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.
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.