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Built Review
HO scale
Thrall 4750 Covered Hopper
Thrall 4750 Covered Hopper
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by: Frederick Boucher [ JPTRR ]

Originally published on:
RailRoad Modeling

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This review examines an Atlas HO scale Thrall 4750 Covered Hopper of the latest release of the popular model (the 10th release since July 2007). Part of Atlas' Trainman series, this particular hopper is painted as Burlington Northern (BN) #448441, item 20 005 457. Atlas Trainman is a compromise between detail and economy.

Prototype images can be viewed via Click here for additional images for this review, below. You can see the progression of weathering and maintenance over an eight-year period. Interestingly, BN 448441 avoided vandalism by taggers through late 2018.

Covered Hopper
Covered hoppers are the most common freight car in the United States today. They carry light bulky commodities like carbon black, cement, flour, grain, plastic pellets, sugar, and a host of loads sensitive to moisture. Experimental covered hoppers came out in the 1930s and have been perfected into larger cars capable of heavier loads. Several loading and unloading methods are used depending on the cargo.

This covered hopper model is based on a late 1970s 263,000 lbs GRL (Gross Rail Loading) 4750 cubic-foot capacity designed by Thrall Car primarily for grain transport.

Thrall 4750 Trivia
Thrall Car Manufacturing Company was established around 1917 and build several types of freight cars. Their rotary gons held a significant market share in the 1970s. In 2001 they merged with rival Trinity Rail Group, Inc.

This information is from the RR Pictures Archive for BN 448441:
    Type: Covered Hopper
    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: C113
    Detail Info: Covered Hopper, Gravity Unloading, Permanent Roof, 4000-5000 cu ft capacity
    Plate: C
    Max Gross Weight: 268000
    Load Limit: 204700
    Dry Capacity: 4750
    Ext L/W/H: 58' 0" / 10' 8" / 14' 11"*

Trainman® Thrall 4750 Covered Hopper
This ready-to-run model is of a 263,000 lbs GRL (Gross Rail Loading) 4750 cubic-foot capacity Thrall Car three-bay 16-exterior post design. Atlas lists dozens in their catalogue.

    • Weighted body
    • Equipped with AccuMate® Knuckle Couplers
    • Trucks equipped with free-rolling metal wheels
    • Accurate painting and lettering
    AccuMate® couplers are made under license from AccuRail, Inc.

Atlas securely packages this model in a vacuform 2-part tray close to the model shape. The model is wrapped in a light plastic sheet to both protect it from scuffing and, perhaps, assist in removing it from the tray.

Finally, the open tray sets inside a light end-opening card carton with a cellophane display window. Atlas’ Trainman logo adorns the ends and sides. Atlas includes warranty and registration inserts but no parts diagram.

Oddly, one stirrup was broken.

Your model is sharply molded and free of flash, noticeable seam lines, sink marks and ejector marks. Atlas molded the body as a single piece. The roof trough hatches are attached to the top, as are plastic running boards. Stirrups, ladders, grabs and stiffeners are molded. The model rides on a pair of plastic trucks holding “blackened” metal wheels. As much as I appreciate the thought behind blackening the metal, the machining is so smooth that the blacking is not, for me, very effective; this is a complaint I have with all model manufacturers who offer blackened metal wheels. Atlas equips the model with body-mounted AccuMate® knuckle couplers.

The body design and construction characteristics are high-hip, low-arch roof, exterior-post, vertical trapezoid bolster/jack pad face, stepped side sill, and welded corner posts.

From end sill to sill the model is 53¾ scale feet long, and 58 feet from coupler to coupler, spot-on per the prototype. It weighs 4.8 ounces which is almost perfect according to the NMRA RP.20 ideal of 4.71 oz.

Underneath are the three separately molded gravity outlet gates. These have a pipe or crank shaft molded on although no crank track is included. Vibrator brackets are molded on each outlet bay.

Roof hatches are attached as a single part. All stirrups, ladders and grab irons are molded on, as are many stiffeners and brackets. The pieces are somewhat overscale.

For a compromise between detail and economy, this is a good looking model.

Not many: a separately applied hand brake wheel and a molded air brake pipe along the sill. What appear to be ASF Ride Control 100-Ton Roller Bearing Trucks look good. So do the AccuMate® knuckle couplers.

The visible air brake system is respectable with both molded-on and separately applied components, although no piping is present. Trainman cars usually lacks air hoses, angle cocks and uncoupling levers (cutbars). Basic AB brake components represented are:
    • AAR Standard brake wheel and chain pulley block
    • Lever slack adjusters and lever rods
    • Retaining valve
    • Reservoir
    • Cylinder
    • Control valve
    • Basic piping
    • Cut-out valve panel
Wire hangers over the slack adjusters are present but these are the only wire details.

Paint, Livery and Printing
The finish of this model is excellent. The paint is smooth and opaque. BN Cascade Green is a popular color and in my eyes, welcome compared to the grays or browns seen on so many covered hoppers. It does not distract you from all the amazing printed data. Atlas’ data stencils and printings are superb: sharp and legible. You can easily read the car was built in November 1979; that 2-inch HF comp shoes equip the brakes, and the warning to open the hatches before unloading the compartments. Remarkable!
    CIT Group (Blue)
    North American Car (Gray)
    Union Tank Car "Asbury Graphite" (Blue/Black)
    Burlington Northern (original) (Green/White)
    Kansas City Southern (Brown/White)
    State of Alaska (Blue/Yellow)
    Texasgulf (Gray)
All cars are available with three different road numbers.

Out of the Yard
Atlas' HO scale Thrall 4750 Covered Hopper is a good starter RTR covered hopper. These have been very popular for Atlas and I can see why. Sharp molding and stenciling, AccuMate couplers, metal wheels, with a superb finish. The blackened wheels are a bit shiny. Overall, Atlas has made a nice model of a ubiquitous modern freight car in HO for a good price. Recommended.

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


* Pictures of BN 448441, www.rrpicturearchives.net/rsPicture.aspx?id=399634. 2/12/2020 9:59:07 PM.


Wilson, Jeff. The Model Railroader’s Guide To Freight cars. Waukesha: Kalmbach Publishing Co., 2005. ISBN: 0-89024-585-1.

Freight Cars Illustrated. Web. 2009. http://fcix.info.

Click here for additional images for this review.

Highs: Sharp molding and stenciling, AccuMate couplers, metal wheels, with a superb finish.
Lows: The blackened wheels are a bit shiny.
Verdict: A pleasing model of a ubiquitous modern freight car in HO for a good price.
  Scale: HO Scale
  Mfg. ID: 20 005 457
  Related Link: Thrall 4750 Release Archive
  PUBLISHED: Apr 16, 2020
  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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