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ZM-2 Illinois Central 2-Bay Hopper Decal

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PostPosted: Tue Jun 02, 2009 2:24 pm    Post subject: ZM-2 Illinois Central 2-Bay Hopper Decal Reply with quote

Decals in Focus 01: The "Mainline of Mid-America" scheme
33′ 2-bay Offset Side Illinois Central (IC) Hoppers

by Michael Livingston

Expanding the “World” of Our Layouts

As railroad modelers, we all typically have very specific timeframes, geographies, and RR prototypes staked out. My particular claim is of an N-scale layout, based primarily on a few signature scenes on Canadian National (CNR) lines in southern Ontario spanning 50 years (as seen in the late summer of specific years between 1936 and 1986). My vision is to create unique equipment, structures, and scenes that demonstrate how this region fit into the continental railway network of the time. Why I chose certain years, and what rich possibilities they offer in terms of modeling the changing railway scene is the stuff of many future articles and projects. However, for those of you unfamiliar with southern Ontario, Canada, I will provide a brief overview.

Looking at the map of the Great Lakes region, southern Ontario is highlighted within the large red shaded rectangle. This southernmost region of Canada along the north shores of Lake Erie and Lake Ontario is fertile agriculturally, with mild temperatures allowing diverse crops like grapes, peaches, and tobacco to be grown, abundant natural resources like oil, salt, and gypsum, and a large fishing industry. Since the mid-1800s, Canadian and U.S. railways created a competing and overlapping rail network because of the many opportunities afforded by industrial growth (such as Hamilton the Pittsburg of Canada), easy access to large markets (over 5 million people lived in the greater Toronto area by 1986), and because traversing southern Ontario offers the shortest rail distance between the U.S. east coast and Chicago. In 1855, a “branch line” was completed between Toronto and Hamilton, Ontario that became a segment of one of the busiest stretches of mainline track in Canada, linking Chicago with the eastern port of Portland Maine. Through acquisition and many other changes this line eventually became CNR’s Oakville subdivision shown on the first map within the small blue rectangle and in this larger view of the same area.

While the Oakville subdivision is a CNR line, trackage rights allow several other railways to operate freight and passenger over the same right of way, including the Toronto Hamilton & Buffalo (TH&B) and Canadian Pacific (CPR) railways in all eras that I am modeling. At certain time periods, it was also possible to see regular passenger trains of the Michigan Central (MC), New York Central (NYC), Penn Central (PC), Via Rail, Amtrak, GO Transit, and Grand Trunk Western (GTW). Some of these railroads also operated freight trains in addition to Conrail (CR), and Norfolk Southern. The network of rail lines between 1936 and 1986 in other areas of southern Ontario include the MC/NYC (Canada Southern [CASO] subdivision) and the Pere Marquette/C&O and Wabash/Norfolk & Western (via trackage rights). Add a couple of interurban electrics (CPR’s Lake Erie & Northern and Grand River Railway, CNR’s Niagara, St. Catharine’s & Toronto, and the London and Port Stanley electric railways), electric railways serving the tunnels at both Sarnia (GT/CNR St. Clair Tunnel) and Detroit-Windsor (MC/NYC Detroit River Tunnel) and three railways providing car ferry service between Michigan and Ontario and the field of railway operations in this region gets pretty complex.

Whew! All of this gives me a lot to consider, but even more importantly, it makes me think about what other railroads would play a significant role in this area and be regularly interchanged in terms of freight, express, passenger, and company service. For you, it means you might have a chance to get decals and equipment that have not been available before for many railroads that while they are not part of my layout geography, are part of the RR layout “world” I am trying to build.

But why not just model CNR, since you are modeling CNR track deep in the heart of CNR territory? Well, I find that it is easy to get myopic. Many model railroad layouts are focused only on the railroad that owns the tracks under them, when in fact unless a railroad was either very small, isolated geographically, very specialized (industrial or logging railroad), or otherwise cut off from the rest of the continental railroad network, many railroad freight cars could be seen.

Researching and accurately modeling the operations of railways in the time period that you model can expand even a small layout into a whole world and at least (philosophically speaking) a continent spanning transportation network. In today’s world of highways, airline express, and easy access to anything from just about anywhere in the world, it is hard to imagine that in the ′30s to ′50s, items shipped by rail included such oddities as live baby chicks in express baggage cars, ball bearings in temperature-controlled refrigerator cars, and lots of soft coal for that all important locomotive fuel. I mean lots and lots of soft coal.

IC Hopper Prototype Car and Model

Built from 1937 until 1949, the IC owned well over 12,000 50-ton 33 2-bay offset side hoppers; comprising almost a quarter of the entire IC freight car roster. Although not an official AAR standard design, this car is easy to model using the MT 55000-series car in N-scale. There are two differences between the IC prototype and the MT-model (and AAR standard design): the offset sides should be stepped so that the grab irons are flush, and it should only have only have seven rather than nine gussets (vertical supports) along the top of the panels.

