Last Revised September 11, 2007


General Notes and Summary


This study consists of only the general specifications that would affect the overall appearance of each series of cars.  I have compiled a few general notes to assist the modeler in producing a more accurate model of the prototype.  In prototype modeling, always study the photos of the car or car series you wish to model.


General Notes (Prototype specifications and modeling):


1)      The NdeM renumbered freight cars into the 95000 – 99999 series when the cars were removed from revenue service and reclassified to maintenance.  When that series of numbers was complete, the company started using numbers in the 19xxxx series.  Finally, sometime in the mid 1990’s, the NdeM resorted to placing ‘0-‘ in front of the service number.


2)      Like most North American railroads the NdeM favored the ASF-A3 ride control truck.  A secondary choice seems to have been the Barber S2-A truck, which had the same ride improved qualities as the ASF-A3 truck.  Both KADEE and KATO produce excellent ASF-A3 trucks and for the Barber truck the version by BRANCHLINE TRAINS is the best on the market today.


3)      The layout of the AB brake system is what many consider the standard AAR arrangement, but do watch for variances.  Some older cars were never converted and used the older KC or in some isolated cases the KD arrangements.  In the early 1960’s Westinghouse received AAR approval of the ABD brake system.  Assemble the brake system supplied with each kit.  To obtain a higher level of detail CAL-SCALE makes the KC, AB and ABD systems and TICHY TRAIN GROUP produce both the KC and AB systems.


4)      CONCARRIL seemed to favor the MINER power assisted hand brake and wheel.  A secondary choice was the AJAX system.  I have noted from photographs that some cars equipped with the AJAX hand brake system had Miner brake wheels installed.  This could indicate the NdeM stocked the Miner system in its repair shops.  Most boxcar kits are supplied with the Ajax hand brake system.  For the Miner hand brake system use DETAIL ASSOCIATES #6402 and for just the brake wheel use KADEE #2020.


5)      Most Mexican boxcars were equipped with the TriLok or Open Tread Safety-Grip running boards (roof-walk if you prefer).  DETAIL ASSOCIATES and PLANO both make excellent etched stainless steel renditions of this style of running board; my preference is KADEE #2000.  For the Morton or early diamond patterns use the excellent etched metal versions by PLANO.


6)      While discussing running boards (roof-walks) it should be noted the 1966 AAR Safety Appliance Standards banned the use of roof-walks.  This resulted in rather extensive changes in the appearance of freight cars.  Along with removal of the roof-walks the ladders were shortened, the hand brakes were lowered and a crossover walk and handrail were installed on both ends of the car.  The air relief valve was relocated to a position just below the side sills near the control valve.  All boxcars fabricated since 1966 were built to these new standards and most of the older cars still in revenue service were converted by the mid 1970’s.


7)      Dates that effect the overall appearance and modeling of the steam and early diesel eras boxcars used in interchange revenue service are:

·          Aug 1, 1933 – Type E or F couplers required on all newly built cars, also rotary uncoupling levers required on all newly built or newly rebuilt cars.

·          Sept 1, 1933 – AB Brakes required on all newly built cars.

·          Oct 12, 1934 – AAR created.

·          Jan 1, 1937 – AB brakes required on all newly rebuilt cars and geared handbrakes required on all newly built or newly rebuilt cars.

·          Aug 1, 1937 – Type E or F couplers required on all newly rebuilt cars

·          July 1, 1940 – Arch Bar trucks banned from interchange.

·          1945 – Wood running boards outlawed on new cars.

·          Aug 1, 1948 – Double-plate cast-iron wheels banned from interchange traffic.

·          Jan 1, 1949 – Reweighing all box, stock and reefer cars during the first 30 months of service and a maximum every 48 months thereafter.

·          July 1, 1953 – K type brakes banned, except on tank cars and returning empties.

·          Oct 1, 1953 – K type brakes banned for tank cars and returning empties.

