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Building 12 foot Operating Hoppers  

Construction began on these 12 foot long hoppers by taking a set of Drop Bottom Hopper plans from NENG and enlargeing them to 7/8 scale dimensions.  Mainly this was making them wider as far as the frame was concerned.  The sides were also mad a bit taller.   The frame timbers were cut and planed from rough poplar timber and assembled.
Originally I had planned to construct the sides in a baord by board fashion, but this gave way to solid poplar sheets cut on the tablesaw, then run through the planer to obtain 1/8 of an inch thinkness.  The first car had its boards scribed with an xacto knife, however I found that I liked the effect of using a black ball point pen better.
The two photos above show the difference in the scribing methods, the left one the Xacto job whist the right was teh ball point pen.  Both have been stained with a wash of denatured alcohol and black leather shoe dye.  Note also that the end braces have now been installed.

In order to have operating hoppers. Its necessary to have operating hopper doors!  After some carful thought, and consultation with other modes builders, I came up with this arrangement Simple and should be fairly sturdy.  I think the photo explains itself.
The latches were laser cut from  1/8 inch plexiglass and pinned in place with brass eustcheon pins.  The hopper hings are made from apolstery nails by the way. 
On this batch of cars, the doors open laterally, and I 'm thinking on ways to make an operating chain hoist to keep the hopper doors from dragging the ground while unloading!

Here the latches and safety chains are in place.  Just awaiting me to find the appropriate gubbin to create a chain hoist.
Here we show the lateral doors in the open position.  When actually on rail, the open door just clears teh ties.
I devised a chain hoist form some gubbins aquired at the local Micheals.  Some birch wood disks and really tiny spools coupled with a trannsverse axle acroos the interior of the car  allows both sides to be raised and lowered at once....
The chains were a bit difficult to work out, I originally used 4 different chain bits, but then on the 2nd car realized I could use one continuous piece.


Above are two views of a completed car.  All details are in place and she's ready for service.  now all I gotta do is knock out 7 more of her sisters!

After the first two hoppers were finished, I decided to experiment with a transverse door design.  This proved even simpler than the lateral doors, and did not interfere with the trucks, or drag the railheads as initially thought!
Once more a single piece of chain was used, but this time it was much simpler to place as the linkage didn't need to be adjusted to hold the doors at a uniform height, they merely hang straight down.
With the doors histed and the latches in place, the transverse design presents a neater, more prototypical appearance, and less prone to problems as well.  The first two hoppers will not be modified however, they will be utilized in the lateral formation for ballast service!