Vintage N Scale B&M Rolling Stock #7

MRC (Mehano) 40’ Single Sheathed Box Car–

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Some time ago I discussed the single sheathed B&M box car offered by Minitrix.  Minitrix was a major European player in the N scale market and, while their models didn’t always clearly represent a particular prototype, they were readily available here in the U.S. market in B&M markings.  Atlas was a major North American player in the N scale market (and remains so) but they got their start importing models manufactured for them by European companies.  Technically, they currently sells models manufactured for them by factories in China, since both methods involve foreign labor, I really don’t see a major difference there.  I digress.  Early on Atlas imported a single sheathed box car made by Rivarossi.  It wasn’t exactly modeled on anything in the prototype world, as far as I can tell, but it did remain on the market for a fairly long time through various importers.  Apparently, at some point Atlas decided to replace that original Rivarossi made car with one from another source, the result is this Mehano single sheathed offering.  The example I received this week was actually imported at a later date by MRC, not Atlas, but the car and markings remained the same regardless of importer.

As expected the bottom of the car is marked “Yugoslavia” with “MRC” marked just below it.  I assume this car is meant to represent the same prototype as the Minitrix car, both have Howe truss construction, both have rebuilt steel roofs, both have six side panels, neither appear to match the prototype single sheathed cars actually used by the B&M.  Again, like the Minitrix car, the Mehano made car has a road number which does not coincide with an actual B&M road number for this type of car, all B&M single sheathed cars appear to have had 5-digit road numbers above 70000.  That aside, this car does come equipped with the Mehano version of the Bettendorf 50 ton friction bearing truck.  The detailing appears to be a little more fine than that found on the Minitrix car, but nothing to write home about.  Having black doors and black highlighting in the B&M logo, it appears that the car is painted in some form of McGinnis blue scheme, as opposed to the very basic “blue-dip” found on the other early B&M boxcars I have discussed so far.  Apparently, some single sheathed cars did survive on the B&M well into the McGinnis era; however it is unclear if any ever received such a paint scheme.  More likely than not, this paint job is nothing more than pure fantasy but hey, it’s something different to look at. It should be noted that the blue used by Mehano is much closer to the actual blue I have observed on former B&M cars (and found on more recent B&M N scale offerings) than the fairly saturated blue color used on the early Minitrix cars.

With its slightly better detailing and slightly different paint scheme, this car varies enough from the Minitrix B&M single sheathed offering to be easily included in the same consist.  In addition, having a different road number would help out if both cars were being used for operations, as opposed to just running in a loop.  I think I paid right around $9.00 for this car, delivered to my door, so the MRC example doesn’t seem to bring a premium.  I would recommend picking up one of these little Mehano cars if you get the opportunity and you are interested in early N scale equipment (B&M or otherwise).  Mine came in the original jewel case, but nice examples can be found online in various conditions.

Historical Information:

As with the Minitrix example, this car appears to be some form of USRA clone (although I have recently heard that they both might be much closer to an ARA single sheathed car).  B&M owned single sheathed cars with road numbers in the following groups: 71000-71953, 71975-71995 (1), and 72000-72999.

(1) The cars in this group were assigned to Mystic Terminal Company (MTC).

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