Apr 11, 2002
The HE7A was the final order of hoppers that Erie Lackawanna ordered prior to the Conrail merger in 1976. In May 1974, Greenville Steel Car delivered a total of 750 of these 70-ton, 12-panel, 3-bay hoppers.
While HO modelers don't have an exact match for the HE7A, Stewart does make a model of a 70-ton, 12-panel class H39 that is fairly close. I've tried to list the differences below and give visual examples when possible.
HE7A vs H39 Ends: Since the Stewart model represents an H39 and not an HE7A, the major differences are the end slope sheets and the end panels. The slope sheet is that angled section on each end of the hopper. If you look closely at the photo to the right, you'll notice that the H39's slope sheet is angled steeper than the HE7A. End panels connect the top of the slope sheets to the top of the hopper ends. The H39 has a shorter end panel than the HE7A. Since I feel modifying these features is too complicated, especially considering that we usually model at least several hoppers to fill out a coal train, we'll just have to live with these discrepancies.
Ladders: If you look at the photo above right, you might also be able to see that the H39 only has partial height ladders, with standard grab irons continuing up the side of the hopper. The Stewart model has such ladders. The HE7A, on the other hand, has full height ladders instead of grab irons on the sides, but not the ends. Removing the cast on grabs of the Stewart model is fairly easy using an Exacto chisel blade, then sanding smooth with fine sandpaper, then touching up with black paint to match. Use either Details West #1006 7-Rung Ladder or Detail Associates #6207 Long Freight Car Ladder. You will have to cut each down from 7 rungs to 6 rungs to fit the hopper. You can also replace the end grabs with wire if you like. Paint anything needing painting and you're done.
Rib Differences: The major difference between the model and the HE7A is the rib spacing. The prototype has 12 side panels whereas the Stewart model has 14 ribs. Again, this really is something we have to live with until a true HE7A model is made, which probably won't be any time soon. Stil, such a major difference between the model and prototype disturbs me.
Painting (Updated!): Prime Mover Decals will be releasing decals for all EL hopper cars sometime in 2002, so we don't have to use the old Herald King set anymore. Stewart predecorates the model for EL 33460 (#10211), EL 33482 (#10212), and EL 33508 (#10213). If you replace the ladders as suggested above, don't panic if you do some slight damage to the cars--these were well weathered by the 1980s! Just take a look at the photos and you'll see what I mean. Add some rust to those grooves for a proto look.
Conclusion: And there you have it. You now know the differences between the Stewart H39 model painted for an Erie Lackawanna HE7A. If you enjoy modeling hoppers, some simple detailing will give you a closer HE7A but not an exact model. Still, I'm a modeler who'd rather have something close enough rather than nothing at all. I hope you enjoyed this section and found it useful.
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