Vintage N Scale B&M Rolling Stock #12
Minitrix (Roco) Tri-Level Open Auto Rack –
The Minitrix Auto Rack is, from what I can tell, the largest piece of early N scale B&M rolling stock. These top out at around 89 feet on scale but are, I believe, still intended to operate on standard N scale curves which are around 9 ¾ inch radius. I did a little research into things and it appears the prototype would have been an 89 foot flat car, owned by Trailer Train, which would have been leased to the operating railroad who would have the auto rack attached to the top. When auto service was discontinued the rack could be removed and Trailer Train would still have a perfectly useable flat car. Now this is interesting to me, for all of the detail flaws found on early N scale freight cars, it seems Roco got the idea correct on these cars. The base of the car is in fact marked for Trailer Train (TTX) and the upper rack is marked for the leasing railroad, this seems to be the pattern for all of these Roco made auto racks… most impressive given the standards of the time.
All of that aside, I am not sure if B&M actually was one of the many railroads which leased these cars from Trailer Train, I certainly couldn’t find anything among my usual sources. The road number (71014) seems to have been used on more than one of these models from Roco so it is likely that the number either belonged to an actual Trailer Train, or the number is completely fantasy. Either way Roco appears to have decided to get some mileage out of the stamp they had made for the bottom portion of the car. This auto rack, like all early N scale B&M rolling stock is in the Blue Dip scheme, as an added bonus the McGinnis herald is nicely done on this car. I imagine in the late 1960s – early 1970s a handful of these cars would be expected in any mainline consist, just as modern auto racks now pervade full scale consists throughout North America.
Overall, I think this is a really neat car and I’m glad I have finally added one to my collection. I had mentioned that this was the largest early B&M car I could find and I should point out that it was also the most expensive of the non-Micro Trains/Kadee cars, I paid about $25 shipped by the time it was all said and done (that’s about 2.5 times the price of an average early Minitrix freight car). At least in B&M these cars do not appear to be overly common so I would recommend picking one up if you find one and you’re in the market.
As previously mentioned, the prototype would have been an 89 foot flat car owned by Trailer Train and leased to a railroad who would then attach the auto rack structure. I have seen photos of these cars in use on the B&M but I am not sure if those cars were marked for B&M or if they were marked for another road. I’ll update this post when/if I find out more information.