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WalthersMainline HO National Steel Car 5150 covered hopper

Read this product review from Model Railroader magazine
WalthersMainline HO National Steel Car 5150 covered hopper

A National Steel Car 5,150-cubic-foot-capacity three-bay covered hopper has been added to the WalthersMainline HO scale product range. The newly tooled injection-molded plastic model features a one-piece body, a trough-style hatch cover, and 100-ton trucks.

Our sample is decorated as Union Pacific no. 90687, a class CH-100-121 car that’s part of the railroad’s 90350 through 91499 series. The full-size cars were built by National Steel Car (NSC) between January and April 1996.

Stencils on the full-size UP cars indicate they have a 5,150-cubic-foot capacity. In the Official Railway Equipment Register and Umler system, cars in the 90350 through 91499 series are listed as 5,127-cubic-foot capacity cars.

Some of the key spotting features of the NSC 5150 welded-side covered hopper include seven body panels; 11 running board supports on each side; and flat, rectangular jack pads with the lower corners notched. The DVD Freight Cars Illustrated Vol. 3: National Steel Car Covered Hoppers notes that the running board extensions were either supported by two triangle-shaped gussets or a V-shaped metal plate; UP cars had the latter. Some NSC 5150s, including the UP cars, have a pair of vertical stiffeners on the ends. The Walthers model is based on cars without the stiffeners.

Information on the Union Pacific website indicates the railroad’s covered hoppers in the 4,600- to 5,200-cubic-foot-capacity range are used to transport corn, wheat, barley, fertilizer, and soda ash.

The WalthersMainline model features a plastic body with separate end cages, a one-piece running board with molded corner grab irons, and a trough-style hatch cover. The slope sheets are separate castings with an air reservoir attached to the one for the B end.

The underbody is a separate piece that’s secured to the body with four screws (two above each truck). Two-piece outlet gates are attached to each bay with glue. A separate brake cylinder and control valve is attached to the car’s floor on the B end.

Our sample is neatly painted gray with silver running boards and white hatch covers. The lettering and logo placement matches a prototype photo of car no. 90687 I found online. The model accurately has a trademark symbol and ellipsis after the We Will Deliver slogan (some cars have a period). The car ends feature the reporting mark and road number; other end data was omitted.

I compared the WalthersMainline model to prototype drawings published in The Car and Locomotive Cyclopedia of American Practices (Simmons-Boardman Books Inc., 1997). The car either exactly matches or is within scale inches of all published dimensions.

I put the covered hopper in a train on our staff layout, the Milwaukee, Racine & Troy. The car operated without incident on the main line, and easily navigated the no. 6 turnouts while being spotted at United Cooperative in Williams Bay.

As a covered hopper fan, I’m glad that Walthers added the National Steel Car 5150 to its Mainline series. The covered hopper has nice blend of molded and freestanding details, and its distinct lines will certainly stand out in a train.

Price: $29.98
Wm. K. Walthers Inc.
5601 W. Florist Ave.
Milwaukee, WI 53218
Era: 1996 to present (as decorated)
Road names: Union Pacific, Archer Daniels Midland, BNSF Ry., Canadian Pacific, Illinois Cereal Mill, and Chicago Freight Car Leasing. Four road numbers per scheme; also available undecorated.
• 36" metal wheels on plastic axles, correctly gauged
• Body-mounted Proto-Max metal couplers at correct height
• Separate end cages
• Weight: 5.7 ounces (.9 ounce too heavy per National Model Railroad Association Recommended Practice 20.1)

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Layout plans for realistic operation.

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