Questions,

1. If Athearn expanded into the O scale market, what would you like for them to make?

My wish list for starters is the S.E.I.C.O. boxcars and the EMD SD70/SD70M. 

2. How can we get Athearn to add O scale to their model train line up? I did contact Athearn by email 3 years ago but haven't heard anything from them. I should've talked to them about adding O scale when I attended the Columbus WGH show last January.

I chose Athearn for this time because it seems to me Atlas is dropping the ball on new products for the O scale market. Lionel is doing better with their 65' modern mill gondola, 30k gallon ethanol tank cars,  extruded aluminum ACF covered hoppers and diecast 100 ton coal cars.

I would like to go back to NOT having to do 2 rail conversions on freight cars that I like/want.

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Athearn hasn't been an independent model train manufacturer since 2004, when it was bought up by Horizon Hobby, an international hobby distributor.  They seem to be happy with their HO and N scale lines and R/C models.

The fact you haven't had a response from them should give you an indication of their lack of interest in O.

Rusty

Last edited by Rusty Traque
Rusty Traque posted:

Athearn hasn't been an independent model train manufacturer since 2004, when it was bought up by Horizon Hobby, an international hobby distributor.  They seem to be happy with their HO and N scale lines and R/C models.

The fact you haven't had a response from them should give you an indication of their lack of interest in O.

Rusty

Once upon a time Athearn never produced N scale. I was hoping someday they could add O scale to their production list. As for Horizon, I forgot about them. I realize the Athearn acquisition happened 15 years ago. It seems like just yesterday.

Pretty sure that once upon a time Athearn was in O scale and produced kits - Reynold Railroad Products - Athearn O Scale Kit - used to be on the ends of the boxes, and they came with Kadee couplers and a pair of Athearn trucks.

Curtis,

To answer your question, I’d like to see:

A generic branchline/shortline 2-6-0 or 4-6-0.

SW series switchers.

Any GE switcher in the 44 ton to 70 ton range.

Wooden side-door caboose.

More rolling stock road name options reflecting Texas and the southwestern US.

Of course, the above is just an exercise in pure fantasy. As Rusty Traque states, Athearn/Horizon Hobby’s silence to your inquiry speaks loudly as to their level of interest in entering the O scale market.

It’s really too bad that there isn’t an O scale equivalent of Accurail or Westerfield Models...or the return of Intermountain to the O scale fold.

Kyle

I used to submit the question to Athearn occasionally asking for the possibility of some O scale offerings, which they finally responded too about a year ago and the answer was... an emphatic no. Haven’t tried lately.

John

The only recent thing in "O" that has the Athearn name on it is their excellent line of 1:50 scale diecast trucks. Too bad they stop making them years ago. The price was right....now they command a premium on the secondary market.  I am glad I bought a few dozen when the big dealers were blowing them out at York years ago for $10 or $12 each.

Donald

I may be wrong but I remember in my great 2 rail O scale adventure in the early eighties, buying pre-assembled O scale trucks in a plastic bag with the Athearn name on the cardboard hanging tab. Roller bearing, Bettendorf, and maybe arch-bar. Only the trucks, no other equipment, save from the recent 1:50 vehicles.

 

If Athearn (or InterMountain) we’re to return to O scale, I think they would be smart to release a foundation product to build their market share on. Both could expand their existing freight truck lines. Plastic 70, 100, and 120 ton roller bearing trucks with NMRA bolster heights. Modern caboose trucks also. Basically match both companies existing products. A 36 inch metal wheel like the InterMountain 33 inch would complete a solid foundation! Of course available with traditional or P48 bolsters.

I know there are other options available for most of these, but they are mis-matched at best and I’m of the opinion that the trend to use cast metal is ultimately proving flawed. The castings out of China at market price have been a metallurgy risk. I also understand that cast metal helps with weighting, but for me, logically it’s easier to find other ways to fix weight than to try and make my own trucks. 

Once the trucks are at market, I’d move to common components like draft gear, brake gear, running boards, doors, ends, etc. FWIW, it appears this is how Kadee manages their HO freight cars offerings.

Kyle Evans posted:

It’s really too bad that there isn’t an O scale equivalent of Accurail or Westerfield Models...or the return of Intermountain to the O scale fold.

