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First Look Review
HO scale
Paired Window Coach
Paired Window Heavyweight Coach
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by: Frederick Boucher [ JPTRR ]

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Atlas has issued four releases of their Master Line HO Paired Window Heavyweight Coach. This review looks at one decorated as Chesapeake and Ohio Railroad No. 708, item 20 004 956. Master Line HO Paired Window Heavyweight Coaches are ready-to-run (RTR) and includes dozens of separate optional parts. Atlas writes of their model:
    Coaches formed the backbone of the American passenger car fleet. These cars were used on long and short haul trains, through trains and commuter runs alike.

    The prototype for our single window model was built by Pullman, ACF, Standard Steel and others for the New York Central System. The prototype for our paired window model was built for the Chesapeake & Ohio Railroad. Cars of similar designs were built for many other railroads from coast to coast, and they served many years in a wide variety of services.

A very good concise history of Pullman heavyweight (a.k.a., "battleships") cars can be found via Click here for additional images for this review, at the end of this review.

Back in the spring of 2005 Branchline thrilled the model passenger train community when they introduced a full - or nearly so - series of injection-molded Pullman car kits. They had detail theretofore only available through brass or extensive superdetailing with aftermarket parts. Some of the body types had never been available in plastic (even if it took a decade or so to issue them - see below). Branchline released these as kits with their own models of trucks, and with couplers. These models as kits were so detailed and had so many parts (150-200) that some modelers considered them as craftsman kits. (Each truck consists of over 25 parts.) I have two or three and was put off by the number of parts although that is silly as I've assembled models with far more parts, fiddly ones, too, like individual track links on a 1/72 tank. I did not dig out my kits to count pieces so the exact numbers might vary from what I recall. I found a blog where a modeler who assembled a half-dozen or so said that each kit took him a reasonable 10 hours to complete.

In January 2011 Atlas bought Branchline. Let's head to the coach yard for an inspection of this heavyweight coach.

Atlas is releasing these models RTR. That will get it on your rails quicker because the kits had over 100 pieces; each flexible diaphragm ("ponger") is built up with eight pieces including vibration damping support shafts (those spear-like vertical parts - "anti-rattle bars").

These cars are packaged in a snap-together top-and-bottom form-fitted cradle. A thin sheet of plastic wrap prevents scuffing. The cradle is held inside a one-piece end-opening carton with a large plastic viewing window. A sealed package of optional detail parts and documents are included.

Atlas fills these models with these features:
    Full interior detailing
    Scale operating diaphragms
    Full, separately-applied underbody detail (brake piping, steam traps, brake rigging, etc.)
    Scale window glass
    Detailed trucks with free-rolling metal wheels
    Recommend 24” Radius Minimum
    AccuMate® couplers

The body is injection-molded styrene. The trucks appear to be Delrin and some of the underbody gear seems to be molded in acetal. Let's inspect all that detail closer.

Atlas' Paired Window Coach features rows of seats in the interior.

Outside of the car is the roof. Fine rivets detail the exterior of the car and sashes surround the windows. To provide light and privacy for the bathrooms, textured and frosted window glass was used and it is reproduced for the model.

Separately-applied wire grab irons and stirrups are installed around the boarding steps and vestibule doors, and on the end sills. The doors feature latch and other detail.

Pullman Type 2410 bottom equalized trucks carry the car on metal wheels. With over 25 parts per truck they are very detailed. (Pullman identified 40 parts in their catalogue.) Look at that photo of the truck and marvel at the variety of detail. Brake end beams are installed and they look very good. I have heard that with the original Branchline trucks, those end beams got caught on the model underside components, restricting the cars to a minimum 30-inch radius curve. Atlas recommends a 24” radius minimum; it appears that they shortened the center sills. I measured the wheelbase at 10-feet 6-inches, correct for the Pullman 2410-design truck. Some railroads equipped their cars with other trucks and some of those wheelbases were longer. (Check your references if you are accurately modeling a specific railroad.) The trucks feature spring and damper detail, along with the clasp brake shoes and aforementioned end beams.

In between the trucks and the car body we have an highly detailed underside.

While this model is not illuminated the real thing was. Electricity was generated with a Pullman belt-driven generator system, represented on this model. Drive shafts, standby motor and speed governor are mounted on the other end between the center sills. Battery boxes, water reservoirs, air reservoirs, and steam traps are attached. Rounding out the underside is the air brake system: 18-inch brake cylinder; triple valve; brake rods; brake levers; air and steam lines. An exceptional detail is the chain from the cylinder to the hand brake wheel.

