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During the 1980s, Norfolk Southern began a massive rebuild program on older hopper cars built by the Norfolk and Western in the 1960s. In the process, the cars were stripped to their frames and new carbodies were attached. The hopper doors were also replaced with a pair of rectangular bays. The cars, dubbed "Top Gons" can only be emptied by rotary dumpers.
Now after decades on the rails, the Top Gons too are reaching the end of their useful lives. Because of the old frames, the cars had to be given an exception to the normal 40 year manditory limit for operation in interchange service. This means the cars can continue to roam between lines for a few more years. A few of the cars, like No. 21315 seen here, have also migrated into captive company service. This one is stenciled for used tie loading - its coal hauling days are done.
HO and N scalers can use the BLMA models to get a good start on this car - or the rest of the enormous NS fleet.