Kyle

Rails Unlimited might be the closest thing to an O scale Westerfield Models

Quick Casey posted:

I may be wrong but I remember in my great 2 rail O scale adventure in the early eighties, buying pre-assembled O scale trucks in a plastic bag with the Athearn name on the cardboard hanging tab. Roller bearing, Bettendorf, and maybe arch-bar. Only the trucks, no other equipment, save from the recent 1:50 vehicles.

 

I think it might have been in the 80's when the Reynolds//Athearn line of kits that had migrated to be under the old Old Pullman line run by Beat Hug then migrated to be under the LWS umbrella for a few years prior to moving on to Boxcar Jim where the trail apparently ended quietly.

Athearn O scale box car kits were produced by Irving Athearn in Los Angeles, beginning in the early 1940's. The 40' box car kit made by Athearn was accurate, understanding that a "40 box car" was actually 40' 6' long inside, and nearly 42' long outside.  The competing General Models /  All Nation box car kits built very much like an Athearn kit, was shorter, with a scale 40' exterior length.  Irv Athearn, like his contemporaries Wm. K.  Walthers and Gordon Varney, were O scale modelers and producers.  Varney was the one who introduced the O scale B&O 4-6-0 kit and the O scale Pullman 6 wheel trucks later made by All Nation.  

Athearn's kits were made of wood and stamped tin plated steel scrap from can and bottle cap manufacturers. Sometimes small parts carried the paint and markings of Coca Cola or other products.  Athearn produced accurately done painted, silk screen lettered metal sides, and included a bottle of matching paint with the kit, along with trucks and usually Monarch couplers.   Early Athearn kits included stand offs for the side and end grab irons, a part that was no longer made after WW II.  When Athearn produced a kit to model B&O's  blue and silver "Sentinel" box cars, he had new dies made to press accurate ends for it.  Those ends are rare, and only made for the first run of those kits.

Later, Athearn added a 50' double door box car kit to the line and by 1949, took over production of the 40' steel side refrigerator car kit, first made by Model Master  Car  Works of Cedar Rapids IA in 1947. This model included eaves rivet detail, which the Athearn and General Models box car kits lacked. 

The Athearn line of O scale kits, parts and trucks took a rambling trip over the decades. Some things, like Athearn's O scale steam loco drivers and their unique quartering set up were lost.  All the car kits moved on to Reynolds, Geo. Menzies, Pacific HO, Locomotive Workshop, Old Pullman and Box Car Jim. The kits died out in the early 2000's. Athearn's sprung  trucks took a similar but shorter route. 

Below are some Athearn kits I've built. The New Haven box car is from an early 1940 kit, produced when New Haven bought its first steel box cars when replacing its fleet of aging 36' wood body cars.  They were unique in having a 60 ton capacity rating when most other steel 40' boxcars were rated for 50 tons.  Athearn sides carried accurate car numbers, date and data for them.  Athearns kits and parts were also useful in creating other models as well, as seen below.

S.  Islander

 

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The last time I looked, Athearn still did the delrin (engineering Plastic) trucks.    They had 4 styles, Archbar, Andrews, Bettendorg, and roller bearings.    They were being sold built up for about 10 a pair.    At various times they have been sold as kits and 10 packs of kits.    It is the primary truck I use on kit built cars and any others that give me problems.    they are sprung with springs that allow a little equalization which makes them handle rough track better than the rigid trucks we see from a lot of mfgs.

I have had a few Athearn freight car kits and built up over the years.     They were very similar to the All Nation line in design and build process.     I don't know if they ever did any thing other than reefers and boxcars.

As for the wishlist of locos above, they have all been done, and some very recently and some very well.   the GE 44 tonner has been done in brass by Yoder, NJCB, and Sunset, and more than once in some cases.    The SW switchers in some forms have been done in brass over the years.    And Atlas O still does an SW8/9 in plastic/diecast with a great single motor drive.     Babbitt loco works did a 2-6-0 based on the All Nation stuff and of course All Nation/Varney did the 4-6-0 and a few other small locos, including a very nice 2-6-2 using a Cary Cast boiler.    Recently Atlas O tried a USRA 0-6-0 which is about as generic as you can get and still have a prototype.   It apparently was not a great seller.     Most of thse things show up at O scale shows new, slightly used, or Well used.    At the recent March Meet, I saw one of the 2-6-2 kits new in box, that priced  around 200.   

