More coal hoppers!


Please keep bugging us!


Gosh guys! I get such a bang out of seeing such creativity! I’ll second Bob’s reply … keep on’a posting.


Here’s one of the hoppers that started it all for me well over 20 years ago. Weaver offset cut down to proper length followed by a .015 styrene overlay and Plastruct T ribs. This is the build as written by Jack Brown who authored the color guide book the car is sitting on. This car is actually modelled specifically after the car pictured minus some lettering that is past my modeling period.
I’ll be creating a master for this car soon to cast. While Atlas produces a beautiful model of this car they are stupid heavy and I sold the ones I had.



While on tbe subject of Weaver hoppers anyone who has owned any know the couplers have a tendency to hang down and even break. Here’s a solution I came up with to either strengthen an intact mount or completely replace a broken pad.
Plastruct 1/8" angle and .030 styrene. To strengthen an existing cut a couple pieces of angle approximately 3/16". Cut the .030 pretty much the same size of the factory pad. Use glue of your choice, I use Tenax7, glue the new pad on top of the existing leaving about an 1/8" space from the end of the new pad to the end of the existing. Back of the new pad will land back against the bolster screw. Simply glue the angle stock as shown holding in place until the glue is dry. I drill and tap 2-56, the additional .030 really strengthens the screw mount.
A and B ends ready for paint.
I precut a bunch of these little gems with my chopper so there always on hand. All of my hopper builds get them prior to painting!


Work… Kids… New house… Life… All want to slow down; even stop any modeling efforts, I have learned. I’ll give a huge THUMBS UP to Ken’s strengthening of the Weaver frame in the coupler mount area. Ken sent me home with a couple of his Weaver ribbed twin hoppers, in a swap for a couple offset cars, as I need the ribbed twins to model the PS ribbed twins of the mid to late 1950s. The Weaver cars are dead on for that car, of which I will use for my L&S as dedicated ore service cars.

Even though we moved into this house in late April, too many distractions kept me from doing anything. Well, my younger boys prompted me to build a railroad, which has been started. Nothing fancy, but that’s a discussion for another time. HOPPER cars is what we’re discussing here.

I will not discard my heavy Atlas and Lionel cars, as they are needed to fill out the roster. Both should have a better bolster and truck solution, but in the name of getting some cars in service, I’ll agree to just modify what comes with the car.

On some of the Lionel offset twins, I went as far as grinding down the center of the frame area, so I can then have a flat surface to mount the PSC (old US Hobbies) prefabricated bolsters. This in itself was a project and the overall effort is not the best. This evening, I just did another car and retained the Lionel trucks, albeit modified and now equipped with Intermountain wheelsets.

I’ll have to take some photos of the current cars and get them posted here.



Joe Z? I know that guy!

I’m enjoying this channel side car build. Did not get much modeling in this weekend thanks to fire department interruptions but I did manage to modify a couple of Yoder coupler boxes and mount the trucks. Just need the steps installed as soon as I find them and off to the paint shop. Joe you’re going to need at least one channel side, I’ll keep a pair of sides for you.



Trying to write the message and upload photos from my cellular device, it’s different than desk top, though I’ll admit simpler.

The photos show a couple of the Lionel offset twins getting two railed for layout service.

The big problem with the Lionel cars is they don’t have a bolster. My initial efforts were to use the old US Hobbies (now PSC) cast bolsters. The Lionel cars have a small mound where their trucks are mounted, so that needs to be filed/ ground off, to get a true flat surface.

Then holes have to be drilled into the car, but they line up with the end slope sheets. As you can see, the ends of the screws can be visible and require shorter screws or another method.

The holes for the coupler boxes are drilled right into the center sill. The hole closest to the end lines up to where the train air line is mounted. Use caution when drilling through, as either the drill will bite and snap, or rip the air line out.

Lastly, I’m not certain I’ll use the USH bolsters any more. The truck mount screw is a 4-40, I believe, which limits the truck choices. I don’t want to have to drill open trucks, too.

I’ve considered using Intermountain hopper frames and cutting the bolsters free, with possibly the Protocraft truck mounting center piece. The issue is these cars are heavyweights, and simply gluing plastic parts to bear the weight in layout use may ultimately result in a car failure.

The CNJ car I just did was an easy conversion, as I modified the Lionel truck by eliminating the lobster couplers and inserting two rail wheelsets.

I’d like to know what other people are doing.


Nice work as always Joe! Are the Lionel trucks worth using? I saw in a new catalog they have a 2 rail conversion kit.


If someone just wants to put a Lionel car in service with minimal cash outlay, then the Lionel trucks are worth using. They have absolutely no accuracy, except the side frames.

I had to drill out the brass rivets that hold the metal tab with the coupler. Next, I cut the excess metal from the opposite end, as that would hit the back of the Kadee coupler box.