All hoppers had white lettering and were painted black prior to 1948, but were repainted light brown or oxide color beginning about 1947. In the 1950s, 33 2-bay offset side IC hopper car-series included:

IC Car Series # Cars Bldr Date Logo/Paint Scheme (New) Brakewheel

IC 68000–68999 1000 Ryan `37 Black car: No “Mainline” logo Ajax
IC 69000–69999 1000 GATC `38 Black car: No “Mainline” logo Universal
IC 70000–70499 500 ACF `48 Lt Brown car: “Mainline” logo Universal
IC 70500–70999 500 GATC `48 Lt Brown car: “Mainline” logo Ajax
IC 71000–71749 750 PS `40 Black car: No “Mainline” logo Universal
IC 72000–72999 1000 PS `41 Black car: No “Mainline” logo Universal
IC 74000–74449 450 IC `47 Black car: “Mainline” logo? Universal
IC 74500–74999 500 IC `48 Black car: “Mainline” logo Universal
IC 80500–80999 500 GATC `49 Lt Brown car: “Mainline” logo Universal
IC 86000–86499 500 MV `49 Lt Brown car: “Mainline” logo Miner
IC 86500–86999 500 IC `49 Lt Brown car: “Mainline” logo Universal
IC 87000–87999 1000 IC `48 Lt Brown car: “Mainline” logo Ajax, Miner
IC 88000–88999 1000 IC `49 Lt Brown car: “Mainline” logo Universal, Ajax
IC 90000–90999 1000 PS `48 Lt Brown car: “Mainline” logo Ajax
IC 91000–91999 1000 GATC `48 Lt Brown car: “Mainline” logo Ajax
IC 92000–93749 1750 PS `49 Lt Brown car: “Mainline” logo Ajax, Klasing
IC 93750–93999 250 GATC `49 Lt Brown car: “Mainline” logo Universal

Roster source: Railway Prototype Cyclopedia Volume 1.

Source: Illinois Central RR freight car diagram book (circa 1971)

Brake wheels varied according to the build date and manufacturer. In service, the cars were seen painted either in the “current” light brown through oxide or were holdovers from original scheme in black, which in a few cases lasted into the mid-60s split rail logo era. Many cars remained in this older “Mainline of Mid-America” paint scheme well into the ′70s. Some cars rebuilt with extended sides and lasted in this scheme through the 1970s.

So what do IC hoppers have to do with the CNR in southern Ontario?

Some railroads like the IC had it lucky, with large bituminous coalfields (that is soft coal, used for locomotive fuel, rather than the hard anthracite used in home heating and for other retail markets) close by as part of their customer base, while others had to ship it in. Well, the CNR, with a rail network spanning from ocean to ocean, did have access to soft and hard coals, but not always everywhere it needed it. With over 2500 steam locomotives still in active service into the 1950s, it stockpiled coal, shipped in coal, and bought coal by contract from the US to be shipped to specific locations as cost effectively as possible. Depending on who had the contract for OCS (on company service) coal, you could see a lot of IC, Louisville & Nashville (L&N), and NYC cars in service, although IC cars seem to be dominant in southern Ontario where I am modeling. But does this mean that the IC delivered coal to your railroad?

IC hoppers at the coaling tower in Toronto (circa 1954)
Source: Trackside around the Niagara Peninsula (Reg Button) Morning Sun Books

Well, the Illinois basin coalfields are huge, high-sulfur, soft coal deposits in southern Indiana, Illinois, and western Kentucky, and were intensely serviced by the IC, GM&O, CB&Q, CE&I, MP, Monon, NYC, Milwaukee, and PRR from the late 1800s onward. The 1954 Railway Equipment Register shows 114 railroads that directly interchanged with the Illinois Central, in 14 states spanning from Minnesota to the Gulf of Mexico. These railways included some of the biggest in the business like ATSF, ACL, B&O, C&O, RI, Soo Line, Erie, GN, L&N, MKT, MP, NKP, NYC, PRR, SLSF, Southern, Wabash and also included other “Harriman” railroads like the SP, UP, and Central of Georgia. I am not saying that all these RRs got IC delivered coal, but given the volume of coal mined from the Illinois basin, if you model just about any steam-era railroad that used soft coal and connected to the central US, your RR probably got coal from the Illinois basin coalfields and some of it could have been delivered in IC hoppers.

