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Dear Friends,

the good thing about starting many projects at the same time (usually a bad thing!) is that you can easily finish something that's nearly done already. So did I today by finalising the weathering of my first C&S 55ton 2-bay USRA design hopper.

The car is kit built (I found it hard, especially with that poor instruction sheet. No chance doing the brake gear right without prototype photos) and I soon found out that the provided plastic grab irons come off like ****. I therefore used wire grab irons throughout. 

The Colorado & Southern had 300 of these cars in service. Oh oh, andrews trucks! I learn a lot from master builder George Podas who showed me a method to lower Atlas anderws trucks to the correct hight. Next problem were the decals for that class and road. I decided to go custom with a nice German company named who layed out the sheet with no grumble. I have now enough numbers to letter every particular car of that series between 1943 and 1946. And by that chance I learned a lot about car lettering in general. I am on the way to getting it right, still there are a couple of flaws, especially decalling and blending the weathering together nicely. I work under 4000 kelvin light in the workshop and the warm sunlight turns out the car totally different. 

C&S 18014 is the first of a fleet of hoppers and it took me quite a long time to build it. 


The car originally had letting as built in 1919. 

After priming the model I mixed a warm brown color with maybe not enough red in it. Custom decals went on. I primed the car with too much air pressure and ended up with a sand paper surface. Next time I will take care not to make that mistake again. 

Lowered Atlas Andrews trucks. 

Thanks for reading – I am here modelling all alone (that's O.K.) and really enjoy to share my work with you guys! Hopefully I'll make it to the O Scale March Meet in 2020!


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Yes, the Atlas trucks have the bolster screwed together. What George Podas did was to remove the top part, grind or mill down the remaining bolster part and insert a piece of sheet brass with the center hole. The screws go up from below this time and have to be trimmed. Also the brackets of the side frame has to be cut back to allow for enough clearence.




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Very nice job.    FYI, the Athearn Andrews trucks will fit on the IM kit built cars without modification.     I personally like the Athearn trucks better because the equalize and handle rough track better.    If you don't like Delrin (engineering plastic) wheels that come with the trucks,  you can replace them with IM metal wheels.

I don't know what comes with that kit, but IM plastic trucks work pretty well too if you replace the wheelsets with some with Metal axles.


Thanks, Jim - I chose Atlas trucks because of the better detail and scale accuracy. I agree with you completely about the IM trucks (Bettendorf, I think) that I like very much. I upgrade these with their metal wheels. Most rolling stock of the time had these trucks equipped so they will be all used elsewhere. 

I got my first Protocraft trucks not long ago and they are fantastic. They roll like a sledge down the hill. To equip a large number of cars with these is too expensive, however. I use such high quality on signature items. 

As it comes to rough track I must admit that I will do my best to avoid any. Measure my success or failure in the years to come :-)

Very inspirational Sarah !!!   Ironically I just found one of these 2 days ago, when I was digging through unpacked cartons of trains looking for something else....  I was actually thinking about selling it off, but now after seeing your work, and reading through this thread, I think I'll put it together, weather it and run it.   Thanks and keep up the great work.  

Your directions on modifying the Atlas Andrews trucks are most appreciated,  I have some of these trucks that I want to install on other rolling stock, and you articulated a great way to solve the mounting, and height issues. 

Nice build job on that hopper.  Glad to hear you ditched the fragile plastic grabs and went with wire.

The weathering on the car is very well done.  One point on the wheels though: the wheel discs should not be rusty.  Rust forms on roller bearing truck wheels because the bearings don't leak.  With friction bearing trucks, the wheel discs should be a greasy black color from the waste oil lubrication leaking from the bearings.  Google "friction bearing trucks" and check the "images" for lots of prototype photos.

Looks like this thread has been brought back to life since the last active post is dated 2019?  Well, better late than ever, so they say.

Congratulations Sarah, another professional job if there ever was one.

Appears that you constructed the car before you decided to model in Proto48, right?


I am guilty of reviving this thread, I couldn't help it. It is a very well done model. I have a bunch of those IM 55 ton hopper kits, so this will be my motivation to dive into them.

I am not sure why this thread was revived, but I am glad it was.  Just from appearances Sarah's work is exceptional.  It is even more so because that is probably the hardest of the IM kits to build to even close to an acceptable level.  I used to joke that the best thing about the IM hopper kits I made was they were not robust.  Accidents gave me an excuse for retiring them.  I remain a big fan of the IM box cars and reefers, but I am happier to let Atlas build those hoppers.  Hats off to you for a great job Sarah.

Wow, you are so kind all the time! Thanks!

Indeed that car was my first attempt to build a plastic kit. Took maybe more than 12 hours, maybe 15. Just now I have two more cars in the pipeline and I was much faster. Now I have a bending jig for grab irons and I got the hang of the drilling with 0.8mm. Since my wire tree I also have better understanding of super glue behavior, too.

The current hopper received it's paint with a lot of pre-shading to simulate faded and sun bleeched paint.

Thanks Bob for your clarification about rusty wheels – great info!

Yes, in the meantime I'm in p:48 and still I convert Atlas Andrews trucks, because I have so many.

I love these hoppers, they'll make a nice train with operating potential!



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