O Scale Trains Magazine Product Reviews

Atlas Two-Bay Centerflow Hopper in O Scale

—George Riley photo

Atlas Two-Bay Centerflow Hopper in O Scale

OST 2024-01The covered hopper is a relative new-comer to the category of railroad rolling stock. While just prior to World War II, several railroads tried small quantities of experimental prototypes, but it would not be until the 1950s that this car type would begin to make inroads handling freight for which the boxcar had long held sway. The covered hopper in all of its configurations has proven to be so successful on today’s railroads that it has overtaken the boxcar as the most common car type, with more than 568,000 units in service nationwide.

In the late 1960s, American Car & Foundry introduced the Centerflow covered hopper into its line of products. Available in two-, three-, and four-bay configurations, all with a 100-ton capacity, they were designed to handle different commodities. The shorter two-bay cars were designed to carry heavier, denser materials such as cement, lime, sand, and the like, while the other types were assigned to lighter cargo.

The curved side panels provided rigidity to the cars, eliminating the need for exterior bracing. This configuration also provided a cleaner interior that was easier to unload. This well-thought-out design has proven to be both robust and long-lived with many serving well into their fifth decade.

Atlas’ two-bay Centerflow model decorated for Seaboard System represents a 100-car order delivered to Monon Railroad (CI&L) in May 1969. Two years later they would be inherited by L&N when Monon merged into that company. L&N merged into Seaboard System in 1983 and they had their third owner. Numbered in the 220600–220700 series, these cars have continued in service well past 2016 under the CSXT flag. With SBD reporting marks, the car is accurate from the early 1980s until the changeover to CSX when many of the surviving cars would receive yet another paint scheme and relettering.

The model’s body is molded in durable ABS plastic with injection molded and formed wire details applied separately. The car rides on sprung, die-cast metal four-wheel trucks, with insulated metal wheels mounted on metal needle-point axles providing the car with free rolling characteristics. Each of the wheel sets was in proper gauge when checked using an NMRA gauge. Metal knuckle couplers are factory installed with coil-wound bronze springs that mate with Kadee O scale couplers. The model, weighing 14 ounces, easily negotiated 30” radius curves.

Neatly and precisely assembled, the model is decorated with a base layer of paint that is smoothly applied and opaque followed by pad-printed Seaboard trademark and lettering. All lettering is legible and opaque and even the smallest printing can be read, although with a set of Optivisors or a magnifier. When compared to photographs and drawings of these cars, the model closely matches the overall dimensions and its decoration is accurate.

ACF’s Centerflow hoppers have become a staple of railroads from the 1970s up to the present era and as such, Atlas’ offering is a welcome addition to hobbyists modeling the modern scene. Its short length makes it perfect for a home or switching layout. The model ran flawlessly on tight radii while maintaining the high standard of detail that modelers have come to expect.

Two-Bay Centerflow Hopper
Seaboard System 220669 Item: 3002096
MSRP: $84.95

Atlas Model Railroad Co., Inc.
378 Florence Ave.
Hillside, NJ 07205
Phone: (908) 687-088

OST 2024-01This review appeared in the Jan/Feb 2024 issue of O Scale Trains.

This article was posted on: January 1, 2024