EARLY COVERED HOPPERS
In the beginning, powdered or granular products that needed protection from moisture were packed in bags or barrels and carried in boxcars. Loading and unloading was labor intensive and expensive. Placing roofs on hopper cars was an obvious solution, but fine granular or powdered products required improved outlets to prevent leakage.
This led to the development of covered hoppers for specific commodities.
The first covered hoppers to appear in significant numbers were small cars for dense commodities such as cement and sand. By the late fifties larger cars were being developed for less dense commodities such as grain and plastic pellets. New systems for unloading were developed; such as “fluidizing” powdered products with compressed air. Finally, the center sill was eliminated to allow a single discharge outlet in the center of the car. Despite the many variations in types of covered hoppers, all are included in the single AAR designation of “LO”. The rather lengthy definition is as follows: “A permanently enclosed car, with or without insulation, having fixed sides and ends, and provided with openings for loading through roof or sides. Loading openings fitted with weather-tight covers or doors. Car may be provided with bottom openings for unloading, with tight fitting covers, doors or valves or may be provided with facilities for discharge of lading through openings in roof or sides. Car may have one or more compartments.”
Because of the many covered hopper models available in N-scale this will probably be the first of several pages. I’m still not sure how to organize all that information, but I’ll begin with the “steam era” cars, followed by small two-bay cars.
PENNSYLVANIA H30 COVERED HOPPER
FOX VALLEY MODELS
The construction of skyscrapers in New York and other American cities spurred an increasing demand for concrete. Needing an efficient way to transport it, the Pennsylvania Railroad developed one of the first covered hopper cars. Designated H30, a total of 1,325 cars were built between 1935 and 1946: an additional 250 class H30a cars were constructed in 1951 and 1952. The H30a cars varied in a few mechanical details, but were otherwise identical. As with much of their rolling stock, this design was unique to the Pennsylvania Railroad, however the Norfolk & Western received a small fleet in 1937.
Both of the Fox Valley Penn Central models wear a green scheme, which Penn Central adopted in 1971 to indicate cars in grain and feed service. Catalog number 90510 carries the six-digit road numbers of cars in revenue service, while 90513 carries the five-digit road numbers of cars in company service (most likely for locomotive sand). Both models carry the two-panel consolidated stencil, which would date the cars for 1974 or later.
The Conrail model carries the five-digit road numbers of cars in company service. A check of my Equipment Registers listed only two Conrail H30’s numbered for revenue service, 878507 and 878510. However, there’s a bit of a mystery concerning the 878510; the Equipment Registers showed it with the dimensions of an H30, but the description listed it as an H40 Airslide car.
PENNSYLVANIA H32 HOPPER
BROADWAY LIMITED IMPORTS
The Pennsylvania built a fleet of 300 H32 hopper cars, numbered 253500-253799 in 1948. They were essentially a stretched H30, and with a capacity of 3050 cubic feet, were used for lighter commodities. Broadway Limited’s model is offered with the circle keystone in both brown and grey. The brown model is the “as delivered” scheme; I doubt many cars were repainted in the grey scheme as the circle keystone was replaced by the shadow keystone logo in 1954. The plain keystone scheme represents these cars as they were repainted between 1960 and the Penn Central merger in 1968.
The grey Penn Central model represents a group of 44 H32’s rebuilt in 1968, presumably for special service numbered 885530-885539. The remaining Pennsy H32’s were renumbered into the 884500-884576 series According to the “Penn Central Color Guide to Passenger and Freight Equipment”, the PC began painting covered hoppers in grain and feed service green in 1971, and the green models are indeed numbered in the second series. Both models carry two-panel consolidated stencils adopted about 1974.
The model is offered in both a grey and a brown Conrail scheme. Conrail’s H32’s kept their Penn Central numbers. A lettering guide issued by Conrail stated that chemical, grain and flour service covered hoppers were painted grey and all others were painted brown.