As extensive as all of that apparatus is, what is missing is the piping connecting various systems together. That is minor to me as most would not be visible unless you topple the car over. However, visible from a low angle are the brake rods, and those have been cut short and do not reach the trucks.

Finally, Atlas includes as optional parts many end details: air brake and signal lines; steam lines; coupler yokes; cut levers; safety chains and eye bolts. Note the safety chains are link-by-link assemblies!

Atlas' Pullmans are a trove of detail.

Paint & Finish
Like almost every Atlas model I have inspected, this model's exterior paint is marvelous. It is opaque and yet does not obscure the fine detail. The wheels are blackened and are not shiny like one could find years ago - a great improvement.

Lettering is paint, not a decal, and crisp. Atlas offers this car in 16 road names plus and undecorated model. In this issue only the Toronto, Hamilton and Buffalo features names. The road names available are:
    Chesapeake and Ohio (Grey/Blue/Yellow)
    Canadian Pacific (Tuscan/Gold)
    Chicago and Eastern Illinois (Blue/Orange)
    Delaware & Hudson (Two Tone Gray)
    Duluth, Missabe and Iron Range (Green/Black)
    Great Northern (Dark Green/Gold)
    Milwaukee Road (Red/Orange)
    New Haven (Red/Black)
    Northern Pacific (Pine Tree)
    Pere Marquette (Green/Gold)
    Rutland (Green/Gold)
    Spokane, Portland & Seattle (Green/Yellow)
    Toronto, Hamilton and Buffalo (Red/Black)
    Virginian (Green/Yellow)
Each railroad is issued with three road numbers, except the Chicago and Eastern Illinois (two numbers) and the New Haven (one).

Instructions and Documents
A small text and line drawing instruction sheet guides the assembly and mounting of the optional parts. Warranty information is also included.

All Aboard?
So you have this impressive Pullman to run on your layout. You want it to look like it has a purpose. What is its purpose? To carry passengers.

So how do you put model passengers into this model passenger car? For the interior Branchline used a one-piece floor with molded seats. Slots were molded into the floor for walls and partitions. The body shell is comprised of a frame the sides and ends fit onto. Then the interior assembly slides into the body shell and the roof snaps into place.

So the roof must come off to access the interior to populate it with passengers. Atlas' roof fit is tight as a tick; in the previous review I did not try to remove it for fear of breaking something. But you, fine modeler, deserve as complete a review as I can manage, so I took the roof off. Starting at a corner, I worked my fingernail between the roof and the side. It took a few tries but eventually I pried a gap open, and then I just worked my fingernail along the parts until I popped the roof off.

Look at the photos of the attached roof and the unattached roof. The fit is tight and with no visible gaps. If you look at the photo of the roof tabs you can see no glue was used.

Inside you can see the components. It looks like the frame is a clear piece. There are voids between the seats. I can't figure out why.

Atlas' Paired Window Heavyweight Coach is a marvelous model. Detail is to a high fidelity. It looks like Atlas has solved the problem of the trucks fouling the center sill. Wire handles and detailed trucks/underside enhance the model.

The missing piping connecting various underside systems together is not a big deal to me although the short visible brake rods are more noticeable, especially as the center sills have been shortened.

Regardless, this model should be well received by modelers of the heavyweight era. Highly recommended.

Please remember to mention to Atlas and retailers that you saw this model here - on RailRoad Modeling.

AccuMate® couplers are made under license from AccuRail, Inc.

Thomas C. Madden. THE PULLMAN PROJECT. [Web.] 2013.

D. Garrett Spear. Pullman Truck Information. http://prr.railfan.net/passenger/GSPEAR/GSPEAR_Pullman_Trucks.htm. Sept. 30, 2002 1:28.

Click here for additional images for this review.

Highs: Detail is to a high fidelity with molded and separately applied parts, like wire handles. It looks like Atlas has solved the problem of the trucks fouling the center sill.
Lows: Missing is the piping connecting various underside systems together. Visible brake rods do not reach the trucks.
Verdict: A marvelous model. This model should be well received by modelers of the heavyweight era.
  Scale: HO Scale
  Mfg. ID: 20 004 956
  PUBLISHED: Sep 13, 2019
  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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