J. Alex Lang

PRR G38 Ore Cars in HO

G38 Ore Gon
Adding styrene standoffs for stirrup steps

As I’m modeling Conrail in 1994, Bethlehem PA area, I have been accumulating Stewart and Bowser G39 ore hoppers for quite some time in order to feed the Bethlehem blast furnaces with iron ore for steelmaking purposes. By 1994, these aging cars were supplemented by occasional 70- and 100- coal hoppers as well, but – these trains also featured a fair number of the venerable old G38 ore gon. The G38 is 1′ 6″ shorter than the G39, and was the original PRR Hollidaysburg ore car design.

The visual profile of “mostly” taller G39 cars with a few shorter 38’s is part of my memories of these trains. So for this reason, I finally took a knife to three Bowser G39 car kits that I had on hand and I’m close to finishing one. The first photo shows the rough Dremel work to cut the car down. Second photo shows some detail progress. The G38 cars featured steam lance access ports which were used to allow a lance (pipe on a stick) to shoot hot steam in to thaw frozen ore pellets. These ports were not retained on the G39 cars, and so it was a detail part that isn’t commercially available. I was very lucky to come across Jim King from Smokey Mountain Modelworks who was offering to do 3D design and printing services, and Bill Lane who had already drawn up an S scale G38 CAD drawing and was willing to share. After some testing Jim was able to print enough steam lance ports to make 3-4 of these cars.

Other modifications include trimming off of the G39 buffers and a little bit of styrene added for COTS plates, the cover for the brake valve, and some ladder supports. Those aren’t perfect but they’re functional & allow me to reuse the supplied ladders for the G39 kits. I later added wedges of styrene along the underframe (like the prototype) when I discovered that these were necessary so that the stirrup steps would clear the trucks. I glued the stirrup steps with canopy glue (a good trick to give fragile parts a little flexibility for handling on the layout).

I painted first car black and applied “Conrail patch” decals, in part because the black would be more forgiving for my practice car. Now, onto weathering the first car and building two more…