MDC 3-bay hopper mystery

D. Scott Chatfield

Everybody loves a good mystery, right?

I'm holding an old MDC rib-side 3-bay (HO) with the longitudinal ballast gates.  The crossdump version was long ago superseded by the Atlas 9-panel 3-bay (has there been anything better?), but I started this thing many years ago to make a Southern ballast hopper.  Made quite a bit of progress until I took a long look at those 9-panel sides (should be 10 on a ballast hopper) and realized I was going to have quite the problem making the eight large letters of the name SOUTHERN look right since they wouldn't be centered.  Oh well....on to the next project....

(Turns out FEC rebuilt some 9-panel crossdumps into ballast hoppers, so there is an after-the-fact sorta-prototype for this model.  But that happened long after 1960.)

(Get to the mystery, Blind Dog.)  So recently I dug it out of the heap to make it into a stand-in for another railroad that didn't exist before 1960 and pawn it off on a friend.

Looking the sides I see a little plate on the lower left side with the number 12 in raised letters. Huh?  And is this 12 on the other side?  Of course not.  It's 170.  

What the flying fudge are those supposed to mean?

And yes, they're on the crossdump version too. 

Scott Chatfield

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