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First Look Review
HO scale
HOn3 3-Bay Hopper
EBT 3-Bay Hopper No. 951
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by: Frederick Boucher [ JPTRR ]

Originally published on:
RailRoad Modeling

HOn3 3-Bay Hopper No.951, 40s Era Herald
Roadname: East Broad Top Railroad (EBT)
Item: B340703
Gauge: 36" Narrow Gauge
: Ready-to-run

Blackstone Models offers this 1:87.1 36" narrow gauge (HOn3) die cast and injection molded ready-to-run 3-bay hopper of the East Broad Top Railroad. It includes trucks and Kadee® 714 couplers.

Blackstone Models
Blackstone Models focus on narrow gauge railroads of the East Broad Top, Denver & Rio Grande, Denver & Rio Grande Western and Rio Grande Southern. Models offered are the C-19,K-27, and Class 70 steam locomotives; box cars; gondolas; stock cars; coaches; 3-bay hoppers; tank cars (frameless, narrow and narrow-frame); and cabooses in eras spanning the 1920's through the post 1940's Flying Grande period. They also offer their own models of trucks and components for their locomotives.

Located in Durango, Colorado, Blackstone Models has immediate access to the world famous Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad, allowing great access to source material. Blackstone Models attention to detail includes specific locomotives during specific eras, i.e., RGS No. 455, “Post-Wreck”.

Authenticity includes freight car livery painted as newly shopped or with three ages of sun fade.

EBT HOn3 3-Bay Hopper No.951, 40s Era Herald
The model arrives ready-to-run packed in a blue end-opening carton with a cellophane window. The visible model is the 'box art.' On the back are images of other Blackstone Models products. The hopper itself is securely protected by a form-fitted plastic self-locking cradle which encompasses the model's top, bottom, and both ends. Soft plastic sheet protects the model from scuffing. An insert presents the history of the prototype.

The model body is injection molded styrene except for the die-cast centerbeam and chassis. Machined blackened metal wheels are held in truck sideframes that seem to be Derlin. Molding is of very high quality with sharply defined raised and recessed surface detail, as appropriate. Overlapping sheets are suitably thin and rivet detail is to scale. The model is free from mold marks, ejector marks, flash, seam lines, and glue stains from assembly.

Blackstone equips the model with Kadee® 714 couplers. It rides upon 4'8" EBT Vulcan trucks. The car rolled well through two turnouts on a club layout, with only a hint of wobble.

Blackstone uses both molded and separately applied detail. The locks for the hopper dump doors are molded on although with clear detail, including chain detail. Hinge detail is included even on the seldom seen underside, where you can also find brake rigging and underbody detail.

The superstructure has nine external posts and a top chord (or side plate) that gives this HO model a look of heft. Each chord corner sports slightly raised corner stiffener brackets with rivet detail. A couple of these have gaps between them and the longitudinal top chord.

Underneath the slope sheets out of casual view are transverse and oblique members and even these have rivet detail! Diagonal bracing is included between the slope sheets and the end sills.

Inside the car body, end slope sheets and rivet surface detail continues on the slope sheets and where the sill passes through the hoppers; however no rivet detail was tooled for the side stiffeners, laterally extending members, door hinge housings, bulkhead partition sheets nor opposite where the external posts are riveted.

Additionally, two separately applied braces span from side to side just below the top. These fit into shallow slots molded into the interior sides. On my sample the ends of the braces seem to fit too low into the slots, leaving the slots exposed.

Overall, impressive molding. To show this model to its potential I include multiple photographs of the same view, with different focal points and lighting, in sunlight and shade, with and without flash. I measured the model at 28 feet from end sill to sill, 32 feet from coupler knuckle to knuckle. I haven't found definitive dimensional data for the prototype although the prototype is 28 feet long, give or take a couple of inches. This model weighs one ounce which is light according to NMRA RP-20.1 Car Weight. Perhaps this is to account for modelers adding a load?

