When Atlas released their Trainman NSC shortened bulkhead flatcar last year, I was excited that finally there was a proper model on the market.  Prior builds of similar cars involved cutting down the old MDC bulkheads, creating a convincing model, but without the right length or number of stake pockets.  I stopped by the local hobby shop and picked one up, only to find that the Atlas model was not a match to the Allegheny Railroad’s NSC cars.  As with many models produced these days, Atlas had to make more roads available than just the one prototype that the model was based on.  So, since I was out to make up a prototypical ALY flat, the process had to start with the removal of a LOT of molded details.  Once removed, there was many hours spent on filling voids, layering of styrene, adding new details  ( including rivets ), and building some of the visible undercarriage components.  This model is an accurate representation of the prototype, though not intended to match the number exactly.  The road number does fall outside those made by
Atlas, so you won’t have a duplicate in the line up.

This car is detailed like no other.  You’ll find wire grab irons, brass stirrups, separate ladders, etched metal coupler platforms, brass cut bars, and an air-hose setup like you’ve never seen, complete with the wrap around brake lines from the angle cock to the hose, which is a Hi-Tech flexible rubber version  so it flexes with the Kadee #58 couplers.  Inside the car ends, there’s a ribbed exterior to the bulkhead, matched to the ALY’s designs.  The rivets on the side panels also match these cars, as do the smooth bulkhead faces and tops.  The car rides on Atlas trucks and wheels, carrying a custom made load of “plate steel”.  Accurate 4 x 4 timber stickers separate the layers, with some varying lengths of “steel”, along with the white painted labeling on the top sheet, as seen on the prototypes.  The load is banded down, and per prototype practice, threaded rod is used to connect the bands for the tightest fit possible.  Even so, as I looked at several loads, it seemed there were marks on the top sheets from either shifting during transport, or steel to steel contact during loading.

The car is custom painted of course, and while there’s no known decal set for this, I managed to pull together a respectable rendition of the important labels.  The weathering on a car like this is very tricky; there’s obviously minor signs of use and plenty of grime, but beyond that the damage is going to be on the deck or the bulkheads.  After all, even today these cars are less than 10 years old.  While these plates of steel are swung on by a crane, they may well bump and scrape the car – so you see all those marks here.  At the same time, there is some bubbling going on where the rust is trying to come through the deck and bulkhead from what started as a small dent or scrape.  The coupler pockets show lots of grime, and you’ll find nice detailed weathering on the trucks & wheels.

This is a one of a kind car, painstakingly custom-built & painted by hand. Whether in a train with other flats, or by itself in a mixed train, or in a display cabinet, be sure to add this to your collection.