Subscriber & Member Login

Login, or register today to interact in our online community, comment on articles, receive our newsletter, manage your account online and more!

Arrowhead Models HO scale 'Committee Design' hopper

Read this review from the June 2019 Model Railroader
Arrowhead Models HO scale ‘Committee Design’ hopper
The slope sheets with their steeper ends are clearly visible on Arrowhead Models’ Committee Design 70-ton hopper.

Design by committee isn’t usually a ringing endorsement, but these new HO scale 70-ton coal hoppers from Arrowhead Models could certainly turn the tide.

The committee in question included Pennsylvania RR, Chesapeake & Ohio, and Norfolk & Western freight car engineers with the goal of developing a standard 70-ton coal hopper. Each railroad built a prototype car in its own shops in 1958 after the design was developed so it could be tested.

The N&W decided that a 70-ton car was too small after all, and never built another copy. The C&O liked the design enough to build 500 cars total. But it was the PRR that fell in love, commissioning more than 16,000 examples. Copies were built for other railroads, including Denver & Rio Grande Western, the original Norfolk Southern Ry., and Western Maryland. The NS hoppers eventually found their way to the Southern Ry. when that road acquired NS in 1974.

The steel cars had 13 exterior posts and were of riveted construction. One part that did become a standard of sorts was the corner casting with a roping hold – used to attach cables for moving the cars at loading and unloading facilities – and an integral buffer block on the end. These castings were used by multiple railroads. Chesapeake & Ohio’s cars had peaked ends, as did the PRR and N&W prototypes.

The cars were built from 1959 to 1966. Most lasted into the mid-1980s, with a few still around in the early 1990s.

Arrowhead Models’ HO scale rendition matches published drawings to within scale inches, including the interior dimensions. Our sample was painted for the Southern Ry.

The oxide red paint is smoothly and evenly applied, and the lettering is sharp, opaque, and clearly legible. This model is equipped with roller-bearing trucks with turned metal wheels and separate brake beam detail. Kadee scale knuckle couplers grace the well-detailed draft-gear boxes, and are mounted at the correct height.

The models abound in separately added detail parts. All grab irons are wire, as is the brake piping and rigging. The slope sheet supports are exceptionally fine, as are the hopper door locks.

The hopper locks and hand brake details are railroad specific, as are the trucks and myriad other details.

A convincingly molded coal load fits tightly in the interior of the car, and die-cast metal weights fill the voids between the hopper bays under the car. The car weighs 2.9 ounces, .76 ounce below the National Model Railroad Association Recommended Practice 20.1. Testing on our Wisconsin & Southern project layout went smoothly, with the car being noticeably free-rolling.

If you need the ultimate “Committee Design” hopper, be sure to track down Arrowhead Models’ new offering.

Price: $48.95
Arrowhead Models
P.O. Box 723
Sheridan, WY 82801
Era: 1974 to mid-1980s, based on paint scheme
Road names: Southern Ry.; Denver & Rio Grande & Western; and Pennsylvania RR. Available as undecorated kit for $48.50.
• Kadee metal scale couplers, at correct height
• Railroad-specific hand brake, hopper door lock, and other details
• Turned metal wheelsets, in gauge
• Weight: 2.9 ounces, .76 ounce less than National Model Railroad Association Recommended Practice 20.1

Join the discussion

Read and share your comments on this article
Comment on this article
Want to leave a comment?
Only registered members of are allowed to comment on this article. Registration is FREE and only takes a couple minutes.

Login or Register now.


Two great beginner layouts.

Model Railroader Newsletter See all
Sign up for our FREE e-newsletter and get model railroad news in your inbox!
By signing up you may also receive occasional reader surveys and special offers from Model Railroader magazine. Please view our privacy policy