MODELING: Upgrading Modern Covered Hoppers

Ross Dando was kind enough to provide information on upgrading details on two Atlas O covered hoppers.   He tried to address a couple areas of the car rather than blowing the doors off with all new details.  The key to his strategy is improving a lot of cars with a reasonable investment in time.

The first upgrade to the Atlas cars was to replace the bolster/ draft gear with a new part that sets the proper height for Protocraft trucks and hold their Type-E couplers.  Ross made a pattern and had a bunch cast up in resin This is a simple but useful upgrade.  A Protocraft bolster bushing and mounting plate (PC-1081) are fitted to these parts.

Here is Ross’s pile of PS-3 4427 to upgrade.  Most have their new bolsters installed and ready for the next step.  Pullman routed the trainline down the side of the hoppers which common practice for nearly all hoppers.   Model manufacturers tend to make this detail either oversized or too fragile.  Ross guides us through the steps needed to replace the trainline and hangers with a more scale arrangement.


To start with, a length of .015″ x .042″ is formed into a loop using two different pairs of pliers.

Form the loop with round tip pliers.

Break over with a needle nose

Use a flat nose pliers to finish the crimp around the wire.

And this what you get.

So after bending up the trainline wire and the hangers you will have a pile of goodies to go to work on the big Pullman hoppers.

Here is the 100-ton car outfitted with the new trainline and bolsters

On the Atlas ACF 70-ton covered hopper is upgraded in a similar fashion.  Ross designed the bolster to fit several Atlas models.  The trainline received an upgrade just like it’s bigger brother.

I would like to thank Ross Dando for the story on his upgrades to ready-to-run Atlas covered hoppers.  He also took all of the photos as well.



3 thoughts on “MODELING: Upgrading Modern Covered Hoppers

  1. Ross,
    Good information here about picking the most important upgrades and accepting the smaller compromises. There are always compromises to be made as much as we don’t want to. To be able to make these decisions is the difference between a stack of brand new cars in boxes and nicely upgraded and operational cars. Well done Ross!


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