Todays manufacturers are producing more and more beautifully detailed cars, but for a price. While these cars are beautiful in every detail, and yes, I have some of these cars, it can be quite expensive to collect a fleet of these.
If you need to equip a large layout with rolling stock, or put together a say 120 car train for that large club layout you may run on, this can be quite expensive. Especially for younger modelers getting started in the hobby. But all is not lost.
Two manufacturers stand out, actually three come to mind. Two are older, tried and true companies, while one is a relatively newcomer. The two older companies are Accurail and Bowser. The newcomer is Scale Trains. All three produce models at reasonable prices. All three produce models that run well in my opinion. Scale Trains with their Operator series has really raised the bar, with beautiful, reasonably priced models.
When I was building my original 4×8, I needed a fleet of hoppers quickly that were inexpensive. I also needed other types of cars as well. Before Scale Trains and some of the more higher end models were around, I went looking into Bowser and Accurail products. Although these models have molded on details, they look decent with a little work and weathering, and look very nice when finished.
Today I’ll concentrate on Atlas, especially the GM&O hopper shown below. What I did on this hopper as on a lot of my cars, I change out the wheels for semi-scale wheels, and change out the couplers for Kadee whisker couplers. To weather this car, I used a diluted dirt wash, then used oils to simulate the rust. I also weathered the underside, plus painted and weathered the trucks and wheels. The couplers I went over with a rust texture. To finish the car I added ACI plates.
I get a lot of compliments on this car, and for a $15.00 car, I think it looks great!