Shortening some longer covered hoppers to enhance operation on my HO scale Box Street micro layout.

After my recent successful shortening of a bay window caboose (see Hello Shorty blog entry on 1st September 2021), I was pondering some 56 scale feet covered hoppers that I purchased some years ago but couldn’t really use on Box Street or my other micro layouts due to their length. I have 5 of them, and wondered whether I could shorten them like I did the caboose. Each of the covered hoppers looked like this, but with different color schemes representing different railroads.

The first thing I had to do was figure out how to dismantle the cars. As all the cars are the same, except for color scheme, I could dismantle one car and that would allow me to see how best to shorten all of them. After a while I was able to dismantle one, and upon investigation realised shortening them would be relatively easy.

Because each car had 3 ‘panels’ on the side, I could remove the middle panel then glue the two ends together, then do something similar with the chassis, then cut the roof and walk way on the top to fit the shortened car. I decided to try shortening the car I had dismantled to see how it went, then if it went successfully I would shorten the other ones. On a Saturday night, I did the dismantled car and was rather pleased with the end result.

On this first car, I made a mistake with the chassis which resulted in there being a gap between the two sections, but as it would not usually be seen and the chassis wasn’t where the car got most of it’s rigidity / strength from I figured it was not too big a problem. I thought I could shorten the chassis on the other subsequent cars a different way so that there was no gap.

The next day, I shortened 3 of the others, but left one of them 56 scale feet long as the couplings on that car required attention. The end result was that I now have an extra 4 covered hoppers that are about 39 scale feet in length that I can use on the Box Street micro layout, but also on my other layouts where necessary.

The joins can be seen on the sides of each model, but they’re not overly obvious, and can probably be disguised with some graffiti or other painting. Over all, I’m quite pleased with the result.


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