The Coalporter is one of the latest evolutions in the more-than-150-year history of the American coal hopper. But technically speaking, it's not a hopper. It's a high-sided gondola, because it lacks the bottom-opening doors that characterize a true hopper. The only way to unload a Coalporter is to turn it upside down, which is exactly what happens at the rotary unloading facilities at factories and power plants served by Coalporter trains.
The Coalporter was developed by Bethlehem Steel Car in 1978, in an effort to create a higher-capacity, more efficient coal car. The traditional bottom hoppers were replaced by twin tubs, or troughs, that filled the space between the trucks. These increased the cubic capacity of the car and gave the added advantage of a lower center of gravity for better tracking. These original Coalporters were steel-bodied, but a drop in aluminum prices in the mid-1980s opened the door to the introduction of the aluminum-bodied BethGon Coalporter in 1985.
The switch to aluminum shaved five tons off the car's weight - meaning that each car could carry five tons of additional payload, or an additional 575 tons of coal in a typical Coalporter unit train. It took awhile to convince railroads of the durability of aluminum in heavy coal service, but the BethGon Coalporter - the prototype for our model - eventually sold well, with the 50,000th car being delivered in 1998. Over the years, Bethlehem Steel Car became Johnstown-America Corp. and then FreightCar America. But a slightly updated version of the original Coalporter, now called the aluminum BethGon II, is still in production.
Coalporters generally operate in solid unit trains. One end of each car is equipped with a rotary coupler, to allow a train to be fed through a rotary unloader without uncoupling the cars. Our highly detailed Premier model duplicates this prototype feature and also offers separately added metal grab irons and a removable coal load. Including the two available six-car sets, each paint scheme is available in 14 road numbers, allowing you to create a prototypical unit train of your own.
MTH Premier O Scale freight car sets are the perfect complement to many of the locomotives featured earlier in this catalog. They also go great with any manufacturer's scale proportioned O Gauge locomotives.
Each car in these sets is individually numbered for authentic realism. And, each set is available in two item numbers. The second item number features an entirely different set of 6 cars, each also individually numbered, allowing you to obtain a total of 12 different numbered cars if desired. When you prefer the convenience of a ready-to-run unit train, M.T.H. Premier Line 6-car sets are a great choice.