This HO Department of Defense 68-foot flat car is part of Atlas' Trainman brand. Even so it features knuckle couplers and metal wheels. This is the fourth release since the model first came out in June 2009.
This new model is based on its real life counterpart that is used in general service throughout the United States and Canada for transporting sheet steel, packaged lumber, small and large diameter pipes, structural steel (channel and I-beams), reinforcing bar (rebar), and special loads of various shapes. - Atlas
68' flat carThere was not much standardization to flat cars, particularly because they constituted such a small part of the overall fleet. The aspect of flats of most interest to modelers is the type of side sill and the number of stake pockets. For the prototype, the number of stake pockets was not related to the basic design of the car, hence it could vary at the railroad's whim.
Wood box cars or reefers and even steel hoppers with a fishbelly side sill seem strange to us today, but of course we accept flat cars with fishbelly sides. A fishbelly, whether center sill or side sill, gave more strength to the overall car. An advantage to a fishbelly side sill was that the stakes could be extended further down for more support to keep from twisting away from the car.
The only standard flat car designs was the AAR 50 and 70 ton designs introduced in the early 1940's, and modified in the early 1950's. After the outbreak of WWII, only approved car designs could be built, so the AAR had to quickly settle on some recommended car designs for some types of cars such as gons and flats. In 1941, the AAR issued standards for both a 50-ton and two 70-ton cars. The 50 and 70-ton cars were distinguished from most other flats by an overhanging wood deck.
Normally I have not been bothering to list the width of the car. On flats, those with decks that were in the neighborhood of 9-1/2 feet wide had the deck flush with the side sills. Those that were listed as a foot wider can be assumed to have overhanging decks. I believe that all overhanging decks had to be cut back to the side sill at the ends, just above the grab/stirrup.
In 1948, there were 69,728 flats in just the U.S. The 1949 Cyc. said there was a total of 80,300 flats in the U.S. and Canada.
Atlas securely packs this model in a form-fitted light plastic cradle. The base is hinged to pivot away so modelers don't have to pry the model out - clever! The model is also protected from scuffing with a soft plastic sheet. It is packaged in an end-opening box with a cellophane display window. No parts sheet or other documentation is provided.
This model is based on the 68-foot Gunderson** flat car. It features:
* Side stake pockets (16)
* Simulated tie-loops
* Fishbelly center-sill
* Prototypical pull-plates and lift rings
* Metal wheels
* AccuMate® knuckle couplers
Atlas offers it in three versions: 68' Flat Car
; Bulkhead Flat Car; Short Bulkhead Flat Car.
AAR Class: FMS: Specialty Ordinary flat car for general service. This car has flooring laid over sills and without sides or ends.
AAR Type: F223
Detail Info: Flat Car, Load Limit: 155,000-184,999lb, Equipped with cushioned draft gear/underframe, Inside length: 60-75ft
Max Gross Weight: 263000
Load Limit: 183800
Ext L/W/H: 72' 6" / 10' 6" / 4' 2"
Int L/W/H: 68' 0" / 10' 6" / 0' 0"
Molding and assembly is top-notch. I did not find any noticeable flash, sink marks, ejector circles or mold seam lines. Nor did I find glue smears. The metal wheels are blackened.
Most of the detail is molded on, either raised or recessed as appropriate. Handholds (grab irons) and stirrups, while not to-scale, are not distractingly oversize, either. The handbrake and bracket are separately applied.
The model measures, end sill to sill, 68 feet (68½ from striker plate to striker plate) and 73 feet from coupler to coupler. It weighs 3.5 ounces, far below specs if you conform to NMRA RP-20.1 Car Weight
. It does roll nice, though.
The paint is thin yet opaque. Exceptional printing is legible. Two new roadnames (and an undecorated) are offered, each company having two road numbers:
1. Alaska Railroad
2. Department of Defense
Roadnames from previous releases are:
a. BNSF (Brown/White)
b. Santa Fe (Brown/White)
c. TZPR (Gray/Black)
d. Union Pacifc (MW) (Green/White)
This model has good molding. It is almost exact in dimensions. It is deficient in weight if you adhere to NMRA standards. Fortunately it has excellent printing, some separately applied parts (handbrake and bracket) and metal wheels to raise it out of mediocrity.
It looks good to me and should be a good RTR model for your modern HO layout. Recommended.
Our thanks to Atlas for providing this model for review! Please tell vendors and retailers that you saw this model here - on
* Rensselaer Railroad Heritage Website. (5 September 2011.) NEB&W Guide to Flat Cars - Introduction.
** Gunderson entered the rolling stock business in 1958; Gunderson was sold to the FMC Corporation in 1965 and became a division of FMC as the Marine and Rail Equipment Division of FMC (MRED) in 1973. Then in 1985, Greenbriers Companies bought FMC and restored the Gunderson name. Today it is part of Greenbriar Industries.
(** The Greenbrier Companies Bulkhead Flatcar. (n.d.) http://www.gbrx.com/files/files/NAR/Flat_Cars/FlatBulkhead.pdf)
Railroad Picture Archives. (7/16/2009.) [Pictures of DODX 41006.]
Florida Central Railroad. (n.d.) http://www.pinsly.com/companies/fcen
AccuMate® couplers are made under license from AccuRail, Inc.