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Athearn C&O Shorty Athearn C&O "Shorty" Covered Hopper...

Athearn makes a 4-bay ACF covered hopper that with some major work can be made into a good C&O HC-29 covered hoppers.  This is a project I completed before Atlas came out with this same class ready to run.  They offer it in C&O gray and Chessie C&O.  I'd recommend you buy the Atlas car and save the work.

The C&O purchased cars 601200-299 (HC-29) and 601300-399 (HC-29A) right before the formation of the Chessie System.  The HC-29 is identical to the HC-29A, with the exception of the hatches.  The HC-29 had a continuous hatch along the top, the HC-29A had separate hatches.  I chose to make the HC-29 since I had a spare continuous hatch from the Walthers HC-39 kit.

These classes are smaller than the HC-47 3-bay ACFs, but larger than the HC-44 2-bay ACFs.  They are unique little cars and will make a handsome addition to any railroad.  Most of them stayed in this paint scheme for the duration of the Chessie era, but a few did get painted in Chessie paint.

Here are some of the measurements I did for this project.  The real HC29 is 476 inches long (5.47 inches in HO scale).  The Athearn kit right out of the box is 7.625 inches long.  That means you will need to take a 1.145 inch section out of the middle of the kit.  Luckily there are two seams in the kit that can act as your guide.  As for the bays and wheel spacing, they are too close to worry about correcting.  The real car's bays are 111.125 inches apart (1.2773 inches in HO).  The Athearn bays are 1.375 inches apart.  By building up the bottom as I did, the bays are almost perfectly spaced.

Below is a Sam Martin picture of the real HC-29 I chose to model.

                                                                                 Sam Martin photo.

How to:
1.  Purchase an undecorated Athearn 4-bay ACF covered hopper.  I got mine for $5-6 at a hobby store.
2.  Make two vertical cuts (with a razor saw) through the shell.  Each cut should be just inside the vertical seams on the car.  These seams will be sanded off later, but basically divided the car into three equal sections.  You want to eliminate almost all of the middle section.  I made my cuts about 3/16" inside these seams.
3.  Sand the edges smooth and check the joint.  When you are happy with how the joint looks, glue the halves together with super glue.  Use gel type super glue.  It will give you more time to work with it and it will fill any gaps.
4.  When the glue is dry, sand the joint smooth with 400 grit sand paper.
5.  Prime the shell with a light grey color.  If an area needs more glue and sanding, do that now.
6.  Prime the shell again with light grey if you did any touch up sanding.  Add the hatch along the top.  I had a spare Walthers hatch that was perfect, but any one will work.  If you want to make a HC29A, than use round hatches.
7.  For the bottom piece that holds the wheels and has the bays, some cutting is required.  See the photo below for exactly where I made my cuts.  The best way to do this is to cut the two ends first and attach them.  Then sand the middle bay to fit in the remaining hole.
8.  Modify the weight to fit on the new frame.  I had to cut the weight and over lap them inside the car to make it fit.  See photos below for clarity.
9.  Paint the shell with reefer grey.  You will want to add some white to this color or use SP Lettering Grey.  My car is a little dark.
10.  Spray the car with gloss coat.
11.  Decal the car.  I used H-563, a B&O covered hopper from Herald King, for everything but the "For Progress" logo.  I got that logo from Champ's C&O car lettering set.
12.  Spray the car with dull coat.  Weather the car with white chalk.  Apply rust spots with a rust colored paint.  When the paint is dry lightly streak the spots with rust colored chalk.  Overspray with dirt colors.
13.  Spray the car with dull coat to seal the weathering.
14.  Assemble the car.
15.  You are done.  Enjoy the C&O shorty.

Below is a pic of what you get in the box.  The yellow piece is the spare roof hatch from the Walthers HC39 kit.  Notice the four bays on the original bottom.  You can save all the black hatches for later projects you won't be needing them for this one.

Below is a photo of the shell cut in three.  Discard the middle section.  Note the small seams that are just to the outside of each cut.  These provided a nice guide to cutting the body.  I cut about 3/16 of an inch inside each of these seams.

Below is a pic of the two halves glued together.  Next up...sanding.  The car is now 5 1/2 inches long, nearly perfect for a HC29.

Below is a photo of the bottom cut into three pieces.  I have discarded the fourth bay for this picure.  I had to trim off some of each bay to make the pieces fit into the new shortened shell.

Below is a pic of the roofwalk and the hatch.  Cut off 1/4 of the long yellow hatch cover.  Just by dumb luck, it is the perfect length as shown.  The roof walk is a little more delicate.  Slide the pegs into the holes on the top of the car body.  Notice I cut off one support brace off the left piece, so that the finished walkway doesn't have two braces right next to each other.

Below is a pic of the weight.  It will need to be cut somewhere in the hashed section in the middle.  When the weight goes in the car it will overlap in the middle.

Below is a photo of the sub assemblies painted reefer grey.  The roofwalk is only painted on the sides and bottom, the top will be painted black next.  Notice the weight is attached to the bottoms at this point.

Below is a shot of the car decaled and ready to be sprayed with dull coat.  Notice how you can see the decal film around the "C&O for progress" logo in this pic and not in the one below.  That is the beauty of Testors Dull Coat.

Below is the shell with dull coat.  I also oversprayed the shell with an overspray of reefer white.  This gave the car the appearance of an overall coating of dust.  Notice you can't see the decal film now either.

Below is the car weathered and ready for the bottom to be put on.  The car has had white chalk applied to simulate the spilled load.  Also spots of rust were added and streaks of rust colored chalk applied.

Below is a pic of the finished covered hopper.  Notice how much less white chalk appears on the car after the final dull coat is applied.  This makes for a nice subtle weathering look to the car.  The only real thing wrong with this car is that the bays are technically the wrong type.  I should have used bays that look like the real thing, but did not have any spares.  I just used the ones in the kit.  99% of model railroaders would never know the difference.