News & Reviews Product Reviews The Atlas O Multi-Max autorack

The Atlas O Multi-Max autorack

By Chris Montagna | June 12, 2023

| Last updated on June 14, 2023

This Master line model of the Gunderson vehicle carrier is loaded with detail – handle with care!

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The Atlas O Master Gunderson Multi-Max Auto Carrier is out after an almost two-year wait. The company announced the newly tooled cars in its Summer 2021 catalog. For modern operator-collectors with the real estate on their layout, having an autorack train is a virtual must.

Atlas O Multi-Max autorack in Kansas City Southern paint
The Atlas O Gunderson Multi-Max Auto Carrier in Kansas City Southern paint.

Before the announcement of these the only scale option was the Lionel 89-foot autorack, an item we haven’t seen cataloged in quite a few years. MTH produced a vehicle carrier as well; however, it didn’t quite hold up to the scale Lionel versions.

Learn more about modern railroading.

Atlas O Multi-Max autorack

The prototype Multi-Max Auto Carrier was introduced by Greenbrier Companies in 2013. It’s so named for the ability to be internally configured from a two-level unit to three at a loading site. These cars come in at 93 feet, 10 inches long over the coupler faces and more than 19 feet tall. According to Greenbrier, the prototype curve radius restrictions when coupled to a similar car is 239 feet!

Atlas O Gunderson Multi Max door
The detailed doors on the cars were originally designed to open but have been glued shut because of handling issues.

The Atlas model features a newly tooled flatcar with superstructure. The doors were designed to operate and mimic the prototype’s for improved function and reduced theft. However, Atlas announced to collectors the week of delivery (June 2023) it was struggling to troubleshoot issues with the hinges and opted to glue the doors shut.

Atlas O Master Multi Max autorack side brake detail
The models are incredibly detailed, starting with the simulated perforated metal sides and brake gear. The lettering is also well executed.

While disappointing, for many these doors never would have been open. Atlas has asked customers not to try and open them up. The interior decking was supposed to be removable and adjustable, just like the prototype.

Lots of fine detail

The screening and signage along the car sides is also presented in scale proportions and legible. The models come in at 3 lbs., 3 oz.; for comparison, the Lionel cars are 1 lb., 9 oz. The cars feature significant add-on detailing including underside brake details, side chains and levers, and door latches. Each side screen appears to be a separate unit, not one molded piece.

Atlas O multi max auto carrier truck and coupler
The trucks and couplers are articulated to let the cars navigate O-72 curves.

The cars were delivered in a classic Atlas O modern freight car box. However, the units were not packed in Styrofoam. Instead, they were in the molded-plastic blister-type inserts similar to those Lionel has been using the last few years.

Atlas O multi max auto carrier underside brake detail
The running and brake gear are super detailed on the underside.

There is foam at each end to protect the door detailing. There are also two plastic supports connected to the underside of the car with metal dowels. The user should exercise caution when pulling them free to avoid damaging any of the fragile add-ons.

A few issues

From early social media and forum postings, it seems there are some minor issues with trucks and couplers. One of my units was delivered with a broken brake part which prevented the car from tracking properly through switches. Atlas is easy to work with to remedy any of these issues by contacting them through their website.

Atlas O multi max auto carrier packaging
The packaging is a little different with this model. To protect the details there are foam pieces at both ends. Note the supports under the car.

Atlas offered five road names in this release with four road numbers from each. For those keeping score at home, this means you could purchase up to 20 unique auto carriers from this offering. These cars do require every inch of 0-72 curves! Preorder street price from many dealers was around $125 each. These were part of Atlas’s built-to-order line and many of these have already sold out at hobby shops.

Master Gunderson Multi-Max Auto Carrier by Atlas O

MSRP: $139.95

Roadnames (3-rail): BNSF (Nos. 696201, 696240, 696248, 696253); Canadian Pacific/Soo Line (519003, 519027, 519081, 519090); Kansas City Southern (696018, 696033, 696068, 696070); Norfolk Southern with TOCX reporting mark (697842, 697782, 697775, 697847); Union Pacific with TTGX reporting mark (697363, 697387, 697445, 697547).

Get more O gauge action on the Chris’s Trains & Things channel on YouTube.

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