Classic Seley Hoppers


Harold Oakhill has been busy with a fascinating project. He shares the following update.

I recently finished assembling the first two Delaware & Hudson Seley Hopper “kits” that have been produced with the help of Dave Campbell, Ray Breyer, and Aaron Gjermundson. These were displayed at the recent RPM Chicagoland meet in Lisle, Illinois.

Back in 2013, Dave, Ray, and I began discussing the possibility of producing a 3-D print of a D&H Seley hopper that could be used as a master to produce resin castings. When I chose to model the Ulster & Delaware RR as it appeared in 1924 I knew I would need a sizable fleet of D&H Seley hoppers. Half of the U&D’s tonnage at that time was anthracite from the D&H, and most of it was carried in these hoppers. The D&H had 6,000 of them at the time, built in 1906-1907. I figure I will need about 50. Funaro & Camerlengo made a kit for this car 25 years ago, but it does not reflect the D&H prototypes well.

On the left is an early 3-D print. An uncleaned casting is in the center while a finished car is on the right.

On the left is an early 3-D print. An uncleaned casting is in the center while a finished car is on the right.

Ray shared prototype data to supplement my own research efforts and offered a lot of useful advice on the production process. After no small amount of effort by Dave to design the car using SketchUp and shepherding it through the 3D printing process at Shapeways, we sent a print to Aaron who made a mold from which he was able to produce 27 good castings.

I am enormously grateful to Dave and Ray for the time and effort they have put into this project, and for their advice and constant encouragement. Dave also designed and cast the ladders and created the decal art work.


These two cars display the two different lettering schemes that would have been seen in 1924. The original 1906-1920 scheme is on the left and the 1920-1928 version is on the right. Car 25748 is right out of the paint shop, while car 27487 is clearly ready for the paint shop. Both cars were painted with a 50/50 mix of Polly Scale Pacemaker Red and Oxide Red. Car 27487 was oversprayed several times with thinned Polly Scale E-L grey and Grimy Black to reflect years of sunlight, rain, soot, and coal dust.


Aaron offered feedback on the process and the original design has been modified to ease casting. The newer versions will have four main pieces; the underframe, a pair of end sill and end supports, and the main car body.

The models have interior detail and a 1 x 1 inch square piece of lead sheet fits under each slope sheet to add an ounce of weight.


It has been a thrill to witness the evolution of this project. It has been a most enjoyable collaboration with Dave Campbell, Ray Breyer, and Aaron Gjermundson.

Wow! What an update! I think I need a couple of those cars, too. These models caught the attention of several modelers at RPM Chicagoland. With luck, these models may come available sometime in the future. Please post a comment if you have an interest.

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12 Responses to “Classic Seley Hoppers”

  1. Craig says:

    Well I could use a few doing the O&W circa 1949…I have some of the brass O&WCS models but they get pricey in a hurry.

  2. Don Valentine says:

    I have one question. Having three of these cars or the similar early D&H wood sheathed hopper cars in brass, I looked for some time before painting them and everything found indicated they were painted black. The effort here makes me wonder if I’m going to have to repaint them or was there a change in the basic body color at some point. If the latter is the case can someone tell me when the change occured? If these cars are offered as
    resin kits I’d be interested is some myself. Nice work!

    Thank you, Don Valentine

    • Eric Hansmann says:

      Don, Thanks for the info. What years have you been researching for the D&H Seley car color? Harold has been digging around for a decade to find proper details for his 1924 focus. He has seen black D&H Seley cars but they are in color image taken after WW2. All the earlier detail he has found points to the red Seley hoppers for the early 1920s and before. – Eric

    • Harold Oakhill says:

      The best authority on modeling the D&H I know of is John Nehrich. He shared with me that D&H open top cars were freight car red until the 1940s. John is also the coordinator behind the NEB&W Heritage Railroad Website. There is a timeline on D&H paint schemes that includes this line:
      “1941 – About this time, the circular “Anthracite” herald was added. Probably at this time open top cars switched from freight car red to black. (Hoppers purchased in ’39 were still red. So were gons bought in ’42. But by ‘50, they were black.)”

      Here is a link to the NEB&W site. There is a paywall, but you will find a wealth of information there.

      Harold Oakhill

  3. Gregory Wiggins says:

    I would definitely be interested in a bunch of these if they became available for purchase. Great job on creating them.


  4. Joe R says:

    Any idea how long these cars lasted? The Funaro listing for gondolas says they lasted into the 50s as rebuilds. Is that true for the hoppers as well?

    • Eric Hansmann says:

      Joe, the NEB&W Railroad Heritage Website notes 2,380 of the D&H Seley twin hoppers in 1949 service. These were in the 6851-11600 number series. I do not have any ORERs to consult for fleet details through the 1950s. I suspect the ban on interchanging K brake equipped freight cars starting January 1, 1954 may have reduced the numbers, but the D&H always seems to surprise me. – Eric

      • Ray Breyer says:

        Hi Joe,
        These original-style D&H Seleys were on their roster through 1935, when the railroad rebuilt them in an assortment of ways, usually by modifying the sides to eliminate wood past the slope sheets, and by modifying many with new discharge hoppers. An unknown number of cars survived into the early 1950s retaining their original look (I have photos of two, which means there were more).

        The rebuilt cars, still retaining their wood sides, stayed on the D&H’s roster through 1955. Starting in 1952-1953 the D&H began replacing the wood sides with steel. In 1959 there were 1,238 of these cars still on the roster; I’d assume that these all-steel cars survived through most of the 1960s.

        There is some interest in creating a ‘modernized’, post-1935 version of this model, which would be good for anyone modeling through 1956. If that model ever gets past the idea stage we’ll let you know!

  5. Joe R says:

    Thanks Eric. Interesting cars and thanks for posting.

  6. Jerry Dziedzic says:

    Harold showed me this project several months ago and I begged him to offer resin kits. Saw the “pre-production” models at Chicagoland, and hoped we’d see some such news. Thanks, Eric, for reminding me.

    Didn’t L&HR have some Seley’s in cinder/MOW service? Have you considered other road names as L&HR and O&W? Even though they may not be spot-on replicas, they would be great stand-ins.

    Jerry Dziedzic

    • Ray Breyer says:

      Hi Jerry,
      The L&HR bought 250 Seley hoppers in 1908 that were basically N&W HJ-class copies, so they’re a bit larger than these cars. The ‘best’ model on the market to represent those cars would be the F&C Southern Seley, which is a modernized version of the HJs. Those cars dropped off the L&HR revenue roster before WWII.

      The NYO&W did have copies of the D&H’s early Seleys: 1,350 cars built in 1911-1912. As far as I’ve been able to determine these are the only other D&H-like Seleys that were made. They were on the O&W’s roster through WWII, but disappear between 1945 and 1950.

      If Harold can get a manufacturer interested in these cars I’ll be sure to help out by letting them know about any alternative lettering opportunities!

      • Earl Tuson says:


        The B&M received 100 Seley twins in 1905 from SSC, numbered 5900-5999. There is a builder’s photo of one of the cars in D&H paint, but the corresponding number series never showed up on the D&H roster, the cars having been inexplicably diverted to the B&M. The B&M class card goes so far as to call them “D&H hopper gondola cars.”

        Might there be a chance that Dave would be willing to upscale his CAD file to S scale to allow the model to be offered in that scale?

        FWIW, Willy Monaghan offers D&H 4- and 5-board hopper bottom gondolas in S scale on Shapeways.

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