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In-Box Review
HO scale
PS-2 Covered Hopper
PS-2 Covered Hopper
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by: Frederick Boucher [ JPTRR ]

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Atlas' Trainman® PS-2 Covered Hopper is a popular model of this common freight car, now in its 9th run. This model is lettered as Lancaster & Chester No. 405. That railroad makes this review all the more interesting due to a peripheral connection with my interest in aeroplanes. Read on!

The Trainman series are Atlas’ basic ready-to-run models yet are factory equipped with knuckle couplers and feature excellent paint and printing.

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. In Atlas' words:
    Covered hoppers are a relatively new car family. The AAR considered these “special” cars until the 1980’s when they finally got their own car type code category. These early covered hopper designs were built primarily for more efficient cement loading and unloading (previously cement was bagged and placed in box cars). This two-bay covered hopper car design was built by Pullman-Standard starting in the late 1940s with production continuing into the 1950s. This car features eight round roof hatches for quick loading. Two large gravity gates were used to discharge the commodity as quickly as possible. Capacity is rated at 2,003 cubic foot.

PS-2-Type Twin Covered Hoppers
Pullman introduced their PS-2 in 1954 and although the rail car became longer and bigger, the PS-2 designation was retailed, so many PS-2s do not look like this variant. The NEB&W Railroad Heritage Website offers an amazing amount of information about railroads, both prototype and model. The following are excerpts from their introductory page about the Pullman Standard PS-2-Type Twin Covered Hopper:
    In 1952, Pullman introduced their PS-2 design. Its spotting feature compared to other similar covered hoppers was the lack of center rib. A year later it was offered in a longer version, with two missing ribs, one between every pair of hoppers. I think the missing rib(s) was a result of the steeper slope sheets needed in covered hoppers. On a standard ribbed coal hopper car, the predecessor to this design, the shallower slope sheet from each hopper met close to the bottom. A rib was used here for support as elsewhere down the side of the car.

    On the ACF design, this use of rib at these locations had been carried over from hopper car design. Pullman must have decided they could eliminate this rib, as the steeper slope sheets met halfway up the car side. The slope sheets were attached to both car sides, providing a tie from side to side. In a sense, the slope sheet was an interior diagonal rib that was the full width of the car. The ACF car typically had a large cutout in the center. No PS-2 that I know of had the material cut away. Thus Pullman added sheet material but took away the rib. (Can you engineers tell us why?)

    In the March 14, 1955 Railway Age, Pullman's ad discussed their PS-2. At that time, it was available in three sizes. The two-bay hopper was 29 ft. 3 ins. long inside and 35 ft. 11 ins. over the running boards, with a capacity of 2,003. The three-bay was 41 ft. 1 in. long inside, 47 ft. 7 ins. over the running boards and had a capacity of 2,893. The four-bay was the same length, but had a capacity of 3,132. All three designs were 13 ft. 2 ins. to the running boards. At that time, Pullman had changed the hatch design to a circular one, to keep out the weather and dirt, with a new arrangement to provide better safety for the workmen. (Even the pilot model and drawing had round hatches. I don't think any PS-2's were built with square hatches.)

    Eager said that in mid-1957, Pullman altered both PS-2's designs by changing the channel rib over each truck bolster to a hat section, as on the rest of the car side. None of the PS-2's shown in the 1957 Cyc. showed this design change.

    The October 1955 Trains showed a Greenville "PS-2" two-bay, built for the Western Maryland (car no. 5701). Including the 10 circular roof hatches, it appeared identical to Pullman's design. It was an all-welded car of 2,004 capacity, one cubic foot more than Pullman's. The same photo appeared in the 1957 Cyc.

    Ed Hawkins had an article in Railway Prototype Cyclopedia, Vol. 3 on the Greenville version, including a roster. He said that Greenville acquired the rights to the PS-2 design, which they designated "GV-2" (which means the car design is very very close to a Pullman PS-2). Greenville's first cars were built in 1955 (for the WM), and production ran until 1961, with a total of 1,105 for 12 different roads and private owners. And although in '57, Pullman changed the design by eliminating the pair of channel ribs, Greenville did not.