ACF 36’TWO-BAY COVERED HOPPER
KATO, V-LINE, DELUXE INNOVATIONS and ARNOLD
Initially, bulk commodities were usually transported in bags or barrels. A few railroads had experimented with putting roofs on ordinary hopper cars, but the bottom doors tended to leak. In the mid-thirties ACF introduced a covered hopper designed specifically for hauling fine granulated substances. They were distinguished by their square roof hatches, open cut-out between the bays and a capacity of 1,958 cubic feet. The design was popular and nearly every railroad owned at least a few.
Arnold Rapido was the first to offer this body style in N-scale; though initially it was only available in a sketchy C&NW scheme, it was later re-run in six road names. V-Line introduced a second version with rather thick detail, which was available in several road names, including special runs by Brooklyn Locomotive Works, Ak-Sar-Ben (Nebraska spelled backwards) and others. The model was later sold by Loco-Motives, and is currently offered in a plethora of road names by Deluxe Innovations who improved the detail on the casting. Finally, Kato produced a nicely detailed model of the less-common variation without the cutout between the bays.
These hoppers were primarily used to carry cement; a heavy commodity of relatively low value. Shipping it long distances increased the cost, so the cars you choose for your layout should be from a railroad that’s close to home. With a construction period of nearly three decades, these cars lasted a long time, and many were retained for non-revenue use. Many were used for locomotive sand while others were converted to ballast cars by removing the roof. Duluxe Innovations packaged this model as part of a sand loading facility kit and produced an Amtrak ballast car.
The chart below lists those roads that owned ACF hoppers that were similar to the N-scale models. A “C” in brackets in the “ROAD” column indicates cars that had a cut-out between the bays, while an “N” indicates cars without the cut-out. A “#” in brackets indicates cars that differed from the significantly from the models, which is explained in the exceptions below. Be advised that these notes aren’t comprehensive, as there are many series that I was unable to confirm.
CENTRAL NEW JERSEY- The V-line model is numbered for a later series of ACF hoppers that had round roof hatches and lacked the channel ribs at both ends of the car.
CHICAGO, BURLINGTON & QUINCY- The CB&Q built a total of 2,250 cars over a period of 21 years in their shops which lacked cut-outs and were painted in several different schemes. The Kato & Loco-Motives models represent a group of 200 cars rebuilt in 1968 and numbered 182250-182449. A group of 350 cars built in 1961 (181900-182245) were similar, except that the logo was on a placard rather than painted between the ribs. The quantities listed in the chart are estimates based on 10% of the total Burlington hoppers.
DELAWARE, LACKAWANNA & WESTERN- The DL&W’s fleet of cement cars were similar to the model, but were three feet shorter and had angled side frames at the ends which gave them a fish belly appearance.
GREAT NORTHERN- GN’s first three series of hoppers were delivered in a brown scheme and numbered 73795-73999, but had been renumbered to 72000-71404 by 1960. All the photos I’ve been able to find of the renumbered cars show a grey paint scheme, so they were presumably repainted at that time.
LEHIGH & NEW ENGLAND- The L&NE began acquiring covered hoppers for its substantial cement business in 1939. The majority of the cars, numbered 12101-12665, were three feet shorter than the model and had ten roof hatches. Later cars, numbered 12666-12800, resembled the model and are included in the chart.
MISSOURI PACIFIC- By 1966, the MP had begun renumbering their ACF covered hoppers from 2000-2399 to 700000-700399. Renumbered cars are marked with an asterisk in the chart.
NICKEL PLATE ROAD- The Deluxe Innovations model features the pre-war stacked name, which I believe should have “NYC&StL” above the reporting marks. While the Kato model has the post-war straight name, I couldn’t find a photo of an NKP car without the cut-out, so the Arnold Rapido model might be your best choice here. According to my notebook, both Brooklyn Locomotive Works and Ak-Sar-Ben produced special run Nickel Plate hoppers.
