Atlas HO Trainman®
Thrall 4750 Hopper Car
Item: 20 001 189
Roadname & number: Great Lakes Carbon (INTX) 35053
MSRP: $18.95 (Undecorated $15.95)
Covered hoppers are the most common freight car in the United States today. They carry light bulky commodities like carbon black, cement, flour, grain, plastic pellets, sugar, and a host of loads sensitive to moisture. Experimental covered hoppers came out in the 1930s and have been perfected into larger cars capable of heavier loads. Several loading and unloading methods are used depending on the cargo.
This covered hopper model is based on a late 1970s 263,000 lbs GRL (Gross Rail Loading) 4750 cubic-foot capacity designed by Thrall Car primarily for grain transport.
Thrall Car Manufacturing Company
was established around 1917 and build several types of freight cars. Their rotary gons held a significant market share in the 1970s. In 2001 they merged with rival Trinity Rail Group, Inc.
Trainman® Thrall 4750 Covered Hopper
This ready-to-run model is of a 263,000 lbs GRL (Gross Rail Loading) 4750 cubic-foot capacity Thrall Car three-bay 16 exterior post design. Atlas lists more than 50 in their catalog.
• Weighted body
• Equipped with AccuMate® Knuckle Couplers
• Trucks equipped with free-rolling metal wheels
• Accurate painting and lettering
AccuMate® couplers are made under license from AccuRail, Inc.
Atlas securely packages this model in a vacuform tray close to the model shape. Additional padded inserts prevent the model from shifting end to end. The model is wrapped in a light plastic sheet to both protect it from scuffing and, presumably, assist in removing it from the tray.
Finally, the open tray sets inside a light end-opening card carton with a cellophane display window. Atlas’ Trainman logo adorns the ends and sides. Atlas included no parts diagram or other documentation.
Your model is sharply molded and free of flash, noticeable seam lines, sink marks and ejector marks. Atlas molded the body as a single piece. The roof trough hatches are attached to the top, as are plastic running boards. Stirrups, ladders, grabs and stiffeners are molded. The model rides on a pair of plastic trucks holding “blackened” metal wheels. As much as I appreciate the thought behind blackening the metal, the machining is so smooth that the blacking is not, for me, very effective; this is a complaint I have with all model manufacturers who offer blackened metal wheels. Atlas equips the model with body-mounted AccuMate® knuckle couplers.
For those of us who are technical types, this car is:
AAR Rolling Stock Type:
The body design and construction characteristics are high-hip, low-arch roof, exterior-post, vertical trapezoid bolster/jack pad face, stepped side sill, and welded corner posts.
From end sill to sill the model is 53¾ scale feet long, and 58 feet from coupler to coupler, spot-on per the prototype. It weighs 4.8 ounces which is almost perfect according to the NMRA RP.20 ideal of 4.71 oz.
Underneath are the three separately molded gravity outlet gates. These have a pipe or crank shaft molded on although no crank track is included. Vibrator brackets are molded on each outlet bay.
Roof hatches are attached as a single part. All stirrups, ladders and grab irons are molded on, as are many stiffeners and brackets. The pieces are somewhat overscale.
Not many: a separately applied hand brake wheel and a molded air brake pipe along the sill. What appear to be ASF Ride Control 100-Ton Roller Bearing Trucks
look good. So do the AccuMate® knuckle couplers.
The visible air brake system is respectable with both molded-on and separately applied components, although no piping is present. Atlas Trainman is a compromise between detail and economy. For this model that is lack of air hoses, angle cocks and uncoupling levers (cutbars
). Basic AB brake components represented are:
• AAR Standard brake wheel and chain pulley block
• Lever slack adjusters and lever rods
• Retaining valve
• Control valve
• Basic piping
• Cut-out valve panel
Wire hangers over the slack adjusters present but these are the only wire details.
Paint, Livery and Printing
The finish of this model is excellent. The paint is smooth and opaque. Great Lakes Carbon livery is a step above the soulless uninspired corporate monochrome on so many covered hoppers. It is still blase enough not to distract you from all the amazing printed data. With one glaring exception Atlas’ data stencils and printings are superb: sharp and legible. You can easily read the car was built in May 1979; that 2-inch HF comp shoes equip the brakes, and the warning to open the hatches before unloading the compartments. Beautiful!
The glaring exception
are the reporting marks and road numbers. These were applied with stickers
! Not decals, stickers! Honestly, this was the first specific attribute of the model I noticed. Not a model manufacturer myself I imagine the effort it must take to print different roadnames on every car, especially when multiple road numbers are offered. The sticker film is glossy and slightly amber – it sticks out like a sore thumb and it looks like a yellowing decal on an old model. I understand this further compromise between detail and economy, but this method just looks awful.
This fifth edition of the Thrall 4750 covered hopper includes seven new paint schemes along with an undecorated model:
1. Chicago Freight Car
2. Chicago, West Pullman & Southern
3. CSX* - Full Repaint (Ease Up)
4. CSX* (Patched RFP)
5. Great Lakes Carbon (INTX)
6. Missouri Pacific
7. Specialty Minerals
All except Great Lakes Carbon are available with three different road numbers.
Out of the Yard
A nice starter RTR covered hopper. These have been very popular for Atlas and I can see why. Sharp molding and stenciling, AccuMate couplers, metal wheels, with a nearly superb finish. The blackened wheels are still shiny. The big disappointment is the horrible stickers. Overall Atlas has made a nice model of a ubiquitous modern freight car in HO for a good price. Recommended.
Please remember, when contacting retailers or manufacturers, to mention that you saw their products highlighted here - RailRoadModeling.net
Wilson, Jeff. The Model Railroader’s Guide To Freight cars
. Waukesha: Kalmbach Publishing Co., 2005. ISBN: 0-89024-585-1.
Railroad Picture Archives. http://www.rrpicturearchives.net.
Freight Cars Illustrated. Web. 2009. http://fcix.info.