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Atlas HO scale Gunderson (Greenbrier) Multi-Max auto rack

Read this review from the August 2020 issue of Model Railroader
Atlas HO scale Gunderson (Greenbrier) Multi-Max auto rack
Atlas HO scale Gunderson (Greenbrier) Multi-Max auto rack

If you model today’s major railroads in HO scale, you’ll want to take a look at the Gunderson (The Greenbrier Companies) Multi-Max auto rack, the latest release from Atlas Model Railroad Co. The injection-molded plastic model features new truck, flatcar, and superstructure tooling; separate factory-applied details; and metal couplers.

The prototype. The Greenbrier Companies debuted the Multi-Max autorack in 2013. Cars with TTGX reporting marks are set up for bi-level loading as indicated with a “BI” (for bi-level) stencil. These cars don’t have a third, or C, deck as built. However, the deck can be added at a later date if the owner wants to use the car in tri-level service.

Multi-Max cars with CTTX marks have a third deck. If the third deck is in the stored position, the car is stenciled “BI”. If the car is stenciled “TRI” (for tri-level), the third deck is in use.

The model. Our sample is decorated as TTX Corp. no. 696070 with Kansas City Southern rack no. G1614. The full-size car was built at the Gunderson Concarril plant in Sahagun City, Mexico, in February 2017.

The Atlas model is cleverly designed. The rack, solid panels, and flatcar sides are a single plastic casting. A separate roof casting with 18 tabs locks into corresponding slots on the top of the rack. Well-rendered plastic side panels have a channel on top that fits around three plastic tabs. The bottom of each panel is held in place with separate, factory-applied plastic trapezoids.

One-piece plastic ladder and stirrup step castings are attached to each side corner of the rack. A plastic ratchet-style hand brake is glued to the left side of the rack on the B end. Plastic chain, rod, and hangers, all molded in yellow, run between the hand brake and brake cylinder lever on the bottom of the car.

The car ends are separate plastic castings with tabs and fingers that fit into slots on the rack. The non-functioning door panels have molded door rods and latch detail.

The underframe is die-cast metal, which accounts for most of the car’s 7.7 ounces of weight. Plastic clips on each side of the draft-gear box have etched-brass step-up plates and wire grab irons. The clip to the right of the coupler has the angle cock for the trainline air hose. The clip on the left is one of two attachment points for the uncoupling lever (the other end is secured to the draft-gear box cover).

Spanning the underbody is a plastic casting that includes the center sills, body bolsters, bolster blocks, and crossbearers. A plate, attached with screws, covers the sills between the trucks.

The plastic draft-gear box covers are secured with single Phillips-head screws. Brake system components on the bottom of the car are of plastic and formed metal.

Tale of the tape. The paint on our sample is smooth and evenly applied, not always an easy task with yellow. The separation line between colors is crisp, and all but the smallest lettering is legible under magnification. Lettering placement matches a prototype photo of TTGX no. 696070 that I found online.

I then compared the model to prototype data published in a technical bulletin on The Greenbrier Companies website. The model’s dimensions are accurate or within scale inches of the full-size car.

The Multi-Max looked and performed well on our Wisconsin & Southern (30" minimum radius) and Milwaukee, Racine & Troy (36" minimum radius) staff layouts. The car comfortably navigated the no. 5 and no. 6 turnouts while being pushed and pulled. Because of the car’s length, I’d recommend a minimum radius of 24".

A new look. The Atlas HO scale Gun-derson Multi-Max is a well-executed car. The auto rack strikes a nice balance of molded and separately applied parts, and the Kadee metal couplers are a nice addition to a premium model. If you model contemporary Class 1 railroading, this Atlas Master Line model is a must-have for your freight car fleet.

Facts and features
Price: $99.95 (undecorated, $89.95)
Atlas Model Railroad Co. Inc.
378 Florence Ave.
Hillside, NJ 07205
Era: 2013 to present
Road names (four numbers per paint scheme): Kansas City Southern, BNSF Ry., Canadian National/Grand Trunk Western, and Canadian Pacific/Soo Line. Also available undecorated.
• 28" metal wheelsets, properly gauged
• Body-mounted scale metal couplers, at correct height
• Weight: 7.7 ounces, .5 ounce too heavy per National Model Railroad Association Recommended Practice 20.1

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