As part of my "Finishing Stuff" campaign that I started back in March of last year, I recently painted a 3-bay covered hopper car, two woodchip cars, and a 2-bay covered hopper to be used in sand service. These cars had languished in the paint shop for 2-3 years, victims of lost interest and inspiration for other projects. But it was finally time to get these finished.
The 2-bay covered hopper is the last of the five cars that will traverse the railroad between supply sources and the engine terminals at North Pierce and Nelsonville. As I was decaling the car, I remembered back to the first one I built. It was the late summer of 1983 and I was living in Cleveland. I spent some time that summer in Cincinnati railfanning the Southern engine terminal in Ludlow, KY. You could almost always find a couple of covered hoppers in sand service like the one in the photo below.
E&B Valley had recently released their 2-bay covered hopper kit and it was exactly what I wanted for my sand service cars. I modified the side ladders like the ones on the SOU car and numbered it in the 99XXX series reserved for company service and MW equipment.
So here we are, almost 40 years later, and the last one is finally being added to the roster. This is a Bowser car and I removed all of the cast on grabs on the ladders and replaced them with .010 styrene rod. The photo below shows the car as it's being decaled. And there are two other cars just like this in service already.
It occurred to me as I was working on this car that it is one of the "fleet" cars. Unremarkable, fairly non-descript, and unlikely to be noticed by any of the crew as a new addition. But it's one of the cars you need if your going to have some variety in the operating scheme and your rolling stock. Like all the hopper cars on the railroad, it's just another one that will be lost in the fleet.