June 12, 2016


Milwaukee Road

In my last blog post I highlighted all of the products that ExactRail has produced in Rock Island paint.  For this blog I decided to feature the Milwaukee Road.  I was a little surprised by the amount of items we have produced when I was compiling the list.  There are a few railroads that we seem to have produced more of such as the Union Pacific or the Southern Pacific.  The Milwaukee Road wasn't one I would have put at the top of that list and now I know better.  

Many of the items below are now sold out, but many are still in stock.


exactrail.com ho scale milwaukee road 40' ribside boxcar 90001

exactrail.com ho scale milwaukee road 40' ribside boxcar 90002

exactrail.com ho scale milwaukee road 40' ribside boxcar 90003 


exactrail.com ho scale milwaukee road 5344 boxcar 80904 


 exactrail.com ho scale milwaukee road 7315 boxcar 80613



exactrail.com ho scale milwaukee road ps-2cd 4427 covered hopper 80186

N Scale version sold out

exactrail.com ho scale milwaukee road ps-2cd 4427 covered hopper 80151


exactrail.com ho scale milwaukee road ps-2cd 4000 covered hopper 50608


exactrail.com ho scale milwaukee road magor 4750 covered hopper 81005


exactrail.com ho scale milwaukee road thrall centerbeam flat car 81105

exactrail.com ho scale milwaukee road thrall centerbeam flat car 81106


exactrail.com ho scale milwaukee road vert a pac autorack 1203


exactrail.com ho scale milwaukee road 72' deck plate girder bridge 9810

May 14, 2016


Rock Island

There are a few railroads that haven't been very interesting to me.  I am sure that is the case with many modelers.  Usually the reason for me is simply a disconnection.  I don't dislike the railroad, it just doesn't excite me in anyway.  Over the years my opinion sometimes changes and usually the cause is when I physically visit a location on that particular railroad.  This happened to me a few years ago with the Rock Island.  

Not long ago I was in the Oklahoma City area with a friend.  We drove out to El Reno because I enjoy visiting smaller cities when the opportunity rises.  My friend knew that the Rock Island had shops there and so we went looking to see what remained.  The shops, now long derelict, were a shell of the their former glory but still impressive.  This visit sparked an interest in me for something that was just some railroad that had failed in 1980, to something that was real and had an interesting past.  I have no plans to model the Rock Island but I now have an interest and respect for the railroad. 

ExactRail has proudly recreated a fraction of that past with a handful of HO & N scale freight cars.  Below are the examples we have produced so far.


exactrail.com ho scale berwick 7327 boxcar rock island 


exactrail.com ho scale evans-usre 5277 boxcar rock island  


exactrail.com ho scale p-s 5344 boxcar rock island


exactrail.com ho scale ps-2cd 4427 covered hopper rock island 80155

exactrail.com ho scale ps-2cd 4427 covered hopper rock island 80188


exactrail.com ho scale thrall 2244 gondola rock island 


exactrail.com ho scale vert-a-pac autorack rock island 


April 12, 2016


Chicago & North Western Bicentennial Hopper!

exactrail.com bethlehem 3737 hopper ho scale cnw bicentennial

The Bicentennial era of railroading is cool.  Period.

It is a curious fact that so many railroads adopted the practice of refashioning equipment in elaborate--dare I say, garish (?)--paint schemes.  I wasn't alive in 1976.  But from the distant place of today, it is hard not to feel railroads laying claim to being "American."

And, railroads have a unique reason to celebrate America's bicentennial.  Railroads are an industry that stands apart from others in the annals of American history.  They connected resources, places and people.

And so, of course we were more than enthusiastic when the Chicago & North Western Historical Society (CNWHS) approached us about developing the bicentennial car! The CNWHS was looking for an exceptionally accurate replica for their 2016 annual convention, and we are pleased that they chose us to execute!

The CNW bicentennial will only available through the Chicago & North Western Historical Society company store and is coming soon! Please support the CNWHS as it works to preserve the history of one of America's great railroads.

The bicentennial period of railroading is cool, and I will gladly fight anyone who dares say differently. :)

Happy railroading!

