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Quick Look: Fox Valley Models N scale FMC 4,700-cubic-foot capacity covered hopper

Read this review from the June 2018 Model Railroader
Fox Valley Models N scale FMC 4,700-cubic-foot capacity covered hopper
Price: $26.95
Fox Valley Models
P.O. Box 1970
Des Plaines, IL 60017
Road names: Chicago & North Western, BNSF Ry. (circle-cross and post-2005 heralds), Denver & Rio Grande Western, and Western Pacific. Three numbers each.
Era: 1980 to present (as decorated)

Comments: Fox Valley Models has added an FMC 4,700-cubic-foot-capacity three-bay covered hopper to its lineup. The model, originally produced by Red Caboose/Precision Masters, has a one-piece injection-molded plastic body with a separate roof, outlet gates, and brake wheel. Fox Valley upgraded the tooling with body-mounted couplers, a new roof and hatch covers, and etched-metal running boards.

Our sample is painted as Chicago & North Western no. 178604, part of the railroad’s 178600 through 179099 series. The 500 cars in this series were built by FMC in 1980 and originally painted dark green. Some cars were later repainted yellow.

Examples of cars from this series can still be found on C&NW’s successor, Union Pacific. Other cars are in lease service with Northwestern Oklahoma RR Co. (NOKL), First Union Rail (NDYX and FURX), and Webb Asset Management (WAMX) reporting marks. The full-size car no. 178604 is on the Wheeling & Lake Erie. Except for new “WE” reporting marks, the car is still in its original 1980 paint.

I compared the model to data in the Chicago & North Western Final Freight Car Roster (Chicago & North Western Historical Society, 1999). The lettering placement matches prototype photos. The truck centers are a scale 5" too short, the distance over the strikers is a scale 1'-5" long, and the length over the running board is a scale 1'-6" long.

The new casting for the body-mounted couplers includes diagonal braces. The notch in the end cage above the draft-gear box dates back to when the car used truck-mounted couplers. A plastic crossover platform masks that.

The car weighs 1.2 ounces, correct per National Model Railroad Asso-ciation Recommended Practice 20.1. The body-mounted couplers are at the correct height. The 36" metal wheelsets are in gauge.

I ran the car on our Red Oak layout. The model navigated the no. 6 turnouts and 13" radius curves without incident. The car will negotiate an 11" radius, but it looks better on broader curves.

Kudos to Fox Valley Models for bringing this car back to N scale. The firm struck a good balance upgrading existing tooling, making changes where they were most visible and necessary.

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Plan and design an around the room track plan.

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