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Quick Look: N scale 5750 carbon black covered hopper

Read this review from the December 2018 Model Railroader
MRRPR1218_06 N scale 5750 carbon black covered hopper

Price: $31.99
Manufacturer Inc.
7598 Highway 411
Benton, TN 37307
Era: September 1977 to present
Road names: Columbian Chemicals, Cabot, Sid Richardson Carbon Co., and Witco. Four road numbers per scheme.

Comments: A Thrall Manufacturing Co. 5,750-cubic-foot-capacity three-bay carbon black covered hopper is now offered in N scale by The model is part of the firm’s Rivet Counter line and features prototype-specific details and photo-etched stainless steel running boards.

The model is based on a Thrall design from 1977. Carbon black, a by-product of the petroleum industry, is used in tires, belts, and gaskets, among other items. Spotting features of the covered hopper include a roof with peaked end panels and raised intermediate panels, 10 exterior posts per side, and round roof hatches (size and quantity varied by owner).

Our sample is decorated as Colum-bian Carbon no. 820, part of a 39-car order (820 through 858) built by Thrall in September and October 1977. The model is painted in its as-delivered scheme (the car is still in service today, but has been repainted into a simplified scheme). The majority of the lettering is legible under magnification.

I compared the model to prototype drawings in Eric A. Neubauer’s Carbon Black Cars (Society of Freight Car Historians, 1990). The car matched all of the dimensions spot on.

The model weighs 1.2 ounces, which is .1 ounce too heavy per National Model Railroad Association Recommended Practice 20.1. The 33" metal wheels are correctly gauged. The injection-molded plastic couplers with metal springs were .020" high on both ends. The couplers also lack trip pins.

The car will negotiate 93⁄4" radius curves, but the manufacturer recommends running the car on 11" or broader curves. I tested the hopper on our Red Oak project layout. Despite the high couplers, the car ran without incident while being pushed and pulled around the 13" radius curves and over no. 6 turnouts. I found the couplers a bit fiddly. On occasion it took extra coaxing to get the hopper to couple with other brands of couplers.

Though the 1977 version of the Thrall carbon black covered hopper wasn’t common (just 178 cars produced for seven owners), it fills a niche for modelers of the late 1970s to today.

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