ADD REALISM TO LGB'S HOPPER
By John T. Derr
LGB HAS PRODUCED a very accurate model of the East Broad Top Railroad's hopper car, but it sits too high above the rails. That is because it uses LGB's standard freight car trucks, oversize wheels, and its bolsters have too steep an angle. That presents a problem if you want to body mount Kadee« 820 or 830 couplers. While the conversion I will describe specifically pertains to Kadee Number One scale 820s, the procedure is very similar if you use the larger ("G" scale) 830s.
MEASURE, CUT, AND GLUE
Put your hopper upside down on a smooth surface to avoid scratching it. Remove both trucks and set them aside. Remove the four screws holding the center sill to the car body. The center sill will come apart in two pieces. Measure from the back of the riveted plate on either end of the larger piece, then cut off exactly 1 1/4 inches from each end.
Cut a pair of 3/8-inch long pieces of 1/4- x 1/4-inch plastic angle stock, available from your hobby shop. Cement one piece of angle stock to the back of the end sill on each end of the car. One flange should vertical, on the car's centerline. Use CA (superglue) to attach the piece so its bottom flange is flush with the lower edge of the end sill. One screw holding the coupler box will fasten through this angle.
Cut 3/16-inch wide pieces of 1/16-inch sheet styrene. Cement them into the slots on the upper full length center sill part, as far back as the screw boss. The idea is to create a flat surface. When the cement dries, cut off the boss and file the area flush. We will use that hole for the coupler box mounting screw.
Re-install the center sill using only the two center screws. Be careful to locate the brake equipment properly.
File the lip off the front of the coupler box cover. We will mount the box flush with the end of the center sill. Assemble the coupler and box. Hold it in position on the center sill. Drill #50 and tap 2-56, both longitudinal holes. The rear hole will be in the former boss; the front hole will go through the center sill and the angle we cemented onto the end sill. Be sure your drill and tap are at the inside edge of the vertical flange of the angle to avoid breaking the tap. Cut the #2-56 mounting screws down to 5/8-inch long, install the box and screws, and check for alignment. The front of the coupler box and the center sill should extend 3/8-inch beyond the end sill.
Make up a shim of 1/8-inch thick plastic or other material as a spacer to lower the coupler box from the center sill. Size it to match the width of your coupler box. For the Kadee 820 box, the dimensions should be 3/4-inch wide by 1 3/16 inches long. It should have oversize holes to match the mounting screws. Remove the coupler boxes, then reassemble after adding the shims.
Cut off a flange from the lower brake shaft bracket. It is a loose piece. Cement the piece to the inside of the end sill with the outboard flange against the coupler box. Except for the bolsters, that completes the modifications to the car.
BOLSTERS, WHEELS, AND TRUCKS
Use a coarse file to remove the rounded end pads from the bolster so the resulting area is flush. Then, on the trucks, use a hacksaw blade to remove the coupler tang from the edge of the truck bolster. File off any burrs.
Use a countersink to extend the depth of the mounting hole on top of the bolster by about 1/16-inch. Scrape the exterior of the hole with a modeling knife to allow the truck to sit over the tapered boss at the king pin, effectively lowering the car. No more than 1/32-inch should remain between the body bolster and the truck bolster.
The East Broad Top used 24 inch diameter wheels on all its freight cars. Gary Raymond's Number One Gauge metal wheels scale out to 24 inches, perfect for this model. Replace all the wheelsets. Remember to use Gary's washers on the axle ends to prevent too much lateral play.
Assemble the trucks to the car body. Place the model on the track to check the coupler height. The distance from the centerline of the coupler to the top of the rails should be no more than 1 1/8 inches "+0, - 1/6-inch". If your car is too high, add another shim between the coupler box and the car body. That is the best you can do using the trucks that came with the car.
Early EBT hoppers used a true archbar truck. Later they replaced the archbars with Vulcan trucks. Bachmann's hoppers have the correct truck but for now the trucks are unavailable separately. Nobody manufactures the correct archbar sideframe and, even with the above modification, LGB's bolsters are too steep to allow the car body to drop to the proper height. Without major surgery, we have lowered the car over 1/8-inch- as much as possible. It certainly looks better.