New Product Spotlight – 86′ High Cube Boxcars

11 08 2014

After Lionel released our 89′ enclosed autoracks in 2013, it wasn’t long at all before the requests started coming in for an 86′ high cube auto parts boxcar to go with them. Bright, colorful and big, these boxcars are sure to make a statement on any O Gauge layout.

Santa Fe

Big boxcars provided ample room for big logos – roads like the Santa Fe certainly took advantage!

We’ve already covered auto parts cars here on the blog, and we’ll look at the Pullman Standard prototypes for our models in greater detail later this week with our next Freight Car Friday article. Rest assured you don’t need to model a sprawling auto assembly plant to enjoy these big cars on your layout. They can be found mixed in with smaller boxcars and autoracks in mixed freight trains or dedicated trains serving the assembly plants. You’ll also find the cars in appliance service and more recently some have even been put to work hauling trash.


Conrail had the largest fleet of 86′ boxcars. The set and 2-pack each include 2 of their most common paint scheme variations.

Common since the late 1960s, you’ll find these cars in an amazing variety of color and lettering schemes. This year’s catalog offerings are only the beginning of the roadname possibilities! The bold graphics of the 1970s, combined with the huge canvas of the boxcars’ sides quickly made these some of the most impactful cars on the rails. Even with today’s more subdued colors and graphics, the cars remain impressive.

draft gear

The cars will come with a separate draft gear box for realistic conversion to scale couplers.

Lionel’s 86′ boxcars come from all new tooling. Like the 89′ autoracks, these cars feature our kinematic couplers which allow the behemoths to negotiate an O54 curve while coupled to other cars or the locomotive yet still maintaining a normal coupler spacing on straight track.

In addition to the operating kinematic couplers, these cars will come with a provision for conversion to scale couplers as well. Each car will come with a pair of cushioned draft gear details which hold the couplers and replicate the prototypes extensions. Simply unscrew and remove the kinematic couplers and the new pockets will key into the floor of the car easily. Note that the cars will not stay coupled on an O54 curve with the scale couplers mounted to the floor.

Another plus for modelers, based on the many requests we’ve received, is that the bold graphics on the sides of these cars won’t include a “Built by Lionel” date. Those have been moved to the underside of the car leaving only the prototypical markings which were carefully researched from prototype photos – right down to correct “heritage” numbers in the corner of the Conrail models.


Bright colors and classic paint schemes are part of the charm of these big cars.

Although the sides of the cars seem rather plain from a distance, there are plenty of details to capture. Ladders, door hangers, grab irons and end platforms and many underbody details are all separately applied metal parts.

The cars will also feature sprung die-cast trucks with rotating roller bearing caps for reliable performance and that extra touch of realism.

The new cars will be available in 2-packs, as single cars and as part of the Big Blue High Cube Boxcar Set. Available roadnames include:

  • Santa Fe (6-81703 2-pack, 6-81708 single car)
  • Conrail (6-81095 2-pack and two in the 6-81094 Big Blue High Cube Boxcar Set. Both the two pack and the set feature one car each in the large and medium-sized logo schemes.)


    Maximize your fun with the Big Blue High Cube Set, including a special paint scheme and working EOT.

  • Grand Trunk Western (6-81704 2 pack and in the 6-81094 Set)
  • Milwaukee Road (6-81705 2-pack, 6-81710 single car)
  • New York Central (6-81707 2-pack, 6-81712 single car)
  • Norfolk Southern (6-81090 2-pack and a special “Thoroughbred” single car in the 6-81094 set)
  • Frisco (6-81706 2-pack, 6-81711 single car)

The boxcar set includes a new working EOT mounted to the coupler. (3-D printed, preproduction sample shown.)

Single cars have a suggested retail of $94.99, 2-packs a retail of $189.99. The Big Blue High Cube Boxcar set includes four of these cars including one with a newly tooled working EOT device mounted on the coupler of the last car and a Conrail LEGACY SD70MAC. Retail price on the set is $969.99. See your Lionel dealer to order yours today!



One response

11 08 2014
Alan Hummel

My compliments to Lionel!! Once a leader,always a leader.
I was so pleased to view your autoracks,but the only thing holding me from buying them was the ability to convert these to scale couplers,now with the Hi Cube boxcars this problem has been solved opening up a whole new world to “scale” modelers.
I&others in the “scale community” would love to see the coupler problem on freight cars&loco’s from Lionel solved. There are so many fantastic products just within our fingure tips,but the coupler&truck conversion problem is holding us back.
Conversions from 3 rail to 2 rail,on trucks&on Lionel Diesels,is something else scale modelers would love to see.
Thank you,Lionel!!

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