This blog article is a complement to the previously published article Jacksonville Terminal Co. N-Scale Container Magnet Kits: A Much-Needed Addition to the Market!, that we invite you to read first.
The JTC retro-fit kits are currently available for:
- ScaleTrains 53' containers (reefer and dry)
- Micro-Trains 48' and 53' containers
- Atlas 40' containers
In the previous article, we tested the Jacksonville Terminal retro-fit kit for Micro-Trains Line of 48' Dry containers. In this one, I am focusing on the retrofit kit for ScaleTrains.com 53' Reefer container as well as compatibility of such retrofitted containers with the Kato containers that are already factory-equipped with magnets.
The 53' Reefer container has a shorter under frame (in order to accommodate the reefer unit and fuel tank details on one end) than the 53' Dry container, so there are two different retro-fit kits for 53' ScaleTrains.com containers; not to be forgotten when selecting the kits.
Let's have a look at the installation instructions
There are no instructions in the kit, nor is there a downloadable instruction sheet on JTC website; the instructions are in fact available on the product description page in the JTC on-line shop. I'm the type of person who reads manuals before doing anything, so I would have preferred a specific sheet easily accessible in a 'Support/Download' menu on the website, but this is a minor issue as using the kit is very easy anyway. Here is what JTC provides:
These injection molded, retro-fit under frames have three installed magnets, and new ‘IBC' pin locations that match up with ISO 40’ containers or two 20’ containers to allow stacking on top of the JTC 40' HC containers, JTC 20' std. containers, JTC Open/Canvas top containers, the Atlas 40' container, and future JTC 1:160 scale containers. Modelers will need to remove the reefer & fuel tank detail parts from the stock S-T unit and re-attach them to the new JTC under frame. The reefer unit is a snap off and on. The fuel tank will need to be glued on the new under frame, and three metal plates glued to the inside roof.
Quick testing with Kato containers
But before installing the kit, let's see how the bare under frame with magnets behaves with Kato containers. I used 40' and 53' containers delivered with the Kato Gunderson Maxi-I and Maxi-IV well-car sets. Well, as you can see on the images below, it holds, but it is actually challenging as the 53' container can detach easily. These were out-of-the-box under frames. I greatly improved the situation by trimming the location pins on the JTC under frames, as they do not exactly fit the corresponding location holes on the Kato containers (we are talking about an adjustment in microns here) and are a bit too long; by doing so, the magnets on both sides get sufficiently close to hold properly the whole stack, though with less grip than 2 Kato containers together. The Kato containers are only fitted with one central magnet, so the two external magnets on the JTC under frame will not help - they are meant to stack JTC 20' containers actually.
Retro-fitting the ScaleTrains.com container
Disassembling the ScaleTrains.com container is very easy: the under frame can be removed by slightly prying off the container shell in the middle. The reefer and fuel tank can then be removed by pushing them from the inside; they will be reused as not delivered with the retro-fit kit.
I used the same trick as explained in the previous review to center and hold the magnets inside the container while the glue was drying. I've used very general purpose Neoprene glue, so nothing specific to modeling but that did the job given it is in a hidden area.
Before re-assembling, I tested the Kato containers on top of the ScaleTrains.com container where I glued the magnets. Everything works fine, with a good grip.
Re-assembling the container is then straightforward. The Reefer unit snaps back in position and holds firm. The fuel tank unit will not hold firmly on the retro-fit under frame, so as instructed, need to be glued - two small drops on the center pins from inside the container frame are enough.
After having trimmed the location pins on the retro-fitted ScaleTrains.com container, it fits quite properly over the Kato container and the whole stack holds! So fully satisfactory.
The result is pretty satisfactory and now I can safely stack the ScaleTrains.com containers either on top or under the Kato containers, without losing them on the way. The installation is very easy and the gluing work is minimal. It took me only a few minutes to retro-fit two more containers after the first one.
So yes, the process is not fully reversible because the magnets and fuel tank have to be glued; there is no choice regarding the color of the under frame that will not fit the original color. These are really minimal inconveniences, and given that the ScaleTrains.com containers are from their 'Operator' range, they are meant to be operated, not collected; the benefit of adding the magnets largely exceeds the minor inconvenience.
So again, this is a very good add-on to ScaleTrains.com containers. I wish that all manufacturers would follow suit and provide factory-installed magnetic containers like Kato and Jacksonville Terminal Co.
Click here to see a list of all ScaleTrains.com 53' Refrigerated Containers.
About the Author
Alain is an avid n-scale modeler who collects North American rolling stock with a focus on Canadian railroads and BNSF and all its predecessors. He occasionally purchases other models from European railroads. He has been using DCC since it's been available and successfully mixes North American and European DCC equipment. Alain, a curator for TroveStar, regularly contributes to the N Scale Model Trains Database (data and blogs), as well as to JMRI. By day, Alain works for a world-class railway signaling firm as an automation and real-time industrial computing engineer. This Frenchman lives near Paris.