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Quick Review: True Line Trains Bulkhead Flat

An HO Scale release by True Line Trains

This HO Scale release by True Line Trains includes several road names, to include CN, CNIS, DWC, DW&P, BCOL/BCIT, and BCR.  Most come in 6 road numbers, single and 6 packs, with 4 numbers for the BCOL/BCIT.  Model Railroad Tips acquired one CNIS orange car for review and weathering.  The following describes our thoughts.

As a note, this article was originally published in 2014.  News broke August 24th 2020 that Atlas Model Railroad had acquired numerous (but not all) True Line Trains molds.  Atlas' first announcement of a TLT model entering their Master Line was the slab side covered hopper, however these bulkhead flats are included in the purchase.  Read more here.

True Line Trains describes the prototype for this model as follows:

Between 1973 and 1977 the BCOL, CNR, and DW&P built a series of bulkhead flat cars with similar dimensions and characteristics. The Canadian roads had a variety of bulkhead flat car designs for a variety of services, particularly for use in pulpwood and lumber service.

These 70-ton flat cars had a fishbelly underframe and straight side sills with 15 steel stake pockets, lading strap anchors. The deck was flat, and low to the ground at with a deck height ranging from 3' 8" to about 3' 11". As a result, the top of the center sill and body bolsters are on the same plane as the top of the wood decking on either side. The bulkheads were pushed as far to the end as possible, with a straight profile on the end and interior side.

Interior dimensions were 52' 8" and the cars were 58' 2.25" over strikers. They rode on 70-ton roller bearing trucks.

The model is well detailed, and the price ranges from $35-$55.  The RTR model comes equipped with plastic couplers, and Accurail trucks with metal wheels.  Weighing in at 4.3oz, it's .7oz short of NMRA RP20.1, which says a car of this length should weigh 5oz.  That's certainly surprising and TLT made every effort to maximize the weight, and they did a superb job.

Paint is perfect, lettering is all readable, and detail is superb.  Brake rigging is about 50% modeled, with a large portion of the remaining molded to the cast metal chassis weight.  The deck appears to be laser etched wood, you can see the burning on some of the groves between boards. The stirrup steps seem small and chunky.

The only complaints I have are the lack of an etched metal brake platform, and the incompleteness of the end brake hose.  The brake house is detailed, but ends on the inside of the sill.  The deck of the car is open at the ends inside the bulkhead, and a top-down view should show the piping passing next to the draft gear.

Of note, the instruction sheet is in English, which is weird that French is included on the box, but not the instruction sheet (Canadian products have English/French). Also of note, the sheet says "Exploded View, Gondola" however it is a bulkhead flat car. Warranty is valid for five (5) days from purchase, with receipt! That seems unreasonably short.

MRRT was unable to find a prototype photo of a CNIS orange car, or even a patched orange car (Maybe CN). Please contact us at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. if you should have or know of a prototype photo of these cars.  As a note, since this article was originally published, I have patched this car to Algoma Central, which I found a prototype photo of.

I weathered the car shortly after the article, here is it "finished" prior to the patch to an Algoma Central (AC 2476).

View the patch on my Instagram here: https://www.instagram.com/p/x9eGHiLpQn/?utm_source=ig_web_copy_link

The lack of an etched platform, and half modeled brake rigging, plus the use of basic trucks (not as detailed as Genesis or ExactRail) leads me to rating this model a 4 out of 5.  One of the preceding details upgraded would bring the model up to a 4.5.

©2014/2020, Josh Baakko, https://www.modelrailroadtips.com