NORTHERN PACIFIC- The Loco-Motives model is numbered for a small series of cars that had similar dimensions to an ACF hopper except for a capacity of 2,136 cubic feet. While most NP hoppers were light grey with black lettering, the model is dark grey with white lettering. The Northern Pacific Color Guide mentions a series of cars used for bulk grain service that were black with white lettering. Unfortunately, I can’t find a photo for confirmation.
ROCK ISLAND- Despite adopting their new “ROCK’ image in 1975, the Rock Island was dissolved in 1980. The January, 1979 Equipment Register listed fifty-two cars with ROCK reporting marks in four series.
SOUTHERN PACIFIC- SP began renumbering their cars in 1956. The Kato model carries an original number series of the 575 cars with no cut-outs. Deluxe Innovations 71703 carries the post-1956 number series of 400600-400749, which were the only SP cars with cut-outs. Photos show that some of these cars remained in their as-delivered scheme as late as 1980. Former Texas & New Orleans cars were numbered 401550-401824.
Presumably, the different lettering colors of later paint schemes indicated specific commodities, but I have been unable to confirm this.
UNION PACIFIC- The Deluxe model represents UP’s first covered hoppers which were painted brown and numbered 92000-92099. They had been renumbered 1-100 by 1952 and 10001-10099 by 1963, though I don’t know if they had been repainted. Kato’s model represents UP’s next batch, which were painted grey and numbered 101-999, but had been renumbered 10101-10999 by 1963. The Arnold model represents a series of cars with similar dimensions except for a higher capacity of 2100 cubic feet. They had been renumbered from 1000-1399 to 11000-11399 by 1963. I can’t find a photo, but I’m guessing it’s an early PS-2 hopper.
GENERAL ELECTRIC- The Railroad Photo Archive contains two photos of ILDX cars: a 1968 photo shows a car still in the “GE Lamps” scheme, and a 1976 photo showing a car in a different scheme.
FUL-O-PEP FEEDS- I couldn’t find photos of either the model or the prototype, but “Ful-O-Pep” was a real brand and North American Car did have a lease fleet of ACF hoppers numbered 30000-30500.
PS-2 TWO-BAY COVERED HOPPER
ATLAS and (soon) MICRO-TRAINS
In the early fifties, Pullman Standard developed a series of standard freight car types; designating the covered hopper design as PS-2. With a capacity of 2003 cubic feet, it differed from the earlier ACF covered hopper in having a large center panel and round roof hatches. Like the ACF car, it was designed for hauling cement, sand, soda ash and other dense minerals. Like the ACF hoppers, early PS-2’s featured C-channel ribs at each end of the car, however this was changed to hat section ribs in 1957.
Construction continued into the sixties, when a larger 2600 cubic foot version of the PS-2 was introduced.
Atlas introduced a Chinese-made model of the post-1957 version of the PS-2 in 1994. Judging by the sheer number of releases, it’s a popular car. Micro-Trains announced that they will be releasing a PS-2 soon, which appears to be the post-1957 version.
The chart below lists those releases appropriate for the twentieth century; those with conspicuity stripes are outside the scope of this site. Many of the later schemes are of non-revenue cars, which were used primarily for locomotive sand; they are noted by an “MW” in the columns. A letter in parentheses indicates the version of PS-2: an (E) indicates early pre-1957 cars, an (L) indicates post-1957 cars, while a (B) indicates both types. Other exceptions are noted below:
CSX- Atlas 50002879 is numbered for several series of taller but otherwise similar 2600 cubic foot PS-2’s, a model available from Athearn. However, the October, 1993 and July, 1999 Equipment Registers list two former Seaboard Coast Line PS-2’s in series 212394-292793.
DELAWARE & HUDSON- Atlas 31973 represents the second batch of PS-2’s (12110-12174) delivered to the D&H in 1957; all were gone by 1960. Some cars ended up on the Chesapeake & Ohio.
MINNEAPOLIS & St. LOUIS- Atlas 3155 is decorated in the as-delivered scheme for series 70401-70599 (odd numbers only). This series was combined with an earlier series upon the merger with C&NW, so amounts shown from 7/69 and later represent all of M&StL’s PS-2 hoppers.
