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ExactRail Model Railroad Blog

January 29, 2014 9:32:09 PM MST

With the third release of the Evans 4780 Covered Hopper, ExactRail is proud to offer three of the most popular paint schemes from previous releases: Erie Western, ADM '1979 As Delivered' and Missouri Kansas Texas.  That said, these models aren't re-releases in the traditional sense.  They feature all new artwork that meets our standards for accuracy--all the way down to meticulously agonizing over the lettering fonts of the smallest characters. 

Just how far did we go?

Take a look at the graphic we've created comparing the old vs. the new.  Our benchmarks for accuracy are the highest in the industry.

Evans 4780 New Artwork Comparison

Blaine Hadfield Vice President, Product ExactRail

Posted in ExactRail Blog

January 14, 2014 8:02:13 PM MST

In October 2013, ExactRail traveled to Seattle, WA for the Pacific Northwest Railroad Prototype Modelers meet! The event organizers produced a video from segments of the Question and Answer discussion. In this video, ExactRail's Blaine Hadfield discusses topics related to product development, state of the industry, and promoting the hobby.

Thank you to the PNW RPM organizers for hosting one of the Northwest’s premier events!

Blaine Hadfield Vice President, Product ExactRail

Posted in ExactRail Blog

January 4, 2014 12:54:24 PM MST


In October of 2013, ExactRail attended the Pacific Northwest Railroad Prototype Modelers Meet in Monroe, WA.  Blaine Hadfield, Vice President, spoke on the development of ExactRail’s Bethlehem hopper project.  The Pacific Northwest Railroad Prototype crew produced a 16-minute excerpt from Blaine’s presentation, which was hour and a half in duration.

In this video, Blaine discusses the unique, structural features of the Bethlehem prototypes and compares the nuanced lettering types of some of the Missouri Pacific paint schemes. 

ExactRail’s Bethlehem 3483 Hopper was released in November and is available at  The Bethlehem 3737 Hopper will be released in March.

Thank you to the Pacific Northwest Railroad Prototype organization this year’s prototype meet!  We look forward to next year’s event!

Blaine Hadfield Vice President, Product ExactRail

Posted in ExactRail Blog

October 10, 2013 12:31:00 PM MDT

ExactRail will present at the Missouri Pacific Historical Society (MPHS) annual convention in Pueblo, CO on October 12, 2013. Blaine Hadfield will speak on Missouri Pacific’s Bethlehem 3737 Hoppers. He will give an overview of the prototype, detail the differences between the Bethlehem 3737 and its sister, the Bethlehem 3483, and compare in nuanced detail the paint schemes of the various lots of MP 3737 hoppers. Finally, Blaine will speak about the development of the Bethlehem 3737 hopper project for ExactRail.

We hope that you can attend with us!

We are proud to be invited guests of the MPHS convention; thank you to the MPHS for preserving and promoting one of America’s great railroads!

Blaine Hadfield Vice President, Product ExactRail

Posted in ExactRail Blog

October 9, 2013 9:51:59 PM MDT

Heap Load

Heap Load

Creating realistic loads for ExactRail’s Bethlehem’s hoppers reflects our passion for superb execution. We did not feel as though it was enough to design loads in a computer-generated environment. The curves and proportions of a heap load are nuanced; and we know what it should look like when correctly rendered. Unless we could hold it in our hand, look at in the car, and see it from all angles, we felt that we would be at risk of missing the mark in some subtle way. So, we struck a different path.

For the loads of the Bethlehem hoppers, ExactRail created resin masters. Over the course of days, these loads were carefully filed to shape by hand. When we felt like we had the perfect shape, we evaluated. Then, we refined. The next day, we would look at the project with fresh eyes, and we would refine again. After well over a week of revisions, we arrived at a place where amendments were the subtlest changes of curve and form. Not until then were we were absolutely confidant that the look and feel of heap load had been accurately captured.

Have we gone too far?

Yes, we have--absolutely. We have completely lost our minds—but the new heap-style loads from ExactRail are spectacular, and along with similarly accurate flood style loads, they will be available with the upcoming release of Bethlehem hoppers.

Blaine Hadfield Vice President, Product ExactRail

Posted in ExactRail Blog

August 20, 2013 7:34:50 PM MDT

APA Composite 800 Vista A and Office Herald

When one thinks of Arizona railroads, one generally does not think of the forest industry.  One thinks of expansive desert vistas—the kind which inspired the venerable Chief campaigns of the Santa Fe art departments.  However, Arizona is a beautiful state with great diversity, and this diversity includes vast pine covered plateaus—like this picture we took while in Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest on our way to photograph the Apache Railway.

Apache-Sitegreaves National Forest, near Snowflake, Arizona

The Apache Railway serves forest industry by connecting the Hackman-owned paper mill in Snowflake, AZ to the BNSF at Holbrook, AZ.  To the railroad community, the Apache Railway is recognized as a last stronghold for Alco power.  The railroad operates Alco C420s and C424s, and it stores RS-36s in a deadline for parts.  In more ways than one, the Apache Railway is true anomaly.  And, it continues operations in relative obscurity of the great Arizona expanse.

Apache 820

Blaine Hadfield Vice President, Product ExactRail

Posted in ExactRail Blog

August 8, 2013 10:16:11 PM MDT

Pelle Soeeborg's Trenton Work 67’-11 Bulkhead Flat in HO Scale

Pelle Soeeborg photographed the all-new ExactRail Trenton Works 67’-11 Bulkhead Flatcar on his Union Pacific Danville Subdivision HO scale layout.  Thank you Pelle for sharing the photo with us!  We think that the model could not look more at home.

