by: Frederick Boucher [ ]
Originally published on:
CP / SOO Trinity 5161 cu. Ft. Covered Hopper, 10-Course, 121709
Type: Covered Hopper
Roadname: CP (SOO)
IntroductionCovered hoppers are the most common freight car in the United States today. They carry light bulky commodities like flour, cement, sugar, carbon black, plastic pellets, and a host of loads sensitive to moisture. Experimental covered hoppers came out in the 1930s and have been perfected into larger cars capable of heavier loads. Several loading and unloading methods are used depending on the cargo.
TrinityRail GroupTrinity covered hoppers are very popular, especially for corn. Their 110-ton 5161-cubic-foot hoppers supplanted smaller hoppers since the 1990s. They offer 22 different hopper designs in their catalog and are identified by a unique design of the ends and overhanging roof. Trinity has acquired several car builders since 1983, including Thrall, Pullman Standard, and American General.
Athearn Trinity 5161 Covered Hopper This Ready To Run series model is of a 5161-cubic-foot three-bay 10-panel design. Athearn lists 88 in their catalog.
• Fully assembled and ready for your layout
• Based on our popular Genesis body
• Factory installed wire grab irons
• Etched metal roof walk
• Machined metal wheels with Ready To Roll sideframes
• McHenry scale knuckle spring couplers installed
• Razor sharp painting and printing
Athearn securely packages this model in a plastic cradle formed to the model’s shape. It is easy to remove the model from the cradle – a great comfort considering the number of fine separately applied parts. Further protection is a fitted clear plastic top that holds the model in the cradle. The cradle snugly slips inside a cardboard box that opens via end tabs, with a celluloid window on the front. A parts diagram is included.
Athearn’s model is sharply molded and almost free of flash, seam lines, sink marks and ejector marks. I say almost because of rough flash on the edge of the end sills near the roof--it looks like an unfinished the torch cut. Rough seam lines are on the bottom of a stirrup, some ladder rungs, and along a horizontal stringer support; to be honest I did not see these until reviewing the magnified photographs.
This Trinity hopper is offered with two body types, the 10-course version of this subject, and a 12-course. The body and chassis assembly is made up of at least 19 parts:
• Stub sills
• Sill ends
• Side sills
• Center sills
Individual corner plates are also attached. The low mounted brake wheel marks it as built (or rebuilt) after mid-1966, and the ACI dates it post-1994.
Underneath are the three separately molded outlet gates. These have a pipe or crank shaft molded on although no crank track is included. Individual vibrator brackets are attached to each outlet bay.
Individual roof hatches are attached to the top, as are photo-etched running boards. All stirrups, ladders and grab irons are separately applied. As are many stiffeners and brackets. The pieces are very fine, almost true scale thickness. The model rides on a pair of 100-ton trucks holding blackened metal wheels. Athearn equips the model with body-mounted McHenry knuckle couplers.
The model is 56 scale feet long, sill to sill, and almost 61 feet long coupler to coupler. Inside the body is the weight; the model weighs 4.7 ounces which closely conforms to the NMRA RP.20 ideal of 4.8 oz.
DetailsWhen you see all the detail on this model you should keep in mind that this model is Athearn’s Ready To Roll series, not their flagship Genesis series -- the detail level is almost to the same level. It bears no relation to the previous generation of model freight cars--very little molded detail is used. An exception is the Automatic Equipment Identification, or AEI, data tag.
Athearn detailed this hopper with over 49 separate nicely molded and wire parts. Separately attached filler hatches and individual locks crown the roof. Surrounding them is the extensive photo-etched running boards and end laterals (Athearn refers to these as roof walks), the outer edges anchored to the roof by integral supports. Each crossover walk on the end sills is photo-etched, too.
The AB brake system features a separately applied:
• AAR Standard brake wheel
• Chain pulley block
• Lever slack adjuster and the lever rod
• Sensor lever
• Retaining valve
• Brake piston with chain to the brake wheel gearbox (the chain does not reach the gearbox but may be re positionable)
• Release lever
• Control valve
• Cut-out valve and supports
Furthermore, wire lever supports straddle the levers on both ends. That hand brake assembly is mounted on a separately applied support beam.
Every stirrup, ladder and grab iron is individually attached. The ladder rungs are a tad over scale although this may be at the limit of economical injection molding.
While I do not have an Athearn Genesis release of this covered hopper, it appears that the only parts not on the Ready To Roll model are uncoupling levers, air hoses, angle cocks, and the trainline. Each coupler coverplate has a bracket with a mounting hole for those items.
Supporting all of that are Athearn plastic 100-ton roller bearing trucks with RP-25 blackened metal wheels. The side frame detail is respectable although the wheels still have a shine under the blackening. McHenry knuckle couplers are installed.
Finally, many of these parts, molded and machined with such finesse, are delicate. I don’t consider it fragile though you should use care when handling the hopper. Again, it was not problem removing the model from its packaging cradle.
Paint and MarkingsThe finish of this model is excellent. The paint is smooth and opaque. Canadian Pacific livery is not very exciting except for the return of the beaver logo. Fortunately, red reflector tape is printed along the sill, the roadname and some stenciling is red, as are the grab irons on the running board laterals. That is about the only splash of color on the uninspired CP livery.
Roadnames for this model are:
1. Burlington Northern Santa Fe
2. Canadian Pacific
4. Coors Brewing Company
5. General American Transportation
6. Kansas City Southern
7. Minnesota Soybean (MN SOYBEAN)
8. Norfolk Southern
9. Union Pacific
Data stencils and reporting marks are superbly printed, sharp and legible. Some of the data is too small for me to read without magnification.
I have two nitpicky items: the photo-etch is not painted the body color (Maybe the running boards are left unpainted on the prototype?) and some running board supports have minor shiny glue spots where they were attached to the roof. Weathering or a shot of dulling agent will take care of that.
Out of the YardAgain, looking at the amount of detail, I have to remind myself that this is an Athearn Ready To Roll covered hopper, and not a Genesis model. Athearn captures the look of Trinity’s unique end. Exceptional detail is applied and not molded on. That comprehensive AB brake system is impressive. The wheels roll freely. No overkill with the packing so you don’t have to be concerned with damaging any of the pieces. The printing and finish are top-notch.
Nitpicky: small glue spots and the shiny blacken wheel faces ought to be addressed. The flash and seam lines may irritate you if your eyes are good enough to spot them. Ladder rungs are a tad over scale. Hardly anything I’m concerned with.
Overall, I am certainly impressed with and recommend the model.
Athearn "Blue Box" KitsFor decades Athearn was known for their extensive line of "Blue Box" kits (lower right photo). They were state of the art decades ago but demands for greater accuracy and strides in model making lead to many modelers criticizing Athearn offerings, and abandon them for models by newer manufacturers. Athearn addressed that and released their Ready To Roll series.
Please remember, when contacting retailers or manufacturers, to mention that you saw their products highlighted here - RailRoadModeling.net.
Wilson, Jeff. The Model Railroader’s Guide To Freight cars. Waukesha: Kalmbach Publishing C0., 2005. ISBN: 0-89024-585-1