Tuesday, March 8, 2022

Gondola loads

 Here are some easy ways to load up your gondolas.

1. Dirty up the empties - Empty model gons have two problems: they are too light, and too clean. We can add some weight by placing a flat steel weight salvaged from a boxcar right on the bottom. The weight from a 40' box car fits nicely in a 40' gon, as seen below. Next, we will dirty it up so it is not so obvious what we have done. Gons always have some debris in the bottom. Gather some workbench and floor sweepings, sift them through a colander or screen to eliminate the big chunks. Paint the bottom of the gon (or the steel weight, in this case) with thinned white glue and sprinkle a bit of detritus around. A little goes a long way!

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2. A real scrap iron load: I noticed from rust flaking off the inside of the rear bumper on my truck. I gathered the pieces and broke them up smaller with a hammer. Loaded them in the gondola and dripped some thinned white glue over them to secure them.

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3. Pipes or rebar:  I saw a local freight go by with a load of rebar recently, so I wanted to create something similar. I had a box of insulation support wires which I cut up to make a load. You can paint them yellow or green to simulated epoxy-coated rebar. These support wires some with a anti-rust oily coating so they need to be washed in soapy water before painting. These get heavy real quick, so I just put one layer on top of some stripwood spacers. 

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4. Rails being scrapped: This one was fun. Jointed rail used to come in 39' lengths to fit in 40' gondolas. I had some nasty old brass track from my first layout, and used it to make a load of old rail being scrapped. Just strip off the ties, and paint the rails brown. Don't worry about keeping them straight! Just pile them in with a few blobs of clear RTV silicone sealant here and there to keep them in place.

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5. Sheet metal coils: This is a little more involved. These are rolls of new sheet metal being delivered. The rolls are plastic spacers which came with a TV wall mount kit (you can also get them separately). Spray paint them aluminum color, and mount in cradles made of stripwood.

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  1. Loved your post. Some Q's on the "rebar" load:
    What did you use to cut the insulation support wires? Wire cutters? grinding cutoff wheel? Did you attempt to make them the same length? how hard was that to do? i've used floral wire, cut with a dremel cutoff disk. slow, plus hard to make each length the same 40 ft. I have nicked a nice wire cutter while trying to cut piano wire. Don't!

    1. This is quick and easy. All I did was hold the wire in a bench vise and give it 5 or 6 strokes with a hacksaw with a fine tooth blade, cutting about 3/4 of the way through, then just snapping it apart. I made no attempt to make them exactly the same length, figuring when they are really stacked in a gon no attempt is made to line up the ends neatly. Although, one way to make them all the same is just to place a concrete block on the workbench, X inches away from the vise jaws, and use that as a workpiece stop.