PRR for Railway32 : Freight Cars

Pennsy Hopper Cars

Prewar Hoppers
Twin Bay Hoppers
GL # in service: 19,149

The original steel hoppers, first built in 1889. Notable because of its thick "fishbelly" side sills - later cars used the whole side of the car as a structural member. The class designation of 'GL' was due to there being no 'hopper' classification on the Pennsy at the time, so it was considered a gondola.

The drawing also covers class GLc, with improved internal stiffening but no exterior differences, and the single-member class GLcb, that was 1" higher with some minor construction differences.

[PRR GL Empty] [PRR GL Full]
GLca # in service: 8251 Converted from class GLc 1941-1946. Visible modifications included a power handbrake and a structural top chord with visible rivets instead of just the folded over edge seen on the GL/GLc
[PRR GLca Empty] [PRR GLca Full]
Berwind-White GLh # in service: 75 These cars were purchased by the PRR from the Berwind-White Coal Company in 1950. They were approximately equivalent to a GLc but with some modifications, including a power handbrake.
[PRR GLh Empty] [PRR GLh Full]
GLa # in service: 30,256 Improvement of the GL in which the sides were their own support instead of having the heavy 'fishbelly' side sills for strengthening.
[PRR GLa Empty] [PRR GLa Full]
[PRR GLa MOW Empty] [PRR GLa MOW Full] In later MOW service, painted Camp Car Yellow.
GLb # in service: 700

An alternative to the GLa, but less successful; the idea was to use standard structural steel side stakes instead of custom made ones. Their being non standard was a maintenance problem and they were disposed of -- 250 became GLe covered hoppers and the rest were scrapped by the late 1930s.

Similar cars were in the hands of private owners.

[PRR GLb Empty] [PRR GLb Full]
GLd # in service: 300

These were the USRA standard hoppers. The PRR owned very few of them, successfully convincing the USRA to let it build its own similar hoppers instead. They were actually delivered to the PRR-owned LIRR (Long Island RR) but were transferred to the PRR roster in 1929.

They lasted until approx 1950 before scrappings began in earnest, and by 1960 all were gone.

[PRR GLd Empty] [PRR GLd Full]
GLf # in service: 1 A single GLa was converted into a GLf in 1935. The sides were extended 8" higher and the side panels were replaced with bulged panel sides, allowing a slight increase in capacity. Other roads used sides like this, but the PRR was clearly not impressed because the GLf remained a loner. Amazingly, it lasted until 1951, probably because many components were common to the GLa.
[PRR GLf Empty] [PRR GLf Full]
H31 # in service: 711 The original H31 was an improved twin bay hopper that was intended to replace the ageing GLc/GLa fleet. However, WW2 intervened.
[PRR H31 Empty] [PRR H31 Full]
H31b # in service: 500 The H31b was a wartime hopper built to the basic dimensions of the H31 but with wooden sides and slope sheets, and much extra bracing to support them.
[PRR H31b Empty] [PRR H31b Full]
H31c # in service: 482 Postwar, the surviving H31b cars recieved steel sides to become H31c. The extra bracing to support the wooden sides remained, and extra steel sheets were added to the outside of them for lettering and numbering purposes.
[PRR H31c Empty] [PRR H31c Full]
Four Bay Hoppers
GP # in service 500 Built for coke service, these side-dump cars were extinct in revenue service by 1937, but many remained in non-revenue service. They were used as cinder cars and for MoW ballast service. For these uses, they were cut down from 12" high to 10". Since I have no pictures of these cars in non-revenue service, I've only drawn the original coke service version.
[PRR GP Empty] [PRR GP Full]
GPa # in service: 700 Like the GP, but instead of having high steel sides, the GPa had sides of a more regular height and then wooden coke racks to extend the sides upwards. Like the GP, these were extinct in revenue service by 1937 but remained in non-revenue service for a long while after that.
[PRR GPa Empty] [PRR GPa Full]
[PRR GPa MOW Empty] [PRR GPa MOW Full] A GPa in MoW ballast service. They lasted until at least the 1960s in this service.
H21a # in service: 39,123 The H21 was the largest class of hopper on the PRR, and the H21a was the most common version of that class. Of the total, 14,270 were built new as class H21a and the rest were converted from classes H21 (the original version, built for coke service; all were converted by 1925), H22 and H22a. The maximum number in service was reached in 1947.
[PRR H21a Empty] [PRR H21a Full]
H21e # in service: 8,546 Rebuilt from class H21a with added internal bracing and power handbrakes. The first H21e emerged in 1947 and by 1953 over eight thousand of them had been converted. The car is depicted in the 1950s 'Shadow Keystone' scheme.
[PRR H21e Empty] [PRR H21e Full]
H21f # in service: 81 These conversions received extended sides which are believed to have been for woodchip service. 56 H21f cars were converted with 4' higher sides, and 25 H21h cars with 3'10 1/4" higher sides - at this scale they'd be indistinguishable. The first H21f car appeared in 1959 and the first H21h appeared in 1960.
[PRR H21f Empty] [PRR H21f Full]
H21g # in service: 6,839 A rebuilding of the H21a in 1960 onwards. Many (but apparently not all) H21g cars received new, straight side stakes. It may have been on an 'as needed' basis. They also received power handbrakes if not already fitted. This was basically a life extension program. Rebuilds were turned out in the black that had become the PRR hopper color by that time.
[PRR H21g Empty] [PRR H21g Full]
H21l # in service: ? A version of the H21 built or converted for MoW ballast service, with unique side dump doors.
[PRR H21l Empty] [PRR H21l Full]
H22 # in service: 4,500 This was a variation on the H21 design, intended for coke service. They had three metal 'coke gates' along each side that could be opened to allow the car to be loaded at older coke loading ramps that were at gondola height.
[PRR H22 Empty] [PRR H22 Full]
H22a # in service: 2,994 By 1922 the number of small, old beehive coke plants still operating had dwindled, and thus the requirement for the H22's coke loading gates. It was decided to convert all but 1,500 of the remaining H22 cars to solid-sided coal cars. Plates were welded over the coke gate openings and a new, solid top chord was fitted. Later, some H22a cars received whole new sides to become H21a cars.
[PRR H22a Empty] [PRR H22a Full]
H25 # in service: 5,287 A somewhat improved H21 with only slight differences -- the only easily noticed one being the deep-bellied, very tapered on the ends side stakes.
[PRR H25 Empty] [PRR H25 Full]
Five and Six Bay Hoppers
H24 # in service: 1 This experimental extended car did not go into production, but its construction methods did - the H24 can be considered the prototype for the H25 car, which was a standard 4-bay 70-ton car but was built in exactly the same way as the H24. It was dropped from the PRR freight roster in 1946.
[PRR H24 Empty] [PRR H24 Full]
H26 # in service: 1 This 1919 experiment was an attempt to expand the hopper car to the maximum size and capacity possible under the axle load and bridge load restrictions that generally applied. It was a sister to the PRR's singleton G23 "battleship gondola"; both cars appeared at the same time and used the same six-wheel 3E-F1 trucks. Its stenciled capacity was 105 tons. Like the H24, it vanished from the roster in 1946.
[PRR H26 Empty] [PRR H26 Full]
H27 # in service: 1

