Trainman Rolling Stock
Review and Photos by George Brown
Aug/Sept ’06 Issue of O Gauge Railroading
What would you think of a 3-rail scale freight car that costs
less than 40 bucks and has a detailed molded body, separate
ladders and hand brake equipment, realistic see-through roof
walk, weighted floor with die-cast wooden planks on the top
surface and molded underbody frame details that include brake
rigging and air lines? Flawless paint and precision graphics and
all-metal trucks complete each car that runs as great on O31
curves as it does on wide turns. In a preview summary, the new
Trainman cars deliver on what Atlas O has promised us.
Like a lot of O gauge railroaders, I read the ads announcing
Trainman rolling stock, and I had an anticipation that
corresponded to the reasonable price tag for the cars. When the
sample cars arrived, I was concluding our review of the Trainman
RSD4/5 for Run 215, the preceding issue of OGR, and I was
more than just pleased with each car as I took it out of its
windowed box. In short, I not only liked them, but they also
looked and ran great behind the six-axle Alco. And like the RSD,
Trainman cars are designed to be durable with no or minimal
damage resulting from minor mishaps. But if a car does get
damaged, replacement parts illustrations for some cars are
available on the Trainman website as I write this review.
Our cars were from the initial release of the Trainman line with
a Pittsburgh & Lake Erie 40’ boxcar, Pennsy 52’ gondola, Rio
Grande 40’ stock car, Jersey Central 40’ plug-door box car, and
Cotton Belt extended vision steel caboose that matched our
Cotton Belt RSD5. If I had to find something to niggle about, it
would only be the somber colors of the cars, but then, for cars
that model prototypes from the 1940s and 1950s, the colors are
Those of you who have been in the hobby a number of years may
recognize the Trainman rolling stock as similar to the O gauge
cars Atlas imported from Roco in Austria in the 1970s, but they
are definitely not identical. Trainman cars are all created from
new molds with the readily noticeable variations between them
and the Roco cars being the under-floor detail and Trainman’s
cast metal car floor in place of the plastic one on Roco cars.
All Trainman cars are available in either 3-rail or 2-rail
versions that are identical except for their trucks and
Each car’s heavy cast floor gives excellent tracking
characteristics to the otherwise lightweight plastic body.
Die-cast 50-ton Bettendorf style trucks are sprung, with the
exception of the caboose trucks that have a dummy leaf spring in
place of the usual pair of coil springs. Trucks installed on
Trainman cars are the same ones Atlas O uses on its Master Line of freight cars and feature
separate brake shoes, with 3-rail trucks also including a
thumbtack-style tinplate coupler and a molded plastic air hose.
By the time you read this review, Atlas will have released their
scale Adjust-A-Couplers for the Trainman line. These couplers
mount to the predrilled tinplate trucks, replacing the oversized
tinplate couplers for more realism on 3-rail. Scale couplers and
draft gear for 2-rail operation are mounted directly to the car
The boxcar models the ubiquitous 40’ steel body that American
Car and Foundry (ACF) produced in the ‘40s and early ‘50s.
Ribbed doors slide on molded tracks and open to reveal the
wood-planked floor inside the car. To my disappointment,
however, the doors on the stock car and plug-door boxcar are
integral to the body molding and don’t open. Other detail
concessions to hold the retail price down include molded rather
than separate grab irons and steps and molded brake lines and
rigging which, considering the overall look and feel of the
Trainman cars, are minor points to me.
Gondolas don’t normally garner much of my attention, but the
Trainman model of the 52’ ACF mill gon is a handsome exception.
Like the rest of the cars, the body molding is crisp and
detailed and even includes trust plates declaring the First
National Bank of the City of New York as the prototype car’s
Last, but certainly not least, is the back end of the line, and
the train too—the Trainman caboose
that models cars produced in the 1950s by the International Car
Company. Without a doubt, this lighted scale caboose is one of
the best bargains in the O scale hobby, with all the attributes
of the rest of the Trainman line plus molded flush-mount clear
windows and molded walkway grids on the steps and end platforms.
Additionally, a small slide switch under the floor turns the
caboose's interior lights on or off.
a side note, the freight cars in the Trainman GP15 set shown in
this issue’s “Smoke Signals” are the same as the cars in this
review, but they are decorated in colors and road names that
match the rest of the set.
With their fantastic looks, great tracking, and strong
construction that’ll take a lot of use and even some abuse, the
Trainman freight cars get my green aspect award for clear track