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So I put my money where my mouth, er keyboard is and got one of each autorack:

the boxes within-3

Upon opening (which I took my time peeling the duplicate of the outer label seen above, off the inner clamshell), I noticed this typo. Can you see it?


Here's a view not seen yet--how the Menards autorack compares to the MTH Premier. Here I placed one of the two between a pair of the MTH cars. For a fair comparison, I picked two that have their trucks in the original position at the ends of the car. I may try to pose it with two newer cars whose trucks were moved inwards from the ends. Somehow the reduced wheelbase made those cars appear shorter in comparison with their older stablemates, despite being the same length.


As far as I'm concerned, they're a decent match. In a solid train of MTH autoracks one might not notice the length difference if you didn't know they were in the consist.


At eye level, the ride height is almost exact. Okay, the Menards cars' roofline is about 1/8" lower than the MTH. If rolling by in a consist, not really noticable if you didn't know it was there.


All in all, I'd get more if there were actual roadnames on them. I might still do so if I or someone else makes up suitable decals for the blank panel. I don't even feel a need to change the car number (the reporting marks are another thing I'd modify, but it wouldn't stop me from buying additional roadnames)

The blank panel measures 1 7/16" wide by 11/16" tall ( or 37x17mm) if anyone would like to take a stab at making up suitable railroad logos for these.



Images (5)
  • the boxes within-3
  • auto-typo
  • autoracks1
  • autoracks2
  • autoracks3

Patrick, I see the difference in size in the first photo but the Menard's car fares better in the closeups.  I believe the length is what gives it away when placed between the wo MTH cars.  If you combined them a string of each together it would be less noticeable than interspersing them as you did for the photo comparison.

@LT1Poncho posted:

Thanks for the comparison. I may be wrong but I think the Menards corrugated carriers are more similar if not the same size as the ones by Lionel.

To the Lionel traditional, not even close.  This reply by @WBC had comparison photos.  They are close to the same cross section as the Lionel scale car but much shorter.

Lionel scale v Menards



Last edited by Brendan

I'm looking on Amazon, but not for railroad logo sticker packs. I think I can do better than those.

What I'm investigating instead are clear vinyl inkjet-compatible sticker paper, and to a lesser extent. white vinyl or something equivalent with a glossy or semi-glossy finish. I figure I can pull down suitable logos using Google images, then vector-trace the artwork. yielding an image that can be re-sized without sacrificing quality. Knowing the size of the blank panel on the autoracks, I can then print the various logos on sticker paper/vinyl at the right size to fit the blank panels.

As for logos, I eyeballed some videos to see which logos are suitable for the yellow and brown (burgandy) paint schemes, either as a logo on clear or solid color that fits the single-panel blank. As an afterthought, I also started to add car numbers that I spotted the following logos on, links to examples of suitable logos.

Yellow car:

  • Ferromex (black on clear) -- [example]
  • Norfolk Southern (black "thoroughbred NS" on clear, 'NORFOLK SOUTHERN' spelled out under initials) -- [example]
  • Norfolk Southern (black striped NS with 'NORFOLK SOUTHERN spelled out on two lines beneath initials) -- [example]
  • CSX "boxcar" (black on clear) -- [example]
  • CSX (black underlined on solid yellow) -- [example]
  • CN (black initials on solid yellow with 'WWW.CN.CA' subscript) -- [example - missing subscript]
  • CN (black 'noodle' CN on solid yellow) -- [example]
  • CSX (black outline yellow letters w/underline on clear)** -- [ttgx 922161]
  • TTX (red lettering on clear) -- [example]
  • CN (red initials on clear with black WWW.CN.CA subscript)
  • CN (red initials on clear with black 'WWW.CN.CA' centered beneath) -- [ttgx 702421]
  • CN (black initials on clear with 'WWW.CN.CA' centered beneath)
  • CN (red 'noodle' initials only on clear) -- [ttgx 986723, 975653]
  • Canadian Pacific (white modern CP initials on solid red)
  • Canadian Pacific (white modern 'CANADIAN PACIFIC on two lines, on solid red) -- [example]

Brown (burgandy) car:

  • Conrail (white on solid brown)
  • Norfolk Southern (black striped NS with 'NORFOLK SOUTHERN spelled out on two lines beneath "NS") -- [ttgx 993614]

Some schemes place their logos in places other than the Menards' car positions their blank. KCS places their logos on two panels on either side of the center, and BNSF has their logo on the right side, opposite where most other railroads placed theirs. Southern Pacific has theirs on two panels near the center, and some Conrail cars have a secondary panel on the left end with the "Conrail Quality" logo.

Decals can still be made for the "perforated" panels where the above logos would sit, but they'd likely have to be water-slide ones as simple adhesive "sticker paper" wouldn't conform to the panel contours, or would need a styrene plate to be glued over them for a flat surface. For the same reason I left out railroad logos that cover two panels, notably Union Pacific, some KCS and modern CP.

* done by printing the background color on white sticker paper/vinyl

** may need extra measures to get the yellow to show up clearly over a clear surface


Last edited by RailRide

Haven't forgotten about this, a couple of weekends passed (at least) before I got around to ordering these to experiment with making stickers for those blank panels. Both examples came from Amazon.


Now, to collect some appropriate logos and see if I can make (correctly sized) stickers out of them...
(something that will compete for time with other computer art projects in my limited free time)



Images (1)
  • decalpaper
Last edited by RailRide

If they wobble, are the cars weighted to NMRA specs of 5oz plus 1oz per linear inch of car? If not consider doing so and add the weight as close or around the trck pins as possible.

Pulled out one of mine to weigh it. 1 pound 2.4 ounces. Carbody is 17"

I didn't do the math...

...okay nevermind, it's 18.4 ounces. So 5 plus 17 equals 22 ounces if you go by the NMRA. A little light out of the box. I think the mounting points are a little loose considering the height of the cars.


Last edited by RailRide
@Darrell posted:

Since they had coupler issues also, I just replaced the trucks. I had to redo the mounting to do so and now they don't wobble at all. You can see it all in the "What's on the workbench" thread.

That's the deluxe method for sure, I'm doing that to a bunch of Menard's boxcars.  Sadly, that kinda' removed the "bargain" price when I have to buy a set of trucks.

Know what you mean John, but with the added cost of the mth trucks I still only paid $53 per car. The traditional size ( 13.5" ) lionels list for $80 per car, and the scale ones are $120 ( at 24" they are too big for my current layout ). I still saved over $100, not a big bargain, but still a bargain in my books.

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