Hopper and ore car loads

Loads made exclusively for Reindeer Pass
Kevin Strong
Hopper and ore car loads
Western Pacific
made exclusively for:
Reindeer Pass
3665 NW 98th Ave
Polk City IA 50226
Price:  $7.95-$9.95
Website: www.reindeerpass.com

Crushed rock and stone inserts for various manufacturers’ hopper cars

Pros: Lightweight; waterproof; realistic appearance (because it’s real rock)

Cons: None
Kevin Strong
few months ago, I reviewed Reindeer Pass’s cast loads for Piko hoppers (February 2016). Not long after that, the manufacturer decided to move away from castings in favor of built-up loads using real stone. These loads are the result of that change.

There are advantages to using built-up loads as opposed to cast ones. First, each load will be different, since it’s built using real stone. Second, because it’s made with real stone, the color and texture is naturally realistic, and the variety of materials available is broad. Third, it’s easier to accommodate more manufacturers’ hopper and gondola cars, since all you need to do is measure the size of the opening you need to fill, then cut the size of the load’s base to match.

Western Pacific sent three sample loads for review; one for a Piko/MDC hopper car, one for a USA Trains ore car, and one for a Bachmann ore car. All three of them are built on styrene-faced foamboard bases. Two have PVC-board spacers that elevate the load to the top of the car.

The stone is glued in place. On two of the loads, the stone was painted (black for coal, rust for iron ore). The paint covers well and the stone loads look realistic. The iron ore has a flat, rusty color. The coal load has the satin-to-glossy sheen of washed and graded coal. The third load is natural stone. The adhesive used has a slightly satin sheen, so the natural stone load looks like it’s been washed before being loaded, as opposed to being naturally dusty. I imagine a shot of a matte finish and maybe a dusting of similarly-colored weathering powders would bring back the dusty “dumped from the ore chute” look.

The coal load for the Piko/MDC hopper car fit snugly in my hopper. The spacers on the load lifted the coal to just below the rim of the car, which is prototypical. It stayed in place with the car held upside down (shaken, even!). It did come out with some gentle prying. I don’t have Bachmann or USA ore cars in my collection, so I didn’t get to test them in their respective cars.

Western Pacific says they’ve built loads for many manufacturers’ cars, not just the three sent for review. Not all are listed on Reindeer Pass’s website so, if you’ve got a hopper in need of a load that’s not listed, give them a call. Also, they have a variety of rock materials available. The loads themselves, being made from real rock, are heavier than the previous cast loads, but are still pretty light and will not add a lot of weight. Just understand that the added weight is at the top of the car, making them a little more top-heavy, which could be an issue on uneven track if they start rocking too much.

Those with extensive fleets of empty, non-revenue-generating hopper cars now have even less of an excuse not to fill them: more available sizes, more available ores, fewer reasons not to fill them up.


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