MISSOURI PACIFIC- MP’s small fleet of PS-2’s was originally numbered 3900-3949 when delivered in the late fifties. Atlas 50004188 represents this series as renumbered to 700600-700649 in the mid-sixties.
PENNSYLVANIA- Atlas 50000902 is numbered for H34c class 257701-257800. Delivered in August 1957, they were the only late PS-2’s delivered with the large keystone in the center panel. Atlas 50005909 is numbered for H34c class 257801-258100 delivered in April, 1958. They were the first of 800 cars delivered with the small keystone.
ROCK ISLAND- Atlas 5002885 represents RI’s first batch of PS-2’s with the name in Roman lettering; later cars featured the name in large block letters. Atlas 50002269 is a one-of-a-kind car celebrating the 10,000th PS-2 hopper. Atlas 50004191 is painted in the short-lived “Rock” scheme adopted in 1975 and used until the Rock Island folded in 1980. The January, 1979 Equipment Register listed 39 PS-2’s with ROCK reporting marks.
SOUTHERN- In the mid-sixties, Southern rebuilt nearly all of their original PS-2’s into cars with a capacity of 2,637 cubic feet by making them 2 feet taller. Atlas 50001826 represents former Central of Georgia cars acquired by merger.
SOUTHERN PACIFIC- Atlas 3165 is decorated in the as-delivered scheme of the 450 cars delivered to Southern Pacific between 1957 and 1959. While I’ve never been able to learn the reason for the different lettering colors on SP covered hoppers, I believe I’ve solved the mystery. After examining every picture on the Railroad Pictures Archives website, I noticed that the red lettering (Atlas 31965) appeared on Southern Pacific cars, while the yellow lettering (Atlas 50004179) appeared on former Texas & New Orleans cars. The later “large name” scheme (Atlas 50001828) appeared on either group of cars.
WESTERN MARYLAND- Atlas 31943 features an “R” on the sides and yellow ends. Presumably this indicates some type of special service and most likely appeared on only a few cars.
PS-2 2,600 CUBIC FOOT COVERED HOPPER
In the early sixties, Pullman Standard improved its PS-2 covered hoppers designs to increase their capacity. While the three-bay cars became PS-2 CD “center discharge” cars, the two bay-cars continued with the usual eight round roof hatches. Athearn offers an N-scale model of the 2600 cubic foot PS-2 in a variety of road names. The chart below does not include the two private owner road names offered (GLNX, GNOX) as they are post 2000 schemes.
BALTIMORE & OHIO- Athearn 24167 represents the B&O’s first group of 2,600 cubic foot PS-2 hoppers, which is listed in the chart. An additional 575 similar cars were delivered from different car builders between 1966 and 1971; however they were modernized cars with low handbrakes and carried a later paint scheme without the “B&O” initials.
CHESAPEAKE & OHIO- Athearn 12049 represents the C&O’s first group of 2,600 cubic foot PS-2 hoppers, which is listed in the chart. Like the B&O, the C&O received an additional 375 modernized cars; they carried the same “C&O for Progress” logo, but had low handbrakes.
CSX- CSX inherited 2600 cubic foot PS-2’s from four railroads: Baltimore & Ohio, Chesapeake &Ohio, Louisville & Nashville and Monon. Athearn 16314 is numbered for former B&O/C&O cars, but the quantities listed in the chart is the total of all their PS-2’s. Athearn 12281 and12278 are numbered for the later cars with low handbrakes received from the B&O and C&O, however the “patch” schemes would also be correct for the original PS-2’s.
LOUISVILLE & NASHVILLE- Athearn 12033 is numbered for series 38650-38749, which differed from the model in having a trough hatch. Pullman Standard began delivering L&N’s large fleet of 500 PS-2’s numbered 201000-201499 in November of 1964; they had the usual eight round hatches.