March 27, 2016


Reddy Kilowatt

There are some brands that are not themselves railroad-owned, but they are as relevant to the modeling community as the most popular railroads. For example, as a manufacturer, we can expect demand for Cargill and ADM paint schemes to be as strong as Santa Fe and Conrail.

One brand that would have been a household name from the 1920 through 1970s is Reddy Kilowatt. Into the1930s, the overwhelming majority of rural areas were without electrical power. This new "electrical" technology represented a paradigm shift of significant proportions, and utility companies recognized that electricity was a tough sell for rural dwellers. Many of these individuals had never seen the benefits of electric power, and at the time, it couldn’t be taken for granted that one would know what electric power could do. Ashton Collins, the commercial manager for Alabama Power Company, sought a likeable character to give a face to electrical utilities industry. By the 1960s, Reddy Kilowatt was licensed for use by over 300 utilities.  These companies used the jovial image to relate to the public, and that includes, putting Reddy Kilowatt on freight cars!



Pacific Gas and Electric (PG&E) produced this fun commercial using Reddy Kilowatt sometime between 1945 and 1960.



We hope you enjoyed a look into the past with Reddy Kilowatt. 

Happy railroading! 

March 20, 2016


Provo Yard

ExactRail is located just a stone's throw from the local yard in Provo, Utah.  As you may have guessed, visits to the yard happen at a minimum of once per day.  The visits to the yard have been very beneficial to many items that we have produced.  Some paint schemes would simply not have happened without them.

I have visited many yards across the country and still to this day it is one of my favorites.  I wouldn’t call it a large or a very busy yard, but it has always remained interesting.

exactrail.com provo yard union pacific sign

Blaine and I both grew up in the area and both visited the yard as often as we could in our youth.  We often reminisce about the days that are now gone.  One of my first memories of the yard was when I was about 5 years old.  I was waiting for my uncle to arrive on the Amtrak California Zephyr at the now gone Provo Station.  While waiting for the train to arrive, one Rio Grande freight after the other would fly by at track speed.  The sight and sound of them terrified me, but at the same time fascinated me.  The memories of that night will never be forgotten.

The Provo yard is actually made up of three yards running more or less parallel to each other.  The easternmost is the former Denver & Rio Grande Western yard that Union Pacific now primarily uses for freight car storage and the occasional coal train to briefly tie up in.  Tucked in the middle you will find the Utah Railway.  Although it is a Utah Railway yard, it looks more like a BNSF one.  This is because the Utah Railway handles all BNSF trackage rights trains that now come through thanks to the UP-SP merger.  Last of all you have the Union Pacific yard to the west.

exactrail.com provo yard chris brimley photograph

I will always look back fondly on the yard of my past, but I look forward to the (hopefully) good changes to come.  

I am sure that like me, many of you have a railroad location or a moment that has had an impact on you.  I would love to hear about them in the comments section.

One last thing.  I want to thank the Union Pacific and Utah Railway crews for tolerating our frequent trips through the yard.

Happy Railroading,

exactrail.com chris brimley signature

Chris Brimley
March 05, 2016


Show Product

One of my many responsibilities at ExactRail is to plan which products we bring to sell at shows. I try to bring what I hope will be the best fit for the show that we are attending. Sometimes I felt that I couldn’t have done better with the selections and then there have been times that I missed the mark.

exactrail.com show product imageDuring my initial preparations for a show, the first items I add to my list are products that we have most recently released. Next I look at the region that the show is located and make selections of freight cars and paint schemes that are appropriate. Not everyone attending a show wants products from that region. For example, at the last show we attended in Springfield, Massachusetts we had multiple customers come into our booth looking for Western Pacific items.

When I have the list of products, I then need to decide on the quantities. Shows that we have attended in the past are a little easier to know based on past sales. When we attend a show for the first time it can be a little more difficult.

The last step is to pull, package and ship the product out to the show location.

If there is a specific item that we have in stock that you would like to purchase at a show that we will be attending, please send an email to me and I will make sure I have it for you.

Happy Railroading,

exactrail.com chris brimley signature
Chris Brimley

February 21, 2016


The ExactRail Box - N Scale, Wheels & Trucks

In part one of the The ExactRail Box I went over the various boxes we have used in HO scale, now we will look at N scale as well as wheels and trucks.

