Review: New Tichy HO ACL Wood Racks : LUSENET : ACL and SAL Railroads Historical Society : One Thread


Imagine my surprise when I walked into Bruce's Hobby Shop in Sacramento today and saw the new Tichy HO ACL Wood Racks! I haven't built the kit yet, but I'd like to offer a quick review for those who are interested. Sorry for the cross-posts.

The car appears to be a reasonable model of the ACL W-2 class wood racks, which were first built in 1949. Interestingly, nowhere in the model's instructions or on the decal sheet is the class mentioned. Before I go any further, the study of wood racks and their history is complicated, because most cars were built at home re-using old equipment or--in the case of the many roads starting around 1951--were built at home using kits supplied by manufacturers (such as GSC kits). Many cars in the smae class might have different features depending on what car or kit was used to make them. It's a complicated study!

Anyway, Coast Line's W, W-1, W-2 and W-3 class wood racks were almost identical--along with a similar home-built class on the AB&C--and by the mid-1950's were all lumped into the number series 70000-75514( excluding the P-11 log racks which were numbered 73500-599 and 74076-74099). The numbers included with the decal set suggest it's a W-3 (the decals include three numbers in the 75000 series).

This looks like a really nice little model, and anybdy who's familiar with building the little Tichy NC&StL flat (I've used a dozen to build my SAL R-5 wood rack fleet) will recognize the parts right away. In fact, most of the parts of the wood rack are essentially the same as the flat, except the floor/underframe section is an entirely new piece with a raised floor and inward-sloping side sills and another sprue wich includes the end bulkheads. The end bulkheads are nice castings which include the "see-through" risers on the outside ends...a nice feature! The drawback to the bulkheads is that the end grabs are plastic, so it'll take some extra time to drill and reconfigure the ends with metal grabs. The underframe is also identical to the NC&StL flat model, but I'm not so sure the fishbelly frame should be so deep. I may substitue the underframe from the Tichy PFE reefer detail set, which includes a fishbelly underframe set that's not so deep. There was an article on ACL flat cars in Mainline Modeler a few years back that shows the depth of these underframes quite clearly. That's yet another reason why research on a particular ACL wood rack class is important...and so tough! They were almost all different!

All in all, I love the new model and will buy many. incidentally, this model is also VERY close to SAL's original R-5 class wood rack--I'll have to check the dimensions when this model is complete. SAL's R-5s were originally built in 1951 without fishbelly underframes, but that's an easy fix using commercially available parts and a few pieces of strip styrene. Like ACL's cars, the R-5s were revised in the mid-1950s and a fishbelly side sill was installed to increase capacity. The R-5 had 5' 6" bulkheads (measured from floor to extreme height), while earlier SAL wood racks had 4' 6" bulkheads or bulkheads made of bent rails.

Thanks, Tichy guys. I wish you'd included more historical data but I'm not going to complain too much. I can now dump my plans to for a complicated scratchbuilding job. My thanks too to the ACL-SAL HS and Paul Faulk, ACL-SAL HS Modeler's Liaison, for getting this project to the market. Well done!

Regards, John Golden Travis AFB, CA

P.S. If you guys have any more info on these cars please drop me a line and let me know. Thanks! JG

Webmaster - John's full review of the Tichy Wood Racks will appear shortly on the website.

-- John Golden (, December 29, 2001


I think the center sill looks to low because the car is to short and the sides are not deep enough. Not a problem unless you'd like a stumpwood gon.

-- Walter Presley (, January 08, 2002.


Thanks for the nice review, and another vote of thanks to Tichy for bringing out this kit. Santa brought me a couple of these cars too, although I haven't had time to look them over carefully. I understood that Tichy's intent was to model the W-3, which ACL rebuilt from flatcars like the Tichy NC&StL flat. Whether in fact Don did that, or patterned the model after the similar but easier-to- model W-2 (which had fewer rivets, etc.), I won't know until I get out photos and compare. As you point out, the kit's decals are for one of the W-3 series, the 75000s.

As for the always-fascinating topic of ACL's early pulpwood cars rebuilt from flats, my detailed observations will have to wait until I can crank out my long-planned Lines South article on the topic. But briefly, ACL began rebuilding various P-11 class flatcars in the early 1940s into pulpwood racks, using a simple open bulkhead and pieces of rail along the edges (or sometimes wood vee decks) to provide the necessary inward slant for the logs. These cars were classified P-11-H and P-11-J, then later reclassified W. More rebuildings after the war modified these cars into the Tichy kit appearance, with solid bulkheads and sheet steel vee decks. They were then reclassified again as W-3. There were four W-3 number series in all, in blocks in the 71000, 73000, 74000, and 75000 series. The W- 2s were built new by ACF in 1949 (one group for ACL and one for C&WC) and looked about like the W-3s. The W-1s were former AB&C flatcars that were rebuilt after the war, and they too were close to the W- 3s. AB&C had its own pulpwood racks before the ACL merger but those cars resembled the ACL P-11-H and J cars.

Now to the workbench, where I can begin reliving those olden days when I climbed all over these beasties as they awaited their next load on the Woodland pulpwood siding....

-- Larry Goolsby (, January 02, 2002.

Thanks for the info,John. The cars were originally built for the C&WC by ACF in 1949.

-- Joseph Oates (, December 30, 2001.

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