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  • Central of Georgia 3-Bay Covered Hoppers

    A basic kitbash produces a car not available in kit form


    Left: The Central of Georgia purchased 50 2893-cubic-foot three-bay covered hoppers in 1957, representative of which is No. 927 seen here at Macon, Ga., in 1983. Long a Southern Railway subsidiary, the CofG lettered much of its rolling stock to reflect the SR influence, as shown here with No. 927's block gothic road name.

    Right top: CofG No. 917 is in the older paint scheme, featuring THE RIGHT WAY's logo and CofG herald on both sides of the car. This view of the three-bay hopper provides an exact guide as to the locations of the bays and roof hatches.

    Right bottom: These two views show details on both ends of typical CofG three-bay covered hoppers. Note the bent ladder and support braces of the hopper at left. This is an often-overlooked weathering detail which can enhance the realism of your models, no matter what kind of car it is.
    Prototype Modeler - July 1986 - Page 8 Prototype Modeler - July 1986 - Page 9

    Three-bay covered hoppers are readily visible on today's rail roads and are used for the movement of various dry bulk commodities such as grain, cement and clay. Models of these cars are not easy to find, how ever, in ready-to-run or kit form. ARM produced one several years ago, but it is no longer available.

    The Central of Georgia, now part of Southern Railway/Norfolk Southern had 50 2893-cubic-foot, three-bay hoppers delivered in 1957 which were numbered in the 900-949 series. The October 1982 Official Railway Equipment Register lists 32 cars of this series still in use. These cars are gradually being renumbered into Southern's 95700 series and there are presently 14 cars currently in use out of the 32 of 1982.

    To kitbash these CofG covered hoppers, three Model Die Casting two-bay covered hopper kits are required. I was unable to locate any detailed drawings of these cars, so a trip to the local freight yard was in order. Armed with a camera and tape measure, basic measurements were made which produced the following data: length, 46 feet corner to corner on the side sill; height, 8'-8" roof to sill corner. The height is very close to that of the MDC car, so I decided to build one of the 2893-cubic foot cars. CofG also had a similar car that measured 9'-9" high, with a capacity of 3510 cubic feet. These are numbered in the 1200 series.

    Left: On this page, bay and truck area views of the CofG covered hopper. To produce a centered bay on his model, the author removed the cast details seen here on the side of the bay and then laminated styrene on the bay until it was centered.

    Left: The author used two Model Die Casting two-bay covered hopper kits to produce one of his CofG three-bay cars. Each three-bay car is made from a 30-foot and a 17-foot section of the two-bay cars, as seen in the top photo. Be sure to carefully make your razor cuts and file and sand as needed to ensure the proper side rib spacing is maintained. The author also used the frame pieces from the two-bay kits to make longer ones for the CofG cars. The middle photo shows the frame before it is cemented together, and also how the middle bay is laminated with styrene to center it under the car body. In the lower photo, we see the model after the body halves and frame pieces are assembled. Note how the frame splice is nicely hidden by the car's middle bay.
    Prototype Modeler - July 1986 - Page 10 Prototype Modeler - July 1986 - Page 11

    Three of the MDC kits will yield two three-bay hoppers. One of the carbodies was cut exactly in half with a razor saw, and this creates an A and B end which measures slightly less than 17 feet in length for splicing onto the other kits. These cuts were carefully squared up with a file and sandpaper. The other two cars were cut on the out side edge of the last side brace which was used as a guide to produce a square cut. This cut will yield a car body slightly less than 30 feet in length with either an A or B end which can then be spliced to the appropriate 17-foot half-car. The ends were filed and sanded square so a near-perfect joint can be made. The complete car will measure 46' -6".

    After careful sanding of the cut edges to reduce the rib spacing to 5' -6", the short section was laid aside so I could complete modifications to the sides and bottom of the long two-bay section. The two small ribs next to the cut end are removed with a knife blade so the side can be sanded smooth after the two sections are joined.

    If you join the two sections at this time, you will notice the center bay is not centered on the car. Rather than cutting out the bay and moving it over, I removed the cast-on detail of this center bay with a knife, filed it smooth and laminated 0.10" styrene to the side of the bay toward the center of the car. This produces a centered bay.

