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   This page covers open hoppers for specialized service, such as longitudinal hoppers, ore cars or hoppers modified for a specialized commodity.





   In 1961, Santa Fe’s Topeka shops constructed a series of unique hopper cars for hauling coal.   They featured three longitudinal bays with steeply sloped ends and air operated doors to facilitate rapid unloading.  Numbered 77900-77959, Santa Fe designated them as class Ga-123 with an AAR mechanical designation of HKS.  They were put into dedicated service hauling coal from a mine in New Mexico to a power plant in Arizona.  The cars as built suffered structural problems, which were remedied by adding large triangular braces at both ends of the cars.  An additional fifteen cars were built in 1962, which were numbered 77960-77974 and designated as class Ga-127.  All seventy-five cars were listed in the January, 1987 Equipment Register, but all were retired later that year. 


   Roco of Austria produced an N-scale model of the Ga-123 hopper which was sold by Minitrix in the seventies and later by Con-Cor.  The end detail of the model has been simplified by omitting several details and relocating the handbrake from the top of the hopper body to the end of the car.  The addition of end braces changed the appearance of the cars significantly, making them look even less like the model.  An ambitious modeler could add the braces with sheet styrene and C-channels.   The model represents a prototype that was unique to the Santa Fe, so the other road names offered are generic representations at best as outlined below:


ATCHISON, TOPEKA & SANTA FE- Con-Cor 176101 features dimensional data that is specific for the Ga-123, while Minitrix 3111 has generic dimensional data.


BOSTON & MAINE- the B&M listed no type HK hoppers, and I don’t think their hoppers were ever painted blue.


CANADIAN NATIONAL- Minitrix 3113 is numbered for series 96565-98062, a group of 40’ offset side longitudinal hoppers.  Though renumbered to 300000-301997 in the sixties, many retained their as built paint scheme into the nineties. The Atlas Hart ballast hopper is a closer match, but is only available in the noodle scheme adopted in the early sixties.


GREAT NORTHERN- The Atlas Hart ballast hopper is a more accurate model of Great Northern longitudinal hoppers.


NEW YORK CENTRAL- Central’s Despatch shops constructed a series of longitudinal hoppers that were similar to Bluford Shops fourteen panel hoppers.


PENN CENTRAL- Minitrix 3114 is incorrectly painted green, while Penn Central painted their hoppers black.


PENNSYLVANIA- Con-Cor 176102 most closely resembles the shadow keystone (without the shadow) scheme as used on Pennsy’s large fleet of H35 hoppers.  These three-bay type HT hoppers were forty-six feet long with fifteen panels and C-channel end ribs.


SOUTHERN PACIFIC- Con-Cor 176103 has a scheme similar to a series longitudinal hoppers acquired in 1956.  However, they had six panels and a length of only thirty-two feet, making Micro-Trains 56340 a much better stand-in.


UNION PACIFIC- The Atlas Hart ballast hopper is a more accurate model of Union Pacific longitudinal hoppers.

Hart ballast hopper.jpg



   In 1940, American Car & Foundry (ACF) introduced the “Hart Selective Service Ballast Car”.  These cars carried the AAR mechanical designation of “HK”, which indicated a hopper car “with doors hinged lengthwise of car and dumping outside and/or inside of rails”.  As their primary use was for hauling and dumping ballast, a few railroads gave them the AAR mechanical designation of “MWB” (Maintenance of Way Ballast).  These cars were likely pressed into service hauling other commodities, particularly during the winter months when little track maintenance occurred.  It is also likely that the cars hung on long after their disappearance from the Equipment Registers as non-interchange work equipment.


  Atlas introduced their N-scale model of a Hart ballast hopper in 2005.  It is a well detailed model with truck mounted couplers.  No load is included so you’ll have to add your own, but doing so would hide the cross-brace detail inside the car.  Several of the road names offered by Atlas are stand-ins for similar types of longitudinal hoppers.  They represent cars built prior to 1940 and Canadian built cars. All are forty foot cars with similar dimensions and offset sides like the model.  Visually, the primary difference is the number of side panels.


   The chart below lists the ACF Hart Selective models and stand-ins separately.  A hashtag in the ROAD column indicates cars that were identified as ballast cars in Equipment Registers; an asterisk indicates cars that carried the AAR mechanical designation of "MWB".

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