WHEELING & LAKE ERIE- Athearn 12290 represents an Erie Lackawanna car that was patched by Conrail in the seventies and then sold to the WE in the late nineties. It’s doubtful the as-built paint scheme would be in such pristine condition after thirty years!
PS-2 THREE-BAY COVERED HOPPER
ATLAS, ATHEARN, BACHMANN and CON COR
In the early fifties, Pullman Standard developed a series of standard freight car types; designating the covered hopper design as PS-2. It was available in both two- and three-bay versions. The three bay cars had an inside length of 41 feet and a capacity of 2,893 cubic feet. The three-bay cars were designed for hauling less dense commodities such as grain. Like the two-bay hoppers, the early cars featured C-channel ribs at each end of the car which was changed to hat section ribs in 1957. Capacity was increased to 3,215 cubic feet in 1958 by making the cars a few inches higher and wider. In 1960, capacity was increased to about 3,510 cubic feet by making the cars about a foot taller. Other car builders such as Greenville produced copies of the design, as did a few railroads.
In the early days of N-scale both Atlas and Bachmann offered models of three-bay PS-2’s, both of which were the post-1957 version. Atlas initially imported an N-scale model that was made by Roco of Austria, but later produced an American made model which is no longer in production. Bachmann’s model was initially made in Hong Kong, with subsequent runs being made in China. Sadly, most of the paint schemes on the Hong Kong production were taken from early ACF cylindrical hoppers rather than PS-2’s. Con-Cor also imported Roco’s PS-2, but changed the roof to a trough hatch, making the model a stand-in for later center discharge covered hoppers and the paint schemes offered reflect this. Athearn currently offers a model of the pre-1957 version, which is available in a wide variety of road names.
In the chart below, the “LATE” column lists the post-1957 models as follows; (A) Atlas, (B) Bachmann, and (C) Con Cor. The “EARLY” column lists Athearn releases. A letter in parentheses in the “ROAD” column indicates the version of PS-2: (E) indicates early pre-1957 cars, (L) indicates post-1957 cars, (G) indicates cars built by other builders such as Greenville, (H) indicates higher 3,500 cubic foot cars. “Stand-in” models are indicated by the body style in parentheses. Other exceptions are noted below:
CONRAIL- Athearn 11363 and Atlas 5700A are numbered for series of former New York Central’s early PS-2’s, while Atlas 5700C is numbered for former Erie cars built by Greenville. Atlas 3725 is numbered for former New York Central 3,506 cubic foot cars and Atlas 5700B represents former Reading cars.
DENVER & RIO GRANDE- The Rio Grande received a batch of late PS-2’s in 1959. Athearn 11258 is numbered for one of two batches of cars from Greenville in 1961; these had C-channel ribs like early PS-2’s, but the roof hatches were spaced differently.
ERIE/ERIE LACKAWANNA- Erie’s cars were built by Greenville and had C-channel end ribs and evenly spaced roof hatches.
GENESEE & WYOMING- Atlas3737 represents a series of cars similar to the PS-2; they had a capacity of 3,500 cubic feet, C-channel end ribs and trough hatches on the roof. They were used for hauling salt.
GREAT NORTHERN- Atlas 3731 is numbered for GN series 71505-71579 which was delivered in 1960, and featured a logo with red background. However, the quantities in the chart also include series 71950-71999, which was delivered in 1958 with a simplified single-color logo.
ILLINOIS CENTRAL- Athearn 11261 represents IC’s batch of early PS-2’s; a second batch of late PS-2’s with the same scheme is included in the totals. In the early sixties, Illinois Central received 600 3,500 cubic foot cars; they are not included in the totals as I couldn’t find pictures of the paint scheme applied to them.
ILLINOIS CENTRAL GULF- Athearn 28314 is numbered for ICG’s sloe series of early PS’2’s, which listed 12 cars in the July 1981 Equipment Register, and last listed 2 cars in the January 1987 issue. The quantities listed in the chart are the total of all types of PS-2’s.
NEW YORK CENTRAL- Atlas 3728 and Bachmann 73856 represent the Central’s larger PS-2’s which had a capacity of 3,506 cubic feet.
