Manufacturer Spotlight - Atlas Model Railroad Co.

February 28, 2017

Manufacturer Spotlight - Atlas Model Railroad Co. is a proud Atlas dealer! Here is a history of Atlas Model Railroad via their website.

The History of Atlas Model Railroad Co.

Atlas Model Railroad Company, Inc. has its roots in model railroad track and accessory making through invention, innovation and ingenuity. Atlas has a proud reputation as a family-owned business and is well-known for quality and excellence.

Founded by Stephan Schaffan Sr. in 1924, Atlas Tool Company began as a general machine shop in a small garage at 330 Waverly Avenue in Newark, New Jersey. Stephan Schaffan Sr. immigrated from Czechoslovakia around the turn of the century and brought his machine and toolmaking skills with him. In 1933, after graduating first in his class from Essex County Vocational School, Stephan Schaffan Jr. joined his father in the business at age 16. Atlas Tool Company became a father and son team.

Steve Jr. built model airplanes as a hobby and frequented a local hobby shop. Being an enterprising young man, he would often ask the owner if there was anything he could do to earn some extra spending money. Tired of listening to his requests, the hobby-store owner threw some model railroad track parts his way and said, "Here, see if you can improve on this".

In those days, railroad modelers had to assemble and build everything from scratch. Steve Jr. created a "switch kit" which sold so well, that the entire family worked on them in the basement at night, while doing business as usual in the machine shop during the day.

Subsequently, Steve Jr. engineered the stapling of rail to fiber track, along with inventing the first practical rail joiner and pre-assembled turnouts and flexible track. All of these products, and more, helped to popularize model railroading and assisted in the creation of a mass-market hobby. The budding entrepreneur quickly outgrew the limitations of a basement and small garage operation. Realizing they could actually make a living selling track and related products, Steve and his father had the first factory built in Hillside, New Jersey at 413 Florence Avenue in 1947. On September 30th, 1949, Atlas Tool Company Inc. was officially incorporated as a New Jersey company. 

Steve went on to be a worldwide leader and an innovator in the hobby. He created such masterpieces as world renowned Super-Flex® Track, Snap-Switches®, Custom-Line® Turnouts and more. Steve’s efforts in Europe, Asia and the United States brought model railroading to a new level, and hobbyists have him to thank for the reliability and durability they enjoy in Atlas track, even to this day.

In 1985, Steve was honored posthumously for his landmark inventions by the Model Railroad Industry Association and was inducted into the Model Railroad Industry Hall of Fame in Baltimore, Maryland. In addition, Steve was nominated and entered into the National Model Railroad Association Pioneers of Model Railroading in 1995.

Over time Atlas has expanded their product line to include much more than just track. There are now Atlas products available for almost every aspect of HO and N scale model railroading. In N scale, Atlas has spent over 25 years developing a collection of over 40 freight car types in more than 550 paint schemes, each with fine detailing and quality painting and printing. Atlas’ ready-to-run HO line is also very extensive and includes over 25 different freight car types, in more than 265 paint schemes. Atlas will continue to expand both their HO and N scale line of freight cars in the future.

Atlas HO and N scale locomotives are noted for their prototypical, fine details, printing, reliability, excellent throttle response, and smooth operation at slow speeds. To power layouts on which these locomotives run, Atlas produces a variety of electrical components accompanied by clear, concise instructions designed to make wiring easy for both inexperienced and accomplished modelers. 

To complement its train products, Atlas offers a library of layout instruction books that are now updated with the latest modeling techniques and technology for modelers of all skill levels. Combined they contain over 60 time-tested layout designs to choose from.

Our offices are located at 378 Florence Avenue in Hillside, NJ. Steve Schaffan's only child, Diane, is president and her husband, Tom Haedrich, is CEO and oversees day-to-day operations.

The primary mission of Atlas is to produce and offer to the public, multiple scale lines of high quality, model railroad products based on prototype information. Atlas’ philosophy is based on a dedicated commitment to prototype research, design and construction. The desired and demanded goal is to create, market and distribute durable operational scale models utilizing the full range of exacting detail which accurately depicts life-sized objects, while providing exceptional service to our customers.

By keeping up the high standards set by Steve Schaffan over 50 years ago, Atlas will remain a leader in innovation and technology in the model railroading industry for years to come. Although many things have changed since our incorporation in 1949, we follow the tradition and values of our founders. As we have for the last 50 years, we will continue to produce quality, precision products for the model railroad enthusiast.

See what's available from Atlas on TrainLife HERE

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