B&LE triple offset hoppers


Dean Payne
 

I've been thinking about putting a B&LE car on my layout, and
remember reading that the old Ulrich triple hopper kit was based on
the B&LE prototype. However, the new Accurail kit is nicer, from
what I hear. It isn't available lettered for the B&LE (but neither
was the Ulrich, AFAIK).

A little research on Wikipedia shows that the B&LE hoppers were "rust-
colored", to hide any obvious stains from the ore that they carried,
since the Bessemer was an iron ore road. I'm not positive this
refered to the triples, but maybe to later ore hoppers.

Since I model the late 30's, the B&LE hoppers were some of the only
triples that I can justify. I've heard of build dates of 1936-37 for
some, and I saw a 1931 build date (unless I mistook the 7 as a 1,
which is possible). These were heavily-built cars. A very odd
characteristic of these cars are the trucks, 90-ton versions
with "wings" on the outside that appear to be for outside-hung brake
shoes! These have not been offered anywhere in HO that I am aware
of, and would be hard to do, because most decent trucks are
engineering plastic, notoriously hard to glue to. Were these EXTRA
brake shoes, or were the heavy-duty trucks so massive that the brakes
had to be moved outside? I can't think of any other cars in the
timeframe of this list that had outside-hung brakes!

The MOST puzzling thing is that they had offset triples in the first
place, if these indeed hauled iron ore. I've heard that standard
offset triples would be about half-full of iron ore before reaching
capacity, and I don't think that even the B&LE's stout triples could
be loaded enough to justify a triple, and if so, why the offset sides
instead of the simpler ribbed sides? Most ore hoppers I've seen are
shorties, not even standard-size twins. I wondered if they somehow
found a way (post-WWII) to process the ore at the mine in such a way
that made it purer and denser. That would be the one explanation I
can think of for a switch from triples to shorties, but that is pure
speculation.

Dean Payne

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