Vintage N Scale B&M Rolling Stock #1
Arnold 40 Foot 2-Bay Hopper –
I’m not really sure what prototype, if any, this hopper is supposed to represent but most early N scale stuff was only loosely based on reality. My impression of a lot of the very earliest N scale stuff is that it was more a curiosity as opposed to hobby (or even running) grade. Anyway, Arnold really began what we know as N scale today (1) and this car was apparently among the first group of rolling stock based on North American prototypes.
This car is B&M “blue-dip”, as are all early N scale B&M rolling stock I have located, and it appears from eBay that the shade of blue actually may vary a bit from example to example. It weighs next to nothing and could do with some weight (or a coal load) to make it better for operations. Due to somewhat low tolerance wheel sets and trucks this car doesn’t roll particularly freely so it sort of acts as a distributed braking car when placed at the rear of a train… that could be of some use. Of course deep flange wheel sets and Rapido couplers are standard, and that’s fine, it fits right in with other N scale equipment from the time period. Something I found interesting is that, unlike pretty much every other early B&M item available for N scale, the B&M herald is two-tone black and white. Everything I have seen from other manufacturers has white only B&M heralds, so that adds a bit of interest.
The long and short is that this is a pretty neat car and it dates from the very beginnings of North American N scale (2). They are fairly easy to find on auction sites in several road names and at decent prices so, if you want one, you won’t have any issues tracking one down.
To my knowledge B&M never owned 2-Bay hoppers that were 40 feet long. There were some 41 foot long hoppers but they appear to be triple or quad in configuration. All of the 2-Bay hoppers I could locate were 34 feet long, so while this is a neat car, it isn’t prototypical at all.
(1) There were others like Lone Star’s Treble O Electric stuff but that was really more “toy grade” than something really useful for operations.
(2) Late 1960s and early 1970s.