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DODX Heavy Duty Flat Cars - HO scale

Spring Mills Depot is proud to announce our 7th car!

All new tooling for a signature car!!!

Once again Spring Mills Depot is going full tilt
on a project car. If you can't do it right, why do it?

This project has been 7 years in the making. We have tracked down and measured dozens of prototype cars and figured out all of the main variations and even some of the subtle versions.

The DODX heavy duty flat cars were built or modified by no less than four builders. SMD will be producing several different variations with models specific for each of the following builders:

Fruit Growers Express
Thrall Car
Ortner Freight Car

General Railway Equipment
(logo not available)

All cars will come with trucks and couplers. The buckeye trucks (1 pair) will be available separately as well. Check the ordering page.

Based on a 2001 mandate by the American Association of Railroads (AAR), buffer cars were required for all nuclear casket transports when they were transporting "hot" radioactive loads. These cars were rebuilt for use as buffer cars starting in 2000. SMD will be offering two buffer cars in two different paint schemes based on prototype photos.

Upon the introduction of the heavy duty flat car fleet into the Department of Defense, it was realized the Navy needed a few cars to carry Navy materials and they were assigned to the Navy. Five replacement cars were built by GRE at the end of the Ortner run to replace the original five assigned to the navy. These five cars from the original FGE built car series were specially equipped and painted for this service and SMD will be offering two cars.

Retraction: We originally identified the five Navy assigned cars as nuclear casket cars. This was incorrect. These heavy duty flat cars never carried nuclear materials (note there are no hazmat placards on the cars).

Car specific artwork and ordering information has been posted!

We expect the cars to arrive - TBD.

Update 9/6/16: The build dates have been updated to be the lot dates of when the cars were contracted. Actual build dates will be posted as that information is provided to us.

Update 9/26/16: The build dates have been updated to be those found on the prototype and this is what will be on the cars.

Update 9/1/18: All transport cars ordered after 9/1/18 will not come with tie down chains. The cost is just too great to be included in the price of the car with our new factory. Tie down chains sets will be available for purchase separately. All transport cars ordered prior to 9/1/18 will come with tie down chains.

Update 1/23/19: The tie down chains have become a project in themselves. We initially were planning on the tie downs being 3 pieces - the bottom half /hardware, 9 links of chain, slip hook on end. But now each tie down chain assembly will be 9 pieces!!! As soon as we get the first test shots of the tie downs, we will post all of the specifications on the DODX Details page. Of course with all of the extra effort need to assemble the tie downs, the new price for a pack of 20 tie downs will be $39.95. All preorder transport cars before 9/1/18 will come with a pack of chains as initially advertised. It is the fair thing to do for all of our preorder customers.

Update 3/28/19: Urethane green: a little story about one small aspect of developing the DODX flat car. We know what olive green looks like as there are many paint manufacturers who make the color and they are all very close. Similarly, we know what Cascade green looks like. However, the one color that we were having a hard time nailing down was urethane green. We obtained over a dozen different color chips that probably could have passed for urethane green but we wanted to be exact. We didn't want a faded version either (e.g. get a paint chip from an existing car). Eventually we had one of our proxies reach out to the company that actually supplied the urethane green to DOD when the cars were repainted in 1996. Our proxy said they would sell us a gallon of urethane green for $110. Our proxy was willing to help us in most any way but wasn’t willing to shell out $110 for a gallon of paint – which is fully understandable. So he gave me the information and I called to negotiate. I explained that we only wanted a sample to color match for our models as their paint would destroy plastic. I inquired if we could buy a couple of ounces or a quart but the company said that one gallon was the smallest amount available. So I bit the bullet and gave my credit card number. The representative told me it would be $200 delivered - $110 for the paint and $90 for shipping. I asked if it was because it was hazmat and he said yes. I acquiesced and purchased the gallon of paint. About 4 days later, FedEx called me and said I was to have a delivery the next day and asked if someone would be home to sign for it. I asked was it a hazmat package and they said it was. I told FedEx that someone would be home but to kindly call about an hour ahead of the delivery. They said that would be no problem. The next day, my wife gets a call from the FedEx driver and he said he could not find our house. My wife explained the landmarks from the main road and the driver said he saw them but he was afraid to bring his truck down our street. She asked the driver if he was in a standard package car and he replied, “No ma’am, I’m in an 18 wheeler with a 53 foot trailer.” She explained that she was glad he didn’t try to come to our house as he would have had nowhere to turn around. So she agreed to meet him in town at a shopping center in a few minutes. When she got there, the driver opened up the trailer and there, on a pallet, was a small box that was shrink wrapped to it. She signed for it and brought it home. When I got home, I opened the box and it was actually a single gallon of paint that was only 5/6 full and a small can of hardener that was to be added to the gallon. We found some scrap aluminum siding and mixed a small batch of paint. We carefully painted a few squares and now we have exact samples to send to our factory so that our urethane green cars will be hyper accurate. This is just one example where Ken and I go to the Nth degree to make sure our cars are as accurate as we can make them.

