News & Reviews Product Reviews Staff Reviews Atlas O PS 4427 high-side covered hopper

Atlas O PS 4427 high-side covered hopper

By Cody Grivno | August 21, 2023

Premier line car uses former MTH tooling

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Color photo of O scale three-bay covered hopper in Oxide Red paint with white graphics.
Red River Valley & Western is one of seven paint schemes in the first run of the Atlas O PS 4427 high-side covered hopper. The injection-molded plastic model is based on tooling acquired from MTH Electric Trains. Cody Grivno photos

A Pullman-Standard 4427 high-side three-bay covered hopper is making its debut in the Atlas O Premier line. The model, acquired when Atlas O purchased select M.T.H. tooling in March 2021, features plastic and die-cast metal construction and a mix of molded and separate, factory-applied detail parts.

Prototype history

The PS 4,427-cubic-foot capacity three-bay covered hopper debuted in 1964. The original design featured low sides. In 1966 Pullman redesigned the car with high sides, which made it easier to reach the outlet gates and shaker brackets. When production ended in 1971, more than 12,000 covered hoppers were built to the high-side design.

Our sample is decorated as Red River Valley & Western 1153. The RRVW, a regional railroad based in Wahpeton, N.D., began operations in July 1987. The carrier has more than 500 miles of track in eastern North Dakota and western Minnesota.

The railroad’s covered hopper fleet is made up of hand-me-down cars from various builders. The 1153 was built by PS as Texas & Pacific 71116 under Lot 9544 in April 1971. The car became Missouri Pacific 711164 after the two railroads merged in 1976. Because the covered hopper is more than 50 years old, it’s restricted to use on the RRVW.

Model features

Color photo showing roof details on O scale covered hopper.
The Atlas O PS 4427 high-side covered hopper has a see-through plastic running board casting with wire corner grab irons. The hatch cover is also a separate, factory-applied part.

The Atlas O Premier line covered hopper features a multi-piece ABS body. The roof, sides, and ends are molded as a single piece. The slope sheets are separate castings.

The roof is fitted with a see-through plastic running board that’s attached with a combination of screws and round pins that fit into corresponding holes. Painted wire corner grab irons are attached to the lateral boards closest to the full-height ladders.

A one-piece hatch cover is attached in a similar fashion. The lift latches and locking bars are molded.

Color photo showing B end of O scale covered hopper
The B end of the Atlas O PS4427 covered hopper has molded corner, end, and hand brake posts. The ladder rungs and crossover handrail are factory-installed and painted wire parts.

The end cages have painted wire grab irons and handrails. See-through plastic crossover platforms are press-fit pieces with tabs that fit into slots on the car ends. There should be an extra rung in each stirrup step.

The brake wheel and housing are freestanding plastic parts. The wheel looks similar to a post-1937 Ajax design. A newer wheel would be more appropriate for this car.

A painted metal chain runs between the bottom of the brake wheel housing and an eyebolt attached to the crossover platform on the B end. Additional B end details include the air reservoir, control valve, and brake cylinder/lever. Freestanding plastic piping runs between all three parts.

Roping staples are molded to the bottom of the sills above each truck. On the full-size RRVW car, they’re to the outside of the first and thirteenth exterior posts. A jacking pad should be directly below those same posts. A molded air line runs between the staples on the left side of the car.

Color image showing underbody of O scale covered hopper.
The outlet gates on the Atlas O PS 4427 covered hopper are attached from the inside with screws. The car rides on sprung, die-cast metal trucks with 33” metal wheelsets.

Four screws (two above each truck) attach the underbody to the body. The shaker brackets are molded on the hopper bays. The outlet gates are factory-applied parts attached from the inside with screws. The center sills, also attached with screws, are notched to fit around the molded sill gusset plates. The brake lever and brake lever regulator are molded into the sills.

The portion of the sill between the bolsters and outer hopper bays is molded and slightly shorter, lacking flange detail. This may have been done to give the trucks a wider range of motion. The A and B end brake lever detail is molded in these locations as appropriate.

A pair of 2-1/8” x 5-1/8” steel weights, painted black, are secured to the middle of the underbody with two washer-head screws. This accounts for much of the car’s 17.1 ounces. This is .3 ounce too light per National Model Railroad Association Recommended Practice 20.1.

Model vs. prototype

Our sample is decorated in RRVW’s Oxide Red scheme. The paint is smooth and evenly applied, and all of the lettering is legible. The wheat sheaves should be tan, not white. The detailing on the wheat was also simplified compared to the graphics used on full-size car.

The lettering and FRA-224 striping placement follows the prototype. Smaller stencils on the sides, slope sheets, and hopper bays were omitted. The trucks on the full-size car are gray, both with rectangular black patches and the reporting mark and road number applied in white.

The car rides on sprung, die-cast metal trucks with correctly gauged 33” insulated metal wheelsets (they should be 36”). The trucks are attached from the inside with washer-head screws. To reach the screws, you need to remove the body and slope sheets.

The metal couplers are factory-installed in plastic draft-gear boxes attached to a mounting pad with two screws. The couplers were .040” low on both ends. Filing or sanding down the mounting pads will help remedy this.

I found prototype drawings of the PS 4427 high-side covered hopper in the March 1995 Mainline Modeler. The truck wheelbase is a scale 4” short (5’-6” instead of 5’-10”) and the distance between the truck centers is a scale 3” short. The drawing shows the outside edge the draft-gear box is even with the crossover platform. On the model they’re set in a scale 8”.

It has been fun to watch Atlas O incorporate former MTH freight cars into its product line. The high-side PS 4427 three-bay covered hopper has a few minor dimensional discrepancies, but nothing I would consider a deal-breaker. The model nicely complements the manufacturer’s low-side 4427 car that I reviewed in MR’s September 2023 issue.

Facts & features

Price: $89.95


Atlas O

378 Florence Ave.

Hillside, NJ 07205

Era: Approximately 2009 to present (as decorated)

Road names: Red River Valley & Western, Burlington Northern, Chicago & Eastern Illinois, Equity Grain, J.W. Flammer, Montana Rail Link, and Stetson Grain.


33” metal wheelsets, in gauge

Die-cast metal couplers, .040” too low

Sprung, die-cast metal trucks

Weight 17.1 ounces (.3 ounce too light per National Model Railroad Association Recommended Practice 20.1)

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