READING: Reading built 350 cars in their company shops between 1968 and 1970. They were higher 3,500 cubic foot capacity cars with low handbrakes and evenly spaced roof hatches.
SOUTHERN- Southern received 300 early PS-2’s in 1954 numbered 94760-94999; Athearn 28345 is numbered for Southern’s second series of late PS-2’s. Atlas 3722 represents a series of aluminum hoppers which were similar to the PS-2, but were significantly taller cars with a capacity of 3,818 cubic feet. Athearn 11396 represents a series of early PS-2’s that were reconditioned and renumbered in the late 60’s.
UNION PACIFIC- Bachmann 73857 represents UP’s first batch of early PS-2’s, which were soon renumbered 19000-19099 and grouped with UP’s second batch of late PS-2’s numbered 19100-19199.
WABASH- Bachmann 5486 is a stand-in for early ACF Center Flow hoppers; Bowser 37275 is a more accurate model.
UNION CARBIDE- The road number on Atlas 2312 does not match any series of UCPX cars listed. The only prototype photo I could find of this scheme was on a two-bay Airslide hopper with GACX reporting marks. Walther’s PLD-3 also has a drawing of this car; the built date is difficult to read, but it looks like 1960.
ACF 2,927 CUBIC FOOT COVERED HOPPERS
INTERMOUNTAIN, MINITRIX and CONCOR
To compete with Pullman Standard’s PS-2, American Car & Foundry introduced a three-bay hopper car design with a capacity of 2,927 cubic feet. Similar in dimensions to the PS-2, it featured twelve evenly spaced panels instead of two large panels between the bays.
Roco produced an N-scale model of the car for Minitrix in the seventies, which was later imported by Con-Cor. Three of the four road names offered by Minitrix were of dubious authenticity, so only one is mentioned here, and I’m not to certain about it! Con-Cor offered this model in a variety of road names, many of which represent cars that are close to the ACF car, but don’t carry the correct number series. Finally, Intermountain has announced they are taking preorders for their first run of this body style.
The chart below lists models of ACF 2,927 or similar covered hoppers. Those that are stand-in's for other body styles are noted below:
CHESAPEAKE & OHIO- Though not numbered for the correct series, Con-Cor 1763 could stand in for C&O’s PS-2’s; Athearn 11252 is a more accurate model.
MILWAUKEE ROAD- Con-Cor 1769 is numbered for a series of cars that had been rebuilt from two-bay hoppers in the late fifties, retaining their C-channel end ribs. However, I don’t know if any were repainted into the yellow scheme.
LOUISVILLE & NASHVILLE- Con-Cor 1770 represents a series cars delivered in 1967; they were larger 3,510 cubic foot capacity cars with low handbrakes.
MISSOURI-ILLINOIS- In the mid-sixties, the MI began renumbering the cars into the 704750-704799 series. By 1975, only six cars remained in the original series; the reporting marks were changed to MP in the late seventies.
ROCK ISLAND- In the January 1979 Equipment Register, none of the nine remaining cars had yet been repainted into the ROCK scheme. Since the Rock Island folded in 1980, this would be a short-lived paint scheme indeed!
SOUTHERN PACIFIC- Con-Cor 1768 represents Espee’s first series of PS-2’s, Athearn 11384 is a more accurate model.
FMC CORPORATION- Con-Cor 1766 is a stand-in in for a series of ACF 4,460 cubic foot Center Flow hoppers. Atlas 3716 represents the same series; though it’s a model of a 5,250 cubic foot hopper.
HOLLY SUGAR- I couldn’t find any reference to a prototype, but the number series on Minitrix 3137 matches those of a single-bay Airslide hopper. I did find pics of three different Holly Sugar diesel switchers, so it must have been a sizeable operation.
PILLSBURY- Con-Cor 1765 is a stand-in for a series of modern four-bay cylindrical hoppers; Intermountain 65105 is an accurate model of this series.