Davis-Murdoch Stone Company

Rolling Stock

Railroad Display Covered Hopper

The Quarry Gardens at Schuyler have an O scale 2 rail Railroad Display in the Visitor Center.

I worked on the Railroad Display in its initial development until
Rail Tales of Charlottesville could take over production. One of my early responsibilities was to find rolling stock for the Display. Bob Leverknight was very accommodating and offered a large assortment of second and third hand freight cars at a very reasonable price. Some of the cars were more appropriate for representing the Nelson & Albemarle Railroad than others, but I was happy to take anything Bob wanted to sell.

One car in particular that Bob was willing to part with was a distinctive red and white checked Ralston Purina covered hopper. It was eye catching but not particularly well suited for the setting and theme of the Railroad Display.

QGS website, June 17, 2020

It was quite a photo bomber, even showing up on the Quarry Gardens website. In all the time I was working on the Railroad Display, I never took a good photo of the Ralston Purina covered hopper.

Purina covered hopper participating in track test

It looked very much like this 3 rail version.


Visiting the Quarry Gardens after the Railroad Display was completed, I was at the Visitor Center waiting for my tour to begin when I saw the red and white checked Purina covered hopper sitting on a siding at the soapstone mill. I requested permission to bring the car home with me for the purpose of giving it a makeover. Permission was granted. I found a photo of an early Chesapeake & Ohio covered hopper for reference, ordered two sets of ProtoCraft decals, and picked up some Tamiya black and clear flat spray paint.

I disassembled the car and washed the parts with soap and water. Once dry I applied many thin coats of gloss black. The paint laid down well but not perfectly with the surface developing a coarse texture, but it did not interfere with applying decals.

The pebbly surface of the paint was bad news

However, when I had finished decalling the car and oversprayed it with clear flat, the black paint immediately blistered and came loose.

Stripped and ready for primer

So I went back and did what I apparently should have done in the first place, using
Scalecoat paint remover to strip the covered hopper down to bare plastic, then primed it and painted it black again.

Much better the second time

This time the paint laid down smooth with a mirror finish, making for easy decal application. No disasters were encountered with the clear flat this time.

A dusting with actual Alberene Stone dust

I thought the most appropriate way to weather the car was to dust it with talc collected from the floor of the dust mill in Schuyler.

This car's photo bombing days are over

Upon the covered hopper’s return to the Railroad Display at The Quarry Gardens, it was immediately consigned to talc service between the soapstone mill in Schuyler and the B. F. Goodrich plant in Akron, Ohio.


Purchased from New Castle

Piedmont-Standard recently purchased a few locomotives and some rolling stock.


The recent additions came from a small coal mining operation in Alabama.

I met Ted McCormack when we were both in the James River Division On30 module group. We have kept in touch over the years since that group disbanded.

Ted had been in N scale before joining the module group. The theme for his On30 modules and new home layout was the New Castle Coal Company, which had been a family operation. Ted had some really awesome old photos of the mining and rail operations that provided reference and inspiration for his excellent modeling.


After a while Ted decided to get back into N scale, and called me to let me know that his On30 inventory was up for sale if I was interested. I was very interested, as Ted has impeccable taste when it comes to such things. He had outfitted the New Castle Coal Company with smaller industrial style equipment which is precisely my intent for the Piedmont-Standard.


I posed some of what I bought from Ted on one of the longest sections of mainline remaining on my layout.


I had the intention of possibly working up a new photo for the website's homepage.


That may be a while in coming, as my wife is working from home nowadays so my computer time is restricted. At least that is my excuse.