Re: Open Hopper Turned Covered Hopper?

James McDonald

Hello all,

Now that the provenance of the RF&P covered hoppers is the discussion rather than their post-list disposition, I can be more forthcoming.

The RF&P’s first open hoppers were purchased second-hand in 1916. Previously it had employed gondolas, some with hopper bottoms, for its aggregate loads. The hoppers were in the series RF&P 3401-3505, 105 cars in number, with a 1667 cuft capacity. These cars were originally built in 1905 by Standard Steel Car Co. for the Quemahoning Coal Company. Their interior length was 30’ 3”. The distance between truck kingpins was 21’ 9”. Later editions of RF&P documents refer to them having 1700 cuft capacity, but without any change in car dimensions. The ORER cites them as having 30’ 0” interior length.

The next arrivals were the 50 cars RF&P 3506-3555. RF&P data indicates that the cars were rebodied in 1922 by Pressed Steel Car Co. Some data, such as the photo to which Eric posted a link, indicate that the rebodying work may have begun in 1921 so perhaps it merely finished in 1922. These cars were reportedly also placed on cast trucks taken from the RF&P 3200 series gondolas, which were being removed from the roster. The interior length of the 3506 series was 30’ 6”. The kingpins were 21’ 11” apart. They are listed in the ORER and at least one RF&P document as 1880 cubic feet (consistent with USRA hoppers), but actual cars appear to be stenciled 1900 cuft.

In 1923 the RF&P apparently had a further 35 cars, RF&P 3556-3590, rebodied by Richmond Car Works. They, too, were put on cast trucks from the 3200 series gondolas. Their interior length was 29’ 11.25”. The kingpin distance was 21’ 9”. The ORER lists them as 1880 cuft, but RFP 3572, at least, was stenciled 1773 cuft.

Based on the lower cubic footage of RFP 7006, and the fact that 7001-7004 all came from the 357x range, I suspect it came from the 3556-3590 series.

Photos of RF&P two bay hoppers in the above series are very rare, so it’s hard to generalize, but I suspect the ladder was added to 7006 during its rebuild to a covered hopper. I’ve not encountered a photo of another RF&P 2-bay hopper in the likely donor pool with ladders instead of grabs.

The note that the RFP 3506 and RFP 3556 series were both rebuilt, not built, in 1922-23 points to the possibility that these cars used frames from older hoppers but I’ve been unable to uncover any information in company records to support this. If anyone has further insight here, I would appreciate hearing from you.

Note that in the 1930 ORER, the RFP 3506 and RFP 3556 series appear under a single listing, which uses the measurements of the longer RFP 3506 series cars. They are split out into separate listings in subsequent editions. The measurements given in the ORER are often not consistent with data stenciled on the cars nor in documentation from the railroad’s mechanical department. This was common with RF&P hoppers for some reason.

All the best,


James McDonald
Greenbelt, MD

On Sep 26, 2017, at 2:55 PM, wrote:

Messages in this topic (6)
1c. Re: Open Hopper Turned Covered Hopper?
Posted by: "Eric Hansmann" wvrail
Date: Tue Sep 26, 2017 6:43 am ((PDT))

The RF&P October 1926 ORER listing includes two hopper series.

3401-3505 :: 100 cars with 1667 cubic capacity, 30-foot interior length, and
10-foot height to eave

3506-3590 :: 80 cars with 1880 cubic capacity, 30-foot, 6-inch interior
length, and 10-foot, 10-inch height to eave

I suspect RF&P sand car 7006 from the photo on eBay was converted from a
hopper in the 3401-3505 series. Note the angle of the center slope sheets is
similar to that used on earlier hopper designs. Here's the link to RF&P 7006


Eric Hansmann

Murfreesboro, TN

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