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A Quick Look: Atlas Master N-Scale Articulated Car Carriers Fifth Run Review

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Formally announced on June 19, 2019, the highly anticipated fifth run of N-Scale Atlas Master® Thrall Articulated Auto Carriers arrived on dealer shelves in April 2021.

The MSRP of $64.95 is the same as the pricing for the forth run cars that were announced in June 2015.

First run in 2003, like the previously released models, the fifth installment cars have finely decorated one-piece injection molded plastic bodies with integrated end door detailing and grab irons, no see-through body-side hole perforations, a die-cast metal chassis with integrated stirrup steps, separately applied, very flexible, molded in color plastic underbody brake line details, an end user installed black injection molded plastic diaphragm assembly, with a 70-ton roller-bearing truck that is held in place by a Phillips head screw, talgo truck mounted Accumate® operating knuckle couplers, and one-piece brown injection molded plastic wheel-sets.

Each car body is 5.375-inches long (i.e., approximately sixty-nine scale feet in length) and weighs 1.4 ounces, which is very close to the National Model Railroad Association's NMRA RP-20.1 recommended practice guidelines for rolling-stock weight of 1.34 ounces per half.

As the weight of the diaphragm assembly and the pair of screws used for attachment to the car-bodies is unmeasurable with a conventional digital scale, they were not taken into account.

When they were checked with a Micro-Trains® Line coupler height gauge, the talgo mounted couplers were found to be at the correct height.

Somewhat odd, and likely a residual element from the original extended drawbar truck design from circa 2003, while the two-piece plastic Accumate® couplers have flexible integrated leaf style centering springs and the coupler components are held in place by a clip-on plastic retainer, an unutilized retention pin for a coiled metal centering spring is still cast into the pocket area of the extension..

Using an NMRA Standards Gauge, the wheel-sets were found to be properly gauged.

As the wheels have low-profile flanges, when they were run on Atlas Code 55 track, no tracking issues were noticed.

According to Atlas, the models have a minimum operating radius of 9.75-inches, which is achieved by the positioning of the end user installed center diaphragm assembly.

Atlas N Scale Auto Carrier Assembly Instructions

Atlas N Scale Auto Carrier Assembly Instructions

While the factory installed truck on the diaphragm unit is attached with a single screw, the car-body trucks are retained by injection molded plastic king pins.

Along with four additional reporting numbers for the Norfolk Southern cars, the latest run includes several new paint schemes: TTX with speed-line lettering logos and faded yellow paint, Norfolk Southern with Horse-Head logos, and TTX with modern red new image logos and faded yellow paint.

Atlas 50 005 179 Thrall Articulated Auto Carrier TTX (with speed-line lettering logos) BTTX 880176

Atlas 50 005 179 Thrall Articulated Auto Carrier TTX (with speed-line lettering logos) BTTX 880176

Atlas 50 005 183 Thrall Articulated Auto Carrier Norfolk Southern (new road number) NS 110102

Atlas 50 005 183 Thrall Articulated Auto Carrier Norfolk Southern (new road number) NS 110102

Atlas 50 005 187 Thrall Articulated Auto Carrier Norfolk Southern (with Horse-Head logos) NS 110143

Atlas 50 005 187 Thrall Articulated Auto Carrier Norfolk Southern (with Horse-Head logos) NS 110143

Atlas 50 005 195 Thrall Articulated Auto Carrier TTX (with modern red new image logos) TOAX 880180

Atlas 50 005 195 Thrall Articulated Auto Carrier TTX (with modern red new image logos) TOAX 880180

The newly introduced weathered yellow paint on the pair of TTX models is a very nice touch that should be well received by buyers.

With item stock numbers, road names, and road numbers, the online "Atlas All-Scales Archive" of "N Master Rolling Stock" has a page that is dedicated to all of the Thrall Articulated Auto Carriers that have been released thus far.

Originally designed and manufactured by the Chicago Heights, Illinois based Thrall Car Manufacturing Company, which was acquired by Dallas, Texas based Trinity Industries in 2001, Thrall produced articulated cars bear rectangular blue logos with "Thrall Car" in white letters.

Bearing extremely sharp printing, on the last vertical flat panel on each body side, a "Thrall Car" logo is visible towards the coupler end of the Atlas model car bodies.

Several Prototype Articulated and Stand-Alone Autorack Cars in Transit - TTX Company Image

Several Prototype Articulated and Stand-Alone Autorack Cars in Transit - TTX Company Image

Previously assigned to several different TTX flatcar classes that were fitted with bi-level autorack bodies, BBTX reporting marks were applied to one-hundred-forty foot long integral articulated bi-level autorack cars with end of car cushioning from July 2000 through January 2019.

From January 2017 through January 2019, TTX one-hundred-forty foot long articulated autorack cars for high profile vehicles were marked with TOAX reporting marks.

While they are nowhere near as commonly seen as the stand-alone models are, mixed with other styles of autorack cars from a range of manufacturers, prototype photos of TTX Company BTTX and TOAX Thrall/Trinity articulated racks that were recently viewed on the RR Pictures Archive website, reveal that as of 2021, these units remain in service.

In order to fully round out a contemporary train consist that includes a substantial number of autorack cars, the Atlas N-Scale Articulated Car Carriers are must have models.


 
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