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Quick Review: Athearn Genesis KTTX F89-F

This HO Scale release by Athearn in their Genesis series, from 2011, marked the best ever rendition of an 89' flat car in HO scale. The detail is outstanding for the price point. We can only hope that Athearn runs another release soon.

Athearn describes the prototype for this model as follows:

Introduced in the early 1960s, the Trailer Train (now TTX Company) F89F flatcar has been a mainstay of contemporary railroading. A product of Bethlehem Steel Company's (BSC) Johnstown, PA plant, over 9,000 of these (89' 8" over the strikers) cars were built throughout the 1960s. Visually distinctive from other long flatcars of their era thanks to their "C" channel side sills, these versatile cars were adapted for many types of service and loadings over the years, ranging from Trailer-On-Flatcar (TOFC), to autoracks, to structural steel loading. While the majority went to Trailer Train, many were built for various railroads, typically for autorack service. Many were "de-racked" in later years, being reassigned and equipped for other service - TOFC, vehicle loading, pipe service, etc.

It wasn't unusual for these cars to see several different loading configurations throughout their careers, in order to meet the changing needs of shippers. In service with Trailer Train, the three or four-letter reporting marks indicated the cars' intended service and corresponding equipment. For example, an "XTTX" car was equipped with four collapsible hitches, capable of carrying various combinations of 28', 40', or 45' trailers. A car in the "RTTX" configuration featured a pair of fixed hitches at the ends, and a retractable hitch amidships, allowing it to carry a pair of long (up to 45') trailers back-to-back, or three 28' "pup" trailers.

The model is well detailed, and the price ranges from $35-$50, or $75-$85 for the TTEX paired set (to be reviewed soon) [Ed: prices as of 2015].  The RTR model comes equipped with plastic couplers, and quality genesis trucks with code 110 metal wheels, with spinning bearing caps.  Weight was checked and was well withing NMRA RP20.1, a testament to the engineering put in.

Paint is perfect, lettering is all readable, and detail is superb.  Brake rigging is 90% modeled, with the portion missing where the rigging connects to the trucks, commonly left off of scale models.  No complaints other than the shown loose brake rigging, which was easily re-installed.  However, I am missing a bearing cap, and the replacement parts I got years ago will be installed when I weather the car.

Photos are abound of the prototype, and I hope to model the car in a well weathered black, with yellow reflective stripes, should there be a good reference.  When I do so I'll try to put up an article relating to how that progresses, and the installation of Sergent couplers.

The original 2015 rating stood at 5/5, however in the 5 years since this article was originally published, one of the last for the original Model Railroad Tips software, I've revised my rating standards. The quality model, impressive detail, and range of paint schemes, at a quality price, however a loose brake stand in the box and missing bearing cap, leads me to rate this model a 4.5 out of 5.

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