A very unusual six-bay hopper built in 1930, this car featured 'offset' sides, where the side stakes are inside, instead of outside, the side panels for most of their height. At the top, the panels cant inwards to be inside the stakes at the very top. Offset sides found favor on other roads, but clearly not on the PRR.

Construction details of this car were used later on the covered hopper classes H30 and H32. This 90 ton capacity car was dropped from the roster in 1951.

[PRR H27 Empty] [PRR H27 Full]
Postwar Hoppers
All postwar hoppers were three bay designs.
H2a # in service: 2,000

These look rather different from the other hoppers, and with good reason -- they were N&W hoppers leased from that road between April 1957 (JUST squeaking in a possibility for steam haulage) and 1967. The PRR's old hoppers were falling apart, and they couldn't afford to build new ones fast enough, so this was the solution.

The PRR's financial situation deteriorated from WW2 onwards, and was made worse by the fact that almost everything on wheels they owned was not only pre-WW2, but generally pre-1930. Unlike most other roads, the PRR's steam locomotives were reaching the end of their lives at dieselization, and with the exception of the J-1's, all the recent steam were expensive failures. Much of the stock was also of similar vintage.

[PRR H2a Empty] [PRR H2a Full]
H35 # in service: 2000 These were built in 1956 and therefore just scrape in as being feasible for steam haulage. Very slightly larger than a H21 hopper, these were later reclassified as 77 ton instead of the original, H21 equivalent 70 ton rating.
[PRR H35 Empty] [PRR H35 Full]
H36 # in service: 700

The immediate successor to the H35, this car was similar but for being 2.5' shorter, making the H36 the same length as the H21. It's speculated that some shippers and customers had problems with accomodating the larger cars.

These were the first hoppers painted black as built.

[PRR H36 Empty] [PRR H36 Full]
H37 # in service: 1,700 Almost identical to a H36 but using recycled components from H21 hoppers - this was mainly the trucks. It's assumed this was to save money, although it was less of a saving than they thought since the old trucks wore out within a few years and needed replacement anyway. The drawings also cover classes H37c,d,e, which are the same cars but with replacement new trucks. Penn Central classes H37f,g were not related whatsoever.
[PRR H37 Empty] [PRR H37 Full]
H37b # in service: 890 Almost exactly identical to the H37 except for a narrower top chord - maybe the original was over-engineered.
[PRR H37b Empty] [PRR H37b Full]
H39 # in service: 16,159

A new design, distinguishable by its split-angle slope sheet; the upper portion is approx 40 degrees and the lower, 30.

Built starting in 1958, large numbers were constructed; this was clearly the winning design for a H21 replacement car.

[PRR H39 Empty] [PRR H39 Full]
H43 # in service: 7,500

The PRR's last hopper class, this was the first mass produced design to be rated at 100 tons capacity (several experimental cars also reached this size).

The cars were descended from N&W cars; similar hoppers also were owned by B&O, C&O, Reading, WM, P&S, Pennsylvania Power & Light, AT&SF, MKT, SLSF and UP.

The yellow circle indicated unit coal train service.

[PRR H43 Empty] [PRR H43 Full]

Matthew J Brown
Last modified: Mon Sep 24 18:07:50 PDT 2001