Introduction70-Ton 9-Panel Hopper - Flat End
from Atlas Model Railroad
is a model in their Atlas O Trainman
series. It is Item# 2001824
. It represents a Norfolk & Western Class H34 open hopper. This is the eighth run of this model.
Class H34 Hoppers
The Virginian Railway roughly paralleled the Norfolk & Western from Roanoke, Virginia, to Norfolk, Virginia. In 1959 the railroads merged and N&W assumed thousands of Virginian hoppers of their H14 and H14a classes (homebuilt by Virginian at their Princeton Shops). N&W reclassified the Virginian H14 class as Class H34, and renumbered them in road number series 76500-76929, 101000-102499, 104500-105799 and 107500-107999.
touts their Trainman
series as "scale fun for everyone." To describe Trainman as basic or entry level would be a disservice to this good looking model. Atlas Trainman
is a compromise between detail and economy. Atlas O Trainman
models usually lack the advanced features of their Master Line
range, i.e., individually applied wire grab irons, but they are not toys.
The model is patterned after a 70-ton, 9-panel H34 hopper with flat ends. Atlas'
new website also includes AAR (Assoc. American Railroads) in the description. While not an exact replica, it closely matches the H34 in a N&W company portrait that you can view via N&W 76500-Series Hopper
, below, in the Summary panel. The N&W H34 featured narrow triangular plates angling back towards the end sills from where the slope sheets joined the side panels. The cars also had a notch for the end wheels above the side sill.
Composed of metal and plastic parts, this model is crisply cast or molded with no flash, sink holes, visible ejector circles, or noticeable mold seam lines. My sample has no glue spots or burrs from removing the parts from sprues.
Most of the surface detail is molded on. This includes grab irons and stirrups. Atlas notes that features include:
* Separately applied coal load, brake wheels, and brake platform
* Either flat or arched end as appropriate by railroad
* Accurate painting & lettering
* Metal couplers and sprung die-cast trucks
* True scale dimensions with accurate details
* Weighted, detailed underframes
* 2-Rail cars feature scale wheels and body mounted scale couplers
We will explore some of those claims next.
Atlas protects their models well. It is held inside a top-bottom form-fitted clear plastic cradle, protected from scuffing by a soft plastic sheet. The halves snap together. The cradle fits into an end-opening carton with a large cellophane window. Most of Atlas models come with a registration card. This one did not.
Typical of Trainman models, this car does not have a lot of separately applied pieces. Those it sports are the hand brake wheel, see-through brake platform, air brake hoses, and air brake components (reservoir, triple valve, cylinder). I can not tell if the end slope sheet support braces are separately mounted or not. The truck sideframes feature springs and faux brake shoes to add value to the pizza cutter flanges of the 3-rail metal wheels.
Otherwise, details are molded or cast on, i.e., hopper door locks, grab irons. The grab irons look good from profile but if viewed oblique, you can see just how thick they are. The model does have top corner angle iron stiffeners typical for Bethlehem Car Co. designs. They have no bolt or weld detail.
This review is of the high-rail (3-rail) model. Thus the wheels and couplers are big and clunky. The 2-rail versions feature wheel sets and couples more too-scale.
Finally, the coal load is a single plastic piece. The coal seems too low profile, i.e., not chunky enough.
Paint and Printing
I did not try scratching the finish of the model although I am certain the model is not unpainted. Basic black. N&W's road name and road number, and data stenciling is printed in white. Printing is sharp. The thin line of the stencil supporting the letter segments are even reproduced. Dimensional data, built and maintenance dates, and service marks are included and most of it looks very accurate compared to the N&W diagram Stenciling, Hopper Car Class H34
, viewable via Click here for additional images for this review
, below. I did not measure the height of the lettering to confirm its accuracy per that diagram.
This model's 8th run includes six road names and an undecorated model:
Undecorated (flat end)
Canadian National (Brown/White)
Peabody Coal (Yellow/Green/Black)
Chesapeake & Ohio (Black/White)
Norfolk & Western (Black/White)
Four road numbers are available per road name, except for Alaska and Canadian National, which have two.
The model measures 44 feet from end sill to end sill. It weighs 14.3 ounces. That is light per NMRA RP-20.1 Car Weight. It rolled easily on my track.
ConclusionAtlas' O Trainman 70-Ton 9-Panel Hopper - Flat End
is a good looking basic freight car. The see-through brake platform, springs in the truck sideframes, and air hoses set it a step up from a bare-bones basic toy. Molding and casting is crisp. There are no noticeable flaws in assembly. Paint and printing is excellent.
If I have anything to complain about it is the lack of rivet or weld detail on the top corner angle iron stiffeners, the horizontal thickness of the grab irons, and the shallow depth of the coal load. Molded-on detail is to be expected with a basic model. Also, that the model is not an exact replica of a Virginian Class H14/N&W Class H34 can be excused in that these models are mass produced for economy.
Modelers in need of Transition-era 70-ton AAR hoppers should welcome this latest run of hoppers. Recommended.
Please remember to mention to Atlas and retailers that you saw this model here - on