Sunday, August 22, 2021

Western Maryland hoppers, Part 2

 In introducing this topic, I showed some prototype photos to illustrate a few of the reasons that many modelers and railfans fell in love with the Western Maryland. I also showed models of the two major and distinctive classes of WM hopper cars, the channel-side and the drop-side designs. That post can be found here:

[I should have mentioned, and apologize for forgetting, the superb book by Bob Karig, Coal Cars (Univ. of Scranton Press, 2007). This book contains a phenomenal amount of information about hoppers, from history to design and construction, and to service history. It also includes a very large gallery of car photos. If you have even a faint interest in hoppers, find yourself a copy of this book.]

When starting to draft that first post (see first paragraph, above), a very faint bell rang in my memory. I had a feeling that I owned another drop-side hopper model, somewhere. Since such a car was not in my active inventory, I opened up my “storage” box of old or discarded or unworkable models. Sure enough, there it was, a nicely assembled Ulrich hopper car that I had picked up at a swap meet.

You can see it’s lettered for the Big Four (Cleveland, Cincinnati, Chicago & St. Louis, or CCC&StL), formed in 1889 as a component of the New York Central. However, to my knowledge the NYC System never had any, or had any significant number, of the drop-side design hoppers. The number on the model, 79325, in fact lies within a group of 1918-built USRA hoppers on the CCC&StL, which were cars with straight side sills.

Although the model is nicely lettered, the lettering style is that of the 1920s (though some examples may have survived into the late 1940s), and I already have NYC System hoppers. The thought promptly surfaced that I could repaint and reletter the model as a WM car. 

(Incidentally, back in the 1950s, Ulrich offered this car body in a variety of road names, as you can see in the 1959 catalog segment below, including Western Maryland. They even lettered the car for Pennsylvania, though the body style is not exactly PRR. You may find any or all of these road names on Ulrich hoppers for sale on eBay.)

Before repainting, I removed the glued-in load, so I could make it removable. I added the missing brake wheel, and wire for the left-edge hand grab, and painted the model with Tamiya’s “Oxide Red” Fine Surface Primer, which is an appropriately rich red-brown.

Next came lettering. The issue here is which and how much lettering to apply. As built, the cars had much more lettering than when repainted. To demonstrate, below is a Bethlehem builder photo, provided to me by the late Larry Kline. This is 1942 lettering.

Incidentally, note the lettering here, between the hopper outlets, showing that the car has a Duryea cushion underframe (you can click on the image to enlarge it if you wish). I made no attempt to model this underframe, or lettering about it. I also omitted most other lettering on the right side of the car, because it was omitted in later years, as you can see in the photo below (Internet image, uncredited).

I used parts of the old Champ HN-60 set, the most valuable part of which may be the correct size railroad herald to fit the rib spacing. Most of the remainder is from the both Champ and Sunshine decal capacity data.  I lettered my car within the 10000–14400 number series of this large group of twin hoppers. Here is the model, awaiting weathering. Addition of reweigh and repacking stencils will follow weathering (I will letter the reweigh for Elkins, symbol EK, where there was a car shop).

Even if, as a California modeler, I really need awfully few hopper cars on my layout, I still find them to be interesting prototypes and models. The present post is just one expression of this. For another example, you may consult this post: .

Tony Thompson

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