·          Jan 1, 1957 – Trucks with integrally cast journal boxes required in interchange.

·          Jan 1, 1958 – Cast-iron wheels were prohibited for use on all new and rebuilt cars.

·          Jan 1, 1959 – Allied Full-Cushion trucks banned due to derailments.

·          April 1, 1966 – United States federal law banning running boards on all new cars (there was an exception here for covered hoppers – but I am not sure of the exact ruling).

·          Jan 1, 1970 – Cast Iron wheels banned from interchange traffic.

·          Jan 1, 1974 – Running boards to be removed from all cars and freight cars with axel loads greater than 55,000 lbs must have roller bearings.


8)      Photographs are the best way to describe the various Dreadnaught style ends used by CONCARRIL until the mid to late 1970’s.  Going from top to bottom; the first is the post war 4/4 end developed for the standard 10’-6” boxcar with the top rib removed for the shorter 10’-0” cars still being ordered by a small handful of railroads. This is the end used on NdeM 66000.  The second was again not commonly used and appeared only on the first NdeM car series and is also referred to as a 4/3 end.  The ribs on both of these styles are what modelers refer to as the ‘Rolling Pin’ style.  Although they appear in the photographs as the same, each rib on car 66046 is approximately two centimeters or just under one-inch larger than those shown in the first photo.



Both photos above are examples of the ‘Rolling Pin’ style ribs.  NdeM 66046 is part of the first series of boxcars built in Mexico (from the collection of Raymundo Collada).  The first photo is of a car from the ACF order of 1946.  This is the style of end I have assumed to be on #66000 (Tony Pawley photo).




Above is the 4/3+R style Dreadnaught style end with the ‘Banana Ribs’.

This is an example of the more common style used during the 50’s and 60’s by most of the car builders (from the collection of Ruben Carvajal).


This is an example of the 3/3/1+R welded 3-piece end that became a CONCARRIL standard in the late 50’s.

(Joel Norman photo)


Next is the most common end used by most of the car builders in North America, and is referred to as either the 4/3/1 or the 4/3+R style.  The latter is my preference as it indicates a totally different upper rib.  The last style for discussion is the welded three-piece 3/3/1+R end developed by CONCARRIL in the later 1950’s.  This became the standard and was used on most of the cars built in Mexico for the next twenty-years.  The rib styles used on these last two examples modelers have tagged, the ‘Banana Rib’.


9)      For more information on the Pacific Fruit Express reefers refer to the January, February and March 1987 issues of Railroad Model Craftsman, a series of articles by Tony Thompson and Richard Hendrickson.


10)  Between 1925 and 1962, the maximum Total Weight allowed on the rail for a car with four axels (two four wheel trucks) as shown in the partial table below.  After 1962 the ‘Total Weight on Rail’ was increased for most axel sizes.  For before and after 1962 the ‘Total Weight on Rail’ vs. ‘Nominal Capacity’ is:



Journal Size

Total Weight on Rail

Nominal Capacity


After 1962


After 1962


5” x 9”

136,000 lbs

142,000 lbs

  80,000 lbs

  80,000 lbs


5½” x 10”

169,000 lbs

177,000 lbs

100,000 lbs

110,000 lbs


6” x 11”

210,000 lbs

220,000 lbs

140,000 lbs

154,000 lbs


Paint and Lettering

1)      Based on the research through the American Car & Foundry archives conducted by Ed Hawkins and Pat Wider the standard color of the NdeM boxcars up to 1950 was a Boxcar Red.  This color can be best duplicated with a 50/50 mix of Floquil #110186 ‘Oxide Red’ and #110175 ‘Southern Freight Car Brown’.  The underframe and trucks were black.


2)      In the early 1950’s the Nacional adopted the orange paint scheme.  The best match for the sides and ends would be a 70/30 mix of Polly Scale #414119 ‘Reefer Orange’ and #414122 ‘Reefer Yellow’.  The roof was galvanized; this is best duplicated with a 50/50 mix of Floquil #110100 ‘Old Silver’ and #110012 ‘Reefer Gray’.


