In its most recent issue, Railroad Model Craftsman published an article about Arrowhead Models' H39 hopper. Stephen Priest details the steps that he took to re-letter the 'As-Delivered' Pennsylvania Railroad paint scheme into the Penn Central and Conrail-era repaint schemes of the late 1970s. The article includes lettering diagrams and prototype photos, and it begins with this exchange between Priest and James Kinkaid, one of the most noted freight car historians in the industry:
"James casually mentioned that Arrowhead Models founder Blaine Hadfield had released this very car in HO scale, and that if I was a "real" modeler, I should probably pick up one."
How could we disagree? Thank you, RMC for the extraordinary compliment!
In the December 2018 issue of RMC, James Kinkaid wrote his own article on Pennsylvania H39 and H39A hoppers. In this article, he adds new details to the oeuvre of previously available material about the H39. It includes scale drawings, a host of prototype photos, and a production list of cars, series, and builders. If you are not familiar with this article, we invite you to check it out. It is a reference piece that one saves in 3-ring binders because it is so rich with content.
Also in this article, Kinkaid wrote:
"The H39 was probably the most successful postwar 70-ton design built by the PRR."
These cars went everywhere, as Kinkaid notes (citing as a specific example Rio Grande cars in Kansas City, MO). We have seen Rio Grande cars in Pennsylvania (see our RGHS Prospector article), and we have seen Pennsylvania cars in California. The prolific service assignments of these cars is broad, to say the least. And, this is probably why Kinkaid suggests that Priest add them to his own layout, a 1978 depiction of the Santa Fe on the St. Louis Division.
Growing up along the Illinois Central in Marissa, IL, I would occasionally see a few of these in manifests and was intrigued by the size of the car, lettering and herald. Since I now model the Illinois Terminal and model the interchange called PAIT between the Pennsylvania and IT just south of Troy I will (and do) have a few of these to be interchanged.