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Good Evening Everyone,

I've had a bunch of Weaver 3 bay open hoppers and a 6 pack of Lionel Lionscale 3 bay open hoppers(the ex-Weaver tooling) sitting around empty for a while and decided to get cracking and make some coal loads for them. Before starting the loads however, some preliminary work was done on the hoppers. The Weaver hoppers are very light and need weight added to them in order to be able to pull a long train of them without stringlining. As shown in the photos, I use stick on wheel weights, mounted in the end bays over the trucks, that I purchased from Harbor Freight using their sale coupons. There are many methods of adding weight-lead shot, BB's, large nuts, steel plates, etc. The Lionscale hoppers already come with black painted steel plates glued to the 2 end bays as can be seen in the black Chessie hopper. On all the cars, I tie the couplers shut using small black zip ties so the cars can be run during our club's displays without uncoupling problems on a long train.

The materials I used are shown in the photos. 2' x 2' styrofoam insulation 1 inch thick(for ease of handling), Elmers Glue-All, Scenic Express coal/ballast, Olfa 18mm wide utility knife w/snap off blade sections(this item is hazardous to your health-I only sliced myself 3 times:D), and 1 gallon of Valspar latex kettle black paint that was mixed wrong and cost me $6.00 at Lowe's. Didn't need a gallon but for six bucks! Then I got started.

1. Made template from scrap basswood to fit hoppers.
2. Used template to cut styrofoam rectangles with Olfa knife.
3. Carved styrofoam into triple humps with Olfa knife.
4. Used sanding block to round off edges/angles on styrofoam.
5. Painted the styrofoam with black latex and let dry overnight.
6. Squeezed the Elmers Glue onto the styrofoam(straight from the bottle-no diluting) and brushed the glue over the entire top surface in an even coat.
7. Sprinkled the coal/ballast all over the surface and let dry overnight(approx 16 hours)
8. Shook/gently brushed excess coal from the styrofoam and mounted the loads in the cars.

Adding up the cost of the materials(excluding the Olfa knife) and dividing that cost by the number of loads I can make works out to roughly $0.75 per load. Of course that's not including my time which doesn't matter because this is fun. Of course, there are other methods of making coal loads that work just as well as my choice. They all look better than those plastic loads in my opinion.
 

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Nice work! Nice thing about Weaver hoppers, regardless of the style, the inside dimensions are the same, so any 3 bay load will fit any 3 bay hopper, as with 2 and 4 bay.
This is a Weaver 3 bay load I made using a luan base, and fine Black Beauty sand blast grit. I use water base urethane floor finish as the binder/adhesive.

Weaver B&M 3 bay mounded coal load 001.jpg
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Nice work! Nice thing about Weaver hoppers, regardless of the style, the inside dimensions are the same, so any 3 bay load will fit any 3 bay hopper, as with 2 and 4 bay.
This is a Weaver 3 bay load I made using a luan base, and fine Black Beauty sand blast grit. I use water base urethane floor finish as the binder/adhesive.

View attachment 524188
Nothing wrong with your method Don, I wouldn't have thought of using the floor finish for an adhesive. Your result looks great to me. You're also right on the money about the Weaver hopper dimensions. Over the last couple years, the best part for me is that I can usually find the Weaver hoppers for $10-$20 at the local train shows in my area.
 

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Nice looking coal loads. Nothing like a real coal load to make a hopper look great. I make mine pretty much the same way except I use Brennan’s or Conway anthracite, I use a penknife, wood rasp and sandpaper to shape the load. Also, I just glom on the flat black paint and cover it with the anthracite while its still wet. For Lionel 6456, K-Line and MTH hoppers, I make the load from rigid foam. For Menards hoppers, I just take the plastic load and cover it with paint/coal.
 

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COAL LOAD ???

Thank you for rekindling my coal load project that has been sitting on the back burner for way to long. I have plenty of the Black Beauty Coal Slag I obtained at our local Tractor Supply. A $9.00 bag will fill many of my empty coal load hoppers. One or two ?. What size, density Styrofoam was used for shaping? Where was the Styrofoam purchased. Will white packing Styrofoam work for shaping?

THANKS FOR ANY INFORMATION
 

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Several years ago, a guy in Lehighton PA was making coal loads using foam and Black Beauty. I had several of these that came with hoppers I bought. Unfortunately, the foam began to dry and crumble. I would caution modelers to research the base material to determine its durability, mainly when frequent removal of the load is part of the equation. Many modelers have used foam material that has been durable, and have had no issues.
 

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What size, density Styrofoam was used for shaping? Where was the Styrofoam purchased. Will white packing Styrofoam work for shaping?

THANKS FOR ANY INFORMATION
Several years ago, a guy in Lehighton PA was making coal loads using foam and Black Beauty. I had several of these that came with hoppers I bought. Unfortunately, the foam began to dry and crumble. I would caution modelers to research the base material to determine its durability, mainly when frequent removal of the load is part of the equation. Many modelers have used foam material that has been durable, and have had no issues.
White styrofoam will only make a mess.

Use rigid foam insulation. Pink Owens Corning FoamulaR (Home Depot) or blue Kingspan (Lowes) or the equivalent.
 

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Discussion Starter #13
Thank you for rekindling my coal load project that has been sitting on the back burner for way to long. I have plenty of the Black Beauty Coal Slag I obtained at our local Tractor Supply. A $9.00 bag will fill many of my empty coal load hoppers. One or two ?. What size, density Styrofoam was used for shaping? Where was the Styrofoam purchased. Will white packing Styrofoam work for shaping?

THANKS FOR ANY INFORMATION
Good Morning ERIE610,

Don F and Lehigh74 have nailed it pretty good. The styrofoam I used was the blue Kingspan 1 inch thick styrofoam insulation purchased at Lowes. They sell it in 2 foot by 2 foot panels which makes it easy to handle and I didn't want or need a 4 foot x 8 foot sheet. It's dense and cuts clean with a sharp knife without making a mess.
 

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I would suggest one further step when using a foam base for a load; bevel the four sides slightly to reduce the surface area that contacts the hopper walls. This will reduce the effort needed to remove the load and reduce the risk of damaging the edges during insertion and removal. I do this with my luan bases as well.
 

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Those loads look great.

I tried to make some coal loads. I tried to paint the foam before applying something more realistic. Did you know that Rustolium flat-black spray paint and urethane foam are not chemically compatible? :eek: I ended up with a shriveled mass of foam and pigment that was unusable for anything other than an example of what not to do.

I haven't had a chance for attempt #2, but it is on my to-do list.
 

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Those loads look great.

I tried to make some coal loads. I tried to paint the foam before applying something more realistic. Did you know that Rustolium flat-black spray paint and urethane foam are not chemically compatible? :eek: I ended up with a shriveled mass of foam and pigment that was unusable for anything other than an example of what not to do.

I haven't had a chance for attempt #2, but it is on my to-do list.
If you use spray cans, you can only do a very light mist at a time. Otherwise, you can get water base spray paint, or use water base from a can.
 
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