One of the newest names in model railroading, Arrowhead Models has launched dauntlessly into the high-detailed HO scale rolling stock market with the release of their stunning new Committee Design Hopper.
It was only six months ago that Arrowhead models released a teaser video on Youtube in which the previously unheard of Wyoming company claimed to be in production of one of the best detailed HO scale freight cars to date. Shortly before the end of October, we were finally able to take a look at the result first hand. And you know what? They weren’t wrong.
Collaboratively designed by the Chesapeake and Ohio, Pennsylvania Railroad, and the Norfolk and Western during the late 1950s, the Committee Design Hopper was to be a standardized hopper design shared between multiple railroads. The idea was simple; standardization would lead to better compatibility and efficiency.
Although the Norfolk and Western eventually backed out of the project with concerns that the cars would be too big for their needs, the Pennsylvania commenced production soon after prototypes were built, placing an order that would eventually total over 16,000 cars. Over the course of the next decade, other railroads would also join the effort, with the Denver and Rio Grande Western and the original Norfolk Southern both ordering substantial numbers for their needs.
Although its beginnings were shrouded in doubt, the type would see successful service through the mergers of the 1970s and 80s, with the last examples only reaching retirement from revenue duties in the 1990s. To this day some can still be found in non-revenue and departmental roles at various railroads across the country.
Available painted and lettered for the Pennsylvania Railroad, the Southern Railway, and the Rio Grande, these models reflect three of the most prominent operators of the types (the Southern inherited the entire Norfolk Southern roster on their buyout of the company in 1974). All have been painted with exacting detail from the use of correct color tones, to the application of laser sharp lettering, right down to stenciled build dates and classification.
When it comes to detail, let’s be clear, this is not a copy and paste model by any means. Arrowhead has gone to astounding lengths to ensure exacting detail specific to each prototype, using only fabrication prints and field measurements to ensure correct dimensions for all components. While the amount of separate components created for each road name could fill an article of their own, a few notable examples include the application of either Ajax or Miner handbrakes, Keystone or Wine gate doors, riveted or welded bolster plates, and Pullman Standard or Bethlehem style defect card holders (yes, the details really go that small).
As you may expect, the same level of care and detail has also been given to the more standardized details, with a host of wire, brass, and plastic components such as grab irons and brake rods, etched metal brake steps, and separate air hoses to name a few.
Beyond the details, the cars sit atop free-rolling metal wheels, include realistic removable loads, and come equipped with Kadee #58 couplers, allowing for compatibility with most recent HO scale rolling stock from other manufacturers. If you’re looking to create a uniform consist, there’s no need to bring out the decaling kit. 48 road numbers have been produced for the PRR model, 24 for the Rio Grande, and 12 for the Southern Railway.
This car sets a high standard for Arrowhead Models and the industry as a whole, with a range of included details rarely seen on ready to run models, and we’re confident that they’ll look fantastic on any HO scale layout set from the 1950s to today!