Freight Car Friday – Airslide Covered Hoppers

Lionel Trains

In the wide world of covered hoppers there are many variations and patented innovations which make cars better suited for specific commodities. These also make train watching a lot more interesting for all of us! General American’s “Airslide®” cars are certainly near the top of the list of these important designs.

The Airslide was first patented in 1953, the same year Pullman Standard introduced their PS-2. What made the car unique was a set of fabric membranes in the hopper bays. Made of tightly woven cotton and treated with silicone, the Airslide® membranes were moisture-proof but allowed air to pass through. Compressed air was supplied at the unloading site and passed through the membrane up into the load. This aerated the load, allowing it to flow easily through the hoppers.

An article in Railway Age in 1956 touted the cars’ loading speed,

“In actual test, one major company found that…

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