Stunning! Arrowhead Models' Conrail H39 Hopper!

Neil Schofield has custom painted a few of Arrowhead Models' committee design hoppers into Conrail repaint schemes, and we love the result!

Of Arrowhead's model, Neil says "The Arrowhead 'Committee Design' hopper is a great addition to the 1970's and 1980's freight car fleet. It fills a big void in northeastern style hoppers. The cool part is that I've seen photos of these cars in Conrail paint schemes on both the Newport and Lyndonville Subdivisions that I model. I couldn't wait to get a couple repainted into Conrail colors."

Neil models CP Rail's Vermont operations in 1980. The Newport Subdivision extends north towards Farnham, QC and the Lyndonville Subdivision extends to a connection with the Boston & Maine's Connecticut River Line at Wells River, VT . Neil's layout has been featured in the 2018 Model Railroad Planning and in Model Railroad Hobbyist articles. And, as you can tell by the Don Janes' images below, Neil's layout is a true masterwork. We find the Ethan Allen Orleans, VT furniture factory and the Barton River crossing scenes to be truly inspiring!



Among the PRR/PC/CR fellowship, the committee design car is known by its PRR car class, the H39. With the emergence of Conrail in 1976, the H39 fleet numbered 15,087 cars. According to Jim Kinkaid, "The H39 was probably the most successful post-war 70-ton design built by the PRR", and its massive presence on Conrail's roster was such that, according to Morning Sun's Conrail Color Guide, the H39 cars prohibited Conrail's efforts to standardize with larger 100-ton cars.

By 1980, approximately 4000 H39s were still in Pennsylvania paint schemes, nearly all of which were likely original. Well into the Conrail era, there were more cars in original Pennsylvania paint than all of the H39s repainted during the Penn Central era--but this probably shouldn't be a surprise given the relative age of the car and the economic conditions of the day. Conrail, on the other hand, was more aggressive about repainting the H39, and in time, its efforts resulted in a wonderfully eclectic mix of repaint schemes--including schemes that match Neil's models. This has us thinking about the best strategies for offering repainted versions going forward.

To say that the H39 class had a long service life understates the facts. By 1990, Conrail rostered just under 5000 H39s. To put the magnitude of this number into context, it deserves mention that there are not many car classes of any type that can be counted in multiple thousands, let alone when crowding 30 years old. And, you may find it interesting that of these cars, 32 bore Pennsy marks--exactly 32 years after the prototype went into service. The H39 really does stand alone in terms of its relevance in the postwar landscape.

It is rewarding for us to see our replica on such a well modeled layout. Thank you, Neil, for sharing with us! 

If you would like to see more of the H39s in action, we invite you to watch Neil's Youtube video by clicking here.


 Blaine Hadfield


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  • I’d have to check pictures to be sure, but I’m fairly confident that by 1990, a large number of these 70-ton cars — along with similar-size cars still wearing Erie-Lackawanna paint, as E-L never rostered 100-tonners — were in stone service out of quarries in southern New England (West Springfield, North Branford, Reed’s Gap) and eastern New York.

    David Patch
  • This is just amazing! Growing up in (and modeling) the 80s and early 90s this Conrail car is iconic. These are such good models! It is just so good. I hope ArrowHead can produce these in CR and other mid-west roads!

    Martin Burk
  • Beautifully done car, Blaine… the layout does it even more justice!
    Look forward to more product in future announcements.

    Rick Simpson

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