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Thread: How N Scale Container Sizes Stack Up (53' Edition):

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    Default How N Scale Container Sizes Stack Up (53' Edition):

    I just got a digital caliper and the first thing I measured was my 53' intermodal containers, in the name of science!

    There are currently 8 companies that manufacture 53' plastic domestic intermodal containers in N scale: Athearn, Atlas, Con-Cor, Deluxe Innovations (now Fox Valley Models), Jacksonville Terminal Company, Kato USA, Micro-Trains Line and ScaleTrains.

    Though some brands of containers are able to stack with each other via pins and/or magnets, each manufacturer makes them to their own specific dimensions.

    Why does size matter? Prototypicalness aside, there's a practical reason, as these containers are meant to go into wells or on flatcars or trailer chassis. Some containers are too short or too wide to fit into certain well cars.

    I measured all eight of them by length, width and height. The length was measured between front to back end with the caliper along the end frames. The width was measured between the 40' IBC/WTP stacking frames. The height was measured between the top to bottom of the container along the center of the container. Also, any extruding connection pins, whether top or bottom, were NOT factored in to the container's height dimensions, as they are meant to be sunken into the mated container's/intermodal rolling stock's holes when stacked.




    Now here were the findings (the order listed matches their respective positions in the photo L to R):


    Athearn:
    3.980” x .6530" x .7185”

    Atlas:
    3.972” x .6485” x .7255”

    Con-Cor:
    3.964” x .6395” x .7050”

    Deluxe Innovations/Fox Valley Models):
    3.969” x .6570” x .7150”

    Jacksonville Terminal Company:
    3.968” x .6400” x .7120”

    Kato:
    3.965” x .6415” x .7080”

    Micro-Trains Line:
    3.980” x .6530” x .7070”

    ScaleTrains:
    3.964” x .6530” x .7180”


    And for good measure (no pun intended) -

    Absolute Scale Dimensions (Prototype dimensions (53’ 0” x 8’6” x 9’6” ) translated to 1:160 scale in inches):
    3.975” x .6375” x .7125”


    The longest containers are the ones by Athearn and Micro-Trains, both measuring up at 3.980". The shortest one in length is Con-Cor's, at 3.964". The closest to scale length is Atlas' container, at 3.972". All of the 6 other manufacturers make their containers shorter in length than scale, while the Athearn and MTL containers are just a little longer than scale.

    The widest container is the Deluxe/Fox Valley 53' container, at .6570". The narrowest is Con-Cor's at .6395". The closest to scale width is Con-Cor's at .6375". All of the manufacturers make their 53' container wider than scale size.

    The tallest container is Atlas', at .7255" and the shortest in height is Con-Cor's at .7050". The closest to scale height is Jacksonville Terminal Co.'s at .7120". The manufacturers are all over the place with this one, with Con-Cor, MTL, Kato and JTC (just barely) being under-scale height and ScaleTrains, Deluxe, Athearn and Atlas being above.

    As far as 53' well cars go, I own well cars from Atlas, Deluxe Innovations, Jacksonville Terminal Co. and Kato. Via my observations, the Athearn and Micro-Trains 53's are the most problematic - They do not fit inside the Deluxe Maxi-IV well cars and sits awkwardly in the Kato Maxi-IV wells (it fits in the well but the plastic bottom frame prevents the container from sitting flat in the well). They do fit inside the Atlas and JTC wells.

    Personally speaking, for 53's, I use primarily Kato, ScaleTrains, Athearn and JTC. The first 3 are pin-compatible and I try to avoid putting the Athearns into my Deluxe or Kato well cars. I put my JTCs in my Atlas or JTC single well cars, enabling them to stack with either Athearn or 40/45' JTC containers. I avoid Con-Cor (non-compatible top pins and just downright incorrect styles and schemes), Micro-Trains (will not fit into my Deluxe containers and will not stack with any other brand), Atlas (they are simply too tall and ruin the visual height continuity of my doublestack trains) and I have sold off all my Deluxe containers because they do not use pins. I do keep at least one of each of all of the brands for research purposes.
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    Metro Red Ln (Metro Red Line)
    Under the streets of Los Angeles

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