The Ubiquitous X72/X72A, Part 1

Life Like provided us with a decent model of the PC/CR X72/X72A.  These boxcars have been covered in SEVERAL articles in the hobby press.  It is my intent with this article, to do a modern elaboration/update to modeling an X72/X72A.  As far as I can tell, this model was first reviewed in the July 1984 Railroad Model Craftsman.

These boxcars were/are rostered by 3 railroads.  Originally built for the Penn Central (PC), they transitioned to Conrail in 1976.  CN subsequently bought some from Conrail.  View the PC/CR roster here:]

Part 1 of this series will cover construction/detailing.  Future articles will simply cover various paint schemes.

Begin by finding your X72.  Life like did not sell them as an "X72", but rather a 50' high cube boxcar / Evans 50' Boxcar / 50' Boxcar.  They came in both plain Life Like, and Life Like Proto 1000.  If you'd like a cheap car, and do not want to detail it, I'd suggest finding a Proto 1000 car.  I bought several cars for under $3 each.  I removed and disguarded the chassis.


Walthers has subsequently redone the molds for this car providing a much better starting point for your model.  They even came in correct prototypical schemes, carded as the 50' Evans Smooth Side Boxcar, they're no longer in stock at Walthers, but can be found in some well stocked retailers.

In 2020, Rapido Trains announced this exact car, which holds promise to be a much better detailed version, negating the need to detail and repaint a Life-like, or Walthers car.

I'll be using a Details West 50' cushion chassis, with Moloco draft gear (The Details West draft gear is great on its own however).  Ladders from Detail Associates, and brake rigging from Moloco.  A few of the cars use A-line stirrup steps, but I'm trying some Detail Associates steps on a few.  Brake crossover platforms are from Plano.  Lastly, Barber 70 Ton trucks are from ExactRail.

To begin strip the paint from the old shell.  I used Scalecoat Wash Away on the first few shells, but my bottle got diluted with the amount of paint coming off, so I switched to 91% Isopropyl (rubbing) alcohol, though you could also use a can of Polly Scale Easy Lift Off (ELO).

Once the car has been stripped, I carefully removed the side ladders with a chisel blade.  I used the chisel blade to remove the end ladders down to the ribs, and carefully chiseled out most of the ladder stock between the ribs.  I then cleaned up the end with a triangular, and square jewelers file.

Cleaned up shell on left, factory painted on right. Noticed the molded on ladders have been removed.
Detail Associates ladder installed, compare it to the molded on ladders.

Now you can install the Detail Associates ladders, part number 6208 works great, but you'll need two packages, we need eight to cover all the ladders we removed (Buy four packs, and you can detail three X72/72a boxcars).  Install Moloco brake gear on the B end of the car.  Large tack boards are installed on the ends (Detail Associates part number 6213).  The boards on the doors can be replaced, but I chose not to.

Using a chisel blade, I removed the draft gear from the Details West chassis and then assembled the chassis.

Details West chassis without any detailing.

I then attached a Moloco Evans/USRE cushion draft gear, part number DG-0409.  Finish off detailing with Plano Stanray cut levers, part number 12007 (will cover three cars), and Hi-tech Details rubber air hoses (I'm leaving my air hoses off until the car is painted).

Stay tuned to a future issue for painting ideas!

©2010/2020, Josh Baakko,