Empire Belt RR ALcos

Empire Belt RR ALcos
Custom Painted FA / FB Units

Saturday, June 3, 2017

Swap Meet Report and Follow Up Part 2

Greetings All,

Today we'll wrap up the swap meet report and follow up with the building of the Bowser PRR H-21 coal hopper kits. 

Some Pennsy H-21 info:
The H-21 is a 70 ton quad hopper that was introduced in 1911 for coal service. Approximately 30,000 of these hoppers were built between 1911 and 1917. During 1922 and 1923 the Pennsy expanded the H-21 hopper fleet to 36,000 cars . The H-21's were built with clam shell hopper doors. During the 1930's and early 1940's the clam shell doors were replaced with the saw tooth hoppers.

Round Keystone lettering was introduced in January 1930 and lasted until June 1954. The shadow keystone arrangement was used from June 1954 thru 1958. In 1958 the cars were painted black, the Pennsylvania was relocated and 7" PRR initials were added.

But wait! There's more! In 1971 the Penn Central Sam Rea shops reclassed 602 Pennsy H-21 hoppers 135524-139811 to PC class H5, 432350-432951 from December 1970 thru March 1971 after extensive repairs and modifications. They did not however qualify for AAR rebuilt status.

About 543 of the newly classed H5s made it to Conrail! That's sixty years of revenue service! 

Lets get to the model building;

Last installment we left the newly washed parts drying and ready for assembly.
The kits are back in their respective boxes to keep them organized during the build process.
Plastruct Bondene and Super Glue will be our adhesives for this project.
An upside down view shows the painted weights blending in nicely, the under frame is in place as are the hopper doors. Note: Install the 3 piece reservoir cylinder and triple valve set first. Put the weights in place and install the under frame. Then install the hopper doors. Looking at the coupler boxes we see two black sleeves to keep the Kadee couplers in place while using the kit supplied 0-80 screws.
The bar braces and main braces with gussets are glued in place with Plastruct Bondene. There is a shallow channel inside the car that will hold the braces in place. Apply some light squeezing pressure to keep the braces snug against the inner walls and then touch the braces with the Plastruct Bondene using the bottle brush. A little goes a long way here so don't get glue happy!
The Wine door locks are glued in place with super glue. Dab a little super glue at the receiving holes for the door locks and pres them into place. Again a little goes a long way here. 
A finished H-21 car being tested against the Kadee height gauge. All four H-21 kits lined up very nicely with the gauge which was nice.
PRR 177160 has been sprayed with Testors Dullcote. The coal load has been spray painted with flat black and the trucks have been spray painted with brown primer. The wheel faces were brush painted with acrylic burnt umber. 
 The four car set poses in Terminal Yard.
The 177160 is featured on the hopper car boxes and here is the prototype and model. 
All told the kits were a pretty straight forward build taking about 20- 30 minutes each. The finished cars were free rolling and will be equipped with metal wheels in the near future. The finished cars look very nice and while they are a little dated for the PC in their brown paint don't be surprised if you see them in a PC unit train! 

That's it for the Swap Meet Report!

Gotta run! P.C.C.M. 35C is heading my way. PC Train WV-2 has left West Mill on Ralph's Kings Port Division layout and was headed for Selkirk.

PC Train VN-4 (Selkirk to Terminal Yard) is due in shortly!
Thanks for reading!!


  1. Great work on the hopper cars Sir John! A fine addition to the fleet. Should generate a lot of revenue for the N.Y.C.T.L.!

  2. Another great job putting them together. A great addition to the fleet that always has room for more. Love the history for those cars, very informative.

  3. I always admire your careful efforts and organization when you take on projects like this! The results certainly are worth it! Nice set of hoppers! Looking forward to seeing them in service on the N.Y.C.T.L. I'm still envious of what great luck you had at the train sale!

    1. Thanks Ralph! You know these shows are either hit or miss for us. I'd classify this one a definite hit!

  4. John, really nice construction article and background on the Pennsy hoppers. To be honest I like them in the freight car red, breaks up the monotone black. I think they will make a fine addition to a PC unit train. You've got to keep up with all that black diamond production over at Hudson Coal.

    1. Thanks Brian! I agree the freight car red cars do look very nice and they will not be repainted. Hudson Coal is getting ready to come back to full production and all hoppers will be needed!