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In-Box Review
HO scale
ACF 3560 Covered Hopper
ACF 3560 Covered Hopper, Illinois Central 776407
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by: Frederick Boucher [ JPTRR ]

Originally published on:
RailRoad Modeling

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Atlas' popular HO Trainman® ACF® 3560 Covered Hopper is on its 9th run and this review looks at their model Illinois Central 776407, item 20 004 450. This run features new paint schemes & road numbers. Growing up in an Illinois Central Railroad ("Main Line of Mid-America") town I have a fondness for IC models. So I was very happy when Atlas sent this covered hopper for me to present to you.

You can view the real life IC 776407 via the link Click here for additional images for this review, at the end of this review.

Atlas also makes the ACF® 3560 covered hopper in N scale.
    The three-compartment ACF® 3560 Center Flow Covered Hopper was designed for the transport of high-density dry bulk ladings of 50 – 60 pounds per cubic foot. About 2,214 cars were built from 1967 – 1972. This Center Flow Covered Hopper transported a wide variety of commodities, including salt, fertilizer, starch, bauxite, and clay. The 100-ton car was designed to fit into the smallest modern plate diagram dimensions, Plate B. - Atlas

Covered hoppers are the most common freight car in the United States today. Today covered hoppers are found almost everywhere and in the Midwest can be found in unit trains of 125 cars. They carry light and heavy bulky commodities like flour, cement, sugar, carbon black, plastic pellets, and a host of loads sensitive to moisture. American Car and Foundry (ACF) built covered hoppers as early as 1932. Other manufacturers soon followed. Originally they were 50- and 70-ton cars that carried heavy, dense, moisture-sensitive loads like cement, lime, and sand. The cars grew in size and have been perfected into larger cars capable of heavier loads. Several loading and unloading methods are used depending on the cargo.

The vital statistics for this model prototype are:
    AAR Class: LO: A permanently enclosed car, other than a box car, regardless of exterior or interior shape, for handling bulk commodities, with or without insulation and provided with openings for loading through top or sides with weather-tight covers or doors. Car may be provided with one or more bottom openings for unloading, with tight fitting covers, doors, valves, or tight fitting slide or gate to prevent leakage of lading. Car may be provided with facilities for discharge of lading through openings in top or sides and may have one or more compartments. Mechanical or other means may be provided within car to expedite loading or unloading.
    AAR Type: C112
    Detail Info: Covered Hopper, Gravity Unloading, Permanent Roof, 3000-4000 cu ft capacity
    Plate: B
    Max Gross Weight: 263000
    Load Limit: 204100
    Dry Capacity: 3560
    Ext L/W/H: 45' 8" / 10' 8" / 15' 1"**

American Car & Foundry builds a variety of rail cars including the center flow covered hopper, a freight car that has no center sill. Thus the contents can discharge uninterrupted. The interior of the hopper binds are frequently coated with a liner to protect the load. ACF and GE Capital Railcar Services negotiated a leasing agreement in 1997 for GE to take three-quarters of ACF's rail fleet, over 35,000 [cars]. Included was purchase and supplementary agreements to use ACF's repair facilities. Today ACF builds mostly covered hopper cars for hauling items like corn or other grains. Other products are mainly miscellaneous steel products. Manufacturing facilities are located in Huntington, West Virginia, and Milton, Pennsylvania.***

Today ACF is known as ACF Industries LLC and is based in St. Charles, Missouri.***

The Model
Atlas' Trainman 3560 AFC is an injection molded model with knuckle couplers and metal wheels. It is ready-to-run. Atlas secures this model in a form-fitted cradle held inside their end-opening carton with a cellophane window. The cradle has a clear form-fitted top. Soft plastic sheet prevents scuffing of the model.

The plastic parts are crisply molded and have no visible flaws such as flash, mold seams, sink marks and ejector marks. It appears that the trucks are molded with rigid acetal. While I did not break the model apart to examine it, it looks like the main body components consist of the frame and triple-bay chassis with the sides and ends, with a separate roof. Presumably, weights are attached to the interior of the car. Separately attached hatches and running boards top the roof. A handbrake wheel is attached to the B-end.

