August 10, 2004

NHRHTA TECHCOM Branchline Heavyweight Passenger Car Review

The cars are available in two New Haven prototypical paint schemes: Hunter Green and McGinnis.  The Hunter Green version matches the New Haven color guide specification for #212 Hunter Green with a black painted roof.  Lettering and numbering on this car is the correct style and color and conforms to NHRHTA Standing Data Sheet 5.5.


The McGinnis “New Image” repainted version, commonly called the “Black Knight” scheme, is painted all black with the Red-Orange letter board matching the New Haven color guide for #409 Red-Orange. With the exception of the road numbers which appear to be approximately 4” instead of the 5” as stated on the data sheet, lettering on this car is the correct style and color and conforms to NHRHTA Standing Data Sheet 5.6.


All lettering on these models is sharp and opaque.




Full interior
Brake gear rigging
Steam lines
Air lines
Underbody components (Brake cylinder, UC brake valve, air tanks, generator, steam traps and battery boxes.)
Complete end details (Diaphragms, coupler yokes, safety chains, coupler cut levers and steam/air hoses)
Separate handrails




The overall height, length and wheelbase dimensions conform to New Haven Railroad passenger car diagram 24282.




Despite the fact that Branchline’s heavyweight coach is a New York Central prototype it is an excellent reproduction of a car that was built in very large numbers for many railroads by various car builders.  Most importantly this item has never before been manufactured in HO scale plastic. Though perhaps intimidating due to the large number of individual parts, the modeler must bear in mind that this model is a kit, and many detail parts are optional, allowing the modeler to build a car to his or her taste, abilities or requirements. The instruction sheets are well written and illustrated.


The kits represent the 7800-7950 series all-steel cars built for the New Haven by Osgood-Bradley in 1913-14, with the window positioning and count very close to the New Haven cars. These cars were rebuilt in 1934-35 at Readville with 30” high windows and taller letterboards. Making minor modifications such as moving the lavatories and corresponding roof vents to the left side, reversing partitions, eliminating the window mullion on the end doors, rearranging the underbody details provided, adding additional aftermarket underbody details, and applying the correct number of roof vents to suit New Haven passenger cars  (Branchline has thoughtfully provided a “blank roof vent” insert for this purpose) will produce cars that are welcome additions to the roster of anyone who models the New Haven Railroad. The window inserts are best installed in the sides before gluing the sides onto the body core and the interior should be installed before the sides as the window thickness make installation of the interior difficult. One minor flaw seems to exist in the wheel sets, which could be replaced with Kadee wheel sets to improve the cars’ rolling qualities.


Branchline is to be commended for their efforts in producing these heavyweight coaches and modelers should look forward to other variations of this long awaited car in the future.


NOTE: The cars pictured in the photos above are assembled directly from Branchline kits for review purposes only and have not been modified to represent New Haven passenger equipment.

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