New Athearn RTR Thrall Gon, 5-bay hoppers

Discussion in 'HO Scale Model Trains' started by RioGrande, Mar 1, 2007.

  1. RioGrande

    RioGrande Member

    Has anyone aquired any of the Athearn (MDC) upgraded RTR Thrall gondolas? I have 4 sets of the UP and 4 of the D&RGW blue end and I must say these are very nicely done. They come with coal loads, and wire grab irons and nice paint jobs. I haven't gotten them yet but I have on order a set of CSDU 5-bay hoppers too. I've needed 1980's coal trains and now have them in spades. Its now a good time to be an 80's D&RGW modeler with all these items:

    Walthers 100 ton quad hoppers (Rio Grande owned well over a thousand of them)
    Athearn Thrall gon: UP (used on Joint UP/D&RGW Kaiser coal train)
    Athearn Thrall gon: D&RGW blue used 1981-1984 and similar in the late 80's/early 90's
    Athearn Thrall gon: NORX - ran from a branch off of Grand Junction and over Tennesee Pass
    Athearn Thrall gon: D&RGW "coal liner" mixed with UP/D&RGW coal train
    Atlas 3-bay hoppers
    Stewart 3-bay hoppers
  2. brakie

    brakie Active Member

    Jim,Indeed those are sharp looking cars..A guy at the club has about 30..They are free rolling and probably among the best cars made.
    As a side note he lettered his for DEEX..I think this are foobies but,he wanted a DEEX train for his 2 NS SD70s..
  3. RioGrande

    RioGrande Member

    I'm trying to figure out how many is a good number for a coal train. They aren't cheap and I'm not sure how long these will be available to buy or if Athearn will make more numbered sets. As it is there are only 3 sets 1, 2, and 3 of individual roadnumbers so I already have one repeat each set. But I'm thinking in HO, 25 cars or maybe 30 would be needed for a good respectable looking unit coal train. So I may see myself clear a few more. The UP set will have the D&RGW coal liners mixed in so that will be 25 cars when I receive them sometime in March (only 5 ever existed). There is also NORX yellow end but that could commit me to another 4 or 5 boxes minimum and it has to stop somewhere.

    I've found the CSDU, which are newer are already selling out. I found set #1 at Caboose Hobbies and my pusher can get set #3, so all I need is set #2 and after that they are repeats again. These are all nice. Now if Athearn ever does PSCX red end Thrall I'll be out even more money!
  4. brakie

    brakie Active Member

    For club use I would favor a 25 or 30 car train.I would probably mix the numbers up so no two cars with the same number would be coupled together.This is a old trick that still fools the eye in thinking each car has a different number under casual observation.As far as a home layout I would favor 20-25 car trains if possible..
    Yeah a lot of Athearn's cars sell out quickly! Been there and done that by being to slow.
  5. darkcurves

    darkcurves Member

    May i know how long will a 30 car train be? Would be cool to get them for my club too.
  6. brakie

    brakie Active Member

    I never measured a 30 car train but,it would depend on the lenght of the cars..My guess for the Thrall gondolas would be around 20 feet.
  7. MadHatter

    MadHatter Charging at full tilt.

    Wowee!, I love long trains, take a shot of it on your club layout and post it, pretty please, with a cherry on top!!
  8. RioGrande

    RioGrande Member

    Agree'd Larry. My last basement layout was designed with 18.5 foot passing siding capacity (no layout currently). If I were able to keep that length in future layouts, that would allow me to run 25 car coal trains with the Trall cars and have 3 diesels and fit in the siding. A 25 car coal train on a home layout with 30-inch curves looks pretty long.

