Saturday, 9 February 2019

Flat car Turned Gondola

On Thursday of last week, over at George Dutka's White River Division blog,  new friend Don Janes posted a really nice series of photos and a very complimentary write-up of my layout.  Don has visited 3 or 4 times now, and wrote in his post about my overall concept for the layout, and how things seem to "fit" together. He has quite an eye for the "art" of the layout, so when he comments on something, I listen.

Here is the link to that post at George's blog:  

My thanks go out to George and Don.

As for this week, I spent my time modeling a bulkhead flatcar that's been converted to a gondola.  I first saw this photo, taken by David Andersen, on about 3 years ago or so, and saved it in my files for reference.

ExactRail released their GSI bulkhead flatcar last year, and I ordered one with this project in mind. Now, I don't know for sure if this is the exact correct bulkhead flat that I should be using for this, but if it's not, it's close enough for me.  The Exactrail car comes with a wooden floor and bulkheads, and this prototype has steel plate ends, and I'm guessing it's got a steel deck too. And maybe those differences account for the difference in the number series.

This the ExactRail car as it came out if the box. Really nice, but you can see the big white glue spot on the right-hand side.  I wrote to ExactRail about this, and 5 days later they got back to me saying that this is where the lube plate was. They apologized and said that if I couldn't find the pieces in the box they would replace the car, or send me the replacement parts.  I replied that if they wanted to just send me the parts, that would be fine with me.  That was 5 weeks ago, and the replacements aren't here yet, so I don't expect to receive them now. Oh well, not the end of the world, and I moved forward with my project without them anyway.

I doubt that I'll be changing the number of my car, and I'm not sure if I'll be putting on the reflective stripes either.

Here I have cut the styrene parts necessary.  The gondola section and the 2 end pieces (painted green) are .020 styrene, while the 5 sub-floor pieces are .030 thick.  There are 32 posts cut from .040 x .040 square styrene strip.  They fit exactly into the stake pockets on the sides of the car.

The paint on the green flatcar itself is faded by spraying with ProtoPaint Flat Haze, and then light green craft paint.
Things have really come together nicely.  I'll point out that the sub-floor pieces are not glued in, they're just press fitted into place. And actually, the gondola isn't glued in either. The bulkhead end plates are glued to the car though, and the 32 posts are glued to the gondola section, but the gondola and stakes fit into place so well that they can't possibly come loose.

I painted the gondola and the posts with Vallejo's Rust Texture paint, and then went over that lightly with washes of thinned Modelflex flat black.  With all of that dry, I stippled on a little bit of Modelflex Rail Brown to get some additional variation in colour and tone.

Here's the completed car, ready for service.  The rust streaks below the stake pockets and on the bulkhead ends are burnt sienna oil paints.  I've scraped off the glue spots on both sides and put decal lube plates in place, and added a little bit of brown powders on the outside of the ends. The inside of the gondola is painted with the Vallejo Rust Texture, and then I went over that with some black and burnt sienna  powders as well.  The wheels and trucks are painted with Krylon Ultra Flat Camouflage Brown, and the burnt sienna powders.

I'm really pleased with how this unique freight car has turned out. Now I guess I'll have to make up a couple of loads to go with it.


  1. Great job Jim. You mentioned you were going to do this project and it looks really good. I especially like the way you did the rust spots and streaks on the bulkheads. Very realistic.

  2. Ha! I've seen photos of those cars and had the same thought. Great to see someone actually do it, and do it well.
    Nice job!