Berkshire Valley Models has produced kits for two freight cars, a 22’ hopper and a 16’ ore car. Both are suitable for use on On30 or On3 gauge. These cars do not follow any specific prototype but are patterned after the many styles found around the turn of the 20th century. A good place to see examples are the Car Builders’ Dictionary. I’ll report here on the hopper car kit.
The kit comes with a good set of instructions (three pages printed both sides with pictures), and precision laser-cut wood parts. Also included are white metal cast detail parts, some wire for the truss rods and brake staff, and a bit of chain for the hopper doors. Trucks and couplers are not included.
The instructions were well-written and reasonably straightforward. Following the instructions and cross-checking against the photos is very helpful. The body of the hopper went together very easily. The hopper interiors were made from laminating two layers of laser-cut laserboard. These parts fit inside the hopper body with a little beveling of the edges as directed by the instructions.
The one tricky step is gluing the angle braces for the slope sheets, getting those in good alignment such that when those sheets are installed all of the supports rest properly on the body frame. A good right angle support is useful to set these angle braces into place and I used a bit of Walthers Goo with CA. Inserting all the hopper laserboard parts works very neatly with all the angles lining up which really speaks to the excellent care and engineering of these parts. Application of a sanding block to put some bevels on the mating edges really does tighten up the joinery.
With the body built up, I added all the white metal castings. One slight issue is that the white metal nbws are capable of flight and there are no extras provided. I swapped theirs out for some NBWs from Grandt Line for the end sills. Everything else fits into place neatly after removal of minimal flash with a fine file. Mounting the brake cylinder and air tank does require a bit of patience mating the parts to the supports. I again used a bit of Goo with CA here.
An application of red primer from the rattle can and addition of some On30 trucks (missing couplers in my shop), and this car is ready for use hauling gravel or coal.
I had fun assembling this kit and it’s very doable in just a few evenings. I can easily see setting up an assembly line to put together an entire train of these cars. The only drawback is that they might be a little light when empty, but I think some weight might be added discretely into the underbody.
On30/On3 22’ Hopper Car
Kit No. 350
Berkshire Valley Models
438 Morgan Woods Dr.
Fenton, MO 63026