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First Look Review
N scale
Airslide Hopper
40' 2600 CF Airslide Intermediate Southern Pacific
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by: Frederick Boucher [ JPTRR ]

Originally published on:
RailRoad Modeling

Airslide Covered Hoppers

The first Airslides appeared in 1953, under the GACX reporting marks. Airslides in other schemes do not seem to date before 1954. (In 1955, GATX bragged in an ad that more than 600 Airslides were in service or on order - a drop in the national freight car pool.) In General American's ad in the 1957 Cyc., they said the cars were used for wheat flour, semolina, cane and beet sugar, starch, plastic molding powder, dehydrated alfalfa meal, feed, carbon black, and chemicals. To unload the car, a source of low-pressure air was needed. As of 1962, there were some 130 different railroad and leased Airslides.[1]

Dimensions of the 2,600 Center Flow car: an interior bay of 29 feet 6 inches, coupler to coupler length of 42 feet, and 14 feet 4 inches to the top of the running boards.

Athearn N Scale Ready To Roll GATC 2600 Airslide Hopper, SP #403049

Using all-new tooling, Athearn has created this model of the single-bay Center Flow, 2,600 cubic foot car, as what is typically referred to as an “early” version Airslide.

The model is fully assembled and packed in a clear hard-plastic case with a detachable lid. The case is protected by a cardstock sleeve. Form-fitted soft plastic jackets sandwich the car, protecting it from damage.

The car is injection molded with sharp detail. Athearn's molding process creates piping, ladders, stirrups and grab rungs that are approaching scale thickness! The model is 3 3/8 inches long from coupler to coupler, the carbody being 2 7/8 inches long. That scales to 45 feet and 38 feet, respectively; like the prototype it scales to 14 feet 4 inches from the railhead to the top of the running boards. The model weighs 1 ounce which is slightly heavier than the National Model Railroad Association recommended weight of .78 ounces, per Recommended Practice RP-20.1 Car Weight.

The wheels are code 55 compatible. They are plastic and molded in a realistic dirty-rust color typical of railroad wheels.

Athearn equips the model with McHenry scale knuckle spring couplers.

If you desire a detailed history of the GATC 2600 Airslide hopper, Athearn includes it on their website.


Athearn's standard equipment for this GATC 2600 is impressive, featuring:
* Photo-etched roof walks
* Separately applied wire grab irons and brake piping
* Detailed underbody and outlet piping
* Roller bearing or friction trucks per prototype

The air brake system is well represented. On initial inspection I missed seeing the fine brake piping that runs the length of the underbody. Amazing detail!

The markings are for the Southern Pacific Railroad, car number 403049. The paint is opaque yet obscures no detail. This is true for the printed data and markings which are razor sharp and legible!


My sample rolled freely on a length of flex-track. The incredible paint and lettering, fine scale detail, photo-etched and wire detail parts make this car an impressive model. A car of the steam-to-diesel transition and second-generation diesel eras, this model will enhance any layout.

[1]Rensselaer Model Railroad Society
Highs: Sharp lettering, photo-etched roof walks, wire grab irons and brake piping, code 55 wheels, knuckle couplers, impressive fine detail.
Lows: Plastic wheels. Slightly too heavy for NMRA's Recommended Practice RP-20.1 Car Weight.
Verdict: N scale 40' 2600 CF Airslide covered hopper demonstrates just how much detail and performance a model producer can achieve in small scale.
Percentage Rating
  Scale: N Scale
  Mfg. ID: 23036
  Suggested Retail: $22.98
  Related Link: Athearn N
  PUBLISHED: Jun 10, 2010
  NATIONALITY: United States

Our Thanks to Athearn!
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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