Arriving in hobby shops now is the Walthers Trinity 4,750-cubic-foot capacity three-bay covered hopper. The newly tooled model, based on a Burlington Northern prototype, is part of the manufacturer’s Mainline series and features injection-molded plastic construction.
Our sample is decorated as Burlington Northern 466071, part of the railroad’s 466000 through 466999 series built by Trinity Industries at its Greenville, Pa., plant under File 2111 between June and October 1990. Burlington Northern ordered 5,500 Trinity 4750 covered hoppers, numbered 466000 through 469999 and 471000 through 472499, between 1990 and 1995. The cars were the backbone of BN’s grain hauling fleet and were often run in 104-car unit trains during the final years of the railroad.
The BN covered hoppers became part of the BNSF Ry. fleet following the merger with Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe in 1995. The cars, assigned to BNSF’s 466000 through 471499 series, are being repainted into the railroad’s Mineral Brown scheme. Early repaints have the circle-cross herald, a scheme offered by Walthers. Post-2005 repaints feature the “swoosh” herald.
A closer look
The WalthersMainline model has an injection-molded plastic body with separate slope sheets. Up on top, the car has one-piece running board and hatch cover castings. Both parts have pins that fit into holes in the body. The running board support brackets are factory-installed parts. The lateral portion of the running board closest to the full-height ladder has a molded grab iron. I appreciated that the running board supports were painted Cascade Green to match the carbody on the BN car. Nice attention to detail!
The end cages are factory-applied castings with molded corner posts, ladder stiles, end posts, hand brake posts (B end only), ladder rungs, and grab irons. Though the housing and brake chain are molded, the brake wheel is separate. The plastic crossover platforms are also freestanding parts. Similar to the running board, the platforms have recessed hole detail.
The B (brake) end of the car has an air reservoir, brake cylinder, and control valve. A pair of molded pipes run from the control valve to the auxiliary and emergency sides of the air reservoir. A third pipe from the control valve terminates in the slope sheet.
A molded cylinder lever and two brake lever support brackets are on top of the draft-gear box on the B end of the car. A molded dead lever is in the same location on the A end.
The underbody is a separate casting with six tabs (three along both long edges) that lock into slots molded on the inside of the body. Factory-installed intermediate center sills have a tab along the top edge that’s glued into a slot.
The outer sills, draft gear box, and end frames are cast as a single piece attached from the inside with a washer-head Phillips screw. The body bolsters and bolster block are a separate casting. The draft-gear box covers are secured with a Phillips-head screw.
The outlet gates are two-piece assemblies; the vibrator brackets are molded. A sandwich of three steel weights is attached to interior of each hopper bay with a washer-head screw.
Our sample is neatly painted in its as-delivered BN scheme. The green paint is smooth and evenly applied, and all of the white printing is opaque and legible. The caution stencil above the middle bay, the builder’s logo, and the COTS panel are all shifted one body panel too far to the right for car No. 466071. In addition, the caution stencil should be in yellow. The caution no side ladder stencils, located on both ends of the car, were omitted, and the build date (11-90) is incorrect for the number series.
I found prototype drawings of the Trinity 4750 covered hopper in BNSF Railway Freight Cars: Volume One by Robert C. Del Grosso (Great Northern Pacific Publications, 2004). The Walthers car matches or is within scale inches of published dimensions.
The WalthersMainline Trinity 4750 covered hopper rides on American Steel Foundries 100-ton trucks with correctly gauged 36” metal wheels mounted on plastic axles. The body-mounted Proto-Max metal couplers are at the correct height. At 5.1 ounces, the covered hopper is .3 ounce too heavy per National Model Railroad Association Recommended Practice 20.1.
As a BN fan, I’m thrilled that Walthers has added the Trinity 4,750-cubic-foot capacity three-bay covered hopper to its product lineup. The Mainline-series model has a good blend of molded and freestanding parts, allowing it to withstand normal handling on an operating layout.
Facts & features
Wm. K. Walthers Inc.
5601 W. Florist Ave.
Milwaukee, WI 53218
Era: 1990 to present (as decorated)
Road names: Burlington Northern (as-delivered scheme), BNSF Ry. (Mineral Brown with circle-cross herald), CSX (tan), Illinois Central Gulf (orange), Kansas City Southern (Mineral Red), Louisville & Nashville (Family Lines scheme), and Missouri-Kansas-Texas (green and yellow). Four road numbers per scheme; also available undecorated.
- 36” metal wheels mounted on plastic axles, in gauge
- Proto-Max metal couplers, at correct height
- Weight: 4.8 ounces (.3 ounce too light per National Model Railroad Association Recommended Practice 20.1)