Containerizing Those Classy Chassis
by Gil Brauch
In a previous issue, I talked about building one of the new chassis that Alan Curtis is producing. I have now finished one each of all six of the chassis and will share with you in this installment how well they work with the N Scale containers we have available to us. The array of chassis is shown in Photo 1. They range in size as follows: 53, 48, 45, 40, 28, and 20. I already showed you the 20 version last time. There are no 28 containers readily available and I could not find a suitable 45 one (although ConCor produced one a long time ago). Therefore, I will address the 53, 48, and 40 containers in this story.
Photo 1. The completed chassis are shown here, arrayed from 53 on the right to the 20 version on the left. Photo by Brauch.
All of the chassis, except the 20 one, have the characteristic, and prototypically correct, gooseneck in the front as shown in the photo of the 53 version in Photo 2. This gooseneck creates a challenge for using some of the available containers.
Photo 2. Prototypically correct gooseneck on the front of the 53 container chassis. Photo by Brauch.
The three principal makers of containers are ConCor, deLuxe Innovations, and Walthers. Photo 3 shows the bottom sides of these. I always wondered why deLuxe and Walthers put those little indentations at the front on their bottom sides. Now I know. Note that the ConCor version on the right does not have that indentation.
Photo 3. Bottom sides of the (left to right) deLuxe Innovations, Walthers, and ConCor containers. Note the indentations in the two on the left. Photo by Brauch.
When you try to use a ConCor container on the Alan Curtis chassis, you get a result as shown in Photo 4. You would have to rework the bottom of the container to get it to fit properly. Since I have plenty of the other two models, I chose not to attempt doing this project at this time.
Photo 4. Note the gap between the bottom of the container and the chassis just above the landing legs. Photo by Brauch.
Fortunately for us, the deLuxe Innovations and Walthers containers do not have this problem, as Photo 5 shows. Neither of these is perfect, but they are close enough "as is" to make a credible model pair.
Photo 5. A deLuxe Innovations 40 container is on the left; a Walthers 40 container is on the right. Photo by Brauch
However, there are a few problems with the deLuxe and Walthers containers on the chassis. Both models are slightly shorter than the chassis in both the 48 and 40 versions. This leaves a "porch" at the rear of the model, particularly on the 48 models, as shown in Photo 6. Because of the way the chassis are crafted, I could find no readily available solution to this problem. You can see that the lip caused by the difference in lengths is noticeable from above, but from the side it is not as noticeable. Also, if the container/chassis combination is oriented on the layout or module with the front facing the viewer, the porch effect is masked from the viewer. [Authors Note: Since publishing this article, I have learned something from George Johnsen of deLuxe Innovations and Alan Curtis that what causes the length mismatch is something characteristic of the spin molding technique used in making the chassis. Over time, the mold 'grows' as it is spun to get the metal into all the nooks and crannies. Hence, later versions are somewhat longer, in this case, than those which are produced at the beginning of a run when the mold is newer.]
Photo 6. The "porch" with the deLuxe Innovations container is on the left. The Walthers "porch" is on the right. Photo by Brauch.
A long time ago I acquired a FineScale Miniatures (I think) solid resin cast 53 container and decorated it in an early Schneider paint scheme. It turned out, however, that the solid casting was too heavy to be a top load on a double-stack car. The Alan Curtis 53 chassis provided a perfect solution for me except Yup, I had to do something about "the gap". I solved the problem by carving out a space for the gooseneck in the bottom of the casting as shown in Photo 7. Now I can display this container on a module as in Photo 8, or even put it behind a long-haul tractor (a future modeling project).
Photo 7. Notch carved in solid cast container to fit in the chassis gooseneck. Photo by Brauch.
Photo 8. Side view of the 53 FineScale container on the Alan Curtis chassis. Photo by Brauch.
Despite the few limitations mentioned here, the combination of the 40 and 48 deLuxe Innovations and the reworked 53 FineScale containers with the Alan Curtis chassis make a set of very credible models and a fine group of additions to the modern intermodal modelers scene as depicted in Photo 9.
Photo 9. From left to right: 40 deLuxe Innovations container; 48 deLuxe Innovations container; 53 FineScale container. What a great group! Photo by Brauch.