Atlas lists the following features:
• True scale dimensions with accurate details
• Weighted, detailed underframes
• Equipped with AccuMate® Knuckle Couplers
• Trucks equipped with free-rolling metal wheels
• Accurate painting and lettering

From the rails up we have blackened metal RP-25 wheels. The blackening is not dark and shows a lot of steel sheen through it. Modelers will have to decide whether to rust them up with paint or a rust creating solution. Held by rigid acetal trucks with detail above basic, they look good and represent 100-ton ASF Ride-Control roller bearing trucks.

The underside is very basic with molded bolsters and coupler pockets. Three hopper bins have separately attached doors with actuator detail. The car lacks underbody and air brake detailing.

The sunny sides feature molded ladders and stirrups and grab handles that are oversized; Atlas could make them smaller yet that would entail retooling which would, in turn, drive up the price from this economy model. Air piping is simulated with pipes molded with brackets hanging along the side sills. The model also features the lengthwise "T" beams along the top of the sides. Each end has oversized end support sheets. On the B-end is a token representation of the air brake components. At least the hand brake wheel and chain are fairly well done.

Up atop the body are five nicely made hatches and a big one-piece open rectangular running board. It is not molded with open grating and the support brackets are big.

This model is a step above models from the 1970s and it looks good from "The Three-Foot Rule" and yet it is not as refined as some of Trainman models. However, the paint and markings enhance the model.

Paint and Markings
Atlas' paint is excellent. It is opaque but does not obscure detail. Atlas did their usual superb job of printing the stenciling. It is legible and sharply printed. It consists of IC's post-ICG "Venetian blinds" logo, ACF logos, and various operating and reporting marks.

This run of ACF 3560s have seven road names:
    Delaware & Hudson (Gray/Blue)
    Illinois Central (Gray/Black)
    Norfolk Southern (Gray/Black)
    Southern (Gray/Black)
    Canpotex (Gray/Green)
    CSX (Beige/Black)
    Potash Corp (Salmon/White)

Each has two road numbers. Atlas also offers an undecorated model.

I measured the model as 41¾ feet from end sill to end sill (42 feet between striker faces). It weights 3.7 ounces which is slightly light per NMRA RP-20.1 Car Weight. The couplers are mounted at a perfect height and the trip pins clear the track. It rolls well along code 83 track and tracked through an Atlas No. 6 switch and Peco code 80 single-slip switch without a hitch.

Atlas' Trainman® ACF® 3560 Covered Hopper is a nice model. It has excellent molding, molded-on parts, crisp detail from rail to roof, and excellent paint and printing. This hopper rolls freely across the track and through turnouts.

Detail tends to be oversized and the brake components on the B-end are basic.

Modelers of the railroad resurrection of the Staggers Act era should appreciate this model. It is a good looking model of a common covered hopper. Recommended.

Please remember, when contacting retailers or manufacturers, to mention that you saw their products highlighted here - on RailRoadModeling.
___________________________________________ __ _ _ _
[1] AccuMate® couplers are made under license from AccuRail, Inc.

* American Railcar Industries, Inc. About American Railcar Industries, Inc. http://www.americanrailcar.com/AboutUs.aspx. 2011.

** Jeff Carlson. Railroad Picture Archives.NET. Pictures of IC 776407. [http://www.rrpicturearchives.net/rsPicture.aspx?id=299455] 12/26/2007 11:32:26 PM.

*** Wikipedia

ACF Industries LLC. Welcome to ACF Industries LLC. [Web.] n.d.

American Railcar Industries, Inc. Centerflow® Covered Hopper Cars. http://www.americanrailcar.com/RailcarManufacturing/Car.aspx?car=centerflow. 2013.

AccuMate® couplers are made under license from AccuRail, Inc.

Click here for additional images for this review.

Highs: Excellent molding, crisp detail from rail to roof, and excellent paint and printing. This hopper rolls freely across the track and through turnouts.
Lows: Detail tends to be oversized and the brake components on the B-end are basic.
Verdict: Modelers of the railroad resurrection of the Staggers Act era should appreciate this model.
  Scale: HO Scale
  Mfg. ID: 20 004 450
  Related Link: 
  PUBLISHED: Jan 07, 2018
  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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