My Little Blue Hopper Fleet
(click on image to enlarge)
(Please note I do not need any additional hoppers)
My grandfather had several of these small hoppers on his layout, I still have one of his original cars, and I decided it would be cool if I could collect a few more of them. The project started off small, I was going to try and find five more, with six hoppers being a nice even number. He had made a small block of wood with rock ballast glued onto it that fit into the hopper perfectly.
I asked my brother-in-law if he could make me a few more of these wooden ore loads so the five new hoppers would match grandpa's. He went over board which is his nature and I ended up with twenty custom made blocks of wood. With the first few hoppers found and a whole pile of wooden block waiting I started searching for more of those little blue hoppers.
The search was on for hoppers, local hobby shops, train shows, and online auctions. While searching for more little blue hoppers I found a beautiful GP-18 engine in the BM road name that had been professionally painted and weathered.
With my new contact, a model builder specializing in custom painting and weathering of model trains, I decided that it might be nice to change the road numbers on my growing fleet of hoppers and have them weathered to match the engine I had just found. I made arrangements with Wayne to find another engine and a caboose that would match my little blue hopper fleet while I kept searching for more hoppers. I was able to locate twenty hoppers and a third engine that matched the first two GP-18's.
Everything was packed up and sent to Maine where the trains would be professionally weathered and have the road numbers changed. When I received the finished trains several weeks later I was blown away with the results. The little blue hopper fleet was even more impressive than I had ever imagined.
With those first twenty hoppers, the three GP-18's, and the caboose all finished you would think I would have been satisfied however I now have another ten of those little blue hoppers which will be going north to Liberty Maine for some new road numbers and weathering soon...
Update - January 2002 the second batch of hoppers has returned from Maine. Wayne has renumbered and weathered all the hoppers and the fleet is still growing with 32 hoppers now finished and the fleet numbering at FORTY EIGHT now!
You can see some photos of the latest hoppers at this link Quick Shots, and I will be posting more photos and information soon. I am still looking for more of these Mantua little blue BM operating hoppers, my goal is to build up SIXTY hoppers in the fleet. If you know where I can find any please contact me.
Update - March 2002 the third bunch of hoppers are being prepared for the trip up to Maine. Wayne will have his hands full this time renumbering and weathering an additional 35 hoppers and the fleet is still growing! Right now the fleet is still growing and I have 64 or 65 of these little blue BM operating hoppers but with so many coming in and out for repair, renumbering, weathering... etc. they are hard to keep track of. Every now and then I stumble across one that had been misplaced or separated from the fleet. (I am still looking for MORE) so drop me a line if you know where I can find any of these hoppers.
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Update - April 2003 yet another batch of hoppers are making the trip up to Maine, this group is being hand delivered as I am driving up to Maine to meet with Wayne. Finally after years of mailing trains back and forth I am excited to make a face to face transfer. Wayne will be applying his advanced weathering technique to the hopper but this time I have complete the renumbering of each hopper myself.
With the size of the fleet now in excess of 100 little blue hoppers I have changed my road number scheme, each group of twenty hoppers are stored in a padded box and I have had a custom sheet of 120 individual road number printed. Each hopper will have a "group" or box number and a "unit" number within the group. For example the first hopper in the first box will have the road number 11001(every hopper starts with a 1) then the number of the box or group. All the hoppers from box #1 start with 11, hoppers from box #2 start with 12, and then the each hopper with have a unit number. This will make it easier to inventory the fleet and keep track of which ones are out of loan or missing.
That's right I said out on loan! I have been taking the "Little Blue Hopper Fleet" on the road to different club and private layouts. They have been making the rounds while I collect still photos and digital video of the fleet in action. You can browse some action shots and video clips from the various layouts. I will also be making a VHS and DVD of all the action available for anyone that would like to watch extended clips that are too large for the internet.
The little blue hopper fleet on the big loop in PA (Photo)
The little blue hopper fleet on the big loop in PA (Video) East Bound
The little blue hopper fleet on the big loop in PA (Video) West Bound
The little blue hopper fleet on the little loop in RI (Photo)
The little blue hopper fleet on the little loop in RI (Video)
This page was last updated on 05/31/09. Enjoy your visit to "My Trains"
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Copyright 1995 - 2009 Steven M Hodell