3)      Early in the 1960’s the NdeM reverted back to the brown colors.  From the photos I have viewed, the color appears to lean more to the ‘Oxide Red’ than before.  Thus a 60/40 mix of Floquil #110186 ‘Oxide Red’ to #110175 ‘Southern Freight Car Brown’.  Again use a galvanized roof.


4)      The lettering scheme used prior to 1942 included the dimensional data in Spanish and English in white lettering and the NdeM shield in black and white.  Starting in 1942 the English was eliminated and the black background was dropped from the shield.


5)      With the adoption of the orange paint scheme the lettering was changed to black, but the layout remained the same.  Starting with car 66000 the ‘Heche en Mexico’ (Made in Mexico) logo was added to the scheme and located to the right of the door.  One significant point, the first series of cars built by CONCARRIL (66001 – 66xxx) appear not to have the customary NdeM shield to the left of the door.


6)      In the early 1960’s with the reappearance of the brown boxcars the lettering reverted back to white.


7)      A weathering tip from Ruben Carvajal; a little (about 2 to 3% or 2 to 3 parts per 100) of Grimy Black added to the base color will take the brightness or new look out of the paint finish and give the freight car (or engine) a slightly dirty appearance.


8)      For Decals:

-         GABYS DECALS are distributed by Pablo Garibi of Guadalajara . . . e-mail

-         ERAS-VEL DECALS, contact Erasmo Velazco in Mexico City by telephone only at 011-52-55-9148-2619 between 18:00 and 21:00 (6:00 to 9:00 PM).  Mexico City is in the Central Time zone, please check the times before calling.  It is my understanding Erasmo speaks very little English; a short note over the MexList about obtaining ERAS-VEL DECALS will usually bring help for those challenged with the Spanish language.

-         Sunshine Models provides the appropriate bi-lingual decals as part of their 1932 AAR boxcar kit.



NdeM 95206 – NdeM 62154

Lagnillas, Michoacan – 1967 – Toshihiko Yamada photo








NdeM 484x1

Lognillas, Michoacan – 1967 – Toshihiko Yamada photo


As my interest in the Ferrocarriles Nacionales de Mexico grew, there seemed to be a void in accurate, recorded data.  The primary objective of this study is to provide reference information for both the modeler and enthusiast of the railway and to contribute a new resource avenue to lessen this void.  As the NdeM and its associated equipment are unique in North America, I have included in the discussion on each series of boxcars suggestions and tips to assist the modeler to create a more prototypical model.  This being my secondary objective is to introduce the concepts or philosophy and rewards of prototype modeling.


  True modeling can be considered an art form and should treated with the same reverence as any other work of art.  First is to know your subject, study all the photographs available and try to find others.  Familiarize yourself with the special details that make your subject or the car you are modeling unique, number of side panels, sill configuration and number of ladder rungs; make notes and sketches if necessary.  Then, acquire the basic kit and the various after-market parts that will be required.  When the construction is complete, the gratification felt when viewing the completed model is indescribable.


It is my hope this study will help foster an interest in the preservation of the history of the Mexican railways and provide a basis for further research and study.  Also I wanted to generate an interest in accurate historical prototype modeling.




Last revised November 19, 2007



MODELING OF SERIES 48301 – 50100


Modeling this car requires ‘kit-bashing’ an HO scale resin kit; this is a project I would recommend only to the more experienced modeller.  The first step here as in any modeling project is to establish the list of parts that will be required.  From there we can enter into a discussion of the actual construction of the model.



In the previous posting of this study I included tips on modeling this series of cars.  I have since found a model closer to the prototype as a base for this project.