Technical data about the PS-2 comes from RR Pictures Archives:
    Type: Covered Hopper
    AAR Class: LO: A permanently enclosed car, other than a box car, regardless of exterior or interior shape, for handling bulk commodities, with or without insulation and provided with openings for loading through top or sides with weather-tight covers or doors. Car may be provided with one or more bottom openings for unloading, with tight fitting covers, doors, valves, or tight fitting slide or gate to prevent leakage of lading. Car may be provided with facilities for discharge of lading through openings in top or sides and may have one or more compartments. Mechanical or other means may be provided within car to expedite loading or unloading.
    AAR Type: C111
    Detail Info: Covered Hopper, Gravity Unloading, Permanent Roof, Less than 3000 cu ft capacity
    Plate: B
    Max Gross Weight: 220000
    Load Limit: 169500
    Dry Capacity: 2003
    Ext L/W/H: 37' 9" / 10' 3" / 13' 3"**

Lancaster & Chester
Lancaster & Chester is a small shortline that serves mills along the North Carolina and South Carolina border, specifically Fort Mills. This area is the home of Springs Industries, what began in 1887 when Samuel Elliott White started Fort Mill Manufacturing Co. with other entrepreneurs in Fort Mill, South Carolina. Opening in 1888 the plant grew to be the worlds largest manufacturer of fabric for bed sheets, including the Spring Maid brand. Management of Spring Maid was later assumed by Samuel White's son Colonel Elliot White Springs, a World War I 16-victory fighter pilot. Elliot made Spring Maid famous (infamous?) for risque advertisements that were scandalous for the era. A master of marketing, he also created satirical menus for dining cars that did not exist, plus amusing timetables for trains that did not exist. Col. Springs also made up 29 vice-presidents for the 29-mile railroad including railfan striptease artist Gypsy Rose Lee! If you want to read more, see Click here for additional images for this review, below.

The Lancaster & Chester logo incorporates the logo of Spring Maid brand with the slogan "The Springmaid Line".
    The L&C bought 14 cars from Pullman in series 400-413. These cars had the narrow roof spacing and the all hat-section ribbed side. A builder's photo appeared in the April '95 RMJ. The car was light-colored, and only had the reporting marks (L&C).***

What About This Model?
Atlas' HO Trainman® PS-2 Covered Hopper is an injection molded model with knuckle couplers and metal wheels. It is ready-to-run.

The plastic parts are crisply molded and have no visible flaws such as flash, mold seams, sink marks and ejector marks. It appears that the trucks are molded with rigid acetal. While I did not break the model apart to examine it, it looks like the main body components consist of a frame, twin-bay chassis with end sheets, and the roof/side piece. Presumably, weights are attached to the interior of the car. Separately attached hatches and a running board top the roof. A handbrake wheel is attached to the B-end, and separately attached air brake components are attached to the frame and bracing in the open end.

Per the prototype this PS-2 features eight external posts, "open” ends, and visible slope sheets. Per the prototype the ends of the posts are beveled and the roof overhangs the sides.

Trainman models are Atlas' introductory series and lack the high detail of their Master Series model. Yet these models are nicely detailed. Atlas lists the key features as:

* 50-ton friction bearing or 70-ton roller bearing trucks (as appropriate by road name)
* Detailed brake gear
* Accumate® couplers

The detail is mainly molded on the parts. Steps, stirrups, grab handles and ladders are molded on and the rungs are represented as slabs. So is the brakeman platform under the hand brake wheel. While the ladders and grabs are not small, the stirrups are thin.

While the main air brake apparatus (triple valve, reservoir, brake cylinder) are separately attached to the model, there are no air hoses nor train lines.

Atlas rolls this model upon metal RP-25 wheels held by rigid acetal trucks. They look good although detail is basic. This L&C PS-2 rides on 50-ton friction bearing trucks.

Atlas captured the beveled hat-section ribs on the sides. Actuator levers and brackets are molded on to the dump chutes.

