They do make a handsome train! Almost
all N-scale containers on the market now
will fit them, allowing for endless variety.
Remember that you can put 20-, 40-, 45-
or 48-foot containers in the well and
anything 40 feet or longer on top.
The first thing you notice about the
Husky Stack is that this is not your
grandfather's N-scale model freight car.
For one, the detailing is very intricate
and accurate. Many separately built detail
parts adorn the car. For two, the car
has body-mounted McHenry couplers.
Finally, the model rides very low and
close to the rails, noticeably closer than
previous N-scale double-stack cars.
The car measures out incredibly close
to published measured drawings. In fact,
I found every published measurement to
be within inches of spot-on. There was
no published value for overall coupled
length, although it's safe to assume that
the over-scale coupler shank common
to all N-scale couplers would skew this
measurement. Still, it was a joy to run
down my scale converter and input
value after value from the caliper… and
smile as each one lined up. Kudos to
Athearn and their predecessors for the
attention to detail.
Speaking of detail, the car is nicely
done. Both freestanding and molded-on
brake equipment and air lines follow the
published drawings and available photographs.
The walkways look very nice,
but they are not as accurate. The drawing
published in DeBoer's Piggyback
and Containers shows the car having
full walkways on both sides of each end.
This means the Athearn car would be
lacking a step on each side (when looking
at the car from the end, each side
is lacking a step on the left). This may
have been omitted to leave room for the
brake rigging on the B end of the car. I
won't miss this specific detail, although
it bears printing here, considering the
high praise I give these cars on scale
Paint and lettering are well done
on the cars. The colors seem accurate,
although at the rate that dirt and grime
accumulates on these low-slung cars,
seeing them in
person don't give
the most accurate comparison.
The colors seem
reasonable and the printing
sharpness is excellent. Each car contains
plenty of fully legible maintenance
instructions, dimensional data, and
other such fine print, if you care to pull
out a magnifying glass and read it.
While the cars meet NMRA standards
for wheel gauge and clearances, they fall
far short of the recommended weight. You
can always add weight to containers, but
for a 5-inch car to weigh only 0.26 ounces
is crazy. A 50-foot boxcar by Athearn
weighs nearly 5 times that, and measures
more than an inch shorter to boot. The
suggested weight for a car measuring
about 5 inches over the frame ends should
be 1.25 ounces. You won't get that weight
level with an empty car, but by adding
weight to containers, you can compensate.
Containers weigh from .15 oz to .40
oz, but considering the low weight of the
Athearn car, you should shoot for each
container weighing a half-ounce. That
said, the car still tracks fairly well despite
its light weight. It would be better if the
plastic body were replaced with metal for
added weight, although that would probably
force a compromise on the detailing
and paint quality.