IntroductionAtlas Model Railroad
has released a new model of their popular HO ACF 3560 Covered Hopper
. Released in January 2018, this is the 10th run of these popular cars. This model is painted as Corn Products #80016, item 20 004 869
ACF® 3560 Center Flow Covered HopperThe three-compartment ACF® 3560 Center Flow Covered Hopper was designed for the transport of high-density dry bulk ladings of 50 – 60 pounds per cubic foot. Examples of these commodities include salt, fertilizer, starch, bauxite, and clay. The 100-ton car was designed to fit into the smallest modern plate diagram dimensions, Plate B.
Covered hoppers are the most common freight car in the United States today. They carry light and heavy bulky commodities like flour, cement, sugar, carbon black, plastic pellets, and a host of loads sensitive to moisture. American Car and Foundry (ACF)
built covered hoppers as early as 1932. Other manufacturers soon followed. Originally they were 50- and 70-ton cars that carried heavy, dense, moisture-sensitive loads like cement, lime, and sand. The cars grew in size and have been perfected into larger cars capable of heavier loads. Several loading and unloading methods are used depending on the cargo.
Today covered hoppers are found almost everywhere and in the Midwest can be found in unit trains of 125 cars. The vital statistics for the model prototype are:
AAR Class: LO: A permanently enclosed car, other than a box car, regardless of exterior or interior shape, for handling bulk commodities, with or without insulation and provided with openings for loading through top or sides with weather-tight covers or doors. Car may be provided with one or more bottom openings for unloading, with tight fitting covers, doors, valves, or tight fitting slide or gate to prevent leakage of lading. Car may be provided with facilities for discharge of lading through openings in top or sides and may have one or more compartments. Mechanical or other means may be provided within car to expedite loading or unloading.
AAR Type: C112
Detail Info: Covered Hopper, Gravity Unloading, Permanent Roof, 3000-4000 cu ft capacity.**
American Car & Foundry builds a variety of rail cars including the center flow covered hopper, a freight car that has no center sill. Thus the contents can discharge uninterrupted. The interior of the hopper binds are frequently coated with a liner to protect the load. ACF and GE Capital Railcar Services negotiated a leasing agreement in 1997 for GE to take three-quarters of ACF's rail fleet, over 35,000. Included was purchase and supplementary agreements to use ACF's repair facilities. Today ACF builds mostly covered hopper cars for hauling items like corn or other grains. Other products are mainly miscellaneous steel products. Manufacturing facilities are located in Huntington, West Virginia, and Milton, Pennsylvania.***
Today ACF is known as ACF Industries LLC and is based in St. Charles, Missouri.***
The ModelAtlas' Trainman 3560 AFC
is an injection molded model with knuckle couplers and metal wheels. It is ready-to-run. Atlas secures this model in a form-fitted cradle held inside their end-opening carton with a cellophane window. The cradle has a clear form-fitted top. Soft plastic sheet prevents scuffing of the model.
The plastic parts are crisply molded and have no visible flaws such as flash, mold seams, sink marks and ejector marks. It appears that the trucks are molded with rigid acetal. While I did not break the model apart to examine it, it looks like the main body components consist of the frame and triple-bay chassis with the sides and ends, with a separate roof. Presumably, weights are attached to the interior of the car. Separately attached hatches and running boards top the roof. A handbrake wheel is attached to the B-end.
Atlas lists the following features:
• True scale dimensions with accurate details
• Weighted, detailed underframes
• Equipped with AccuMate® Knuckle Couplers
• Trucks equipped with free-rolling metal wheels
• Accurate painting and lettering
From the rails up we have blackened metal RP-25 wheels. The blackening is solid and without sheen. Modelers will have to decide whether to rust them up with paint or a rust creating solution. Held by rigid acetal trucks with detail above basic, they look good and represent 100-ton ASF Ride-Control roller bearing trucks.
The underside is very basic with molded bolsters and coupler pockets. Three hopper bins have separately attached doors with actuator detail. The car lacks underbody and air brake detailing.
The body features molded ladders, stirrups and grab handles that are oversized; Atlas could make them smaller yet that would entail retooling which would, in turn, drive up the price from this economy model. Air piping is simulated with pipes molded with brackets hanging along the side sills. The model also features the lengthwise "T" beams along the top of the sides. Each end has oversized end support sheets. On the B-end is a token representation of the air brake components. The hand brake wheel and chain are nicely molded.
Up atop the body are five nicely molded hatches and a big one-piece open rectangular running board. It is not molded with open grating and the support brackets are oversized.
This model is a step above models from the 1970s and it looks good from "The Three-Foot Rule" and yet it is not as refined as some models of the Trainman range. However, the paint and markings enhance the model.
Paint and Markings
Atlas' paint is excellent. It is opaque but does not obscure detail. Atlas did their usual superb job of printing the stenciling. It is legible and sharply printed. It consists of ACF logos, various operating and reporting marks. You will see in one of the photos that Atlas even printed data on the inside of the "porch," on the end sheet.
This run of ACF 3560s have seven road names:
Canpotex (CGLX) (Gray/Green)
Potash Corp* (Faded Salmon/White)
Corn Products (Yellow/White)
Each has two road numbers. Atlas also offers an undecorated model.
I measured the model as 41¾ feet from end sill to end sill (42 feet between striker faces). It weights 3.8 ounces which is slightly light per NMRA RP-20.1 Car Weight. The couplers are mounted at a perfect height and the trip pins clear the track. It rolls well along code 83 track and tracked through an Atlas No. 6 switch and Peco code 80 single-slip switch without a hitch.
ConclusionAtlas' Trainman® ACF® 3560 Covered Hopper
is a nice model. It has excellent molding, molded-on parts, crisp detail from rail to roof, and excellent paint and printing. This hopper rolls freely across the track and through turnouts.
Detail tends to be oversized and the brake components on the B-end are basic.
Modelers of the railroad resurrection of the Staggers Act era should appreciate this model. It is a good looking model of a common covered hopper. Recommended.
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___________________________________________ __ _ _ _
 AccuMate® couplers are made under license from AccuRail, Inc.
* American Railcar Industries, Inc. About American Railcar Industries, Inc.
ACF Industries LLC. Welcome to ACF Industries LLC.
American Railcar Industries, Inc. Centerflow® Covered Hopper Cars.
AccuMate® couplers are made under license from AccuRail, Inc.