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Freight cars stand out at Trainfest

Published: November 18, 2016
Trainfest 2
Trainfest 1

Trainfest, America’s largest operating model railroad show, was held the second weekend in November at State Fair Park in West Allis, Wis., a suburb of Milwaukee. The two-day show featured 110 hobby manufacturers and vendors, 70 operating model railroads, more than 50 clinics and how-to demonstrations, and railroad historical societies.

Freight cars took center stage at Trainfest. On the HO side, unveiled two new Thrall carbon black covered hoppers. Cars based on the 4,727- and 5,750-cubic-foot-capacity prototypes will be offered in the Rivet Counter line.

Tangent Scale Models added to its portfolio of well-detailed cars with a General American 8,000-gallon 1917-design radial course tank car. The car is available in five paint schemes.

Accurail had pre-production artwork for one of its four new 36-foot double-sheathed boxcar kits. The kit will feature an injection-molded plastic body, separately applied brake details, and Accumate couplers.

N scale modelers weren’t left out of the freight car bonanza. Micro-Trains Line Co. unveiled its new 70-foot Gunderson Husky Stack well car. The car, due out in early 2017, will have a die-cast metal body and body-mounted couplers.

Bluford Shops had a pre-production sample of its upcoming two-bay offset side hopper. The model, scheduled for release next summer, will be available in 10 road names.

Fox Valley Models teased several new releases, including a Milwaukee Road ribbed-side 50-foot double-door boxcar. Price and additional information will be announced before the end of this year.

Though freight cars ruled the weekend, fans of modern diesels learned that Athearn will be adding a General Electric (GE) ES44DC diesel locomotive to its HO scale Genesis series. In N, Broadway Limited will be offering an Electro-Motive Diesel SD70ACe and GE ES44AC. The Athearn and Broadway Limited models will be offered with dual-mode sound decoders.

There was also buzz amongst passenger modelers. Milwaukee-based Wm. K. Walthers Inc. announced that the 1956 Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe Super Chief will be its next HO scale name train. The train’s Electro-Motive Division F7A and B diesel locomotives will be released in April 2017; the passenger cars will be rolled out between June 2017 and January 2018.

Atlas had samples of its new HO scale NJ Transit commuter equipment, including the Bombardier Transportation ALP-45DP dual-mode locomotive and multi-level cab car and trailer coaches. The company also announced that it will be releasing the models decorated for Agence Métropolitaine de Transport, Montreal’s commuter railroad.

Much to the delight of the hometown crowd, Kato confirmed the Milwaukee Road Olympian Hiawatha will be hitting hobby shop shelves in 2017. The N scale set will include a Super Dome and Skytop solarium-sleeper-observation car.

Rapido Trains continues to add to its passenger car fleet with a New York, New Haven & Hartford 36-seat parlor car and 26-seat parlor, 14-seat lounge car in HO scale and a National Steel Car 73’-6” smooth-side baggage-express car in N.

It’s not too early to start thinking about Trainfest 2017. The event will be held Nov. 11-12 at State Fair Park in West Allis. In addition to the manufacturers, vendors, clinics, and operating layouts, the 2017 show will feature the inaugural Trainfest Photo Contest. The event is open to amateur photographers and will feature 10 categories, including model railroads, steam and diesel locomotives, revenue and non-revenue rolling stock, passenger cars, people, structures, general, and celebrate a railroad.

More information on next year’s show can be found online at