I recently posted my process for making quick and easy scrap metal loads. The loads are ragged and rusty, and need equally distressed gondolas to haul them. Here’s how I add years of abuse to my gondolas – in under two hours:
This one started with an Atlas 52′ Thrall gondola.
After removing the trucks, I carefully pressed a hot soldering pencil to the inside of the car walls, between each of the ribs. (This should be done in a well-ventilated area.) It takes a little practice to do enough melting without doing too much. Here’s a short clip of the “melting” process:
This process leaves a stringy mess inside the gondola and a few holes in the sides.
I cleaned up the inside using a Dremel tool with a burr bit. (Wear safety glasses and a dust mask whenever you use a high-speed rotary tool.)
Next I used a pallet knife to apply a thick layer of Squadron White Putty inside the car.
The putty fills any holes that were melted in the car sides and leaves a smooth(er) surface inside the car. I don’t want the surface to be too smooth, however. We are going for a rough, abused look.
After the putty dried (about 30 minutes) I returned with my Dremel tool to knock down any severe angles on the outside of the car, sculpting the melted mounds into more realistic looking bulges and dents. I used caution not to obliterate the ribs, but a few gouges in them adds to the effect.
When I was satisfied with the look of the car sides, it was time for paint.
At this point you could spray the car with a coat of a new color. In this case, I wanted to preserve the data and other markings. Plus, I’m a huge fan of patch-outs. So, I brushed flat black over the areas I roughed up with the Dremel. Where the BNSF reporting marks and road number were, I carefully brushed a square of dark green. I gave the entire inside of the car a coat of flat black.
Floors of gondolas are usually covered with enough dirt that it’s not uncommon for weeds to sprout. I glued some brown fine ground foam randomly to the floor, adding a few sprigs of green ground foam here and there for weeds. I also added a few scale boards. Any other debris will look fine, just make sure there’s still room for a load to sit flat.
I was not happy with the Atlas trucks, so I replaced them with my standby Micro-Trains 100-ton roller bearing trucks and 36-inch Fox Valley Models metal wheelsets. I weathered the sideframes with powders and painted the wheels rail brown.
Finally, I applied FCFL reporting marks and road number decals, then did some quick weathering with the the techniques I described here.
Loaded with scrap, FCFL 791905 is ready to haul!
Would this one-of-a-kind gondola look good on your layout? Like FCFL Railway on Facebook by December 15, 2013 and you’ll be entered in a drawing to win it!
UPDATE – December 2013 – Congratulations to Justin Cesar of West Pueblo, CO, USA for winning the gondola drawing!