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Quick Look: Atlas HO scale 50-ton offset-side two-bay hopper

Read this review from Model Railroader magazine
Atlas HO scale 50-ton offset-side two-bay hopper
Atlas HO scale 50-ton offset-side two-bay hopper

Price: $21.95

Atlas Model Railroad Co.
378 Florence Ave.
Hillside, NJ 07205

Era: 1964-1973 (as decorated)

Road names: Interstate, Clinchfield, Montour, and Nickel Plate Road. Two numbers per scheme.

Comments: Atlas is offering its Association of American Railroads 50-ton offset-side two-bay hopper with oval heap shields in new road numbers. The ready-to-run model is part of the company’s Trainman line.

The model features a one-piece injection-molded plastic body with molded grab irons and ladders and well-defined rivets. The draft-gear boxes, bolsters, and center sill are a separate plastic casting that spans the bottom of the car. Exposed steel weights, installed below the slope sheets, are painted the same color as the body.

The hopper includes a removable plastic coal load. The car’s interior features bracing and rivet detail, ideal for those who want to run the car empty.

Our sample is decorated as Interstate RR (INT) no. 9584. The car, part of the railroad’s 9400 through 9718 series, was added to the INT roster in 1964, three years after the Virginia-based coal hauler was purchased by the Southern Ry.

The paint is smooth and evenly applied, and the white lettering is opaque and legible. The lettering placement matches a prototype photo of car no. 9584 I found online.

The model’s dimensions closely follow prototype drawings published in the 1940 Car Builders’ Cyclopedia of American Practice (Simmons-Boardman Publishing Corp.). One detail discrepancy between the model and the prototype photo is the heap shield. The shield on the model is symmetrical across the end. On the full-size car, the shield was notched for the end ladder.

The model weighs 2.5 ounces with the load installed, which is .8 ounce too light based on National Model Railroad Association recommended practice 20.1. The Accumate couplers are mounted at the correct height. The 33" metal wheels, mounted on plastic axles, are correctly gauged.

Offset-side two-bay hoppers were a common sight on many railroads for decades. Whether it’s one or two cars at a local coal dealer or a solid cut of cars coming from the mine, the Atlas offset-side twin hopper would look good on any HO layout set from the 1930s through the 1970s.

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