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Car #101: Ballast Hopper

Built September 2008

Now that I finally have some track layed, it's time for a work car.
I figured that a ballast hopper would be the most useful car at this point - of course I can use it to move ballast around (and dump it on the tracks), but I can also use it to move other stuff (lumber, tools, track panels) by laying those things across the car's top.
Prefab metal hoppers (eg. from Cannonball), but those cost $1000 (less trucks), and I'm wanting to do this cheaply (to start), so I decided to build my own hopper out of wood (cost: $100). It certainly won't hold up as well as a steel car, but for 1/10th the price I can accept that :)

I got some carbuilding parts from Cannonball:
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The parts I'll be using for this car are the bolsters, couplers, and coupler pockets. I also have a pair of trucks on order, but they've been awfully slow to arrive.
Here's my plan:
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The car is about 5 feet long and I'll build it out of 2x12 lumber.

Here'a PDF containing instructions and dimensions: srr_ballast_car_plan.pdf
It took 10 weeks for the trucks to arrive.
They sent one truck assembled (right) and the other unassembled (left):
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Here's a wheelset, to give you an idea of the size:
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The trucks connect to the bolsters via a special bolt.
The carbuilding kit comes with a pair of unfinished 3/8" steel rods that you need to drill and thread; it turns out that this is pretty difficult to do well by hand (without a lathe), so instead I bought a pair of 3/8" bolts and cut the heads off.
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A truck mounted on the car:
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The finished car on the track. It's very red - Jack chose the color.
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Jack and Annie both fit in the car:
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Click on the image below to view a movie of Bee taking the very first ride ever on the SRR (4.1MB SWF)
The derailments are caused by uneven track.
I've read that the ties need to be very level, and now I believe it - even a slight dip in one rail causes the wheels to jump the track when the car is lightly loaded.
Click on the image below to view a movie of Jack and Annie taking their first ride (3.3MB SWF)