Idea for Hopper Weighting

Posted on June 4th, 2011, by Mike

I have been adding weights to my freight cars in order to bring them up to NMRA standards (or maybe just a hair heavier), as the extra weight helps them to track well. However, open hoppers are perhaps the hardest to deal with, as there are only so many nooks and crannies to fill with lead. This is one idea I had, which I lack the means to produce. I’m doing something similar by cutting lead sheet to shape, cut to fit, but this is difficult to do, and rather inaccurate. What would be better would be to cast an insert, one which replicates whatever details is part of the car body’s slope sheets, and which fits over the model’s slope sheets. It could taper a bit such that it doesn’t raise the apparent slope sheets where they intersect the ends, but over the middle of the car they could add a fair amount to the thickness. Visually, you’d never be able to tell, assuming that the maximum thickness is on the order of 6 scale inches or so.

I’m putting this out there in the hopes that someone who is familiar with casting techniques might take this idea to fruition, perhaps offering a product for sale in the process. I for one would be a buyer, for all the Model Power / Minitrix 55-ton twin hoppers I own, as well as the 70-ton quads by various manufacturers, and even some Atlas cars. The Atlas 90-ton triple hoppers could have a center sill insert that is shaped right, since they come instead with just a trough into which a bar weight is inserted. I’m thinking of a center sill top that just caps this, which if cast in a bismuth-lead alloy could add a significant amount of weight.

Sketch of hopper weight insert

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