N Scale Box

The original box that was used for N scale was essentially a scaled down version of the HO scale Evolution series box.  The only changes being the listed scales and swapping out the series names.  For the 2nd generation box, the artwork was refined for all scales and product series.  The different product series each had unique colors assigned to help differentiate them.  N scale was given orange.  Along with the new box art and color changes, N scale was given a new logo.  

exactrail.com n scale box image

Jewel Case

After a few years we decided to switch over to a jewel case to now display and protect the product.  By switching to a jewel case we needed to generate new artwork for the paper insert.  We decided to go with a much more simple design than what we had been using previously.  This new design used ExactRail blue on all sides of the insert with a simple yellow line running around the sides.  Two flaps were added to the front that displayed the ExactRail logo and the N scale series logo.  This design is what eventually became our current charcoal box.

exactrail.com n scale jewel case

Box Sizes

The standard box size that was used in N scale measures 6.5x2.25x1.25".  You could squeeze in a car the was about 60-65 scale feet long but was better suited for a 50 scale foot long car.  For the Vert-a-Pac, we needed something longer, so a 9" version of the standard box was designed.  We also had a 6.5x7x1.25" box that was used for a three pack.

exactrail.com n scale box sizes

For the jewel cases we use two different sizes.  The more common size is the 6x1.75x1" case.  This holds about the same size car as the standard box did.  For longer cars we use a 7.5x1.875x.875" case.

exactrail.com n scale jewel case sizes

Wheels & Trucks

Our standard 12 pack of wheels & trucks use a very similar package.  The artwork is printed onto a cardboard backer which is then slid into a plastic carrier.  The trucks use a slightly different carrier that cradles the pair of trucks so they are not causing damage to each other during transit.  For our bulk 100 pack of wheels, we use a bag that has a bi-folded cardboard label stapled to it.  It's simple but it gets the job done.

exactrail.com wheels and trucks packaging

For the Worlds Finest Wheel Sets we developed a custom clamshell that better displayed the fine quality wheels.  A paper label was inserted into the clamshell to designate the different wheel diameters and materials.

exactrail.com worlds finest wheel sets packaging

I hope this project brought some insight for you into the ExactRail box and packaging.

Happy Railroading,

exactrail.com chris brimley signature

Chris Brimley

February 14, 2016


Who is Bozo Texino?

To my mind, monikers represent both wanderlust and transcendence.  Wanderlust because the moniker romanticizes the lore of riding the rails, and transcendence because of the quasi-folk-like identities associated with it.

In his film ‘Who is Bozo Texino,’ Bill Daniel’s sought the artist responsible for the ‘Bozo Texino’ handle. For 16 years, Daniel’s rode the rails documenting his experiences with a Super-8 sound camera and 16mm Bolex. This documentary marshals the imagery of the hobo sub-culture in grainy black and white, and it includes interviews with other chalk artists, like Colossus of Roads, The Rambler and Herby.

Daniel’s film can be found at www.billdaniel.net.


ExactRail has offered models with the Bozo Texino, Colossus of Roads, Rambler, Herby, Coal Train and WaterBed Lou monikers. In the romanticized lore of those emblems, we sense a kinship for the love of Americana and the desire to represent it as more than just artifacts of cold steel.

For the list of in-stock cars with monikers, please see the list below:

Missouri Pacific Greenville 65' Mill Gondola

Chicago & Eastern Illinois #587870 Bethlehem 3737 Hopper

Texas Pacific #588132 Bethlehem 3737 Hopper 

Happy Railroading! 

January 24, 2016


ExactRail wins a consumer choice award for best Ready-To-Run product!

ExactRail won a consumer choice award for best Ready-To-Run product! Thank you to contributors of Model Rail Radio for recognizing ExactRail!

Model Rail Radio is an open format Internet radio show about the model railroad hobby. Voting for the 2015 awards closes on March 16th, and we look forward to those results as well.

This consumer choice award has given us cause for reflection, and the purpose of this blog is to get feedback from you.  We are wondering:

What is your favorite product from ExactRail?

What do you think ExactRail does well?

What would you like to see from us in the future?

