Review: Atlas’ new ICC Wide-vision van

Side view
The new and improved Atlas ICC Wide Vision van.

Atlas RR has had a wide-vision van (or caboose) model for many years, and one has been offered as Rutland #50. However that model was not very accurate. Yes it was an ICC Wide-Vision or Wide-Cupola van, but it missed many details like roof walks and full height ladders to name a few. At best, the model worked well to represent modern or modernized ICC vans.

There is the rub. The original Atlas version is TOO new for the Rutland.

The Rutland vans, #50 and #51, were the first two of a planned 10 van purchase. These were to replace the remaining 25-37, 40-47 series wooden vans that are a signature of The Rutland. Delivered in the summer of 1959, they were the only ones to arrive. Revenues fell dramatically in that year and the remainder of the order was cancelled. #50 and #51 were only on the property until May 1962. The Rutland was shuttered by a strike in September 1961 and never restarted.

As delivered, the Rutland vans had roof walks, full height ladders, solid bearing trucks, etc.

The Overland brass model, released around 2000, is the definitive model and yes, the company did both #50 and #51 as factory painted models. Below are photos of the Overland, which came from Brasstrains.com.

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By comparison, the Atlas original model is basic. Which is OK. Overland’s model runs for $150-250 US on the Ebay market, Atlas’ original model was $19.95.

And now for the new model. Atlas re-released the model with some updates. Better detailing on the end platform railings, roofwalks (!) and full height ladders.

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I purchased #50 as I model the Ogdensburg Sub, which is where that van was assigned. I originally owned a brass model, but sold it when I backdated from 1959 to 1957.

What’s wrong with it?

Well the railings on the ends, while more detailed than the original Atlas model, have extra cross pieces that are not needed. That should be easy to fix. The trucks are roller-bearing, the prototype used solid bearing trucks. OK, an easy fix. The under body detailing is missing the brake gear piping etc. Again, a fairly simple fix. Cut levers are missing. Another easy fix. In the end, small details (except the trucks) which are easy to fix or replace.

So what is right with it?

Roof walks and ladders are correct. Two big things to try to come up with and graft on to the original model that now we don’t have to do. Paint, great rendition. Inexpensive (compared to brass). Basic detailing, mostly right.

The unknown?

Yes there is one unknown. #51. I have not seen a photo of the new model #51. This is a key question: where is the “Rutland, Green Mountain logo” placed? Why is that important. On #50, it is in the right location, but #51 had it’s logo below the yellow band. I know Atlas received a few emails about this from Rutland modellers like myself. I don’t know if the logo has been put in the right place, and I am not about to buy one to find out. I don’t need #51. But if anyone out there in model railroad land has and want to take a picture of it to email me, please do so.

Final word:

Overall, this is a great Rutland model. The details that Atlas get right are good. The paint is good. And there are roof walks and proper ladders, which are (in my opinion) the two most difficult things to modify. The little fixes are just a series of mini-projects to do. Buy new trucks, and replace them. Buy some detail parts for the brake lines, or lift bars on the ends, and install them. Cut and touch up the extra railing pieces on the ends.

My one wish is that Atlas had done an etched aluminum or stainless steel window screen for some of the windows. The Overland model had the pieces in a bag, but none for the Atlas model.

Overland parts bag

I purchased my model from M.B. Klein (not a paid endorsement) and am really happy with it. I already have replaced the couplers with Kadee #58’s and plan on doing the other fixes over the coming weeks.

If you are a fan or modeller of the Rutland and don’t want to break the bank, get one or both of these models. Make sure they are the new ones, and not the ones without roof walks that people have on Ebay.

For comparison purposes, I referred to photos I have collected of the prototype, the book “Rutland in Color” by Phil Jordan, the few black and white photos in The Newsliner, which is a publication of the Rutland Railroad Historical Society, and this photo below.

Photo of Santa Maria Valley RR #210, formerly Rutland #50. – Photo by Earl C. Leatherberry, used with permission.

You can see some of Earl’s other great railroad and non-railroad photography on his Flickr Photostream by clicking here.