Jan 31, 2002
Several months prior to the formation of Conrail, the Reading Company constructed their final group of hoppers. The HTg hoppers were assembled from prefabricated kits supplied by Bethlehem Steel Car. These 45-foot, 12-panel, triple-bay hoppers had a cubic capacity of 3,487 feet and rode on flat-top Barber S-2 trucks with 36" wheels.
The Bowser Model: Our good friend to northeastern railroading and coal cars, Bowser, offers their PRR/PC H43D 45-foot, 100-ton hopper (kit #55107) predecorated and numbered for Reading's HTg hoppers in a variety of road numbers. If you've read some of my other hopper modeling pages featuring Bowser products, you might recall that I like to call this car Bowser's "generic hopper." They paint and number it for a variety of classes and railroads, many of which never had a hopper close to the H43D. The Reading HTg is one example of wishful thinking on Bowser's part.
HTg vs H43D Ends: Two of the major problems between the Bowser generic hopper model, a PRR/PC/CR H43D, and the Reading Company HTg are the slope sheets and the end panels. A slope sheet is that angled section on each end of the hopper, whereas an end panel connect the top of the slope sheet to the top of the hopper end. The photo to the right illustrates the differences between these two hopper classes. The prototype for the Bowser model is in the left pane, while the prototype HTg is in the right. Just look at how much taller the HTg end panel is compared to the H43D! The slope sheets are also different, as is the rib spacing on the side of the car. I consider these significant discrepancies. Therefore, I cannot recommend the Bowser model as a suitable replica or stand in for the HTg.
The Bachmann Model: But there is hope for all us Reading and Conrail HTg hopper modelers--sort of. In 1998 Bachmann introduced their 45-foot, 100-ton, 3-bay hopper. The model is of a 3,570cuft capacity hopper designed and built by Norfolk & Western between 1978 and 1979. While it isn't an exact replica of the 3,487cuft capacity HTg, the model does come very close to capturing the look of the Reading car, especially the 30-degree slope sheets. You will still need to add the end braces and chord reinforcements as on the HTe model. The end ladders on the model match the HTg prototype.
Bachmann offers their 100-ton hoppers in 6 packs with a retail of $90. They do offer Reading Company and Conrail predecorated models, but not in the HTg scheme or numbering. Instead, the Reading cars are done in Reading speed lettering and numbered for HTd hoppers, which is really a shame since Bachmann would have done better if they painted and numbered them for the more accurate HTg. Why produce a good model then ruin it with a wrong paint job, even if the speed letting is more attractive?
Since Bachmann doesn't offer the cars predecorated in the large RDG scheme or in undecorated, we must purchase a 6 pack at $15 a car, strip the each car, add the details, then repaint them. Unfortunately, Herald King was the only company producing the appropriate decals for the HTg. Since Herald King has gone out of business, you will have to search for these decals. Maybe Bachmann will do a run of predecorated HTg hoppers or offer them in undecorated, with Microscale creating a decal set to match. Until then, accurately modeling the HTg can be a challenge. Maybe the Bowser hopper isn't such a bad choice after all!?!
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