    The two body sections can now be joined with styrene cement and the joints then reinforced with styrene sheets placed on the inside. Any remaining gaps in the joint were filled with a body putty such as Green Magic. When this dried, the joint was sanded smooth with 400- and 600-grit sandpaper. This completes the body changes.

    Left top: The author approximated the locations of the roof hatches because exact dimensions were not available, but you can see the final result is very acceptable.
    br< Below top: After painting and final details are added, none of the splice locations is visible. Although it is slightly wider than the others, the middle bay looks just right.

    Right top: The author finished his CofG car with Walthers lettering for the road name. He cut a small section out of each letter used, since the available letters were too large. All other lettering came from Microscale.

    Right bottom: Southern repainted several of the CofG cars after the latter's absorption, and No. 95708 below is typical of that group. All decals for this car were from Microscale. Both cars were painted Floquil SP Lettering Gray.
    Prototype Modeler - July 1986 - Page 12 Prototype Modeler - July 1986 - Page 13

    Next, the roof needs to be cut to match the prototype hatch arrangement. I was unable to take any measurements directly on top of the car, but a good broadside photo of the car allowed me to approximate the positions of the hatches in relation to the side ribs. These cars have only ten hatches and the small two-bay MDC cars have eight, so I had the opportunity to cut the MDC roof into various sections and rearrange them to match the prototype. The CofG cars required five separate pieces -- the four hatches at each end remained as a unit, the two center hatches came from another section and the remaining gaps in the roof were filled with leftover roof scraps. All the cuts were made with a razor saw and the ends were sanded square and smooth, glued with Testors cement and reinforced on the back with scrap styrene. Any remaining gaps were filled with Green Magic body putty and sanded smooth before being attached to the carbody. The ends of the car roof are closed solid and this was represented by adding thin styrene strips to each end and sanding to match the roof contour. The MDC roof walks are rather thick so they were discarded. New ones were made by cutting roof walks from an Athearn 54-foot P-S covered hopper kit. The basic carbody is now finished except for modifications to the MDC cast under frame.

    Rather than attempting to splice the underframe with many different cuts, I removed a bolster from each frame, about ten feet from the end. Designate separate A and B ends so you are able to use the MDC brake details provided in the kit. By cutting the frames in this manner, the resulting joint will be in the middle of the center bay and is not visible. The cast-on lugs used to hold the discharge hatch details should also be removed. The underframe with the brake details is now glued in place with ACC. The discharge hatch details can now be attached per the MDC instructions, but with glue rather than screws. The cars are now ready for painting.

    First they were washed and dried, and airbrushing with Floquil SP Lettering Gray followed. When dry, they were sprayed with Micro Coat Gloss to produce a smooth surface for the decals. No decals are currently available to letter these cars in the original paint scheme which had a black Central of Georgia herald and THE RIGHT WAY slogan.

    I did one car in the CofG style which reflects the Southern influence. The block gothic lettering is similar to Southern's present style, but only extended square gothic lettering is available in the correct height (from Walthers). To correctly letter the car, I had to cut a small section from each letter to produce the condensed block gothic style. The balance of the lettering and data came from a Microscale data sheet.

    The Southern car is the product of a recent painting of one of the original CofG cars. The Southern also had similar cars with a different roof hatch arrangement. This car is much easier to do because the lettering is found on a Microscale No. 87-13 decal set and the data is again from the Microscale set mentioned earlier. After the decals were applied in the normal manner, the cars were washed, dried and then sprayed with several light coats of Micro Coat Flat to protect the decals and hide the film. The trucks were lightly sprayed with the same gray as the car and then attached along with Kadee NO. 5 couplers.

    Both of these cars required a little more time to prepare than ordinary shake-the-box kits, but provide two rather common cars not readily available. They can be used on any layout that represents the mid-1950's to the present.

    Article Details

    • Original Author William R. Jones
    • Source Prototype Modeler
    • Publication Date July 1986

    Article Album (6 photos)

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