A Pullman-Standard (PS) high-side 4,427-cubic-foot-capacity three-bay covered hopper is now available from Athearn Trains. The N scale model features an injection-molded plastic body, wire and etched-metal details, and screw-mounted roller-bearing trucks with 36″ metal wheelsets.
The prototype. Pullman-Standard introduced the 4,427-cubic-foot-capacity covered hopper in 1964. For the first two years of the production run, the cars had a 4-3-4 exterior post pattern and low sides that partially covered the bays.
In 1966, PS revised the design with higher sides and 13 exterior posts. The Athearn model is based on this version. Among the benefits of the higher sides were easier access to the vibrator brackets and outlet gates, lighter car weight, and lower manufacturing costs.
The high-side cars were built from September 1966 through June 1971. During that time, more than 12,000 cars were built.
Our sample is decorated as Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe no. 307749, part of the railroad’s 307500 through 308749 series (GA-161 class) built under Lot 9162 at Pullman’s Butler, Pa., plant in the fall of 1966. Between September 1966 and June 1971, Santa Fe ordered 3,900 high-side 4427 covered hoppers. The largest group (3,000) was the GA-161 class, followed by the GA-173 class (400) and GA-175 class (500).
The model. The Athearn 4427 covered hopper has an injection-molded plastic body with a separate roof. The roof features a see-through etched-metal running board, wire corner grab irons, and a one-piece plastic casting simulating the four hatch covers. The corners opposite the grab irons are stenciled Caution No Side Ladder.
The sides, end cages, slope sheets, and hopper bays are molded as a single unit. The outlet gates, brake appliances, and brake wheel are separate, factory-applied parts. The roping staples are etched metal. A formed wire air line runs below the sill on the right side of the car.
The draft-gear box, body bolster, bolster block, and a short section of sill are cast as a single piece that’s attached to each end with a screw and glue. The 100- ton trucks are molded in brown plastic and attached with washer-head screws.
By the numbers. Our sample is painted in Santa Fe’s as-delivered scheme. The paint is smooth and evenly applied, and the logo and lettering placement matches prototype photos. The model’s dimensions closely follow prototype drawings in the March 1995 Mainline Modeler.
There were a couple of lettering discrepancies with the model. The A end hopper bay is stenciled 1274 Cu Ft, but it should be 1574 Cu Ft. The middle bay should be 1279 Cu Ft, not 1579 Cu Ft. The New 12-66 stencil also isn’t accurate for the road number. Cars in the 307500 through 308749 series were built between September and November 1966.
The body-mounted McHenry scale couplers are at the proper height. The 36″ machined metal wheelsets are correctly gauged. At 1.1 ounces, the car is properly weighted per National Model Railroad Association Recommended Practice 20.1.
I tested the car on our Canadian Canyons N scale layout, which features 13″ minimum radius curves and Peco code 55 medium turnouts. The car operated without incident while being pushed and pulled in a train, including being shoved up a 1.9 percent grade in the five-turn helix.
Athearn’s N scale PS 4427 high-side covered hopper is a sharp-looking model of a common prototype. The car has a nice blend of molded, etched-metal, and wire parts. Operators are sure to appreciate the body-mounted couplers and metal wheelsets.
Facts & features
Price: Single car, $28.98; three-pack, $84.98
1600 Forbes Way, Suite 120 Long Beach, CA 90810 athearn.com
Era: 1966 to present
Road names: Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe; Burlington Northern; Chicago & North Western; Harmon Grain, Trumbull, Neb.; Montana Rail Link; Pillsbury; Union Pacific; and Wisconsin Central. Three single cars and one three-pack per scheme.
•36″ machined metal wheels, in gauge
•Body-mounted McHenry scale couples, at correct height
•Screw-mounted roller-bearing trucks
•See-through etched-metal running boards
•Separate outlet gates
•Weight: 1.1 ounces, correct per National Model Railroad Association Recommended Practice 20.1
•Wire corner grab irons