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First Look Review
Thrall 2743 Gondola
Joseph Leasing Thrall 2743 Gondola, DJLX #98504
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by: Frederick Boucher [ JPTRR ]

Originally published on:
RailRoad Modeling

Thrall 2743 Gondola
Product Line: Evolution Series
Roadname & number: DJLX 98504
SKU: EE-1104-1

ExactRail of Provo, Utah, was founded in 2008. Boasting a team who designs, engineers and tools in the United States, their slogan is The Next Generation of Model Railroading®, and state they are The Leader in Precision Micro-Tooling™. ExactRail offers six product lines:

    1. Signature Series
    2. Platinum Series
    3. Evolution Series
    4. Express Series
    5. N-Scale Series
    6. Parts & Accessories

Within those are the following product categories (and number of items in each as of the date of this review):

    1. Gondolas (44)
    2. Box Cars (73)
    3. Auto Rack (9)
    4. Covered Hoppers (51)
    5. Reefer (9)
    6. Hoppers (1)
    7. Bridges (13)
    8. Flat Cars (3)
    9. Structure (1)
    10. Trucks (8)
    11. Wheels (8)

This week ExactRail debuts this new HO Thrall 2743 gondola, shipping in May.
Thrall 2743 Gondola

In 1995, Thrall Car Manufacturing Company introduced the 2743 cubic capacity gondola. New standards for Gross Rail Loading (GRL) allowed car manufacturers to increase the internal loading dimensions of their designs. With a new interior height of 5'6", Thrall's design is the contemporary standard for 52'-6" length gondolas. Production was from 1995 to 1999 when 6,700 were built. The design resumed production under Trinityrail in 2005.

Evolution Series Thrall 2743 Gondola DJLX 98504
The model arrives ready-to-run in a blue and yellow end-opening card box with a cellophane viewing window. The gondola is securely held in a fitted plastic cradle by a fitted clear lid.

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. Next I noticed the floor panels. For a black gon this unit is impressive. I found no noticeable ejector marks, flash, seam lines, or sink marks. Key Features:

    • Factory installed Kadee No. 5 coupler
    • Narrow-style draft box, featuring: shank wedges, striker casting and full nut and bolt detail.
    • ExactRail's exclusive ASF 100 ton 'Ride Control' trucks
    • CNC-machined metal wheel sets with all new metal axles!
    • Wire grab irons
    • Razor sharp painting and printing
    • Etched metal Morton-style brake platform

While grading this model I had to remember that it is an Evolution Series model, not the two top-line series, nor the entry-level series. It is a compromise between economy and detail. Thus, the detail is not as extensive as I presume the Signature and Platinum Series feature, with the only major components missing being the uncoupling levers and train airline. This is not a criticism, merely framing the difference in detail between this Evolution Series model and others.

A detailed underframe features sills (center and side), platforms, bolsters, crossbearers, crossties, end sills and striking plates. Detailed AB airbrake gear is present: AB valve with piping to the reservoir and cylinder, brake rods, connecting rods, hand brake rod, and reservoir.

The superstructure has 16 sturdy external posts and a thick top chord (or side plate) that gives this HO model a look of heft. At each top corner are low corner member caps. A sloped sill runs along the bottom of the sides. Four jack pads with open centers are present, too.

Each end is equally well molded with the reinforced end sections. However, the reinforcing plates are molded on whereas prototype photos I’ve found show open space between the plate and the end ribs -- to see what I mean, go to the RELATED LINK: Photo of Prototype DJLX #98504 in the SUMMARY box, below. It shows you what this model's prototype looked like in 2006.

Inside the gon are molded seams for the floor plates. However, no such detail for the side or end sheets was molded.

All of the above rides upon ExactRail ASF 100 Ton Ride Control trucks holding semi-blackened CNC-machined 36” metal wheels. Happily the blackening seems a bit blacker than other blackened model wheels I’ve reviewed. The trucks are molded with a shiny plastic (Derlin?).

All of the stirrups and separate ladders and are nicely molded and thin. The grabs are wire.

You can see daylight between the springs of the trucks; on other model manufacturers' trucks this space often molded closed, or with yawning gaps through the springs. Manufacturer casting data is molded onto the sideframes and it is legible.

The brake wheel has its chain dangling down but lacks the connecting rod.

Kadee No. 5 couplers are factory mounted.

The model length scales out to 56' 11". It weighs 3.4 ounces which is very light compared to NMRA RP-20.1 Car Weight of 4.9 oz.

One thing that disappoints me is the lack of detail on the AB valve (which is molded onto the frame), cylinder, and reservoir; they detract from the otherwise nicely presented brake system.

Paint and Printing
DJLX was Joseph Leasing, Ltd.. Now it belongs to CIT Group/Capital Finance, Inc.. Except for the trucks the finish is a dead-flat black. I did find what appears to be a length of hair or dust painted over on one end, and some specks in another place.

The white data and reporting stenciling is sharply printed, as is the white and green emblem of Joseph Leasing, Ltd. You can read the built-date of November 1995 and other data.

ExactRail did not blacken or paint the etched metal brake platform.

Roadnames available are:

    1. CW
    2. DJLX
    3. Kit (undecorated)
    4. NS
    5. UP
    6. UP/CTRN

Decorated models have six road numbers.

This is my first ExactRail model. I am impressed with it. I must consider that their Evolution Series is their mid-level offering. It compares well with products of other model makers. The quality and finesse of scale of molding, detailed underside and trucks, Kadee couplers, separate ladders and grabs, and printing are all high quality. Most foibles found are the nitpicky – dust in the paint and shiny trucks – although the lack of weight, and the shiny etched metal brake platform bother me.

Overall I find this to be a good model. The lack of weight may not be such a problem if you put a load in the gondola. I think you will be happy with this model and recommend it.

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

AAR Class: GBS: Specialty Open top car, having fixed sides, fixed or drop ends and solid bottom.
AAR Type: E534: Equipped Gondola, Inside Length: 52-61ft, Capacity: Less than 3,000 cu ft *Light Density Service
Plate: B
Max Gross Weight: 286000
Load Limit: 219700 (Dry Capacity: 2743)
External (Internal) Length/Width/Height: 56' 11" (52' 6" ) / 10' 6" (9' 6" )/ 9' 3" (5' 6")

Joe Rogers. Pictures of DJLX 98504. rrpicturearchives.net. 6/19/2006.
Highs: Quality and finesse of scale of molding. Detailed underside and trucks, Kadee couplers, separate ladders and grabs, and printing are all high quality.
Lows: A few blemishes in the paint, and the etched brake platform is not painted. An under-detailed AB valve is molded onto the frame.
Verdict: I am impressed with it. It stands up well with comparable products of other model makers.
Percentage Rating
  Scale: 1:87
  Mfg. ID: EE-1104-1
  Suggested Retail: $25.95
  Related Link: Photo of Prototype DJLX #98504
  PUBLISHED: Apr 21, 2012
  NATIONALITY: United States

Our Thanks to ExactRail!
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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