Detail is equally impressive with many separately applied pieces:
    • Kadee® 714 Couplers
    • Individual wire detailing
    • Stirrups
    • Train line
    • Air brake components - basic piping, retaining valve, triple valve
    • Air hose, angle cocks and uncoupling levers (cutbars)
    • Brake hanger gear
    • Brake wheel
    • Individual wire grab irons
    • 4'8" EBT Vulcan trucks

Underneath the car you can see the wire train line mounted beneath the sill. Detail on the sides of the hopper outlets include molded door operating gear: shaft end; chain; ratchet gear; paw.

Paint & livery
This model is smoothly finished with black paint that is opaque yet does not obscure detail. Blackstone painted the hopper interior a gray. I don't know if that is prototypical or meant to simulate wear. Blackstone also offers this hopper painted with a faded 'weathered' color for all three road numbers: 906, 915 and 977. A rock car is also available. Blackstone also offers this model undecorated; additionally, they are preparing a "how-to" for removing factory printing for modelers who wish to add more road numbers or to freelance this model.

This car is lettered with the 1940s "Acorn" herald and basic capacity data. Quite impressive is the service date stenciled on and near the air brake cylinder!

While outside of the the scope of this review, Blackstone offers several different railroads and eras. Please see Different railroads and eras below.

To sum this model up, I am very impressed with it. The degree of detail is most impressive with crisp molding and quality workmanship, plus separately applied parts. Even the molded latch detail on the hopper doors is impressive. The hopper scales out accurately. The machined blackened wheel sets are impressive although not unique features of rolling stock today. However, the mounted Kadee® 714 couplers and trucks are a nice touch as some manufacturers expect the modeler to acquire these separately.

What little stenciling EBT decorated their hopper with is sharply reproduced on this sample. Especially impressive it the service date painted on the bottom of the slope sheet.

There only real detractor is the gap between the top chord corner gusset and the chord. That the lateral supports not seat inside the molded slots in the hopper interior are not of concern.

Blackstone Models has released a gem of an HOn3 coal hauler with this hopper. That they offer for two eras, weathered and in multiple road numbers is a big plus.

I heartily recommend this HOn3 3-bay hopper.

Different railroads and eras
    A variety of road numbers are available with either 30s-era lettering or the 40s-era herald in weathered or non-weathered paint. This release also includes a version with “Rock Car” printed on it, which is available with optional weathering. Additional versions include a painted, unlettered black car and a car with only reporting data.

    We also are offering a limited edition release of 3-bay hoppers with a D&RGW livery. Available in two road numbers, 950 and 955, these cars feature the famous Flying Grande herald in weathered or non-weathered paint schemes. Although historically this car didn’t run on the Rio Grande, many of our customers have requested hopper cars in this style to run with the rest of their consists.
    - Blackstone Models

RRM thanks Mountain Empire Model Railroaders for use of their HOn3 ET&WNC layout for layout shots for this review!

Our Thanks to Blackstone Models!
This item was provided by them for the purpose of having it reviewed on this KitMaker Network site. Please tell vendors and retailers that you saw these products here - on
RailRoad Modeling.
Highs: Sharp molding and printing. Highly detailed with many separately applied parts, wire detailing, Kadee® 714 couplers.
Lows: A gap between the top chord corner gusset and the chord. It's .45 ounces light per NMRA RP-20.1 (If that matters to you.)
Verdict: This is an excellent hopper for HOn3 modelers.
Percentage Rating
  Scale: HO Scale
  Mfg. ID: B340703
  Suggested Retail: $54.95
  Related Link: East Broad Top 3-Bay Hoppers History
  PUBLISHED: May 26, 2013
  NATIONALITY: United States

Our Thanks to Blackstone Models!
This item was provided by them for the purpose of having it reviewed on this KitMaker Network site. If you would like your kit, book, or product reviewed, please contact us.

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About Frederick Boucher (JPTRR)

I'm a professional pilot with a degree in art. My first model was an AMT semi dump truck. Then Monogram's Lunar Lander right after the lunar landing. Next, Revell's 1/32 Bf-109G...cried havoc and released the dogs of modeling! My interests--if built before 1900, or after 1955, then I proba...

Copyright ©2021 text by Frederick Boucher [ JPTRR ]. Images also by copyright holder unless otherwise noted. Opinions expressed are those of the author(s) and not necessarily those of ModelGeek. All rights reserved.


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