FEBT Restoration – Hopper 802
Hopper 802 was among ten steel hopper cars the EBT purchased in 1913 from Pressed Steel Car Company. These were the first all steel cars manufactured for any US narrow gauge, and they prompted the EBT to modify the design and build about 250 additional steel cars in the Rockhill shops. Originally delivered as a two-bay center flow hopper, 802 and the other nine cars from the initial order were converted for other uses to correct a rocking problem in that batch of cars. No. 802 became a side-discharge hopper for maintaining fills. The car is believed to have been in service up to the end of common carrier operation on the EBT.
No. 802 was also used for a number of years after the reopening of the railroad as a tourist hauler in 1960. By the 1980’s the car had become too deteriorated to be used and was set aside. In 1986, when a trio of amusement park passenger cars were brought to the line, the 802’s shorter arch bar trucks were taken to put under one. No. 802 then was stored on a pair of cast Vulcan trucks which did not fit it properly. In 2004 Hurricane Ivan caused the Aughwick Creek, which the tourist line parallels for much of its course, to burst it banks in enormous fashion. In places the creek was over a mile wide. Where the line was close to the Aughwick or a culvert was overwhelmed, the grade of the railroad was damaged. As a result the railroad was closed for almost two weeks. Similar damage also occurred with Hurricane Fran in 1996. To repair the damaged areas, regular hoppers had to be used to drop fill on the track, and the material shoveled by hand to the sides. This was time consuming and back breaking, and it motivated the EBT to ask that the FEBT rehabilitate the side dump hopper.
Work on the car started in 2005 with grinding off the rivets holding the deteriorated sheets in. The heads of literally hundreds of rivets had to be ground off and the rivets punched out. Once the rivets were removed the six slope sheets, eight bay sheets and a divider sheet had to be removed, along with many fixtures, brackets and smaller plates. New plates were contracted and installed, requiring many holes to be reamed out. Welding repairs were made at the corners of the car sills and corners of the hopper. The plates around the couplers were replaced and the air brake equipment rebuilt. New air lines were run throughout. With work on the car body nearing completion, it was found that the correct trucks for the car (stored under another car) were seriously deteriorated as well. Most of 2006 and 2007 was spent rebuilding the two trucks and repairing the truck and car bolsters.
In the spring of 2008 the car was release back to the railroad, ready for service. This rebuild should keep the car running well into its second century of service.