During the late ′40s (and possibly much earlier), the CNR had made arrangements with the IC to have complete trains (early Unit trains) of bituminous coal shipped via the GTW to Port Huron, MI where the CNR would forward it to stockpile locations or, more often, directly to coaling service destinations in southern Ontario and western Quebec. An article in CN Lines magazine (Vol. 11, # 2) describes this early use of “unit-train” operation in more detail. After two days in Canada, demurrage charges would apply to the empty cars, so in most cases these cars would return empty, however there is clear evidence showing that IC cars were regularly used to haul a load of limestone ballast on company service (from Dundas, Ontario for instance) prior to returning empty to Illinois. Another interesting feature of these trains was that IC 4-8-2 Mountains were sometimes used as power for these trains on the GTW all the way to the border of Canada. Several of these engines ended up in lease service to the GTW, but were actually intended for lease to the CNR in southern Ontario. Unfortunately these locomotives were too large to fit through the St. Clair tunnel or to be moved by ferry into Ontario, so a quick power shuffle put more GTW Northerns in southern Ontario, while the IC 4-8-2s stayed in the U.S.

In reviewing the excellent research by Ian Wilson (Topic of the month June 2000, CN Company Coal service:, I learned that between 40 and 60% of the company coal that was used by the CNR’s steam power in southern Ontario was brought to coal docks using IC 2-bay hoppers. Additionally, one decent size coal dock could be expected to use upwards of 100 or more coal carloads in a given month. I was intrigued and I wanted to know more.

In my own findings, I have photo evidence of IC hoppers in company service at fifteen major locomotive facilities in Ontario and Quebec during the ′40s and ′50s. I knew that I would need some IC hoppers, but how many would be a fair sampling? For the terminals that I am modeling, I am planning to have about 10 IC 2-bay offset hoppers, three IC 7-rib side 2-bay hoppers (a topic for a future article), and one or two IC three-bay hoppers. This will be followed by about equal amounts (4-5 cars each) of L&N and NYC cars, two PRR cars and one each of several other roads such as VGN, SOU, MP, Erie, and C&EI. I will also have several CN and GTW cars in company coal service for the trip to and from the Sarnia stockpile.

Sample Westbound GTW Train Consist*

The listing below is a complete Grand Trunk Western freight train with car-by-car consist information showing the car types, reporting marks, and destinations as seen at Lapeer Michigan on July 30th, 1956. Remember, this is only one train. There were other westbound trains on the same day that also had blocks of empty IC hoppers in them. This train was comprised of all empty cars and many of them were hoppers returning to the IC. Of the 55 IC hoppers listed in this consist, 44 of the hoppers are 50-ton 2-bay 330 offset side hoppers, 8 are 50-ton 2-bay 413 rib-side hoppers, and 3 are 70-ton 3-bay hoppers.

Extra 9015 WEST, (F3 engines GTW 9015 & 9014) 84 MTY (all empties)
July 30, 1956: Lapeer, Michigan, 3:15 PM


F SPS 32052
R ART 52430
R PFE 75413
R RD 13381
R SFE 45269
R PFE 42693
R SFE 61040
R ART 31418
R BAR 7713
R ART 21655
F SSW 81319
F GN 69826
R SP 141616
B PA 604107
B NYC 80991
B MST 4748
CH GTW 3717
R PFE 40040
R RD 8189
B P 97417

H IC 70331
H IC 72851
H IC 67382
H IC 91402
H IC 77026
H IC 76016
H IC 72799
H IC 88196
H IC 69919
H IC 81417
H IC 67086
H IC 68833
H IC 74707
H IC 88772
H IC 26210
H IC 90616
H IC 86211
H IC 68602
H IC 75838
H IC 93096

H IC 77201
H IC 68820
H IC 76325
H IC 81609
H IC 67748
H IC 91708
H IC 72491
H IC 72903
H IC 71594
H IC 81204
H IC 88321
H IC 80525
H IC 84115
H IC 73468
H IC 78147
H IC 69355
H IC 67124
H IC 73579
H IC 88105
H IC 76251
H IC 91906
H IC 93736

H IC 69662
H IC 80545
H IC 71367
H IC 80889
H IC 87958
H IC 69176
H IC 71148
H IC 88098
CH GTW 113792
CH IC 79237
R ART 33079
G SLSF 70080
H IC 87427
H IC 73905
B NYC 81176 MTY
B NYC 80570
H IC 91140
H IC 80901

Note: Car types: (B = Box, R = Reefer, H = Hopper, F = Flat, G = Gondola, CH = Covered Hopper)
Source:*Consist list courtesy of Jim Gilmore.

The Decals

This offering of n-scale decal sets is for Illinois Central (IC) two-bay hoppers in the "Mainline of Mid-America" repainted scheme seen in service from the early-1950s through about the mid-1960s. The data and markings are arranged so that you only need to place two decals per car side (and one for each end) rather than placing the data, reporting numbers, logo all separately. Much easier!! The decal is a 6-car sheet and has variations on the reporting marks, lettering, herald use, and car type rather than a number scramble. However, a number scramble is included so you can easily decorate more than six unique cars with additional decal sheets.

