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GN WOOD CHIP CARS drawn on ribs or add actual ribs?
I welcome your opinions!
Pictured below are two MTH ELECTRIC TRAINS O scale premier line wood chip hoppers: one Montana Rail Link (MRL) and the other Northern Pacific (NP). MTH only makes these wood chip cars with smooth sides: there are no “ribs.”
Unfortunately, for the good or bad of it, I learned that the Great Northern Railway (GN) and the Northern Pacific Railway had wood chip cars and all of these had “ribs” unlike the MTH model. Further, when GN & NP merged to form the Burlington Northern, some of these wood chip cars were sold to Montana Rail Link meaning the MTH model MRL versions are missing their “ribs.”
I located a photo of a GN wood chip car that was made in 1968 by Gunderson Brothers. These cars, numbered 174200 to 174299 had all steel side walls and vertical side ribs—there also were a few horizontal ribs as well.
The picture I'm referring to may be found in the Great Northern Equipment Color Pictorial Book 2 – Freight Cars, on the top of page 75. Duane Buck, of the Great Northern Railway Historical Society, took this photo in 1973.
I have never considered myself a “rivet counter” but yet this particular issue really began to trouble me. Don't ask me why. I decided that I really wanted a big sky blue GN wood chip hopper. MTH does not do the paint scheme for GN so my wife, Connie, and I went out, with an actual big sky blue paint chip to purchase the exact color of paint GN used. Mission accomplished!
We also purchased strips of balsa wood that would become the ribs on our wood chips cars. I don't have the cars that I'm custom painting yet so I took my lone MTH NP wood chip hopper and cut the balsa strips to fit into place.
It occurred to me that instead of hassling around with glue on my “ribs” that I would use a black permanent marker to draw the lines on the car where the ribs would go prior to attaching the ribs.
I drew my lines according to the actual 1968 photo. Then I looked at the car and many thoughts struck me:
1: If I painted my ribs the identical color of the car and attached them, could anyone see them?
2: These black lines look AMAZING on the sides of these cars creating an almost 3D effect.
3: With the NP and MRL cars, is it worth the time, effort, materials, etc. to add the ribs because if they are the same color as the car, would anybody notice or care?
I absolutely hate the thought of messing up, covering or otherwise obstructing the decals on either my 7 MRL cars or my lone NP car. When I drew my lines, I took great care to not cover the numbers or letters. I did draw across other markings in a few places that I felt did not take away.
My current feeling is that I'm doing nothing more to either one of these cars as they do appear to have ribs, achieving the desired effect. The only advantage I can think of as to actually adding the balsa strips is you could feel the ribs as you could on the actual car and the model would be more detailed. WOULD YOU LEAVE AS IS OR ADD THE EXTRA DETAIL??????????
As far as the GN Big Sky Blue cars which I don't have yet to custom paint and decal, I am going to physically add the ribs and duplicate details to get as close to reality as possible. And, I'm still wondering if it will be worth the effort because these simple drawn on lines achieve the effect perfectly, easily and inexpensively.
PLEASE COMMENT. I would be very interested to hear everyone's opinion on as to whether or not to just draw on the ribs in black or actually add ribs that are painted to match the body of the car.
Your thoughts...
Happy fourth!


Images (2)
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  • IMG_0978
Original Post

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The cars ribs are 3 dimensional, drawn lines are 2 dimensional. 

Even looking broadside on a prototype the 3 dimensions and texture are evident:

Wod Chip Hopper ex NP

In O Scale, the lack of physical ribs for a ribbed car is glaring.

Even in N Scale the third dimension is evident:

Wood Chip Hopper N Scale

The question to ask yourself is: How long would be satisfied looking at cars with rib lines drawn on them?

If I had the hots for the GN version, I'd put forth the effort to add ribs using Evergreen Styrene strips.




Images (2)
  • Wod Chip Hopper ex  NP
  • Wood Chip Hopper N Scale
Last edited by Rusty Traque

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