The big take away is it keeps the freight car at the correct height for mounting a Kadee box.

So, the only cost is time.


Nice job with the bolster upgrade Joe.

I looked at something similar for my Lionel offsets, but decided it was not worth the time and effort for “layout standard” cars. I went with a simple bushing/spacer affair. On my Lionel offsets, I use Intermountain trucks and wheels. I add Kadees exactly the same way Joe does. The Lionel side frames are not too bad, but they do require a lot of hacking to de-3-rail them. I have some time off this weekend; I am going to try to get a few pictures to post (good excuse to finish another car!).

Ken, the Lionel 2 rail conversion only works on the new Lion-Scale trucks. I believe these are intended for Lionel’s release of the former Weaver models. I bought examples of both conversion sets to check them out. I tried to convert a standard Lionel truck and it is a no-go! The axle end-to-end measurement is wrong, and the bolster piece is meant to fit the new truck design. The wheels are decent, and may be usable in other applications. I will also post some pictures of these later this weekend.


If you like to use their 3-bay hoppers, it’s a relatively easy conversion, as well, and I used the recess in the center sill as the locator for the Kadees.

Yes, I know it’s only 3RS (I haven’t made the jump to 2-Rail, yet) but you get the idea.

On the LTI 2-bay that I started, it didn’t quite work out that easy, but I’d still like to come up with a solution. They must have changed the designs as the 2-bay die cast hoppers I have sit high. The K-Lines were much easier.



Coal Hoppers - Coal Hoppers - Coal Hoppers
…but no one yet has mentioned or given picture of ‘coal’ !
har har



Though you’re running 3RS, do you mount the KaDee couplers to the NMRA/ KaDee standard height? The reason I ask is the offset twins on either Lionel or certain after market trucks have the coupler height at just the right place.


Darn tootin!

Live & die by the Kadee height gauge.

On the rear of the Lionel Commodore tender.


  • Mario


55 ton 7 rib master for another Weaver kitbash. Doing this one a little different than the 9 rib cars. I always emphasized the side of the car and wasn’t all that concerned about the ends but figured it’s not that much more work to correct the ends although I will have to remove some of the Weaver end details. These same ends will be usable on future 9 rib builds. I also opted to add the ladder, minus the rungs during casting.


Ken, looks good! What is your plan for the brake wheel housing and platform! Are they salvageable from the Weaver shell or will they be new parts? Cost wise, I wonder if the Weaver parts could be used to make a casting? I have noticed that O scale detail parts can quickly escalate costs over a fleet of models! I have been building several flatcars, and the brake parts were surprisingly expensive when I grouped a half dozen!


My thought was to cast a separate IM brake housing however I think I’m going to add it directly to the master. There is also a set of coupler braces I initially was going to add as I built but I think they’ll cast ok so long as I don’t trap any air bubbles in that small cavity. The brake platform was also going to be added as I went but will add as well.


Here is a couple “not so recent” update pictures of hopper happenings on the A&O. First up is a busy shot from the mothership workbench of about 50 recently completed (August of 2017) A&O hoppers just before they were put into service on the layout. I’m not sure how many finished home road hoppers are on the layout, I’d guess there are about 100 to 150.


Next, the no fun task of stripping factory lettering and paint! I have found that most Weaver paint and lettering to be nearly impossible to remove. David’s go to method is to sand the lettering off using a super fine grit sandpaper. I have tried 91% isopropyl alcohol, break fluid, Pine-Sol, and even media blasting with mixed and less than successful results. Finally, using a tip from an internet forum, I tried Easy-Off oven cleaner. It worked! And FAST! No damage to the plastic, all the paint and lettering easily lifted after about 15 minutes of soaking. For what it is worth, life got in the way and the 7 cars in this picture actually sat like this with the Easy-Off on them for nearly 4 months; with no ill effects! When I got back to them, all I did was lightly re-spray some Easy-Off on them and back to stripping immediately!

I use an old toothbrush to “wipe” the residue off and get into the cracks and corners. I follow up with a bath/rinse in warm water and dish soap using the same toothbrush. The 7 cars shown took about 2 hours of work to totally strip down to bare black plastic.

I stripped a total of 35 Weaver cars using 3 cans. Among these cars were several bright red (Burlington) hoppers and bright blue (Conrail and Rock Island) hoppers. It all came off! Every single car stripped to bare black plastic.

As an extra bonus: Easy-Off is about $6-$7 a can at the grocery store. I tried the dollar store version (it costs, wait for it…a dollar!) and it works exactly the same!


Hey, Rick!

Thanks for the hint about using Easy-Off. Vince stripped the lettering off of a lot of hoppers using ELO and that was rather tedious work. I have about 40 Weavers to strip for the NR&W, many of which are painted red. I presume that stuff is water soluble, so the cars could be hosed down in the garden and re-purposed as weed killer.