Are there any changes that you would like to see from us?

Let us know in the comments section of this blog!  Understanding the marketing place is key to serving it well.

Happy railroading!


January 17, 2016


The ExactRail Box - HO Scale

exactrail box

For the railroads, the identity that most know and love are the various paint schemes applied to their locomotives and rolling stock.  Over time these identities can change, some a little and others a lot.  Much like the railroads, the box and its artwork is what many model railroaders use to identify the different manufacturers of model train products.  Like the railroads, the box design can change overtime.  Here is a little history of how the ExactRail box came to be and has changed.

In the Beginning...

The name of the concept business as it was proposed to premier box artJohn Pestana was Premier.  The Premier box was white with red and grey accents, and would serve as the foundation for the ExactRail box.  (The box art image is not an exact reproduction of the original artwork.) Pestana felt as though the Premier name was overly generic.  The internet is full of companies named Premier, from day spas to insurance agencies.  He saw a need to create a company name that spoke directly to model train enthusiasts.  

exactrail platinum box art greenOriginal designs of the box with the ExactRail brand were tested in a rainbow of colors, one example is the green version to the left.  Eventually the colors were decided to be blue & yellow for Evolution Series & N scale products and grey & yellow for Platinum Series products.  With the colors decided and a change to the window size, the boxes for the first releases were ready.

The Platinum Series Box


The grey and yellow Platinum Series box was relatively short lived, only 3 product releases shipped in it.  The boxes went through a full top to bottom redesign.  All boxes would now have the same blue and yellow.  The product series tags went from an oval in the top right to the "swoosh" with the newly revised series designs. All other design elements of the original box were refined and a small adjustment made to the window size.

In 2013 we introduced the 3rd generation charcoal box.  We felt that the current box art was too busy and was becoming dated quickly.  We decided to go with a more minimalistic and timeless approach.  We had experimented with a few designs, first in N Scale and then on an Evolution Series box, both will be discussed later.  

The ovals & swooshes were eliminated and the brand began the transition to charcoal.  The new box is simple, clean and with a handsome matt finish.  We like this box because it looks great but doesn't draw your attention away from the product inside.

exactrail platinum boxes

The Evolution Series Box

With only different color queues, the Evolution Series box was always within the same family of the Platinum Series box.  Evolution blue came about with the 2nd generation boxes.  It was used in the series logo "swoosh" and oval above the window.  On the charcoal boxes, the Evolution blue replaced the grey used by the Platinum Series boxes. 

exactrail evolution series boxes

Express & Signature Series Boxes

There has only been 1 box version of the Express & Signature Series, both from the 2nd generation boxes.  The Express green and Signature red were the only changes to the boxes from the Platinum and Evolution boxes.

When we do a new release in the Express Series it will follow in the footsteps of the Evolution charcoal box, but substituting the blue with Express green.

Signature Series will most likely not see a new box as this line has effectively been folded into the Platinum Series.

express and signature series boxes 

Other Box Styles

Prior to the Charcoal boxes there were a few box & packaging designs that were used.  

Artwork needed to be generated for the Brass Irrigation Wheel Line & N scale jewel case inserts as well as a new box size for the 30' & 50' Bridges.  This opportunity was used to design new box artwork.  Liking the new design, we decided to run with it on future releases, however the ExactRail blue was changed to the current charcoal.  

misfit box designs

Box Sizes

Because of the various sizes and lengths of the products we have produced.  Many different sizes had to be designed to display and protect them.

The two most common sizes are the 10.5x4x2" & the 12x4x2" boxes.  Typically a 40' to 50' long freight car goes into the 10.5" box and a 60' to 70' long freight car goes into the 12" box.  For the 89' long Vert-A-Pac, it needed a 16" long box.

Bridges required a deeper box to protect the product.  Using the same length and width of the standard box sizes, a deeper 3.5" box was developed.

For the initial release of the Johnstown America AutoFlood II Hoppers we offered a bulk pack.  This 16x12x2" box could safely hold 4 cars.

exactrail box sizes


In part 2 I will talk about N scale boxes, as well as packaging for wheels and trucks.

Happy Railroading,

chris brimley signature

Chris Brimley

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