Tichy hopper upgrades

I was trolling around on a hard drive the other day and stumbled upon a Bill Welch blog post. Bill originally posted this in September 2019 to the Steam Era Freight Car discussion list. It came up recently on that list. Here’s Bill’s work on upgrading an HO scale Tichy USRA hopper kit.

A few years ago, the Boys at the Clearwater Car Shops built a few of the Tichy Train Group USRA two-bay hoppers for their favorite railroads. A few details were installed to upgrade the fine model.

Some purists don’t like this kit because the two middle panels are wider than the other panels. Legend has it this was a compromise to related to getting enough room for the trucks. No matter, the Boys love this kit, as it requires only a few additional details to make it appropriate for the various railroads the boys work for. The L&N and Clinchfield owned the USRA cars while the L&N, NC&StL, and Tennessee Central owned copies—in the case of the L&N they owned thousands of copies.

The Boys built this model as a NC&StL car but they never got around to giving it a coat of Oxide Red paint. Recently the Boys got very excited when they discovered a photo of one of these cars stenciled for the Tennessee Central. Up close photos of these cars in TC stenciling have been elusive. The rare photo revealed that the TC and NC&StL cars are identical down to their use of Two-Level Dalman trucks. The gears started turning and they were able to persuade a friend to do a set of decals. So, the Boys are now planning to paint this car black. Before they do so they suggested I share few photos so people can the added details.

On the car side, they added route card holders on the right end of the sill. They also carved the styrene from the bolsters to thin them. The Boys did their usual manipulating A-Line Type A brass sill steps to duplicate those used on the prototype.

On the right side they added the airline pipe, pipe brackets, and pipe union.

On the B end, 0.005-inch thick styrene was used to create the mounting bracket for the air reservoir and a bracket for the brake staff. An A-Line sill step serves as a bracket at the bottom of the brake shaft. The retainer valve was installed and a length of wire connects it to the brake system. This location can vary across the years and on different railroads.

A Tichy nut/bolt/washer (NBW) serves to hold the brake wheel tight on the brake shaft.

For some reason the ends are devoid of NBW detail so I added Detail Associates parts above where the end grab irons are installed. In looking at the photos, I see I still need to add a few NBW’s for the short and long left side grabs and for the long grab on the right side of each end. The model will ride on the beautiful Tahoe Model Works Dalman two-level trucks.

  • Bill Welch

Most of us have one of two of these kits in our stash. I hope Bill’s work inspires you to build a kit and make a few upgrades.

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3 thoughts on “Tichy hopper upgrades

  1. If I’m not mistaken, the most accurate USRA twin body was done by MTH.

    Hopefully it is rereleased by Scaletrains.

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