    To answer the question posted about length, a 30 car train without engines would be about 18.5-19 feet approximately. (I'm allowing about 7.5 inches per car coupler to coupler (but I'm at work and can't measure them). Add engines, probably 3, and a caboose and you have a 21-22 foot long train - thats getting into the club size range as Larry suggested. Some home layouts can manage trains like that... and keep in mind that if most trains fit in sidings, you can have an occasional train which is longer than the siding and pass the other trains that fit. So having one or two overly long trains is possible as long as you can break it up or provide a track or two in staging for oversize trains. My last basement layout had 10 tracks of staging and using curved #8 turnouts (Shinohara) I was able to squeeze out siding length to between 18 feet minimum and 24 feet maximum. So I could have a couple extra long trains. Also the yard I designed had at a longer set of tracks that included part of the yard lead to handle trains up to about 24 feet as well. So passing track capacity is one major consideration for train length but not the only one.

    As for being slow and missing out on stuff for sale, yeah it makes it more difficult. Certain things don't tend to show up on Ebay cheap. For example the Walthers Rio Grande 100 ton 4-bay quads were issued in set #1, #2, and #3 over a couple years. I did buy them as they were issued of course, but after a few years they were long gone and when the rare set did show up on Ebay, they would get bid up to about double the retail price! I don't think it will be that way with the Thralls, but most of the deeper discounters will be long sold out of the road names some of us want. My pusher offered the Athearn Tralls at about $66 per 5-pack ($13 per car). I paid that for the first 4 sets and then UP removed the surcharge on UP and D&RGW cars, and the price went down to $55 per set for the remaing four so far.

    Speaking of the Walthers quads, during the recent years that they were hard to find and high in demand, a guy on our Rio Grande email list offered up 2 sets assembled of the quad hoppers for $80 shipped! This was during the time people were paying $110 or $120 regularly for the 6-car sets in kit form on Ebay! Needless to say I jumped right on it and emailed him. I have 36 of those quads at present but probably should have more as those were by far the most coal cars owned by Rio Grande in terms of quantitiy - approaching 2000 cars.

    As far as missing out - I kind of have missed the boat partly on the CSDU cars. Most places including the distributor (Horizon) have only set #3. I located set #1 at Caboose Hobbies for $62 which isn't too bad. Probalby there are a few places with set #2 but I'll have to pay thru the nose unless I find a discount seller that is obscure.
  9. brakie

    brakie Active Member

    I been after a Athearn RTR FMC 5347 PanAm/MEC boxcar for months..I saw one on E-bay go for a tad over $35.00 plus shipping way to much for me...I never though Athearn cars would be hard to find or in this case impossible.The Gray MEC car is another hard to find car...I could go on but,I am sure you get the picture.:D
  10. RioGrande

    RioGrande Member

    Yeah, some people make this blanket statement and brag that they only "bottom feed" and never buy things when they are fresh out on the market. Well, there are examples of things that don't fit that mold and if you don't get them when they are instock, sometimes you have a very hard time finding them, especially for a decent price. The Walthers 6-car sets were like that on the RIo Grande quads, and even though Walthers has finally reissued the kit in singles, the 6-car numbered sets should still command a high price. Another example are these Rio Grande F9m's, they only came out late last year and they are gone gone gone. I've found one in stock at one place but I don't want to pay the price for MRC sound unit. I will keep checking Ebay tho.
  11. brakie

    brakie Active Member

    Another quickie I believe wil be the forth coming CR RTR 50' Superior Door Box car..
    There is a time to bottom feed and a time to buy and run.A good example of buying and running was the R.J.Corman GP38 by Atlas.Here today sold out tomorrow.
  12. RioGrande

    RioGrande Member

    Yeah, it really helps to know popular brands, items and roadnames. And they aren't always what we like but what sells out. I've found for better or worse, that Rio Grande is actually pretty popular and much of the items produce don't hang around long before getting scarce.

    I found that to be true for the 1-stipe paint jobs of F untis done by Genesis. The F3's are all long gone at the distirbutor and they just came out last year. I just happened to grab an inventory store sell of Ebay "buy it now" price on a set of F3 AB units and then when I began looking for more I was like, whoa, the reast or history!

    I've looked at inventories of the 5-bay Athearn rapid discharge - the CSDU are mostly sold out too and those just released last fall! So we do have to watch and not sleep!

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