ACF 4600 Covered Hopper ‘As Delivered’, Chicago & North Western (CN&W) #180006
The ACF Center Flow Project from 30,000 ft:
The America Car & Foundry family of covered hoppers is one of the most important production series of all time. It was a radically competitive alternative to the other designs of the era, and it continues to influence the design methodologies of contemporary freight cars. This family of “center flow” cars is a focus of Arrowhead’s development efforts now and going forward, and we are proud to have the ACF 4600 covered hopper be the marque lead to this project family.
The breadth of original owners and diversity of commodities moved by the 4600 is such that these cars are highly relevant to almost anyone modeling anything post 1965. According to Eric Neubauer in the book ‘A History of the ACF Center Flow,’ 15,307 cars were built from 1965 to 1981. In addition to grain, these cars carried clay, phosphate, salt, limestone, sugar, ammonium nitrate, and malt.
To launch this project, Arrowhead has an array of molds to faithfully execute 5 unique side variations, 2 unique roof variations, 3 trough variations (where troughs are independent of the roofs themselves), 16 hatch variations, and every configuration of vent, pull loop and tack board known to mankind. We have Apex Type S, US Gypsum, Morton Open-Grip running boards. We have ACF Gravity-Pneumatic 5124 gates. Keystone 6-E-3845 gravity gates. We are capable of matching the correct Ellcon-National D-1600-2, Universal 7400, Klasing 1500, and/or Ajax Model #5 handbrake. And, there are more variations to come. The configurable elements for this car allow robust variation on a per paint scheme basis. Even if you don’t know all these components specifically, be assured that Arrowhead is delivering the most accurate ACF Center Flow hopper ever produced.
A Great Lead:
Our first release of the ACF 4600 Covered Hopper is for the striking, golden yellow paint scheme of CNW’s 180000-180499 series. This precise phase variation has not been accurately produced by any other manufacturer to date, and as a result, this series lacks high end representation in HO Scale.
In 1977, the Chicago and North Western placed its second order for the ACF 4600 covered hoppers. According to Ira D. Kulbersh, who was the Chief Mechanical Engineer for the CNW and who helped author the book ‘Chicago and North Western Final Freight Car Roster’, this specific series of freight car was the pride of the CNW fleet. When Kulbersh spoke at the May 1986 CNW Historical Society annual conference, he said that the ACF cars were “purchased to replace a fleet of 750 cars built by Pullman-Standard.” CNW shippers, and many other roads, were very aggravated with the Pullman cars. Apparently, the railroad was paying considerable claims to account for loss associated with leaking roofs, hatches, and gates. When a purchase order for 500 ACF cars was issued, Kulbersh suggested that the cars be painted a golden yellow–the color of cold beer. The logic was simple, he said: the cars were to be employed in malt service for breweries, and adopting this color would be a reminder to malt shippers that the CNW was providing a new car designed and built with them in mind. He even suggested that a stein of beer with a full head of foam be painted on the car side. According to Kulbersh, the stein logo was rejected, but these cars worked out beautifully. “To the best of my knowledge”, he said, “they haven’t sprouted a crack yet.”
235 total parts per car–which, to the best of our knowledge, is quantitatively the most detailed freight car ever created–ever.
An all-new approach to body tooling that we developed for the specific purpose of better matching the build methodologies and part thicknesses of the ACF prototypes.
Absolutely meticulous attention to lettering accuracy, including distinct, separately drawn lettering libraries for CNW’s Roman 3″ capacity data block, 2″ stenciling (as opposed to drawing one library and scaling it to fit). And, distinct, separately drawn lettering libraries for CNW’s Gothic lettering. Check out our amazing 48″ “Employee Owned” Ball-and-Bar logo.
Project details were informed by a full set of build prints, 4 large binders stuffed with hundreds of individual field notes, years of labor, and the cooperation of a metal scrapper who allowed us to torch a car for the purpose of establishing with absolute confidence any dimension, profile or angle–all of which is reflected in our design.
Yes. We really did do that.
And if this all seems over-the-top to you, there is a history whereby model train manufacturers have struggled to accurately capture the nuance of the ACF Center Flow design. And there is a reason for that: there are particular features of these cars that present real challenges for model creation.
While we are really proud to have held nothing back when it comes to a complex project, sometimes when you climb to a really a difficult peak, you respect the formidableness path. We are proud to make our own contribution to the ACF series. To those who have come before, we tip our hat to you–it is a hell of a car.
49 individual etched brass parts per car, including: slope sheet braces and stiffeners, hopper face plates, ACF Gravity Pneumatic 5124 sanitary plate guides, hatch clasps, brake wheel mounting plates, air reservoir brackets, brake cylinder mounting plates, slope sheet brace gussets, cross-over walks, running boards and more.
61 individual wire parts per car, including: air lines, release and retaining valve rods, grab irons, roof hatch handles, ACF Gravity Pneumatic 5124 rack and pinion guards and sanitary plate anchors, train lines, brake hangers, pull loops and more.
5-piece Ellcon-National D-1600-2 hand brake, with separate brake housing, mounting plate, brake wheel, release lever and chain.
“Scale” draft box and details, including: key, shank and full bolt detail. Accurately shaped and located air hose bracket, and outboard brake levers.
Kadee #156 Whisker Couplers
This is the first. Raise the glass as we raise the bar.