HO AAR 70-Ton 9-Panel Open Hopper
has been re-released with new paint schemes & road numbers. This review is of Central Vermont 4492
, item number 20 004 894
, part of Atlas' Trainman®
range of train cars. These AAR 70-Ton 3-bay models are available with both an arched end and a standard end.
AAR 70 Ton 3-Bay Hopper
Believe it or not, there was a time that coal was beloved by industry and government in the USA. Hundreds of thousands of cars for carrying coal rolled across America. Many designs have been tried and this type with external ribs gained favor because chemical reactions with the coal attacked the steel of the cars. According to Atlas;
This familiar hopper was an industry standard on many railroads since the 1930’s. It was adopted by the AAR as a recommended design, but fell out of favor by the mid-1950s. While offering greater capacity over cars with conventional flat sides, the original open hoppers created corrosive interaction between acidic coal and the car’s joints, leading to costly rebuilding programs.
I hate to start the review off this way but this is not a 9-panel hopper. This is an 11-panel ribbed triple hopper model, and this is the 10th release of this popular model, with new road numbers. Let's see why it is so popular.
The erudite NEB&W Railroad Heritage Website tells us;
These models are listed under Atlas's "Trainman" category. This is basically the same prototype as the MDC 11-panel ribbed triple hopper, but much, MUCH better. As the industry's love-affair with the offset hopper design began to wane in the '40's, when they realized the ribs rusted much faster when in contact with the coal, the outside rib design resurfaced. This design was most popular in the late steam-era, into the late '50's, when longer hoppers came on the scene. Unfortunately for steam modelers, the earliest scheme Atlas offers is the C&EI one of 1952, with other ones way later.**
MWB: Ballast Cars. All descriptions of cars used for the purpose of carrying ballast for the laying of new right of way and repairs. The car used generally for this work is of the gondola type, with side or center dump.
To see a photo of Central Vermont 4492's sister No. 4493, see Click here for additional images for this review
at the end of this review.
We now understand that this is not a 9-panel hopper. This is an 11-panel ribbed triple hopper. All the same, it is finely molded in plastic without flash, ejector circles, seam line or sink marks. It rolls on RP-25 metal wheels and attaches to other cars with knuckle couplers.
True scale dimensions with accurate details
Weighted, detailed underframes
Equipped with AccuMate®* Knuckle Couplers
Trucks equipped with free-rolling metal wheels
Accurate painting and lettering
Removable coal load
Atlas packs it securely in a custom fitted cradle with a matching clear top. The hopper is protected from scuffing by a soft plastic sheet. That is held inside an end-opening carton with a plastic film window. Atlas includes a simple parts diagram and warranty information documents.
Trainman® models are more entry level and thus lack the extensive extra detail of Atlas' Master Line models. Still, they have a good amount of detail, although almost all of it is molded on.
Grabs and stirrups, rails and stiffeners are thicker than the more expensive models and yet they are horrible. As far as I can tell, the only detail item not modeled to the body is the hand brake wheel. The coal is not molded to the body, either, although I don't consider it part of the hopper model.
Structural detail includes rivets and dump chute locks. A fair air brake system is molded into the A-end.
The car rides on plastic trucks holding metal wheels.
The coal load looks good.
Performance and physical characteristics
Those metal wheels roll very well across Atlas code 83 track and a No. 6 turnout, and through a Peco code 80 slip switch. The couplers are hung at the proper height. Atlas scaled the body to 43 feet of length, with 47 feet from coupler to coupler. The car weighs 3.7 ounces, slightly light according to NMRA RP20.1, Car Weight. That removable coal load makes it very easy to add some weight if you wish.
Paint and Markings
Modern application of paint and printing enhances this model from earlier issues. The paint is opaque and does not cover detail.
Printing is excellent. Reporting marks and road numbers, as well as technical stenciling is legible. Central Vermont used these cars as ballast hoppers (most railroads used gondolas), hence the "MWB" stenciling.
This release of Trainman® AAR 70 Ton 3-Bay Open Hoppers includes undecorated models for both body styles, and six new road names:
1.Chesapeake & Ohio (Woodchip Service) (Black/White/Yellow)
2. Central Vermont (Green/Yellow)
3. MKT (Orange/White)
4. Burlington (Black/White/Red)
5. Canadian National (Brown/White)
6. Reading & Northern (Black/White/Blue)
Central Vermont is a well documented railroad so I will include no history of it here, aside from pointing out their green and yellow livery. Classy!
Working on the RailroadAtlas' HO Trainman® AAR 70 Ton 3-Bay Open Hopper
is a good looking "intermediate level" model. While the rugged molding of parts lacks the finesse achievable, this isn't the clunky Tyco or Life-Like models of my youth. Nor is it a "handle-with-care" case. Pricing models is controversial and some modelers may find this model overpriced, but at least it has the industry standard knuckle couplers and metal wheels. And that printing is better than the aftermarket decals many of us used to pay big bucks for.
Overall I think this is a good model for young and intermediate model railroaders.
Please remember to tell vendors and retailers that you saw this model here - on
* AccuMate® couplers are made under license from AccuRail, Inc.
** NEB&W Railroad Heritage Website. NEB&W Guide to Atlas Triple Hopper Car Models
. [Web.] 23 September 2011, at 12:57.
*** Leighton Haeseler. RR Picture Archives. Pictures of CV 4493
. [Web.] 7/12/2007 2:34:35 PM.