Side-by-Side Review: Overland and Tangent GATC 4500 Covered Hoppers

The Overland Models Inc GATC 4500 Covered hopper was one of my "Holy grail" models. In 2023 enter Tangent with their own model of this Covered hopper! I knew I had to have one.

Paraphrasing Tangent's history of the GATC (General American Tank Car) 4500 cubic foot Covered hopper, we learn that the prototype came about in 1963 with over 1200 made for several railroads.

I've always desired to paint an Overland Models version in ATSF billboard letters and patching it to more modern 2nd hand lease service.

The Tangent cars retail for $56.95 each, which is considerably good when looking at prices of the brass models!

First run comes decorated for Santa Fe (post 1980 rebuild), CB&Q, CGW & ADM blue lease. I added two ATSF to my roster to patch to some modern lease schemes.

The boxes are comparable for their era, however no really comes close to the foam of Brass models, for protection.


Roofwalk details are comparable, with the Overland banking slightly larger holes. I don't have prototype measurements to accurately inform you which one is correct (or closer to).

However, as with all modern models with etched metal parts, there is bound to be warped parts. The 3 decade old Overland Models version does not have this issue.

End details and brake rigging is comparable, with the Overland having ever so little less detail. When compared to other models from 30 years ago, Overland was ahead of its time.

Underbody detail is impressive on both. Both feature similar designed outlets. Tangent mentions these were modified in Santa Fe's 1980 rebuild. The Overland trucks are showing their age, but feature active spring suspension. Tangent has chosen to include spinning roller bearing caps. Both of these trucks have inherent increased friction compared to conical point axle trucks.

Likely due to their age, when I do paint my Overland, I'll replace the trucks with Tangent or Athearn Genesis versions.

Following NMRA Recommended Practice 20.1, these cars should weigh 4.5oz.

Both are over, with the Overland weighing more due to its brass and steel construction. A slight variance for overweight is ok in my book. Overweight cars don't effect tracking, but will help to increase friction, thus decreasing train length.

Overland includes no couplers, but has provisions for Kadee coupler boxes. Tangent has always used Kadee products. Coupler height appears to be accurate for both models.

Overall I'd give high praise for anyone considering Overland Models. Mine is approaching 3 decades old and it still holds up to modern high-end products. Tangent has done an amazing job with this model and anyone modeling grain trains after the mid-1960's should consider adding at least one to break up the size and shape of cars in their train(s).

©2023, Joshua Baakko,