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I haven’t owned any Atlas O train products.   I am  curious how their quality is for engines, rolling stock, accessories and tracks.  Has anyone bought and  used Atlas on a layout and what is your opinion  from experience if Atlas quality is on par, better or worse than Lionel or MTH products  

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Much of Atlas's current production is made in the same factory as MTH is made.  You'll see Atlas locomotives listed as Premier with PS3, same as for some of their rolling stock.  So probably very similar in quality to MTH products. Some Atlas product is made with their own tooling, and up until recently some of their locos had TMCC so very similar to Lionel's quality. Atlas rolling stock has come in two different degrees of detailing and their quality has been good in my experience. Some of the high end rolling stock, highly detailed, is relatively fragile and requires careful unboxing and handling.

I have been buying Atlas since they started back with O as far as rolling stock. Except for some 55 ton coal hoppers from 1 batch in the mid 2000’s which the chassis either crumbled or changed dimensions. Enough to crack the  body. I’ve had few issues. A Reefer frame that warped. I don’t have any. But some steel reefers had problems with the truck bolsters.
As far as engines.  I presently have an 0-6-0 that features EOB. Few complaints and runs good enough for what I use it for. 2 Trainman RS3’s both with ERR boards. No issues and they run well. I originally purchased just one to try out.  Must have been pleased as I immediately bought the sister engine  with the other rd. number. The one engine I sold. Was a first run RS1. Beautiful engine that ran like crap. At least for what I envisioned it doing. No cruise which was just getting popular at that time. But terrible gearing. It had about 4 usable speed steps. Not sure how other Atlas engines were. But you had to be a magician or an experienced repair person just to remove the shell.

Atlas steam era rolling stock dominates my roster. But most of my purchases were probably before 2010. They seemed to be coming up with new runs multiple times per year and delivered in a timely fashion. My feeling. When Jim Weaver passed Atlas O kind of did as well. A lot of the excitement left their company. Atlas rolling stock raised the bar. But Lionel and MTH have sort of caught up.

I attend very few shows. One is the Springfield MA. show. I always check out their booth. As far as O scale. Nobody seems very enthusiastic about their product or listening to new ideas. At last years show. I had a long talk with Andy Edelman. He was there as an Atlas rep. and knows the 3 rail end of the hobby as well as anyone. Hopefully he will get more involved with them.

Last edited by Dave_C
@Dave_C posted:

The one engine I sold. Was a first run RS1. Beautiful engine that ran like crap. At least for what I envisioned it doing. No cruise which was just getting popular at that time. But terrible gearing. It had about 4 usable speed steps. Not sure how other Atlas engines were. But you had to be a magician or an experienced repair person just to remove the shell.

I generally like to avoid working on any earlier Atlas locomotives.  It appears that Atlas didn't really consider maintenance when they designed their stuff.  As you say, their smaller engines like switchers were the worst, some of them you wanted to throw rather than fix!

I don't have any engines but I've been picking up Atlas rolling stock and I dig it. I mostly have coal hoppers and I liked them enough that I ordered the new depressed car with a transformer. The hoppers are die-cast. They feel solid and roll nice. I have two couplers (out of a dozen cars) that are stiff and don't care to operate too well. I just leave them in the middle of a string of cars.

I can tell you I had a brand new 60' boxcar arrive with a defective coupler that wouldn't stay closed. I sent just the truck/coupler assembly back to Atlas with an explanation and in a week I received a brand new coupler/truck assembly. So their service was very good. Their rolling stock is highly detailed. I don't own any MTH>Atlas products yet but have an SD70 on order.

I don't know what era you model, but Atlas is basically the only company to produce scale, modern freight. I've had far fewer problems with Atlas rolling stock than with Lionel, which always seems to have issues with the couplers.

A couple quick notes: All of the Master and Trainman products are scale if that matters to you.

Don't always pay attention to the boxes, most of my Master line rolling stock, especially the intermodal, requires larger curves than what is listed on the box. I usually estimate one size larger than the the box. O-48 instead of O-36, O-54 instead of O-45 ect.

I am a big fan of Atlas O.  Just added this to my collection and I am thrilled to have found it for a reasonable price.  Have a second one on the way for one my many passenger trains I am building one car at a time.  I have two of these domes painted for the Alaska Railroad scheme that I haven't quite figured out what to do with, and three sleepers in Amtrak (two 6-5s and a 16 section one).


I have over 20 Atlas Horizon / Comet passenger cars, countless freight cars, AEM7/ ALP44 electrics in Amtrak, MARC, Septa, and NJT, three GP15s in Conrail and NS (I sold the UP one), a CNJ SD40, and a pair of gorgeous WM SD35s.  Not disappointed with any of it.


Atlas Horizon coach on the left, GGD Amfleet on the right.


On top of that I have a fairly decent collection of the "old" Atlas O from the 1970's that include numerous freight cars that are now in the Trainman line, 3 Plymouth DC powered switchers, and a legit 2-rail C&O F9.


I won't go into detail about how extensive my collection of Atlas HO and N is, but for the time it was offered it was typically mid-range quality.  Not the best, but by far not the worst.  Especially true of the Rivarossi built N scale equipment of the 1970's.  Atlas makes good quality trains and has for many years.


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Last edited by GG1 4877

I am a Charter member of the Golden Spike Club. There was one year that the offered car was a Trainman article but it was interesting so I paid for the premium cost. That has changed in the recent one or two years and they have inserted the "Premium" labeled cars, aka MTH tooling versus their "Master" labeled product, aka Atlas Tooling. I have also noticed that their newsletters to GSC members are usually offering "Premium" labeled products. Early on I purchased a few MTH cars. They did not track well and on examination I found that the wheel sets were not gauged well. I took them to the MTH factory in Maryland and they quickly replaced the wheel sets. That kind of soured me on their product and yes, even though they quickly addressed the issue. I just moved them down the list of manufacturers I looked at. So seeing so much Atlas Product using MTH tooling is distressing to me.

As far as the Locomotive issues, I have one Atlas Locomotive dated way back as it was the only Steam Locomotive that Atlas ever produced. That Steam Locomotive is a phenomenal product in its features and detail. Now the Locomotives are all diesel and again using MTH Tooling and the MTH control system. I don't use the MTH control system so those Locomotives are out for me.

Finally their track system is one of the finest. I used it fully on my 500 sqr foot layout. I wish that I had started with the Gargrave's or Ross' system as they are produced in the USA. Two things in that regard. First I had an issue of obtaining Atlas Track product a few years back because of the shipping issues from China. And that leads to the second issue. When Atlas started moving manufacturing overseas, their statement was it will be because cost will be less. I never saw a price that reflected the lower manufacturing cost. As a matter of fact, when I began buying Atlas track, I paid $40 for an O72 switch. I have not checked recently but I will bet that the price is closing in on $100 for that same switch. Yes they have improved the electrical continuity through the rails in the switch, but I question the $60 increase for that improved feature.

Just my $.02 as to why my feelings have changed for the Atlas product.

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