By Sam Swanson/photos as noted
One of the more appealing aspects of these diminutive wooden 20-ton hoppers was that after twenty or so years of service on the Mann’s Creek Railway, each had been individually rebuilt in a variety of ways. I’ve modeled these side-dump door hoppers previously in HOn3 and was looking to run similar strings of cars on a future On30 layout, but without spending all of my available hobby time on scratchbuilding a fleet. For an On30 version loaded with coal, this article covers mass-producing techniques that will help you build a fleet of hoppers relatively quickly and efficiently.
In general, my method is to build side and end masters, make rubber molds, and cast parts from 2-part urethane resin plastic. The rest of each model was framed using basswood scale lumber, and detailed with cast plastic, cardstock, and commercial parts. Much like the prototype fleet, it’s in the hopper’s particular details (such as external metal braces, tie rods, and metal sheeting) that distinguish each as an individual model. I’ve built nine of these On30 Mann’s Creek hoppers, and recommend this casting approach if you want three or more of any one freight car.
Based on the photos and drawings in the book West Virginia Narrow Gauge: Mann’s Creek Railway (Lane and Schnepf, TLC Publishing, 1999), I drew framing and sheathing plans for the hopper’s side and end, along with two types of doors, and some of the door hardware details. The prototype’s doors were originally sheathed with timber, but that was replaced by sheet steel during subsequent upgrades. So just by interchanging doors and adding some cardstock side bracing, it’s easy to model two versions of the hoppers. Templates for the On30 cast urethane and basswood components used for my model are reproduced in this article.
Based on equipment from the Mann’s Creek line in West Virginia, these distinctive cars have all the right On30 narrow gauge personality. Download the PDF file below for a complete car parts drawing and framing diagram.
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