Friday 24 October 2014

CN Aluminum Covered Hopper

My layout features a feed mill and the Algonquin Railway delivers the grain.  To get the grain there I started collecting and building some freight cars for this online customer.

About a year ago I started to build a Sylvan Scale Models Flat top Cylindrical hopper kit.  I actually found two of them at a train show but have only built one.  This was my first resin kit.  It was PITA to put together.  Nothing against Sylvan (they make some great models) but the ladders in the kit are not usable, they represent a banana more than a ladder.  I tried to straighten them with hot water and some weights, but they just kept going back to their banana shape.

I ended up making them up by modifying Tichy ladders and bits of styrene.  The roof walk was also not usable, do to warpage.  I modified a Plano roof walk designed for a ACF cylindrical hopper model.

Kadee 158's, cut levers, brake hoses and Branchline 70 ton Barber S-2 trucks were also added.

The decals in the kit were old and cracking. A coat of Microscale liquid decal film fixed them right up.  I weathered the car using my airbrush, with paint thinned about 8/1 with thiner.  Artist olils were used for the white streaking.  I used a picture from the excellent Canadian Rail Car Pictorial books for reference.

I think it turned out pretty good.  I really enjoy weathering cars, although I find it easy to over do it.  I tried to practice some restraint on this car.  I think it's my best effort yet, compared to the look of the prototype.  Let me know what you think.


  1. Congratulations on building your first resin kit. It looks great. Also, welcome the world of resin kit building. Resin kits are a mixed blessing. It's great to have models of equipment that would otherwise be unavailable, but not all kits are well thought out. Having built a few, I can say from experience that there is a massive range of what I call "kit engineering" out there. I think the most difficult kit I've ever attempted was Sylvan's slab side covered hopper. That bad experience was amplified by the fact that it was among the very first resin kits I ever attempted. For a kit building experience that's the polar opposite of what you went through with this model, watch for a Rail Yard Models kit on the used market. Simply a joy to assemble, and they are magnificent when they're finished.

    And by the way, my slab side covered hoppers ended up so being so thoroughly messed up that they went into the trash bin. No big deal though. Learning doesn't happen without making mistakes.


    1. Hunter,

      Thanks for the comments. If it wasn't for the Tichy ladders this kit would have been in the trash also. I also had to do a ton of sanding on the roof to straighten it out. The roof walk from Plano was a joy use. The kit version is an act of frustration. I have a F & C Slab Side kit. Looks to be a bit easier to put together than this one. I also have another one of these flat top cylindricals to do, the 8 hatch version for CN. I will be using aftermarket parts again to keep it out of trash bin. I'll have to keep my I out for the Rail yard models kits on ebay i have been looking at local train shows but nothing has come up in the last year or so.

  2. Ryan, What did you use as a guide to the brake piping arrangement on this car? I have one of these under construction and am trying to puzzle out how to do the piping. The roofwalk snapped when I tried sanding the flash so I am going to try using a couple of Kadee roofwalks to kitbash the walkway. So far I have survived using the kit ladder stock, but I can see how it would be frustrating. Thanks for sharing your efforts.
    Marc Simpson

    1. Marc,

      I used a Picture from the Canadian Car Pictorial Series of Books and sort of winged it. The Kaddee ladders are nice but hard to glue. They use delrin for the plastic I think, that's why I went with the Plano one. I will try and take a picture of the piping and email it to you. Its pretty basic If I remember. May the force be with you on this build. You'll need it..