With the recent acquisition of another Atlas 90-ton triple hopper (thanks TwinDad!), I figured this is a good opportunity to show how I am going about bringing the car weight up. Open hoppers are notoriously difficult, since they lack places to hide unsightly weights like the self-adhesive chunks I usually use in closed cars. The key is to use sheets of lead, which can be cut and fit in without being conspicuous.
I use A-Line’s lead sheet; I had to buy some 1/16″ material when the hobby shop was out of 1/32″, which being thinner is easier to hide. In this case, however, the extra thickness is just fine, in fact I could perhaps have even used the 3/32″ material for the center sill cover. Still, this seemed to work out, so here’s my write up.
When you remove the plastic coal load you’ll see a round metal rod set into a slot in the center sill. Atlas doesn’t bother to cover this with anything, I suppose they assume you’ll only be running loaded hoppers. By cutting out a strip of lead and gluing it over this, you get a finished look in addition to increased weight!
The 1/16″ thickness didn’t add quite enough weight, though, so I also used some scraps cemented up in the triangular cavities above the hopper doors. Perhaps the 3/32″ material would be enough on its own so that these scraps are not needed, but once all of this is painted black it becomes rather hard to see even when you’re looking for it.
If you want to see the techniques I’ve used on other hopper body styles, you can view the following: