The Three Sizes of Athearn

                          By Glenn Morson

    In 2003, Athearn  Trains of Carson, California released their first fire engines to compliment their growing model rail road line of accessories. The first fire related model was the Ford C, with bodies from E-One and KME. The model was introduced in to the HO model train scale with a number of generic fire departments in an array of striking paint schemes. Eventually the first of the real departments came into production with authentic graphics and liveries from Chicago, Boston and Riverside, CA to name a few. This was an exciting time for fire model collectors, finally the Ford C fire pumper but with one drawback! There where no tooling variations between the different departments. The model is actually modeled off the Riverside Fire Departmentís Ford and was repainted to match the other Fire Departmentsí Fords, so keeping that in mind if you want an accurate Ford C pumper in your collection.

Photo used with the permission of the Riverside Fire Department

2004 brings a BIG surprise from Athearn; they previewed three new models to be added to their ever expanding range. First the HO Ford C, Gerstenslarger/Ford Rescue to be released in all the generic departments to match the pumpers, quickly followed by the real departments. The sample I received was one of the generic trucks; I was very impressed with the quality of this model. The attention to detail is outstanding and the casting is sharp. Clear lenses for warning lights and head lights plus well replicated painted lights on the rescue body; the graphics are crisp and very clear. This is a must to compliment your Ford C pumpers.

The second model from Athearn is also on the Ford C chassis, this is the superbly detailed TeleSqurt, first available in six generic fire departments. But Iím almost certain Athearn will not waste time in bringing the desired companion to your collection of Athearnís rescues and pumpers to complete the trio. Again Atherns did an outstanding job on this model with the same quality we the collectors have now begun to expect from this company. One thing that stands out is the TeleSqurt boom, it is fully functional and posable; all I can say is let the photos do the talking.

Click on Photo to Enlarge


  Now the BIG ONE Athearnís goes Die-cast with its first 1/50 scale model, I received the sample and WOW was I impressed, as it weighs in at almost 1 pound. The cab body and chassis are all metal including the hose bed cover, there is some plastic for add on parts. Again with this model you are getting the Riverside Ford C in a variation of real fire departments. Only four are scheduled at this time: - Boston, Riverside, Chicago and Washington, DC. This is a must if you collect Corgiís Boston and Chicago Models, again not true to the real departments but a nice addition to your collection. The casting has some flaws in the sample I have, but itís a pre-production piece and I was assured that the final castings would be clean of any flaws. There are a couple of downsides to this model; the hoses are cast in metal as part of the main body casting, all the grab bars and door handles are also cast into the cab and body. Other features of the model include some painted, as well as clear or colored light lenses, a highly detailed pump panel, and crisp, legible graphics. Overall this is a nice model at a price of $34.98, you should bear one thing in mind, this is not by any means a collectable model and it is not marketed as such, but a reasonable reproduction of a Ford C fire pumper intended to be used on an O scale model rail road layout. I personally would like to see Athearn move over to the collectors market by retooling this Ford model at a price increase of maybe $10 or so.


Pre-Production sample, changes may be made to final product


From BIG to SMALL the Ford C is also available in N gauge, again in all the various departments with clear glazing plus tinted lights and some metal parts, these models are $18.98 each, I think thatís a little high compared to the $24.98 for the HO gauge rescue and the $27.98 For the HO Squrt but if you need a N gauge fire department for your model rail road it would be worth every penny.


So there you have it, the three sizes of Athearn, looking back over this review Athearn has had an impressive year. Do they have more surprises planed in the future? Who knows, but I did ask John Engstrom director of Marketing for Athearn if there where more 1/50 scale die-cast planed? He replied ďNot at this time, we will have to assess and evaluate the sales of the first four releases.Ē So you know what that means, if you want to see a 1/50 scale rescue or TeleSqurt some time soon, get buying!


 Have your Say

    Would you pay that bit more for more of a collectable model from Athearn? What would you like to see being made in the future and in what scales? Or if you just have any general comments about this article of the Athearn products, please feel free to share it with your fellow collectors.

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Athearn 1550 Glenn Curtiss St.∑ Carson, CA 90746 

All contents of this review including photos are Copyright
of & Athearn, Carson, CA.


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