Bachmann has just released its latest addition to the Spectrum 1:20.3 line of rolling stock, a Side Dump Gondola.  This is a model of a car similar to those used by many narrow gauge railroads to haul ballast, gravel, sand or coal.  The basis for this car is the excellent Spectrum flat car that has been out on the market for some time. It comes equipped with arch bar trucks and metal wheels and includes outside brakes.  The journal lids open as with previous offerings, so you might want to glue them in place so that you don't lose them.
    The gondola body actually fits into the stake pockets of the flat car body. It is not permanently attached, so picking up the car by the body might yield a surprise when it separates from the flat car deck.  I would recommend that you glue the body to the pockets, or use pins to hold the stakes in the pockets. Since I plan to keep the car as a gondola, I used some 5 minute epoxy to glue the stakes into the pockets permanently.
    The car has eight working side doors (four per side), which are hinged at the top and work just like the prototype.  The latches for the doors seem to work well, but care must be taken with them to make sure they are in place, or your load will dump as your train moves down the track.  Grab irons and under body detail are excellent for this car, as they have been for other Bachmann Spectrum freight car offerings. This includes all truss rods and a complete brake system with all components.
    The car comes with the standard high level metal couplers, but drop couplers are also included if you wish to couple with older Bachmann cars. Kadee or Accucraft couplers can be easily added to this car.  Since it has moving coupler cut levers, the Accucraft couplers will function as they were designed since they operate in the same manner as the original Bachmann couplers.
    The wood grain detail on this car is excellent, and some weathering will really bring it out.  In fact, looking at the car, you would almost think it was made of wood rather than plastic.   
    At present, the car only comes lettered for the Pacific Coast and Florence and Cripple Creek railroads.  It is also available in undecorated versions in either Oxide Red, or Railroad Brown for you to add your own road name.
    Adding a load to this car will probably add considerably to its weight. Since the car appears to be fairly heavy to start with, it would probably be better to make up loads using foam that is painted, and then glue your load to the top of the foam so that appears that the car is fully loaded.  This technique has been used with regular hopper cars in the past and has been very successful.
    Once again, Bachmann has come up with a winner that fills a needed niche in the world of 1:20.3 large scale rolling stock.