The Pennsylvania Railroad owned an impressive roster of more than 30,000 GLa class hoppers which served from the 1900s into the Penn Central years. As if the PRR’s own roster wasn’t impressive enough, the car was copied directly by several other companies and became the inspiration for several other popular hopper designs which blanketed the United States in the first half of the 20th Century. We’ll cover the interesting prototype history of these cars later this week and in subsequent Freight Car Friday posts. Today, let’s look at Lionel’s upcoming model of this car – one we think will be as popular as its prototype!
Capturing the Variety
A 3-D drawing of the GLa version shows the many details these cars will feature.
These new hoppers will be the most detailed Lionel has ever produced. Starting with all new tooling, we’ve planned ahead so that we can not only capture the PRR’s GLa accurately, but also capture the key detail changes found in many of the cars which built off of this design.
Lionel’s design team worked from Pennsylvania Railroad drawings to create an accurate GLa. From the overall dimensions, to the distinctive boxy end sills, to proper 2D-F8 truck sideframes, this car will be PRR through and through.
In 1905, builders began producing cars of similar design for other companies. Compare this plan with the GLa to see the detail differences. This view also shows how the cars will look if you install scale couplers.
When several car builders began building near-duplicates of the GLa in 1905, a car which has subsequently been dubbed the “1905 Common Design” by historians, the overall dimensions remained very close to the GLa, but there were several structural differences to be found – especially on the ends of the cars. By the time these designs had evolved into the USRA’s standard two-bay hopper in 1918, again dimensions were within a few inches of the GLa with more minor detail changes around the ends and hoppers.
Lionel is tooling these models so that the later car designs, using the GLa body, can have other details which more closely capture the look of the cars on these other roads. This will include the end sills, end posts, hand brake and grab iron arrangements and hopper door mechanisms.
The underframes have been designed for easy application of a standard scale coupler box.
In addition to the overall high level of detail on these cars, which will even include cross braces and rivet details on the interior of the car, Lionel is adding some new design features to these cars which will make them much friendlier to the 2-rail and 3-rail scale crowd.
Although the cars will come equipped with our standard operating couplers, mounting pads will be provided on the metal underframe of the car so that scale couplers can be easily added by the modeler if desired. No extensive body modification or even drilling new holes required!
We’ve also addressed another little detail that is sure to please many of the prototype-focused modelers; the “Built by Lionel” date stencil has been moved to the underside of the car. It’s still there for the collectors, but won’t detract from the rest of the graphics which have all been carefully researched from prototype photos.
We’re quite proud of these new cars, and think you’ll agree they are some of the finest scale models we’ve produced. Other features include:
PRR and other GLa version cars will feature correct PRR 2D-F8 truck sideframes.
- Die-cast metal sprung trucks and operating couplers with hidden uncoupling tabs. PRR GLa cars will have appropriate PRR truck sideframes.
- Plastic carbody and die-cast metal underframe
- High level of separately applied detail parts including many road-name specific variations
- Opening hopper doors
- Removable plastic coal load insert
- Molded pads for easy conversion to scale couplers
- Individual road numbers on each car in multi-car packs
- O31 Minimum curve
The new GLa hoppers will be available as part of the Pennsy M1a Coal Hauler set (three PRR and one Berwind White Coal) as well as for separate sale in the following road names and quantities:
A third version of this car will be detailed to match USRA era details.
- 6-81686 PRR (circle keystone scheme) 3-Pack GLa version
- 6-81858 PRR (shadow keystone scheme) 3-Pack GLa version
- 6-81793 Berwind White 3-Pack GLa version
- 6-81687 Lehigh Valley 2-Pack USRA version
- 6-81688 CB&Q 2-Pack USRA version
- 6-81689 C&O 3-Pack USRA version
- 6-81789 New Haven 2-Pack GLa version
- 6-81824 P&WV 2-Pack 1905 Common Design version
Suggested retail price on the 2-Pack cars is $145.99. 3-Packs retail for $219.99. See your local Lionel dealer to place your order now, and look for some more background on these interesting cars starting this Friday on the blog!