PB Class Boxcar
The PB box cars are a modern box car which was undertaken in the early 2000's. Rather than being built up from scratch, a massive rebuilding program was undertaken by converting obsolete B6 class Ice Reefers, hence the 'B' prefix in 'PB'. They were fitted with double sliding doors and had the roof loading hatches removed, yet retained their distinctive curved roofline. To date, two liveries exist. They are employed in high speed parcels/mail/courier service.
CMR Line have produced a total of 24 cars with their first release of these modern box cars. They are (officially) available only as four packs, with six different four packs, three in either grey or oxide red livery. These sold out extremely quickly. Further runs have since been made including a run of special liveries of Chinese logistic companies, although these are fictional.
Unfortunately, the PB's share the same packaging as the P62K and P62NK box cars. This is one of the only flaws with them and hopefully this will be revised on future models. They come in individual two piece plastic blister shells. The cardboard outer box is very thin cardboard. It is imperative that the cars are stored in the same position as they come out, otherwise the nice brass footsteps on the ends will sheer off.
The second run were sold separately and came in the same blister shells, but with a simple open ended white cardboard sleeve. Four special liveries were produced (accuracy unknown!).
The third series were sold in the latest style of packaging. The internal packing remained the same, but the outer packaging is now a thin cardboard hinged with a display window.
The details on these cars are very nice. They have real chains attached to the brake handles on the car ends, full undercarriage details and opening doors - a first for Chinese ready-to-run models. The ventilation outlets on the roof are very nicely done, and the paint work is beautifully applied.
There are a few problems with some of the above. On all 12 of my grey samples, a piece of wire piping under the car has come adrift from the chassis, which conflicts with the wheels when going around corners. Oddly this is only apparent on the grey cars and none of the brown version. Finally a Chinese model car with operating doors! These look great with the doors open, however there are a couple of minor caveats. The doors are a little hard to open on some of them, and once opened may leave a rub/mark on the side of the car when they are closed again. Another slight criticism on the case of opening doors is the lack of floor interior. There are even air gaps between the frame and the side wall. I will work on a fine drop-in floor to improve this at some stage.
They have superb running qualities. The bogies clip into the frame and the chemically darkened wheels look nice and have low flanges.
The first series were fitted with plastic knuckle couplers. While these ones seem to work quite well, as a general rule I simply don't trust anything apart from KD couplers. They will be very shortly converted to KD's - use medium shank whisker couplers with scale heads (158).
The second and third series were fitted with metal knuckle couplers, based off a Kadee #5. For those who prefer scale heads, #58 and #158 work as mentioned above.