Empire Belt RR ALcos

Empire Belt RR ALcos
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Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Quick Inexpensive Coal Loads

Greetings Blog Followers,

I have been going through some of my rolling stock and noticed (again) that I have quite a few older hopper cars without coal loads. I even have a recently purchased P-1000 Penn Central Hopper car in need of a load. I brought the car to my local hobby shop and attempted to purchase a cast coal load to no avail. Seems the company that made the loads for this particular car, an older Life Like tooling was either bought out or went out of business. The hopper cars are mostly $1.00 and $2.00 cars that I bought a long time ago,  came across in the used section of an old hobby shop or were given to me. This being the case I did not want to spend $8.00 for a pair of cast loads for a $1.00 car.

As luck would have it I was recently wandering through a Michael's Craft Store when I came upon a product called Decorative Sand. It is black in color, comes in a decent sized plastic bag and cost under $5.00. Right away I thought voila new coal loads. So I bit the bullet and purchased a bag. Here are the results from the first batch.

The now loaded P-1000 PC Hopper Car

 Side view of PC Car

Southern 4327 with new load. This is an old IHC car that I bought for $2.00 many moons ago.

BN 542309 is another old $2.00 IHC car. Both this car and the Southern had been converted to body mounted knuckle couplers a long time ago but with their light weight and no decent looking coal load they languished in storage for years. Now they can ride the rails and are in line for replacement metal wheels.

Top view of homemade load in a 40' Bachmann Quad Hopper.

 Comparison shot of molded plastic loads on bottom and new homemade load on top

For a quick and easy installation I cut corrugated cardboard to fit tightly against the sides and the slopes. I then dull coated the cars which also sealed the cardboard. I then added white glue, sprinkled in the decorative sand and shaped to fit the car. I drizzled a little alcohol and then more white glue diluted with water and some dish washing soap. 

While the sand adds some much needed weight modelers can hide additional weight if needed under the cardboard. Weight was added to the two IHC cars above in this manner.  

So far seventeen cars have received these coal loads. I still have about a half a bag of the sand left so the cost was definitely well worth it for me. I glad to have taken cars that never saw the light of day and given them a spot in the roster so they are now in revenue service. Yes they will be forever loaded but I have many more cars that have cast loads that can run loaded or empty. But remember these seventeen cars were in dire need of the extra weight of the load and the added wight under the load to be reliable runners.  

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