Re: Accurail USRA hopper
Jon Miller wrote:
"I think Tim answered my question, if most agree with that comment!
'It's definitely the best plastic HO model of the USRA twin hopper.'
I understand the typical Accurail items like molded grab iron, etc."
True - the Accurail model is probably the best compromise between accuracy and price. For USRA twin hoppers in HO scale, it's definitely a question of what bothers you more - incorrect panel spacing, molded on details, incorrect paint schemes, high MSRP, or generally poor execution. Here's a rundown of what's out there in descending order of price (general comments only - you're on your own for specific analysis for given prototypes):
Bachmann (RTR, MSRP $32.00): For $32.00, you get a model with molded on grabs, chunky details, and paint schemes that could have been executed better.
MTH (RTR, MSRP $29.99): Actually, it's pretty good, nicely detailed with separate grabs and detailed brake system. The main problem with this model is the lack of accurate paint schemes - this release contains questionable (ex: PRR Shadow Keystone for a 300-car class largely retired by the adoption of this paint scheme) or completely bogus (WM, CN, VGN, UP) paint schemes. At least they got the correct car class this time for the B&O cars, and the P&LE cars do have the correct scheme for panel-side cars rebuilt back to flat sides. YMMV - it's a bit much for me to spend $30 on a model to have to dump it in stripper to get it right.
Tichy (Undecorated kit, MSRP $14.50, sometimes available RTR and decorated from Intermountain): Exquisitely detailed, but flawed - the two center panels are wider than that of the prototype (see a side-by-side comparison with the prototype in the files section). You have to decide if this bothers you or not.
Accurail (Kit, MSRP $15.98): As previously noted, molded-on details but not grossly oversized; wide variety of paint schemes (some not for USRA cars); 2400-series (as built paint schemes) cars will need to have brake details backdated; some 2500-series cars will need Andrews trucks. Best compromise between price and accuracy.
Varney/Life-Like ("RTR", can't throw a rock at a train show without hitting one): Included as someone will invariably bring it up. Half-century old tooling; undersized. Dirt cheap, though, and may be valuable for kitbashing Bob Karig's early common standard hopper. (However, once I get this project done, [fill in the blank] company will issue the model that Bob championed.]
Walthers also offered a USRA twin a few years back - no idea where they got their tooling. Photos of the model looked a lot like the Accurail model.