If you would like to see more of Soeeborg’s layout, please click here or look to the pages of Model Railroader magazine where Pelle is an active contributor. Of course, you are welcome you to browse our lineup of Trenton Works 67’-11 Bulkhead Flatcars.

There are some truly talented individuals in this hobby.  Thank you to everyone who shares your photos and videos with us!

Blaine Hadfield Vice President, Product ExactRail

Posted in ExactRail Blog

August 2, 2013 2:15:00 PM MDT

New From ExactRail!

While attending the St. Louis Prototype Modelers meet, ExactRail unveiled the all-new HO Scale Bethlehem 3737 Hopper!  Purchased in quantity by the Missouri Pacific and Chicago and North Western railroads, the Bethlehem 3737 Hopper is a major constituent of the family of western coal hoppers from the1970 and forward.  In short, this car is everywhere west!  

This all-new model is the sister to the Bethlehem 3483 Hopper—which ExactRail previewed at the National Train Show in Atlanta, Georgia!

Details matter.  There are no shortcuts.

Other than the wheels and couplers, there is no shared tooling or components between ExactRail’s 3737 and 3483 models whatsoever!  We have spared no expense to ensure the details of these prototypes are accurately rendered.  For the first time ever, you can purchase highly authentic models of the major fleets of modern steel coal cars for the Rio Grande, Great Northern, Burlington, Burlington Northern, Chicago and North Western and Missouri Pacific and subsidiary roads.

The Bethlehem 3737 Hopper will feature accurate details from top to bottom; these include: Wine single door locks, slack adjuster and guard between the hopper bays, vertically mounted brake-cylinder lever, floor mounted air reservoir, accurate top and corner gusset details—which differ between the Bethlehem 3737 and 3483, and much more.

Production line art

Please watch for a future blog where we give details on the nuanced differences of the paint schemes between Missouri Pacific’s subsidiary road and detail what we have done to accurately capture these differences!

Please watch the Announcement’s Tab on ExactRail’s homepage for more details on the Bethlehem 3737 Hopper. They will be made available as we get closer to a release!

Blaine Hadfield Vice President, Product ExactRail

Posted in ExactRail Blog

July 12, 2013 7:25:00 AM MDT


Thrall 54’ “Coil Shield” Coil Car

ExactRail will preview the all-new HO Scale Thrall 54’ “Coil Shield” Coil Car at the National Train Show in Atlanta Georgia!

The Thrall 54' "Coil Shield" Coil Car is a signature prototype like few others.  In 1992, Conrail purchased a unique “well” style coil gondola, and they assigned it the equipment class G52S.   Through 1995, Conrail sought additional orders, and in that time, these cars were ascribed G52T, G52U and G52V classes.  In total, Conrail purchased nearly 750 coil shields.  These are one of the most recognizable—and quite frankly, one of the coolest freight cars of the contemporary era.

ExactRail has meticulously recreated the Thrall 54’ “Coil Shield” Coil Car in HO Scale.  With great attention, we have accurately captured the finite details of the prototype.  From the complex, exposed brake appliances of the B-end platform to the intricate multi-piece framework of the coil hood, this car will impress.

The model in the photograph is one of our early, pre-production test samples.  The model will be complete with etched metal walks with the appropriate “diamond” tread pattern, Kadee #58 couplers, and exceptionally accurate pad printing.   The model will be available in late 2013.

Along with our all-new Bethlehem 3483 Hopper, we look forward to previewing the Thrall 54’ “Coil Shield” Coil Car at the National Train Show in Atlanta, Georgia!  We hope to see you there!

Blaine Hadfield Vice President, Product ExactRail

Posted in ExactRail Blog

June 28, 2013 7:59:00 AM MDT

Bethlehem 3483 Hopper with Logo

Prototype 3483 Hopper Prototype

ExactRail will preview the all-new Bethlehem 3483 Hopper at the National Train Show in Atlanta, Georgia!

Built in 1964, the Bethlehem 3483 Hopper is held by many to be the quintessential Western coal hopper of the modern era. 

In volume 4 number 3 of the Prospector, The Rio Grande Historical Society published “if one had to pick THE [sic] signature freight car of the Rio Grande in its final quarter century, it would undoubtedly be the 100 ton quad hopper from Bethlehem Steel Car.”  The Rio Grande railroad placed 13 separate orders for the 3483.  These orders totaled 2,795 cars.

Hill railroads also purchased the Bethlehem 3483 in quantity.   The Great Northern received 100 cars in an attractive, utilitarian paint scheme with the Great Northern moniker.  The Burlington railroad placed six separate orders for a total of 1,370 cars.  These cars were delivered in both the “Monogram” and Helvetica, “Pre-Merger” paint schemes.  When the Hill lines merged in 1970, these cars were repainted in the image of the new corporate identity, Burlington Northern.

ExactRail has tooled an exceptionally accurate model of the Bethlehem 3483 hopper!   And with this release, we are proud to introduce an all-new HO scale draft box.  This draft box better approaches scale dimensions, has accurate striker contours and appropriate key detail—unprecedented from a major manufacturer.  And, ExactRail’s Bethlehem 3483 Hopper is factory delivered with Kadee couplers. 

The model in the photograph is an early, pre-production test sample.  The Bethlehem 3483 hopper will be complete with Kadee “scale” whisker couplers and exceptionally accurate pad printing.  The model will be available in late 2013.

ExactRail loves Eastern modelers too. With a blog post on Friday, July 12th, we will show the second, all-new model to be on display at the National Train Show!

Blaine Hadfield Vice President, Product ExactRail

Posted in ExactRail Blog

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