The decals are printed on glossy decal paper using an ALPS printer. As such, the very fine print may be delicate. Do not rub when placing the decals or you might have to weather the car heavily! There are decals for six cars on the sheet. Five of the decals are for the 50-ton 2-bay 330 offset side hoppers with “standard” lettering. One decal (position 5) is a variation in the IC 2-bay hopper fleet: an 81000-series 3-bay offset hopper decal with the "Main Line of Mid-America" herald. This car can be modeled using the MDC/roundhouse 3-bay offset hopper car.

Here is a synopsis of the car numbers, approximate time period (ATP), recommended color scheme, and location on the decal sheet.

1) IC 68196 ATP: 1952-mid 60s (repaint) light brown.

2) IC 70062 ATP: 1948-late 50s (new) light brown. (Has sill reporting marks and trust plate data)

3) IC 69178 ATP: mid 50s-mid 60s (repaint) black or light brown.

4) IC 72302 ATP: mid 40s-late 50s (repaint) black. (No Mainline logo used prior to 1947)

5) IC 81704 ATP: mid 50s-mid 60s (repaint) light brown. (3-bay hopper)

6) IC 70945 ATP: early 50s-60s (repaint) light brown.

7) Number scramble for car side and end reporting marks

As they say, your mileage may vary.

Applying the Waterslide decals

These decals are printed on Waterslide decal film and paper from either Walthers™, Microscale®, or MicroMark™ depending on paper availability and the best backing to show white decals. A slightly glossy surface is recommended for placement and use of Micro-Sol® before and after decal placement should allow the decal film to disappear completely. Again, the decals are set up so several designs can be grouped together and placed at one time. You should be able to decorate an entire car with six decal placements.

1. Cut and trim the decals sections for one entire car as shown. I usually decal my cars with the trucks and under frame off.

Tip: You can use a black marker to color the paper backing on hard-to-see decals, but a Sharpie® will bleed through the paper and may affect the decal if not used right away.

2. Working on a car side first, dip a Q-tip into a mixture of Micro-Sol® and water, then liberally dab the fluid on the end of the car side you will be applying.

3. Dip the decal section in water.

Tip: For really small decals like number replacements or end reporting marks, just place a drop of water on the decal while holding it on your fingertip.

4. After about 20-30 seconds, the decal will slide to the touch.

5. Apply the decal over the wetted car surface.

6. Blot the decal gently (not rubbing) with the wet Q-tip end to remove excess fluid and any bubbles.

7. Verify decal position. Use a pin to gently reposition if necessary. Additional water should allow the decal to float if it won’t move.

Tip: Use a foam support or cradle to better view and hold your models while placing decals.

8. Apply more Micro-Sol/water mix over the decal with the wet Q-tip end. If you are careful, you can apply the second decal on the car side.

9. Let it dry for at least 10 minutes. You can apply the end decals while drying, but be careful not to nudge the drying decals. They might move.

10. Pop any remaining bubbles with a pin and apply more Micro-Sol.

11. Repeat steps 2-10 for the second side and car end.

12. Apply a flat, finish sealer, then reassemble and weather the car as desired.


And finally, here is a preview of the 7-rib 2-bay hopper that I kitbashed from a Micro-Trains car. Unfortunately, I later found out that the car was over 40’ long not 33’. It is an excellent demonstration of the perils of incomplete research, and having only one very angled photograph as a reference. It does look neat though. I haven’t decided if I want to scratchbuild a correct version of this car or not, but if I do, you will see it here and I’ll probably do a decal set for it.

This decal can be purchased for $8.00 plus s and h here:

Last edited by GHQ on Mon Jul 30, 2012 10:22 am; edited 2 times in total
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Joined: 18 May 2009
Posts: 4
Location: Bloomington, MN

PostPosted: Fri Jun 19, 2009 8:42 pm    Post subject: The new Atlas Hoppers work too... Reply with quote

Since I wrote this article, I have noticed that there is another model which would be a good stand-in for the 2-bay hopper cars. About a year or so ago, Atlas released a series of 2-bay hoppers including a flat-end version similar to the MT-55000 series car. The part number for the undecorated car is:

- Atlas 40800 Undecorated - Flat End 2-bay hopper

It is about the same price as a discounted, undec MT-car, but it might be easier to find. The MDC Roundhouse 3-bay hopper cars are getting more difficult to find, but decorated versions are available from Athearn as 5-packs, some with the new McHenry couplers. If other applicable information comes to light, I will post the information here.

Best regards,
Michael Livingston
Modeling southern Ontario railways in N-scale
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PostPosted: Fri Jun 26, 2009 11:07 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I find these articles very inspiring. N scale is small enough that I think I could tackle some trains. The car seems affordable enough from the Atlas site.

Very intriguing, and I like reading these articles.
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