Update 8/26/19: Finally! All car specific artwork has been posted. We are getting close to receiving test shots.

Update 11/27/19: Our color package (17 different colors) arrived at the factory in China.

Update 12/16/19: The first engineering samples arrived. We definitely over engineered a couple of things on this project. But it will surely make the most discerning modelers happy.

Update 12/17/19: We are registered to attend Prototype Rails 2020 in Cocoa Beach, FL on January 9-11, 2020. We will have the first test shots for viewing as well as the unveiling of the DODX accessory item that has been in the works for so long.

Update 2/3/20: We displayed the engineering samples at the Cocoa Beach RPM, the Amherst Railway Show, and the GSMTS. The cars were very well received.

Update 2/25/20: Our factory is slowly coming back online from the holiday as well as C-19. We have a couple of parts to retool but we, pardon the cliché, want the cars to run as good as they look.

Update 5/27/20: At last!!! I got pictures of the engineering samples posted as well as updated the details page. Added a new page for the special item that we have been working on: Army 20' containers, tricons, and quadcons.

Update 7/18/20: We ordered our couplers with Kadee back in March when the COVID thing started to shut down many businesses. When our factory received the boxes of couplers and coupler springs, half of the couplers and ALL of the coupler springs were missing. So now Ken and I have to receive the couplers and coupler springs here in the states first, then we have to count them all, and subsequently we ship them to our factory. Ken and I spent the entire morning counting couplers and coupler springs. That is time we would have spent doing something else....

Update 7/28/20: Painted samples of cars, containers (AMAZING!), and tie down chains (AWESOMELY AMAZING!!) posted on their respective pages.

Update 8/28/20: We conducted some testing on our test cars.  We even shot some video of the tests which will be shared with all preorder customers soon.

Update 9/15/20: Apparently of the 27 sets of artwork we submitted to our factory, 6 of them had issues.  Our artist had revise them and we resubmitted them to our factory.

Update 10/30/20: One would think having our package labels made here in the U.S. would be an easy task - and normally it would.  However, it took over six weeks and many
back-n-forths to finally get all of the labels printed to our standards.  And now they have been shipped to our factory in China.

Update 12/12/20: Our new factory does things somewhat differently than our last factory.  Case in point is the Purchase Order.  The new factory is highly meticulous when it comes to the PO.  Just one small error requires a new submission.  We found it very frustrating but we got through it.  Production begins in January.

Update 1/30/21: We discovered our olive green was a Vietnam era olive green and it was just a little too brown. We have since submitted a new olive green chip to our factory and they have matched it perfectly.

Update 2/24/21: Apparently China is experiencing the same problem as we are in the U.S. and that is a lack of skilled workers for the amount of work to be done.  Many are a victim of COVID or they do not want to return to cities to work and instead would rather stay in their villages.  As the smallest customer, we have to take what we get as far as production time.

Update 4/16/21: All items are in the casting stage!

Update 5/13/21: Everything has entered the painting stage....progress!

Update 7/19/21: Production samples arrived and approved.
These cars are going to knock your socks off!

Update 8/10/21: Update email sent to all preorder customers
along with a link to a performance test video.
Click here to see the video.

Update 8/19/21: The entire production is complete, boxed,
shrink wrapped, and strapped to pallets sitting at our
factory. Now if we could only find a container to ship them in.....

Update 9/30/21: Update email sent to all preorder customers
along with a link to our performance test video #2. BTW,
they are on the water!!!

Update 10/13/21: Our ship has made the voyage across
the Pacific and is now queued off the port of LA.

Update 10/29/21: Our container is off the ship
and now in a stack on the ground.

Update 11/18/21: Our cars, containers, and tie downs have escaped the
Port of L.A. storage yard. They have been transferred to a trucking
company and are beginning the trek across the United States.
They are almost here!

Update 12/1/21: Does the fun never end? Get this, 7 pallets went
to Maryland while 1 pallet went to Oregon! I spent 3 days on
the phone trying to track down the missing pallet and get it
redirected to Maryland.

Update 12/16/21: All pallets eventually arrived. Inventory and QCing has begun.

Update 12/27/21: All preorder customers received an email
with a link to our 3rd performance test video, the most recent update on expected shipping, and notice of the Details page being updated.

Update 1/18/22: Shipping has begun despite having to glue boxes back together. Please be patient.

Update 4/8/22: The last of the boxes have been glued and shipping continues.

Update 5/5/22: I spent a week updating the DODX Details page. Soooo much good information about the aspects and variations among the different builders.

Use the menu on the right to view various items about our model.