Re: B&LE triple offset hoppers

benjaminfrank_hom <b.hom@...>

Dean Payne wrote:
"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)."

The Accurail triple is a nicer kit, but it isn't a model of the B&LE
triple hoppers in question, either. The B&LE cars had 13 side posts
vs. the 10 of the AAR Offset triple represented by the Accurail kit.
The Ulrich model is indeed a model of these unique cars, and yes,
they were offered lettered for B&LE when they were in production.

"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."

You have move beyond Wikipedia for your research, my friend.

"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)."

B&LE 75001-76500, 1500 cars, 1936 (70-ton cars)
B&LE 65001-69900, 4900 cars, 1938 (90-ton cars)

There were some roads acquiring triple offset hoppers as early as
1931 (DL&W and Boston & Albany immediately come to mind) but not the

"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."

But not impossible, and Richard Hendrickson did so as far back as
1984. See his article in the March 1984 issue of Prototype Modeler
for information on upgrading the Ulrich kit including kitbashing
these trucks.

"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

These were NOT extra brake shoes, but an outside clasp design. While
uncommon, outside clasp brakes were used as early as the 1850s and
were used in other applications, including some express cars during
our era of interest.

"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

There's one simple reason why the B&LE would use these cars in ore
service: flexibility between ore and coal service. The B&LE
certainly had a need for coal hoppers, and though you can't fully use
the cubic capacity of these cars in ore service, you can use them to
haul both ore and coal instead of investing in a bunch of single
commodity ore cars. Note that the PRR used Class H21A/H21E quads to
handle ore traffic and did not invest in specialized ore cars until
the 1960s.

As for the offset design, this was for greater cubic capacity while
hauling coal.

The Ulrich cars are a project that I've been considering for TKM.
The Pennsy regularly saw trains of these cars along the Main Line in
Philadelphia ore service, and a large cut of these models would give
Bruce's stable of motors a run for their money!

Ben Hom

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