by Jeff Eggert
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Weighting Covered Hoppers
This How-To shows how to weight a covered hopper using lead shot. Adhesive silicone is used as the bonding agent. The "trick" is adding tabs to mechanically keep the weight in the bays vs. just letting the adhesive friction do the job. This way, weeks or years later, there isn't a little rattling inside the car of weights clinking around. Another goal is to keep the weight as low as possible to keep the center of gravity low, ultimately giving the car the best chance to stay on the track when the center of gravity matters.

Years ago a tank car filled with lead shot and wood glue hit the floor. Lots of parts flew off, but the tank stayed intact as one piece. With the parts missing the tank was worth more as a musical instrument than a tank car model. The glue had nothing to hang onto inside the car and the all the weights came loose.

Small lead shot is used for the weight. I use the smallest locally available. A postal scale works good for mearsureing how much weight to add.
Short 1/4" long (1:1 scale) pieces of square styrene are used for the tabs for glueing in the bays. This set happens to be .125" square. Anything a little bigger or a little smaller would work well too. I use what is handy and available.
Covered hopper before weighting. Notice there is nothing in the bays to for the weight grab onto. It is easiest to weight the car before any building takes place.
The tabs have been glued to the bays sides. Plastic cement was used to "weld" the plastic pieces to each other, making a mechanical joint. This in comparison to something like super glue which is still a friction, or non mechanical connection.
The lead shot is fairly evenly distributed within the bays.
A glob of silicone adhesive is placed on top of the lead shot.
Using a flat head screwdriver the silicone and lead shot are stirred into a homogenous mix. Be sure to coat all the pieces of shot so no loose ones rattle below the visible glue on top. I found mixing in the car to much easier than mixing outside the car and trying to place it in as a mix. Now if I could put the mix in a gun like the silicone tube, then I would mix outside the car.