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First Look Review
HO scale
HO Thrall 2743 Gondola
Thrall 2743 Gondola, Master Line
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by: Frederick Boucher [ JPTRR ]

Originally published on:
RailRoad Modeling

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Atlas' Master Line series of models are the top of their line. This HO Thrall 2743 Gondola is a recent addition to their catalog.

The Thrall Car 2743 cubic foot gondola was introduced in 1995. This new 52' 6" interior length design was in response to the newly allowed increase in Gross Rail Loading (GRL) to 286,000 lbs (up from 263,000 lbs). This allowed an increase of the inside height from the previously standard 5'0" to a new standard of 5'6", giving it a 2,743 cubic foot capacity. Thrall produced over 6,700 of these from 1995 to 1999. The design resumed production under Trinityrail in 2005. (Atlas Model Railroad Co., Inc)

TrinityRail tells us;
    52' Mill Gondola

    TrinityRail’s extensive railcar product portfolio has a complete line of gondolas including a 52’ 6” all-steel mill gondola with a 2,743 cubic foot capacity optimized for scrap, raw steel, various structural items, or other products requiring tough and dependable rail transportation.

What is the AAR class and type, and other data of this gon?

AAR Class: GB: Open top car, having fixed sides, fixed or drop ends and solid bottom.
AAR Type: G519
Detail Info: Unequipped Gondola, Inside length 52-61ft, greater than 9ft inside width, Steel Floor, solid ends, Inside height: 60-167 inches, Load Limit: 205,000 and greater
Plate: B
Max Gross Weight: 286000
Load Limit: 220500
Dry Capacity: 2743
Ext L/W/H: 56' 11" / 10' 6" / 9' 2"
Int L/W/H: 52' 6" / 9' 6" / 5' 6"
User Notes: xCEFX 30882

You can access photographs of the prototype this model models by clicking Click here for additional images for this review at the end of this review.

Fabrication hall
This model is factory assembled and ready-to-run. It features excellent molding with no flash, visible mold seam lines, sink marks nor visible ejector circles. Exterior detail is sharp. There really isn't any inside the body.

    Prototypical scale height reflecting the new higher capacities standard.
    Fourteen side posts
    Detailed brake components
    Etched platform
    Etched end reinforcement plate
    Detailed ladders and stirrups
    Metal hand grabs
    Metal brake rods
    Air hoses
    Corner pins and correct open notch
    Detailed side post support angle plates
    Optional coupler pocket for Kadee #78 or Accumate Scale Coupler
    Accurate painting and lettering

While scrutinizing the model I did not find any excess glue marks around the hand grabs or other applied pieces. It looks like a good tight model.

Atlas packs this Master Line model in their red and black end-opening carton. You can admire the model through a clear film window. Inside the carton is a custom-fit top-bottom plastic cradle that securely protects the model from scuffing, crushing, and jostling. The bottom is opaque while the top is clear; they snap together via tabs and holes. A soft plastic sheet further helps protect the model from scuffing.

Atlas includes extra parts in a sealed plastic baggie but they did not supply any instructions. Two are valve handles for the angle cocks. One is a spare chain/rod for the handbrake wheel. The others are bolsters and coupler pockets to accept other brands of couplers. Experienced modelers should be able to figure out where the pieces go without instructions, but novices may be frustrated.

This model weighs 3.2 ounces, lighter than recommended by NMRA RP20. It measures 52' 6" in length, striker plate to striker plate. My Kadee coupler height gauge shows the couplers in tolerance. The nice metal wheels rolled with no trouble across a code 80 Peco single slip switch.

What first caught my eye is the fine wire grabs and crisp molding. Then I saw the etched metal Morton-style brake platform and nicely molded brake wheel. Very nice!

A detailed underframe features center and side sills, platforms, bolsters, crossbearers, crossties, end sills and striking plates. Not all of those are separate parts. An AB airbrake system is detailed with
    * AB valve
    * reservoir
    * cylinder
    * brake rods
    * connecting rods
    * hand brake rod
    * angle cocks and hoses
    * brake wheel chain
    * piping between most of that apparatus

The system is molded as a single-piece. It makes a convincing and visually enjoyable AB airbrake system.

Despite all of the detail, there are no cut bars.

The superstructure features 16 sturdy external posts below a thick top chord (or side plate) that gives this HO model a robust appearance. A sloped sill runs along the bottom of the sides. Four jack pads with open centers straddle the trucks.

ASF 100 Ton Ride Control trucks are nicely detailed. They hold blackened 36" wheels.

Paint and Printing
Atlas offers five roadnames. Two road numbers are available for each. An undecorated version beckons to become part of your freelance railroad! Available roadnames are currently:
    Chicago Freight Car
    Gondola Connection (SMW)
    Norfolk Southern (w/safety stripes)
    R.J. Corman
    Wheeling and Lake Erie

This Norfolk Southern version is finished in flat black. Yellow reflective marks are printed on; white data and reporting stenciling is sharply printed. You can read that the car is equipped with 2 IN HF COMP SHOES and other data. The paint is thin and does not obscure detail.

The metal wheels are blackened and, realistically, look darker than some previous models I've examined.

Atlas' Master Line series of models are the top of their line and this HO Thrall 2743 gondola is a worthy addition. I think the level of detail is sufficient. The blackened metal wheels look and perform very well. I appreciate the factory mounted knuckle couplers and the extra parts to mount another company's knuckle couplers.

Two things which disappoint me are the lack of instructions for the extra parts, and no detail inside the gondola.

I will be happy to have this well detailed modern gondola a modern era layout. It is a fine model and I recommend it.

Please remember, when contacting retailers or manufacturers, to mention that you saw their products highlighted here - on RailRoadModeling.

* "52'-0" Mill Gondola." TrinityRail :: - :: Product Details. Trinity Industries, n.d. Web. 18 Feb. 2015. .


Click here for additional images for this review.

Highs: Factory mounted knuckle couplers and the extra parts to mount another company's knuckle couplers. Excellent paint and detail.
Lows: No instructions for the extra parts and no detail inside the gon.
Verdict: I will be happy to have this well detailed modern gondola a modern era layout.
  Scale: HO Scale
  Mfg. ID: 20 002 590
  Suggested Retail: $29.95
  Related Link: 
  PUBLISHED: Feb 25, 2015
  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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