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This review is from Model Railroader, March 2002. Reprinted with permission of Kalmbach Publishing Company.


There’s a lot you can say about Atlas O’s new 50-foot PS-1 boxcar, but the first word that comes to mind is “Wow!” Straight out of the box, the car makes a positive impression with its size, heft, and fantastic detail.

Fifty-foot boxcars became the railroad industry’s de facto standard in the mid-1960s, supplanting the ubiquitous 40-foot cars. Pullman-Standard’s PS-1 design had been one of the most successful 40-footers, so it stretched the design to produce these bigger cars.

According to Mainline Modeler articles and rosters by Ed Hawkins in June 1992 and James Kinkaid in April 1994, more than 50,000 smooth-side 50-foot PS-1s were built between 1949 and the end of production in 1967.

Most major railroads owned PS-1s, but details varied according to the owner’s specifications. One sample came lettered for the Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe, representing a “standard” PS-1 built as part of an order for 200 Bx-75 class general-service cars in 1958. It has a standard underframe, PS-doors, individual side grab irons, and solid-bearing trucks.

The major difference between the versions is the cushioned underframe, offered as an option beginning in 1960. The Bangor & Aroostook car, built in 1962, was part of a 30-car order with Hydroframe-60 cushioning for newsprint service. Flip the model over (below), and the underframe reflects this option, down to the non-operating damping spring along the center line. Plastic piping and brake hardware complete the package.

Both models match drawings in the Simmons-Boardman 1961 Car Builders’ Cyclopedia. Paint and lettering on the samples is accurate, clear, and legible.

Performated metal running boards, about a scale 1 ½” think, are among the features which stand out along with specific-to-prototype brake platforms, sliding doors that open to reveal a semi-detailed interior, scale ladder rungs and grab irons, and uncoupling levers.

The free-rolling trucks feature metal wheels on needlepoint axles, which were in gauge and produce an audible clicking over the rail joints. The floor of the car is cast metal, adding to the car’s overall weight of 22 ounces – four ounces more than the National Model Railroad Association’s recommended weight. The automatic knuckle couplers are compatible with Kadee’s Magne-Matics and match a Kadee O scale coupler height gauge.

Despite the fine detail, these cars are no shrinking violets. You’ll want to pick them up, and they have a certain feel that says you aren’t going to break something if you do.

The model’s only weak points are the stirrups at the ends, which are a bit thicker than they should be, and the generic (and really shiny) truck sideframes. It’s a good bet the heavier stirrups were a concession to durability, and if you desire, replacing them would be an easy task. Also, a good shot of Dulcote and a little weathering would give the truck sideframe some much-needed character.

For some years, O scalers have coveted the highly detailed ready-to-run rolling stock available in the smaller scales. Atlas O, which has answered the call with its previous releases, has hit a home run with the PS-1. – Hal Miller (Hal, an O scale modeler, is managing editor of  Trains Magazine)

O scale PS-1 50-foot boxcar

Price:  $62.95; limited edition $65.95; undecorated $57.95


Atlas O

603 Sweetland Ave.

Hillside, NJ  07205


Ready-to-run plastic and metal freight car

Road names:

Undecorated (standard underframe)

Undecorated (cushion underframe)

Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe

Bangor & Aroostook

Central of Georgia

Louisville & Nashville

Milwaukee Road

Milwaukee Road (gold limited edition)

Seaboard Air Line


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