First post - so I apologize if this one has already been asked and answered (my search fu can be pretty poor...).  In any case, my 13 year old son and I have decided we wanted to try our hand at modeling a pretty realistic layout as follows:

- PRR freight train that you would see in the Western Pennsylvania area preferably in the Pittsburgh area

- Time frame would be mid-ish 1940s  at the latest

- We are figuring one line would be to haul hoppers for coal/limestone

- One line for general freight with a mix of boxcars, a reefer or two, a tank car or two and a couple of gondolas

We are planning on making the line as realistic as possible with the exception of practicality for using 3-rail and neither of us want to triple the time invested to get it to 100 percent.  In any case, I have been able to find any number of higher quality stock for most of my cars and have gone pretty heavy into the Atlas O "steam era classic" line.  This line covers most everything I need with the exception of gondolas.  Zip, nada, nothing in PRR gondolas.  Any suggestions on where I can find higher quality gondolas?

Thank you.


Original Post

Hi Dave,

The PRR built much of its rolling stock in its own shops. When Atlas released its Trainman 50'6" gondola, Atlas said that it was based on a PRR design. Atlas has released at least two PRR paint schemes of this gondola: 0627-1, 0627-2, small letters, built 1-52 and 2002103-1, 2002103-2 large letters, built 8-51.


Everything I have heard about the Atlas O Trainman Gon says it was based on a Pennsy Prototype.

The original car was designed and released in the 80s by Atlas.     The scuttlebutt is that a guy named Ted Stepek did the design and layout for the 4 cars Atlas did in that era.    The gon, a 40 ft sliding dr boxcar, a 40 ft plugdoor boxcar and a modern caboose.    The Gon and the 40 ft sliding door car are supposed to be based on Pennsy cars.    The Plugdoor box is supposedly imaginary and the caboose has a modern prototype.     Ted Stepek was a train buddy with John Armstrong - a bit of trivia - and if you have John's track planning books, a layout in one of them is called the Schulkill Division and was a plan that Ted built.

If you model the 40s, you need the the "circle keystone" paint schems on Pennsy cars.    The shadow keystone started to appear about 1955.    the final scheme was just the initials and number was in the early 60s I think.

The new Atlas O car appears to have the identical superstructure to the Atlas car from the 80 but has a modernized underframe and trucks.     These cars work out quite well with a little weathering.

If you have shopping time you can often find these old gons at train shows for 10 or so but you have repaint and replace trucks and couplers.

Thanks All.  I greatly appreciate the help.  I learned the hard way on paint schemes: I bought four Atlas O hoppers with the shadow keystone and then found an article that provided info on all of their paint schemes.  Duh...   I then stopped buying anything and spent a bunch of time reading to ensure I didn't make any other major mistakes.  Public Delivery has a bunch of stuff so they will be a big help.

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