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Type 7 Narrow Gauge Steel Hopper
Type 7 Narrow Gauge Hopper

January 2, 2006

     I've always admired the Norfolk & Western and the East Broad Top hopper fleets.  Up til this point I had thought I would accumulate a fleet of wooden cars on both narrowgauge divisions of the WV&K lines.   Then I got a pair of Bachmanns excellent On30 EBT hoppers for Christmas, and all that thinking changed.  The cars are the perfect size for the TF&E Division to add a little variety to the fleet I decided to build some cars that would represent cars built in the WV&K Shops as opposed to the Pressed Steel Car Company designs represented by the Bachmann cars.

     I really liked the early designs of the N&W's Class HP and HM (Fig 1)cars, their construction seemed to be straightforward enough, and their designed seemed to be a logical progression fromt the earlier wooden A frame design.  The A frames that the N&W built during WWI were eventually built into steel cars, basically jacking up the road number and putting a new car under it.


Fig 2

Fig 3

Fig 4
     I started out by drawing out a template in CAD and then printing it out on cardstock material.  I actually had to try several designs before I came up with one that I was happy with both in length and width.  With the template done I began by laying out the basic carside on .040 styrene (Fig 2) then using the good ol' steel straightedge and a No 24 Xacto I proceeded to cut them out. (Fig3). 
     In previous attemps at building steel cars I tried to useing styrene TEE shapes which really didn;t give me the look I was going for.  Then I hit upon the idea of using two different strips to simulate the actual ribs of a steel hopper.
     I started out by marking out the appropriate spacing for the ribs on the cardstock template, then transferring these measurements to the styrene sides.  I then laid the base strips over the markings using a small square to keep everything plumb.(Fig 4) I then laid on a square strip to simulate the actual rib on the flange, and came up with a much more pleasing rib design (Fig 5)

Fig 5

January 4, 2006

Fig 6
     With the ribs dried in place, I used styrene angles on the 4 corners and applied them  to the sides, then I measured and cut the slope sheets and sheet supports from .040 styrene (Fig 6).  Using my handy dandy steel square I glued and braced slope sheets in place, (Fig 7 and 8) and suddenly it starts to look like a hopper car!

Fig 7

Fig 8
     Part of the signature look of an N&W car is the peaked nd that not only allowed a couple extra tons to be piled on, it also kept spillage down when hoppers banged together while being switched. In (Fig 9) You can see the ends cut from styrene sheet in place as well as the angle corners.  The Class HP car had a single center beam frame which I chose to simulate by glueing a pair of I beams togehter(Fig 10) and then cutting them to length at an angle to butt up against the slope sheet.  The fact that it doesn't extend the whole length of the car will be hidden by some angle inserted in the car bottom later. A steel end plate was cut from .040 styrene (can ya tell I LIKE .040, and have a lot of it?) with styrene strips applied as a basis for end bracing.  (Fig 11)  I applied styrene angle over this strip to finish off the bracing(Fig 12).  Once the I beam member was applied to the car, I needed a hardpoint to mount the trucks.  This I accomplied by staking som styrene squares and securing them to the frame.  The future site of the coupler pocket was shimmed out with a chunk of .1 styrene (Fig 13)

Fig 9

Fig 10

Fig 11

Fig 12

Fig 13

January 8, 2006

Fig 14
     Good Progress this weekend!  I applied the top flange to the hopper using a styrene strip(Fig 14) then proceeded to probably the most tedious part of all steel construction, the application of all the simulated rivets.   no I didn;t count them, but I know there are alot! 

     I use .030 rod for rivets in O scale, slicing each one off individually, putting a dab of styrene glue in the appropriate place then placing the rivet. (Fig 15) Its really not as bad as it sounds.  after rivet comes the neccessary evil of grabirons.   I use standard office staples as a starting point (Fig 16) No Easy Button here.

Fig 15

Fig 16
     Welll, forget what I said about there being no easy button.  It occured to me that a bit of styrene rod would be alot easier in applying thos grabs on the corners (particularly on the corner angles that are soooo hard to drill through!)  .020. cut to length did a fine job!(Fig 17)
     The Chain winders were made with a hole punch from sheet styrene, with a few assorted bits for details. (Fig 18)  After the brake gear was added, it was off to the paintshop! (Fig 19)

     The car rides on Bachmann On30 Arch Bar trucks.  Figure 20 shows the Type 7 hopper next to the Bachmann EBT Steel hoppers.  While a bit shorter, they do stand a little tall in the saddle.

Fig 17

Fig 18

Fig 19

Fig 20 Facebook Page