Two new hoppers are hitting dealer shelves – part of our Norfolk Southern Heritage Series. While not based on a prototype, if there were going to be hoppers to honor historic railroads it would be hard to argue against the N&W and Pennsylvania.
The Norfolk and Western and Pennsylvania both relied heavily on coal and invested significantly in the design and construction of cars to carry it. Although the two railroads operated independently, the N&W was financially controlled by the Pennsy for much of its existence and designs flowed freely between the two. When it came to hopper designs, the engineers in Roanoke were at the top of the field. Designs made by and for the N&W often spread to other lines. Nowhere was that more true than with the 100 ton cars of the 1960s.
The prototype for Lionel’s car is based upon a design orignated on the N&W as their H11A. This car was adopted by the PRR as their class H43 in 1963 and the plans turned over to Bethlehem Steel who produced cars for the PRR and then tens of thousands more for railroads and utilities all across the country. The new cars arrived just in time for the new Unit Train concept which revolutionized the way railroads and utilities moved and billed for coal shipments by the trainload.
These well-designed cars served their owners well for over thirty years before most were rebuilt by successors Norfolk Southern and Conrail into gondolas. Many of their brethren on other lines could be be found in service even longer, including some of the original clones built for Pennsylvania Power and Light which continue to roll today. Whether your interest lies in the history of these two railroad companies, freight cars, or just railroading in general, a heritage hopper makes perfect sense.
The Lionel models feature imaginative paint schemes that honor both the historic companies and Norfolk Southern’s current image. The cars have die-cast metal frames and carbodies, metal trucks with rotating bearing caps and working couplers, operating hopper doors and a removable coal load. They’ll operate on O-31 curves. These cars would look great as part of the complete Norfolk Southern Heritage train, or mixed in with a longer consist of conventional hoppers. These historic cars are pulling into dealers now!