bell crank, Tichy from set #3013
  • Brake rod, cut from Detail Associates #2505, .015 brass wire
  • Brake rod clevis to attach brake rod to bell crank, Tichy from set #3013

The new detail parts were hand painted Vallejo Model Air Brown RLM 26 with a touch of  Vallejo Model Color Black 70.950 weathered with Pan Pastels Paynes Grey Extra Dark 840.1.  And, placard boards were painted Vallejo Model Color Black 70.950 as was done by the Missouri Pacific.

B end details installed.

B end details installed.

B end details installed.

Before putting box car I-GN 17109 back into service there were a few underbody changes I wanted to make.   A square looking control valve (AB valve) was removed after the pipes from the air reservoir were carefully cut off as they would be reattached to the new control valve.   An AB valve, resin cast in the M&N Shops using Sunshine Models as master, was installed.  The AB valve was drilled for piping prior to install.  Molded on air reservoir piping was reconnected to new AB valve.  A missing brake pipe from back of brake cylinder to AB valve was cut and bent from Tichy #1106, .0125 diameter PBW and installed.  Missing brake lever hangers, bent from Tichy #1101, .010 diameter PBW, were installed.  The missing brake rod between the brake levers was installed.  The brake rod was cut from Tichy #1106, .0125 PBW with clevises to attach to brake levers made with MEK Goop.  And, a dirt collector, resin cast in M&N Shops using Tichy in set #3013 as master, was installed.  Now, box car I-GN 17109  was moved to the paint shop where the underbody was hand painted Vallejo Model Color Black 70.950.

Underbody before details installed.

Underbody with details installed.

Underbody with added details painted.

Out of the paint shop box car I-GN was placed back in service.   I-GN 17109 sat on the mainline for a while before being moved back on the Great Northern (GN) Interchange.  In the next operating session box car I-GN 17109 was placed into the scheduled Western Arrow, better known as Number 5, a train on the Minneapolis & Northland Railroad Company (M&N)  and moved to the passing siding in Little Chicago from where it was moved by the local switch engine to Hiawatha Elevator.

I-GN sitting on mainline in Minneapolis
prior to  move to GN Interchange.

I-GN 17109 moved to GN Interchange.

I-GN 17109 moved to GN Interchange.

I-GN 17109 spotted at Hiawatha Elevator
in Little Chicago, Minnesota.

After I published this blog I was made aware that I had left the New 1936 reweigh date.  Did I mean to do that?  No, since I model late spring 1955 I did want a much later reweigh date.   I changed the date several days later.  And, a photo of  I-GN 17109 with the new 1951 reweigh date on the Soonor Wye.

I-GN 17109 with new reweigh date  sitting
on Sooner Wye in Minneapolis, Minn.

I want to say, “Thank You” to Ted Culotta for providing photo of  I-GN 17156 and his permission to use it here on my blog.  The International-Great Northern photo of  I-GN box car 17156 (above) is from his book The American Railway Association Standard Box Car of 1932 If you missed this book with extensive photographic coverage, drawings and information of the 1932 design box car, you will have another opportunity to purchase the book as Ted recently announced it is being reprinted and will be available soon from Speedwitch Media.

Thank You for taking time to read my blog.  You can share a comment in the section below if you choose to do so.  Please sign your comment with your name if you choose to leave one.  All comments are reviewed and approved before they appear.  Please share the blog link with other model railroaders.

Lester Breuer



  1. Nice job on the modifications and updates, as always. I noticed the car still has a NEW 6-36 stenciled on it. Any reason you retained it? Should it have a later reweigh date?

    1. Being focused on car body and underbody changes I missed that. For my time period spring 1955 the reweigh date definitely needs to be much later. Thank You for your post making me aware. I will change it.