On the roof are eight separately attached filler hatches. These are round and have nice latch detail. A metal running board and laterals top the roof; the grab irons on these are model on.

While the detail is basic and modeled on, it looks crisp.

Paint and Markings
Regardless of whether a model is a Trainman or Master Series model, Atlas' painting and markings are exceptional. This model is no different. The paint is opaque and yet does not obscure surface detail. This run of Trainman® PS-2 Covered Hoppers is released with seven railroad companies, each with two or three road numbers, and an undecorated model. The road names are:
    Chicago & North Western (CGW) (Green/Yellow/Black)
    Lancaster & Chester (Gray/Blue/Yellow)
    Maine Central (Gray/Black)
    U.S. Borax & Chemical (NAHX)
    Western Pacific (Brown/White)
    Pennsylvania (Gray/Black)
    Southern (Gray/Green)

Printing is sharp and the stenciling is legible. Atlas accurately reproduced the Lancaster & Chester logo, making this an attractive model.

Running Performance
I used my machinist squares an HO ruler to measure the car from sill to sill, and coupler to coupler. This model measures 35' 3" scale feet (41' coupler to coupler) and weights 2.8 ounces, which is light per NMRA RP-20.1. Atlas mounted the couplers at the right height per my coupler gauge.

I scooted the model over code 83 track and through turnouts. Those metal wheel just keep going and the model tracked flawlessly.

This was a fun review due to the unique railroad this model represents and the colorful character that ran it for years. That, and because this is a nice model of an early PS-2 covered hopper. Trainman® models do not boast dozens of individually attached parts and scale-fine parts, nor are they meant to. All the same, the model looks very good and from the widely accepted "3-foot rule" the model looks great.

Highs for this model are metal wheels, knuckle couplers, and great rolling performance. Crisp paint and markings enhances the good detail.

The lack of fine or extra detail does not bother me as this range of models are not intended to have those characteristics. If there is something that I do not like it is the Slabs used to represent rungs in ladders and grab irons.

I am very happy with this model and believe that it is a good model for the basic range of Trainman. Models of American railroads of the early 1950s onward should enjoy this model. It should be a good addition to your roster. Recommended.

* Nehring, John. NEB&W Railroad Heritage Website. NEB&W Guide to PS-2-Type Twin Covered Hoppers - Introduction. [Web.] 23 September 2011, at 10:16.

** Railroad Picture Archives. Pictures of BM 2752. [Web.] n.d.

***NEB&W Railroad Heritage Website. NEB&W Guide to PS-2-Type Twin Covered Hoppers - D-L. [Web.] 8 July 2013, at 09:23.

Click here for additional images for this review.

Highs: Metal wheels, knuckle couplers, great rolling performance. Crisp paint and markings.
Lows: Slabs used to represent rungs in ladders and grab irons. Underweight if you value NMRA RP20.1.
Verdict: I am very happy with this model and believe that it is a good model for the basic range of Trainman. Models of American railroads of the early 1950s onward should enjoy this model. It should be a good addition to your roster.
  Scale: HO Scale
  Mfg. ID: 20 004 164
  Suggested Retail: $25.95
  Related Link: The Springmaid Line
  PUBLISHED: Nov 14, 2017
  NATIONALITY: United States

Our Thanks to Atlas Model Railroad!
This item was provided by them for the purpose of having it reviewed on this KitMaker Network site. If you would like your kit, book, or product reviewed, please contact us.

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About Frederick Boucher (JPTRR)

I'm a professional pilot with a degree in art. My first model was an AMT semi dump truck. Then Monogram's Lunar Lander right after the lunar landing. Next, Revell's 1/32 Bf-109G...cried havoc and released the dogs of modeling! My interests--if built before 1900, or after 1955, then I proba...

Copyright ©2020 text by Frederick Boucher [ JPTRR ]. Images also by copyright holder unless otherwise noted. Opinions expressed are those of the author(s) and not necessarily those of ModelGeek. All rights reserved.


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