Kadee HO 40' PS-1 Boxcars

By Michael Benolkin


I received my first introduction to Kadee products when I started collecting N Gauge many years ago. These railcars were easily the best-made rolling stock made in the US, and on par with some of the top European manufacturers like Fleischmann. I finally (foolishly) sold off my collection when I thought I'd never get around to building my rail empire. Thanks to a spouse that enjoys model railroading even more than I, the collection is fully re-stocked, this time in the scale of HO.

One of the interesting parallels between model railroading and other types of scale modeling, modelers range in skill level and the need for perfection. While some folks are very content with running the Tyco, Bachmann and Lifelike rolling stock straight out of the box, others are scratchbuilding their boxcars, adding every dent and detail as the subject appeared on October 13th, 1956 just outside of St Louis. The beauty of hobbies like these is that everyone can model and/or play to the extent that makes the hobby fun for them.

Somewhere in-between the simple $4.00 boxcar and the $200 brass equivalent, there has to be a happy medium. There is.

Kadee Boxcars

Kadee continues to produce limited-run HO boxcars, but at an MSRP of $25-$30 USD, many people don't stop to take a closer look. The first thing you encounter is the clear plastic storage box with the yellow data card. Visible through the protection is a boxcar, but unless you look closer, you can't see the beauty within.

At present, Kadee is producing a series of 40 foot and 50 foot PS-1 boxcars. These boxcars have different door widths and even door types to closely match the prototype. Let's take a close look:

First up is Kadee #4018, the ATSF 40' PS-1 with 6' Youngstown doors. As you might expect, the doors are positionable but you must be careful as they've sacrificed durability of the door slides for accuracy. In fact, there is nothing toy-like about these boxcars.

Next take a look and the markings and paint. The registry is extremely sharp on this example and even the numbers on the ends of the car are present. These boxcars are not weathered.

Taking a closer look at the details, unlike the inexpensive boxcars, the ladders and steps are individually installed, not molded on. The walkways are plastic, but the crispness of the detail and the see-through grill-work is as close to photo-etch as you can get in this medium. The underside is also fully rigged with brake cylinder and brake lines, and once again, none of this detail is molded-on. The trucks are one of my favorite details, each truck has two real springs to provide working suspension on the rails.

Another example is Kadee #5222, the VTR 40' PS-1 with 8' PS doors. The car is finished in overall dark green with black ends. The white lettering was once again in perfect registry on this example.

Last up in this review is Kadee #5233, the B&M 40' PS-1 with 8' Youngstown doors. This car is one of the most colorful in the current line-up and another beautiful example of Kadee quality.


The Kadee series of boxcars are an excellent compromise between brass/scratchbuilt accuracy and inexpensive ready-to-run rolling stock. The details on these cars is every bit as fine as on the brass equivalents. At $25-$30 apiece, these are not items that you might buy in bulk, but these are definitely fine pieces of art and worth adding to your collection. I know I'll be getting more for mine!

Kadee has a website - www.kadee.com

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