Jan 31, 2002
During July and August 1971 the Reading Company assembled a total of 200 45-foot, 12-panel, 100-ton, 3-bay HTe class hoppers from prefabricated Bethlehem Steel Car kits and assigned them to series RDG 41650-41849. All the cars were painted in the classic Reading "speed lettering" scheme.
Bowser makes the best choice for modeling these cars. Technically speaking, the model is of a PRR/PC H43D 100-ton hopper with a capacity of 3433cuft. This is what I like to call Bowser's generic hopper, painting them for dozens of railroads and classes, including the Reading Company's HTe.
While I never consider myself to be an expert on frieght car modeling, or anything else for that matter, no matter how hard I search I can find no siginificant differences between the body of the H43D model and the prototype HTe. The slope sheets, panels, ribs, and capacity all seem to match perfectly.
Ladders: The most noticeable difference between the Bowser model and the HTe are their ladders. In the photo to the right of an HTe ladder, notice how the rungs are more like individual grab irons than the standard kind found on full height ladder as on the H43. (Be careful of shadow lines in this photo--they look like ladder sides at times!) While I have yet to try this technique, in theory you should be able to carefully chisel off the rungs from the Bowser ladder on the ends and sides. Also chisel off the left hand ladder section on the side of the car from just above the fourth rung to the top chord. Sand smooth. Replace all the rungs with Details Associates #2201 Drop Type Grab Irons with nut/bolt castings. Use photos as a guide.
Braces: The Reading added stiffener braces to the top sill of some hopper classes, such as the HTe. Use Evergreen #8204 2"x4" styrene strip cut into 4 scale 12.5' sections. These strips are 14" long and sold in 10 packs for around $1.69. Paint the strips black to match the model.
Chord Reinforcements: On the ends of the HTe chords (the top rim of the car) are extra pieces of sheet metal acting as reinforcements. These aren't present on the Bowser model. I haven't figured out a good, simple way to model this feature. If someone has successfuly figured it out, please let me know.
Brake Rigging: If you wish to add a separate trainline brake pipe along the bottom sill of the car on the side with the air tank, you will need to drill four #78 holes. Unfortunately, I don't have any good photos showing the brake rigging side. Flip over the car. Starting from either end count two body panels. In the middle of the second panel, drill a hole. Do this for the second panel from the other end. Now count five ribs from one of the ends. Drill another hole. Count five ribs in from the other end of the car and drill the final hole for a total of four holes. In each hole attach one Details Associate #2206 formed wire eye bolt.
For the trainline pipe I suggest using Details Associates #2506 .019" round brass wire, which is $2.50 for a 10 pack or K&S Engineering #499 .020 brass music wire, which retails for 15 cents a 32" section. I mention both since some shops don't handle K&S but will handle DA wire. You will need 32 scale feet for the trainline.
Fit the wire through the eye bolts. Using a pliers, midway between each end panel carefully bend back the wire, then bend the wire up so it goes behind the sill. Paint the bolts and wire black to match the car.
Conclusion: Changing the ladders, adding the chord reinforcements, and adding the braces will greatly improve the appearance of your model. Adding the brake rigging is even more icing on the cake. Since you'll probably want to have several cars available for your coal or iron ore trains, do several kits at once in assembly line fashion.
As mentioned above, Bowser uses their H43D #55133 hopper kit as a generic model. They predecorate the model in the Reading speed lettering scheme for both the HTe and HTd classes. Different print runs, or series, have different road numbers. The following from their 1st Series will match numbers in the HTe roster: RDG 41653, 41692, 41712, 41723, 41735, 41744, 41753, 41765. 2nd Series HTe numbers are RDG 41727, 41753, 41782.
In their Proto1000 line Life-Like offers a predecorated Reading hopper model similar to the HTe. The car isn't as accurate as the Bowser model, has less detail, and retails for $2 more. Why bother with such a model, unless you can get it dirt cheap?
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