The online magazine on the history and operation of vintage scale model trains in American OO gauge

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Three modified Schorr hopper cars

In the group of great cars recently obtained from Bill Gilbert it is hard to know where to start but his modified Schorr hopper cars are a good place to start, as they were featured or mentioned in at least three issues of The OO Road, 8/96, 2/98, and 6/07. These cars were imported from Japan in twin and triple hopper configurations.

In the 1996 article we find a very complete description of the process of the conversion, with drawings. In this article Gilbert wrote that “after studying plans of PRR H21 quad hopper and VGN H12 twin hopper I could see another conversion project….” He had done similar conversions of Scale-Craft twin hoppers to triple (more on those another day) and related that,
Surprisingly it was easier to work with the brass cars than the Scale Craft diecast. Lesson number one is don’t use a zona saw, use an abrasive disc in a Dremel tool. The brass is very thin allowing the saw to bind, plus any pressure applied will bend or distort the brass.
That is very helpful information. Basically the conversion is to cut one pocket off of two triple hoppers and put them back together as two cars. One car will be the quad hopper and the other a smaller twin hopper. Multiple cuts are involved but made clear in the drawings in the article. In the photos here you will see the quad hopper with a standard triple hopper and two of the twin hoppers with a regular twin hopper, to point out the differences between the cars visually. They are all sharp cars. At the joints between the bodies he ran “a bead of solder in the joint as a butt joint. The joint is very sturdy.” Continuing from the 1996 article,
Now for detail work to more closely resemble the prototype. Both cars trim off the rounded ends and add a brass angle for a top on the ends. The VGN car has an Ajax brakewheel and the PRR a vertical brake staff. The PRR H-21 has a unique box end with poling pockets. You can get open square brass shape and solder on a channel. I used Scale Craft brass poling pockets off their flat car. You could use a blob of solder and drill a dimple in it. The Pennsy converted H-21 to H-21a with a top stiffener on the sides from end rib to end rib. I added to this by inverting a channel over the top angle. If you are a purist, the car sides on both cars are too tall. They can be cut down with the abrasive disc and a new angle soldered on, but I didn’t.
When they arrived all were beautifully painted and the VGN cars operated great. The PRR car however was on trucks that did not roll (Nason heavy duty Andrews trucks) and it had a bit of damage to repair. I decided in the case of this car to convert a fresh pair of PBL Sn3 Andrews trucks which have much the same look and roll great.

Be watching for more of these unique Schorr car conversions soon.

UPDATE: See this article for more views of the N&W cars, with a matching caboose.

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