I don't think Athearn can see any products that would be a big entry to the market.

S. Islander posted:

Athearn O scale box car kits were produced by Irving Athearn in Los Angeles, beginning in the early 1940's. The 40' box car kit made by Athearn was accurate, understanding that a "40 box car" was actually 40' 6' long inside, and nearly 42' long outside.  The competing General Models /  All Nation box car kits built very much like an Athearn kit, was shorter, with a scale 40' exterior length.  Irv Athearn, like his contemporaries Wm. K.  Walthers and Gordon Varney, were O scale modelers and producers.  Varney was the one who introduced the O scale B&O 4-6-0 kit and the O scale Pullman 6 wheel trucks later made by All Nation.  

Athearn's kits were made of wood and stamped tin plated steel scrap from can and bottle cap manufacturers. Sometimes small parts carried the paint and markings of Coca Cola or other products.  Athearn produced accurately done painted, silk screen lettered metal sides, and included a bottle of matching paint with the kit, along with trucks and usually Monarch couplers.   Early Athearn kits included stand offs for the side and end grab irons, a part that was no longer made after WW II.  When Athearn produced a kit to model B&O's  blue and silver "Sentinel" box cars, he had new dies made to press accurate ends for it.  Those ends are rare, and only made for the first run of those kits.

Later, Athearn added a 50' double door box car kit to the line and by 1949, took over production of the 40' steel side refrigerator car kit, first made by Model Master  Car  Works of Cedar Rapids IA in 1947. This model included eaves rivet detail, which the Athearn and General Models box car kits lacked. 

The Athearn line of O scale kits, parts and trucks took a rambling trip over the decades. Some things, like Athearn's O scale steam loco drivers and their unique quartering set up were lost.  All the car kits moved on to Reynolds, Geo. Menzies, Pacific HO, Locomotive Workshop, Old Pullman and Box Car Jim. The kits died out in the early 2000's. Athearn's sprung  trucks took a similar but shorter route. 

Below are some Athearn kits I've built. The New Haven box car is from an early 1940 kit, produced when New Haven bought its first steel box cars when replacing its fleet of aging 36' wood body cars.  They were unique in having a 60 ton capacity rating when most other steel 40' boxcars were rated for 50 tons.  Athearn sides carried accurate car numbers, date and data for them.  Athearns kits and parts were also useful in creating other models as well, as seen below.

S.  Islander

 

I may not be a steam era person but I really like the looks of these boxcars. They are 2 rail cars which makes them look better.

yeah.  Ask those folks who have tried to compete with the used market for their stuff.  You can buy decent Athearn box cars and kits for $15 each with trucks, sometimes metal trucks!  All day long.  It would take a huge investment to get rolling again, but no way could the price be near $15.

That said, there are spectacular plastic models available today in the $50 range, and all they need is scale trucks & couplers, and a little adjusting.  I doubt Athearn could compete with that.

Athearn has started producing highly-detailed N scale and HO scale models of the American Car & Foundry ACF CENTER FLOW 4600 cu ft, 3-bay covered hoppers. 

These specific covered hoppers were ordered in a large amounts in the 1970's and 1980's by railroads like the SOO LINE, Chicago & North Western, and The ROCK. 

It has been 55 years since the first versions of the 4600 cu ft covered hoppers were built by ACF, but there still has not been a mass produced, highly-detailed O scale model. 

I do need to get them in the Grand Trunk Western 1965 and 1973 body variations and paint schemes.

Andrew

S. Islander posted:

 

Athearn's kits were made of wood and stamped tin plated steel scrap from can and bottle cap manufacturers. Sometimes small parts carried the paint and markings of Coca Cola or other products.  

 

S.  Islander

 

Here you go, perfect example....

51225976_989267517946198_5740337663571918848_n51231891_989267487946201_6891834647785766912_n51337002_989267531279530_3945694774463299584_n

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