Atlas Model Railroad Co. HO scale 10-1-2 Pullman sleeper
An HO scale Pullman 10-section, 1-drawing-room, 2-compartment sleeper has joined the growing lineup of heavyweight cars from Atlas Model Railroad Co. The Master Line model features an injection-molded plastic body, a mix of plastic and wire grab irons, and metal knuckle couplers.
The Pullman Co. was famous for its sleeping car accommodations, and its cars served on overnight passenger trains from coast to coast across North America. From the turn of the 20th century through the World War II years, Pullman owned and operated sleeping cars for various railroads.
Heavyweight sleepers such as the 10-1-2 were built (and rebuilt) from the 1910s through the 1920s. The later rebuilds often had air conditioning installed, as evidenced by the ductwork added to the clerestory areas on the roof above the accommodation areas (bathrooms, corridors, and vestibules weren’t air conditioned, so the ducts don’t cover those areas).
The Lake series cars, of which this model is one, were built between August 1923 and October 1926, with a few exceptions. The car were built to plan 3585 or 3585A. Most of these cars would be scrapped by the 1960s.
Many of the cars were painted “Pullman Green,” a dark green color with a bit of an olive tinge. Others were painted in the colors of the railroads on which they traveled. In later years, many pool cars were painted two-tone gray with white separation stripes, inspired by the New York Central’s color scheme.
These models were originally produced as kits by Branchline Trains. Atlas purchased the company’s rolling stock line, and has been offering the kits as ready-to-run models for several years.
The kits had a reputation for being challenging to assemble due to the high parts count, but this is mostly resolved with the current offerings. However, if you’re hankering to cut and glue some pieces, Atlas includes the parts to detail the coupler areas of the model with steam piping, coupler yokes, and chains. The parts are molded in black plastic.
The car has body-mounted draft-gear boxes. Because of this, Atlas recommends operating the heavyweight sleeper on 24" radius curves or larger.
Atlas modified the center sill of the models to follow the old Branchline suggestion to allow the trucks to swing freely. A bit of scale fidelity is sacrificed, but it makes the models much more reliable on model railroad curves.
Underbody detail includes the Pullman mechanical air-conditioning system with its axle-driven motor and compressor replicating a connection to the truck through a long driveshaft.
The model has turned metal wheels on metal axles. All wheels are insulated, so if you want to add track-powered lighting to these models, you’ll need to devise a wheel wiper system.
Access to the interior is through the roof. On our sample, it was easy to slip a fingernail between the roof casting and the sides of the car. In addition to lighting, it would be easy to add passengers. Interior detail is simple, but the basics are all there.
Our sample model is painted in the later NYC-inspired scheme. It has a dark gray body with lighter gray window band and block lettering of the final repaint after 1953. The paint on our sample was smooth and opaque, and the lettering is sharp and clear.
The car weighs 6.5 ounces, about .25 ounce less than National Model Railroad Association Recommended Practice 20.1 suggests for an 111 ⁄2" long car. The metal knuckle couplers were mounted at the correct height, and the metal wheelsets were in gauge.
If you’ve been wanting one (or more) of these cars, and you were scared off by the kit-builders’ experiences with the Branchline cars, now is the time to start your collection. Pullman sleepers crisscrossed the nation up until the dawn of Amtrak in 1971, and many heavyweights lasted into the 1960s. Atlas has done a nice job of making these former kits accessible to a wide audience. – Eric White, editor