Bob Karig wrote a very nice article in the latest MR about detailing
hoppers. My hopper fleet is woefully unimproved, and he gives us two
good examples how to improve them. He does a quick kitbash on a
Bowser GLa, and a more thorough detailing of an Accurail USRA hopper.
His "USRA" hopper is detailed to represent an O&W hopper, which is
somewhat different than a USRA, as mentioned in the article. I wished
that there had been a sidebar for "here's how to model the USRA
version", because that would have wider appeal. Of course, most of
what he did can directly translate to a USRA version, but what's
different? I suppose that varies according to the period you are
modeling. When did the first USRA hoppers get AB brakes, etc?
I found the GLa kitbash to be intriguing, as well. I need a few early
hoppers that can be approximated with that kit, probably with a very
similar kitbash. I would choose to use finer "stirrup" steps, rather
than relocate the kit's steps.
Another thing I heard of doing was replacing just the side grabs with
wire. That gives the impression the cars are fully detailed for close
to half the work (leaving time to work on more resin cars, for
example). However, my prototype has more grabs than the GLa.
I'd not noticed, before reading the article, how much larger the end
sills are on the GLa compared to the SSC-built ones I'll be modeling.
Thanks for the article (and the inspiration), Bob!