Atlas Nscale Train Set
#1
Hello Everyone -

Here's a quick review of the Atlas Norfolk Southern Nscale Train set I purchased yesterday from my LHS.

These sets contain everything you need in one box to jump into the world of Nscale model railroading...with an engine, caboose, four cars, power pack and enough track to create a 30" oval. The track itself is "True Track" Code 65 which is the "plastic ballasted" type that interlocks. The power pack is a small, more basic model with an ON/OFF switch, Direction switch, and Overload indicator light. There are both AC and DC outputs on the back of the power pack. The wires from the power pack lead to a straight piece of track, but where they touch the rails is hidden by a plastic molded shed attached to the plastic ballast - and doesn't look too bad.

The engine in our set is the GP15-1 in Norfolk Southern colors. This model's shell is pretty accurately done, with only some very minor decal errors compared to the prototype. A picture of the actual road number of this engine that I found showed that this engine was still in Conrail blue, and not the black "horse head" NS coloring. But other engines very close to this road number were changed over from CR blue/white to NC black/white, and the only real error Atlas made was painting the cab area above the windshield and around the number boards white instead of black. (There's probably a picture somewhere of the entire area above the front windshield painted white, but I couldn't find it.) All that white doesn't take away from an otherwise nicely detailed engine. I installed a Digitrax DN163A2 decoder which didn't fit as easily as other Atlas dcc installations. Since this engine is part of the Atlas Trainman lineup, the shell might look good, but under the shell is a different game. There is no plastic add-on fuel tank. The tank is cut/molded as part of the frame and painted black. Although not very noticeable, it isn't as close to the prototype as you might like. The frame is the basic Atlas type, with a screw in each end that when removed, allows the frame to split in half...but BE CAREFUL...there are two very small clear plastic strips that keep the bottom of the plastic motor mount securely in the frame. Don't lose these. The motor mount will move around in the frame without these. Additionally, the cuts in the frame where the decoder is placed are much larger than required for the Digitrax decoder, allowing for poor electrical contact with the frame. I added a tiny piece of styrene to gap making sure there was good contact between frame and decoder. I also removed the drive shaft bushing closest to the motor (a typical Atlas 4-axle fix to reduce growl and improve performance) which helped this little engine move more smoothly. The engines runs fine, getting a bit better with more time on the motor/gearing.

The Atlas Trainman cars were nicely done and typical of what you'd buy in the store. Nothing very special, but nothing too cheap looking either.

All in all, you get a pretty good value for the money, with the biggest benefit of getting everything but the scenery in one box. My son (11) was thrilled with the set, allowing him to get everything together in about five minutes and run his dc engines without problems. (I ended up using the engine on our larger dcc layout.) You can purchase additional track sections from most LHS's and make this set bigger and more interesting. With the holiday's around the corner...take a good look at this set as the perfect idea for someone just getting started in the world of Nscale model railroading. Everything works, it looks pretty good, and runs well.
Mark

Citation Latitude Captain
--and--
Lt Colonel, USAF (Retired)
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