·          Base kit: Funaro & Camerlengo #6440 with Hutchinson roof and 5/4 Dreadnaught ends

·          Underframe: Tichy Train Group #3019, USRA Underframe kit

·          Grab Irons: made with .008” Brass wire and installed with Detail Associates #SY 2203 Nut-Bolt-Washer castings

·          Lower body plating: MicroScale Decal #TF-11 Trim Film

·          Running Boards: Kadee #2000, 40’ APEX Running Boards - Oxide Red

·          Trucks: Kadee #509 fitted with #441 Brake beams and pad, mount the wheel sets of your choice

·          Couplers of your choice . . . During the course of this discussion I will be referring to the couplers manufactured by Sergent Engineering and the modifications required mounting them into scratch-built draft gear.



NdeM 48600

Saltillo, Coahuila – June 18, 1996 – Christopher Palmieri




As this project progresses,

I will add the step-by-step instructions with photos of the various stages.




Last revised September 23, 2007





            This is a very extensive Kitbashing project, although not overly difficult, this project would not be recommended for the novice modeler.  The first step is to establish the list of parts required and then to enter into a discussion of the actual construction of the model.



·          Start with a PROTO 2000 50’ Single Door Boxcar kit – this will have to be reduced to a flat kit as all that is required are the sides, doors, and floor.  PROTO 2000 Series from Walthers, kit #920-54263

·          50’ AAR frame; Branchline Trains #100017

·          Ends with details; Branchline Trains #100002

·          Side details; Branchline Trains #100016

·          Non-overhanging diagonal panel roof; Branchline Trains #10005

·          Running Boards; Kadee #2010 in Oxide Red

·          ABD brake system; Cal-Scale, part #190-313 and Brake levers #190-494

·          Slack adjuster; Precision Scale Co #31999

·          The side sills will have to be built from .188”x.015” Styrene strips, Evergreen #269-118

·          Kadee or Kato ASF-A3 Ride Control Trucks with wheel sets of your choice

·          Couplers of your choice . . . During the course of this discussion I will be referring to the couplers manufactured by Sergent Engineering and the modifications required mounting them into scratch-built draft gear.




As this project progresses,

I will add the step-by-step instructions with photos of the various stages




Last revised September 24, 2007




All the models displayed in this section were built and photographed by Jim Peters



NdeM 66021

CONCARRIL Design Style I-a


Two promenade features worth noting on this model; first the rectangular upper rib is not present on the car end and second, from the three “AS BUILT” photos I have of this series of cars is the usual NdeM shield was not applied.



NdeM 76953



Note the extended sills, 4-Panel doors and the welded Dreadnaught style 3-Piece end.  Based on the date I have selected to build my models to – this is a new freight car with less than two months of revenue service, thus the lack of weathering.



NdeM 76953 – A End


  Above is a better view of the CONCARRIL welded 3-piece end.  Note the P87 wheels and the Sergent Engineering couplers, combined they really add to the proto-typical appearance of the model.




NdeM 61562

1942 Magor Order


This model is complete and ready for painting. It was included to show the modifications to the side sills required to model the Magor built cars.  The running boards and wood placards are added during the final stages of weathering.



SP 21903

Southern Pacific B-50-25


Built in 1947 by Pullman-Standard with12-panel sides and 4/3 Dreadnaught ends.  Note the similarities to the 1946 AC&F cars built for the NdeM.  Primarily, the only difference between the two is the number of side panels and the sills.



ATSF 17337

Santa Fe class Bx-69


Built in 1955 by American Car & Foundry.  The 16-panel sides were very common on Post-War cars build in the United States.  Very different appearance from the 12-panel cars build for the Mexican railways by CONCARRIL



PFE 5135

Pacific Fruit Express class R-40-23 Steel “Ice” Reefer

Modeled in the early to mid 1950’s paint scheme


Built in 1947 by Mount Vernon Car Company and is one of 5,000 post war cars ordered by the Pacific Fruit Express.  These cars were often seen in Mexico, loaded with produce for the United States and Canada.