Athearn Model Trains-A History Of Excellence


Athearn model trains is a company that arrived on the model railroading  scene in 1938 when its owner Irv Athearn began by selling model trains out of his parents home.  His first sale was actually a highly detailed O scale model railroad layout which he managed to sell for the impressive sum of $10,000.  With the country just recovering from the worst economic downturn that it had ever experienced (the Great Depression), this model train sale for young Irv must have come as a great surprise, and most likely represented the fulfillment of a business dream which exceeded even his most highest expectations.

As time would prove, this sale served as the catalyst for what would become a continued successful journey in the manufacturing world of model trains, and one that would represent a product which has continually improved as the years have gone by.

Although the 1940’s represented a challenging time for the United States because of it’s involvement in World War II, Irv Athearn continued to make model trains and their accessories and sold them directly from his families home.

Through his persistence, and initial success, he was able to become a permanent manufacturer of model trains, and eventually opened his first plant in 1946 in the city of Hawthorne, California (where it is still located today), where he also branched into the production of ready-to-run HO scale model trains, and later ready-to-run N scale model trains as well.

If you are a serious hobbyist, you are no doubt familiar with this product line, and you are more than aware that Athearn model trains represent a high standard of quality, and a model train line that is moderately priced, which makes it affordable to most new model railroaders.

However, it also has to be pointed out that keeping his first model trains at an affordable price also meant producing a product that was uncomplicated in his early effort to rise to the top of the model railroading industry.

In so doing, the locomotives which were produced tended to be noisy and had an unwanted and frustrating tendency to run inconsistently.  Over the years collectors of these trains have, through their own ingenuity, figured out ways to improve the running quality of these locomotives.

When you buy any of the model trains offered by Athearn today however, you’ll discover that these previous problems are non-existent, and that you’ve purchased one of the higher quality model trains which are currently available in the marketplace.

Irv Athearn was an innovator who new the true value of keeping his product timely and current. He was constantly making changes which shook up the model train industry. He developed a totally new standard for the construction of the HO railcar which involved a pre-assembled body with a spot-welded under frame. 

In the upcoming years and in keeping with his desire to make innovative changes in the industry Irv Althearn also introduced the EMD F7 diesel utilizing the revolutionary “Hi-F” drive, and, in 1973, he introduced the F45 and FP45, which were among the first locomotives to include flywheels on the motor shaft.

Irv Athearn’s life ended in 1991, and he lived a life that one could easily say was completely devoted to the amazing hobby of model railroading. His legacy lives on because his companies new owners have continued to improve upon the quality of the entire model train product line.

The following is a list of the main products which are offered by Athearn Model Trains:

Before we look at the product line offered by Athearn, model trains enthusiast will discover that when they visit the official Athearn website that in addition to the various products which are available there is also a highly informative newsletter which can be subscribed to.  Additionally, the site also makes a show and event calendar available to those who are interested.

The Product Line

1.  The frontrunner of this companies product line is its ready-to-run HO scale models which includes locomotives, railcars, and also vehicles.  The level of detail varies, and as with any model line-up, the price of each model is based on the quality of the particular model which is being made available.

2.  We begin exploring the product with something they call Genesis.  This is Athearn’s HO product line which includes steam and diesel locomotives, passenger cars, vehicles, train sets, and freight cars.  This product line is what is known as their premier line-up.  This is to say that these models are limited editions and present the highest level of detail.

3.  N Scale – The N scale model is a fairly new addition to the Athearn model line-up, but with that said, it has experienced a fairly rapid growth and includes both diesel and steam locomotives, railcars of various types, and vehicles.  They are as the hobbyist would want highly detailed representations of their prototypes.

4.  Precision die cast models is a line-up of models which is sure to answer all of your needs when it comes to fine die-cast model vehicles.  Athearn offers everything from model A’s to semi-tractors in exacting detail and craftsmanship

.