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O Scale Trains Magazine #24
Jan/Feb '06

REVIEW: Trainman Series Freight Cars;
MSRP $39.95 (3R), $42.95 (2R)
378 Florence Avenue
Hillside, NJ 07205

Reviewed by Brian Scace

Let's start with a little history. Back in the 1970s, Atlas Tool marketed a line of O Scale plastic equipment in cooperation with Roco of Austria. For their time, these were really nicely detailed models, and quite affordable. Many of us remember the F9, boxcar, stock car, gondola, and a couple of different cabooses. There was also a plug door box (marketed as a refrigerator car), an ore car, and a somewhat hormonally enhanced Plymouth industrial switcher. While not exactly a barn-burner success story for Atlas Tool, Roco continued to crank out the box and gondola for various people, such as P&D, after Atlas left the O Scale market. Examples of all these still can be readily found.

That's not to say that there wasn't something to like, here, for the more neurotic among us. I remember a lot of conversations with the late Ted Stepek, who had a bit to do with the original line and was as knowledgeable a Pennsy guy as ever drew breath. The original boxcar was a very credible model of the PRR X43c. The gondola was one of the PRR G31 series of 14-panel cars, if memory serves me right. The stock car and "reefer" were done by changing the side-facets in the boxcar moldwork, so these cars weren't specific to a particular prototype. The ore car was a B&LE prototype, and the extended vision caboose was one of the International Car versions.

The reason for the possibly flawed history lesson is pretty simple. Some of the components of the old Atlas/Roco line have been resurrected in the new "Trainman" line from Atlas O. Let's be clear here. The intent of the Trainman line is not to produce models with all the bells and whistles, nor to produce a line with prototype-specific details on each and every model. This line is intended as a more budget friendly choice. It is intended to be scale proportioned, nicely detailed, yet a bit generic in deference to the pricing. Let's look at some of the freight cars.

As a quite logical starting point for the line, the boxcar and gondola draw their lineage directly back to the Roco project. The carbodies really haven't changed, and the result is what you'd expect from the marriage of the older bodies with current AtlasO components, such as trucks, couplers and a new underframe. I must confess that I really liked the old Roco underframe, but I also really like the new see-through roofwalks on the Trainman versions. The cast-on grabs haven't changed from the older versions, nor have most of the other add-ons such as the ladders and brakewheels.

The plug-door box and stock car both appear to be side-facet adaptations of the original boxcar. For our Hi-rail brethren, our sample of the plug-door box came through as the three-rail version. The trucks and couplers are the standard version AtlasO units. The extended coupler rig that is included with the standard line was not included here, probably again in deference to the pricing.

Fit and finish are up to the expected AtlasO standards. From what I can see with these freight cars, the intent of the line is met. These aren't super-detailed cars, nor are they intended to be. They are good solid starter equipment, decent layout-fillers, and the boxcar and gondola are still excellent candidates for detailing and noodling to suit as prototype-specific rolling stock.

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