scratchbuilding hopper car loads

This article describes how hopper cars are weighted, and a false floor (to hide the weight when car is run empty) and a removable load installed.

Parts required:

Weighting: These 40' hoppers should be 4 ounces per NMRA recommendations. If the hoppers have opening doors at the bottom, they are sealed shut with the latex caulk. Allow 24 hours for curing. BB shot is added to bring the weight to 4 ounces. White glue is then poured on top to secure the BB shot in place. Allow 24 hours for the glue to dry.

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The car is masked for interior painting.

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A false floor is cut from mat board, and is notched to fit around any ribs. Its purpose is to conceal the BB shot and make the car appear empty when the removable load is not in place. If you do not plan to run the car empty, you can skip making the false floor. The interior and false floor are sprayed rusty red (Rustoleum Painter's Touch red automotive primer).

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The false floor is set into place. There is no need to secure it. Now the car appears empty to the casual glance.

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To make the removable load, cut a piece of mat board to fit inside the hopper. Squirt some white latex caulking into a container and stir in some coarse sand for texture. Glop it onto the mat board. You may wish to put a piece of ferrous metal (such as a nail or two) under the caulk to allow future removal using a magnet.

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Form it into shape and allow 24 hours to dry. It will not dry hard, but will remain rubbery and flexible.

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Tint the load the desired color using a wash of the desired acrylic color dissolved in 50% isopropyl alcohol. Grey is used here to represent ballast.

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Home • Revised Aug 1 2014