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First Look Review
O scale
40' USRA Composite Gondola
2-Rail 40' USRA Composite Gondola, Minneapolis & St. Louis
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by: Frederick Boucher [ JPTRR ]

Originally published on:
RailRoad Modeling

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Atlas O continues to expand their Steam Era Classics selection of classic train cars with this sharp 40' USRA Composite Gondola. Five roadnames are available with four road numbers per railroad.

Atlas O makes this model for 2-rail O and 3-rail O27 with these product numbers:
2-rail 3006402
3-rail 3005402

O scale - 1/48
Quarterscale (1/48) military modelers -- note the diorama potential of this model! Gondolas were multipurpose cars that carried coal, aggregates, pipes, crates, scrap, vehicles - anything that would fit.

Some of the very first commercial model trains were roughly the size of what is now known as O scale. Depending on which side of the Atlantic Ocean you are on, O ranges from 1/43 to 1/48; the once common 1/50 scale from Japan also fits nicely into the stable of O iron horses. As such O scale combines ideally with the growing 1/48 range of military models.

O scale provides a sensual heft that magnifies the realism of model railroading. O was dominated by toyish Tin Plate and 3-rail models most often identified with Lionel. A couple of decades ago O scale began to evolve with greater accuracy and authenticity that includes a shift from traditional 3-rail to 2-rail, as well as prototypical scale and details. Into this arena Atlas presents Atlas O models, with both 2- and 3-rail models.

With the onset of World War I, the United States Railroad Administration (USRA) was faced with the possible shortage of raw materials to construct desperately-needed rolling stock. In an effort to decrease construction time, provide a cost savings and simplify repair and parts supply, a group of seven standard freight car designs were created that could be built in large quantities. Over 20,000 composite gondolas were constructed during the war time. - Atlas O

The model
The fully assembled model is securely packed in a form-fitted Styrofoam cradle, topped with a fitted plastic top, and protected from scuffing by a thin plastic sheet. The cradle has indentions for your fingers to help grip it for removal from the package, and holes to poke the model out of it; although the fit is tight I had no trouble working the model out of the cradle. It is packed in a card carton with a cellophane viewing window.

The model is free from mold marks, flash, ejector marks, and glue stains from assembly. Atlas released it for both 2- and 3-rail operation. Atlas O scale couplers can also be used on both 2-rail and 3-rail versions.

Features Include:
    All metal grab irons
    Die-cast Andrews-style trucks
    Die-cast chassis
    Fully-detailed inside and out
    Accurate painting and lettering
    Minimum diameter curve: O-31 (3-Rail)
    Minimum radius curve: 24" (2-Rail)

This model has nine panels, drop bottom hatches, and Andrews-style trucks with 33-inch wheels. Those floor hatches are molded as part of the body and do not open, which is not surprising as to make the model with that operating feature would necessitate greater complexity and cost.

The wheels are in gauge. Atlas lists the minimum turning performance as O-31 for 3-rail, and a 2-rail minimum radius of 24".

A great deal of surface detail is tooled into the molds. Unique wood grain patterns are in each slat of the body exterior. The side interiors are detailed with what look like plywood sheets, again showing wood texture. The floor of the gon displays the same treatment. Corner stiffener brackets join the ends of the top chord (or side plate). Plenty of rivet and bolt detail is molded on, too.

Atlas richly equips this model with individual separate parts:
    Wire grab irons, hand holds, sill steps
    AB air brake system
    Brake gear hangers and rods
    Brake handle, housing, retainer valve, and shelf
    Air hose and angle cocks with straps
    Springs in the trucks

Markings and Livery
Atlas prints four road numbers per road name. Five roadnames are available. This gon is painted boxcar red with a black floor. The paint is smooth and does not obscure detail.

This model is decorated as a 27000 series Minneapolis & St. Louis Railway car. I can find no information about 27000 series cars for M&StL. The roadname and data stenciling is sharply printed in white. It shows that this car was built in September 1920.

An undecorated version is available.

This model is a good representation of an M&StL "Tootin' Louie" 40' USRA composite gondola. It is beautifully molded, finished, and impressively detailed, with sharp printing.

Whether you plan to use this on an O scale layout or in a 1/48 diorama, this is an impressive model. Highly recommended.

Our Thanks to Atlas O models! This item was provided by them for the purpose of having it reviewed on RailRoad Modeling.
Highs: Dozens of individually applied detailing parts, metal wheels, knuckle couplers. Exceptional paint and printing that does not obscure the beautiful wood grain detail.
Lows: I can find no information about 27000 series cars for M&StL.
Verdict: Whether you plan to use this on an O scale layout or in a 1/48 diorama, this is an impressive model.
  Scale: O Scale (A
  Mfg. ID: 3006402
  Suggested Retail: $64.95
  Related Link: 
  PUBLISHED: Oct 28, 2014
  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 2021 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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