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  • Lackawanna 50-ton two-bay hoppers

    BY WAYNE A. SITTNER

    Page 31: "The Road of Anthracite" was the Lackawanna, and to help move the hard coal, DL&W fielded 1000 of these 50-ton hoppers.

    Page 32: Although these cars photographed in November 1984 at Moosic, Po., All photos, Wayne A. Sittner have seen better days, they do offer a good study of end-of-car construction.

    Several photos of author Sittner's HO scale DL&W 50-ton hoppers provide overall and close-up views of the fine detailing he performed and the special attention he paid to end-of-car features.

    Page 33: Overhead view shows the "rusty-dusty patina" the author has come to associate with hoppers after observing the prototype. Eye-level view gives the perspective of a yard scene and reveals more of the end-of-car detail. Also note the markings applied with a sharp white pencil to represent chalked-on notations added by shippers and agents.
    Prototype Modeler - June July 1985 - Page 31 Prototype Modeler - June July 1985 - Page 32 Prototype Modeler - June July 1985 - Page 33

    Lackawanna 50-ton two-bay hoppers Maintaining a large fleet of hoppers for servicing the heavy anthracite coal industry in Pennsylvania's Wyoming and Lackawanna valleys was a major concern of the Delaware, Lackawanna & Western a slate as the 1950's. To satisfy the need for adequate equipment the railroad operated as m any as 6 500 cars, e ven as coal was surely falling from prominence as a fuel for home and industry after World War II. The American Car & Foundry-built cars of the 86500-87499 series which we'll be looking at here are most typical of the hoppers operated by the Lackawanna during the period from the car's introduction in 1949 to the Erie Lackawanna merger in 1961. During this decade the hopper fleet was diminished to a little over 4000 cars with the retirement of many worn-out and obsolete cars. The 86500-87499 cars comprised the largest single series during this period and were the last hopper cars built for the DL&W.

    The history of these welded 50-ton cars began in 1949 when ACF built the first 500 cars. Upon receipt by the DL&W they were numbered 8650-86999. In 1953 a second 500-car delivery was made by the same builder, thus rounding out the series. The origin of the cars seems to have come from a s hared design since PullmanStandard was building a similar type hopper during the same period. This, of course, is not an uncommon occurrence as hopper cars go. One only needs to look at contemporary 100-ton ribside triple hoppers to see that Norfolk & Western, Bethlehem Steel and Pullman-Standard have been building almost identical cars for the past 17 years.

    Tracing the cars' life span through the EL years, when they were renumbered to the 30000-30999 series, becomes a little bit of a challenge. This renumbering apparently was necessitated because the original number series already was occupied by a group of Erie 40-foot XM boxcars. During the 15-year life of the EL the hoppers received the new numbers only when they were shopped; therefore they coexisted with the similarly numbered boxcars in large numbers over a s pan of m any years. For example, there were 314 hoppers still numbered in the old series as late as 1972, with 365 cars having received the new numbers. The final chapter for some of the cars has yet to be written since it appears that some were rebuilt with the hopper gates welded shut and side doors added to the outside of each hopper bottom, This reduced the status of the cars to ballast service in MofW trains, but it surely extended the life of the cars. They have been known to appear in Conrail ballast trains while twin hoppers of any kind have ceased to appear in the CR coal trains.

    The model

    Since, as we learned earlier, the DL&W's ACF cars shared a common design with Pullman-Standard's P S-3, a very accurate model can be built using Train Miniature's kit No. 3 003 3017. Dimensionally the model matches the prototype almost to the inch in height, width and length. There are some minor detail variations which must be attended to, however. These consist of removing the cast-on trust plaques which appear on the right panel of each side toward the top and carving off the upper portion of the l adders on the same panel where they extend from the eaves down to the diagonal of the slope sheets. I also carved off the tops of each of the two inner vertical end braces from the eaves down to a place just above w h ere the slope sheet begins. Care should be taken to leave a smooth surface in all cases. The addition of some detail also helps in achieving a closer representation of the DL&W prototype. This includes adding the length of angle s tock which appears horizontally across the middle of the slope sheets and the two diagonal braces which extend from the inside of the end sills up to these angles. I used Plastruct angle for these additions. The accompanying prototype photos can be used as a reference for this work.

    For the modeler interested in advanced detail, the cast-on handrails and grab irons can be replaced with Detail Associates No. 2504 .012" brass wire and Northeastern No. 852 grab irons, respectively. This seemed like a logical choice to me since the cast-on detail appeared heavy, especially in the area where I found it necessary to add Northeastern grab irons to replace the top rungs of the previously removed ladder tops. With this work accomplished, I felt the cast-on corner steps also appeared out of place and decided to replace them.

    This is a change which requires consideration, though, because the correct two-step replacement must be fabricated from shim brass. There are no commercially available replacement steps to ease the work. After putting on a pair of Kadee No. 5 couplers I added one final detail to complete the fine scale appearance of my model. I installed cut-levers made from Detail Associates. 012" brass wire. I secured them to the car body with Detail Associates No. 2206 wire eyebolts and to the coupler cover plates through a predrilled hole.

    Before considering paint and decals, I attached the trucks to test the model's operating characteristics. I'm partial to metal wheels on my rolling s tock. After finding that Kadee replacement wheelsets and Central Valley fine tread replacement whee lsets didn't work well in the TM-supplied truck side frames, I replaced them with Kilgore Designs Bettendorf sprung trucks. I also added extra weight. This was accomplished by cementing bird shot between the hopper bays with Elmer's Glue-All.

    Now that the model looked and operated to my standards, I applied paint, decals and weathering. The initial color applied was Floquil Tuscan Red. This was sprayed into the car's interior to represent the ever-present rust seen on the scoured surfaces. Next I applied Floquil Weathered Black to the trucks and the underframe and finally Floquil Engine Black to the sides and ends. In preparation for decaling I over sprayed the sides and ends with Hi-Gloss.

    Champ decals were used to letter the model. To conform to the prototype slides I was following while building the model, I combined set HN 24 DL&W Road Name with HD 4 Hopper Dimensional Data. After lettering, I overs prayed the model with Testors Dullcoat and allowed it to set for a week.

    Finally, weathering was added to complete the model. I painted the wheels black to represent the coating of coal dust imbedded in grease commonly seen on hoppers. The truck side frames and the underframe got a coating of "grunge " which can be mixed with any combination of browns and grays on a plastic palette. The car sides were vertically streaked with a highly diluted solution of this same mixture applied with a bristle brush. To enhance the interior, I applied a coat of Weathered Black to the upper part of the sides and ends, allowing it to form an irregular border with the previously s prayed Tuscan Red. This completed the initial weathering. Next, I dusted the car exterior with dark brown pastel and the inside with orange pastel. This gave the rusty dusty patina I've come to visually associate with hoppers after observing the prototype.

    Detailed weathering consisted of "spotting on" dark brown paint with a pointed brush to represent rust s pots appearing through the exterior paint. The interior got the same treatment, but the patches of rust added here were larger to give the effect of a scaled metal surface. The last details I added were the little chalked-on notations applied to the car sides by shippers, forwarding a gents and the like. This was done with a very sharp white pencil.

    Article Details

    • Original Author Wayne A. Sittner
    • Source Prototype Modeler
    • Publication Date June-July 1985

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