MODELING: Lumber Loads

Our HO modeler friends have all the luck.  Owl Mountain is offering an HO plastic kit to build up lumber stack for flats and gondolas.   For us poor souls in 1/4″, we have to make our own.

An example of how lumber was loaded and secured during the steam and early diesel era.  The Northern Pacific 50-ton flat car has been stacked and separated with dunnage.  You can see the posts and cross ties look to be showing some darkening due to age  The load shows variations in color as well.

The Milwaukee Road flat appears to be loaded with heavy timber.  In doing some reading on the subject of shipping lumber by rail, rough cut wood was generally ship exposed on open cars.   Finished wood was shipped in box cars.   Local lumber yards ordered rough cut and used their own equipment to finish to size.

The NP 52′ flat shows lumber is bundled with steel strapping.   The lumber size appears to be finished cut.  This illustrates how methods of shipment changed.

Owl Mountain’s HO product got me thinking about how to do this in our scale.  Before you ask, Owl Mountain is not likeyly produce this kit in O. So get yourself some stripwood and dig in.

Yes, it takes a lot of wood but everything below to the top layer is built with full length pieces.  I cut them 16′ long from 3″ by 6″ basswod.  I was very fortunate to go into a hardware store in Napa that was closing.  They had a whole rack of basswood marked 40% off.  Unfortunately the store was Orchard Supply that was closing all of their stores.  They have been a fixture in northern Cali since the Depression.   Their first store on Race Street in San Jose was my go-to hardware store when I lived in Los Gatos.

I used a simple mitre box to cut the wood.  I stained all of the wood before cutting to size.   I used Model Masters acrylic wood.   The paint was applied like a wash with distilled water.  Jimmy Booth show me a trick that he used on a wood load for P-B-L Sn3 gondolas.  I used a little paint to create knots in the wood.

Jimmy sent me a couple of pictures of a load he was preparing for a P-B-L cover shot.

Jimmy used a different paint to finish his loads.  The load is actually injection molded layers used to create stacks.

The plastic sprue shown above is what the HO and Sn3 modelers get.  Notice that the center is cut out for adding weight for small scale models.

Here are a couple cars done by Jason Hill (Owl Mountain owner).  Their website has very useful information on creating realistic loads and the AAR rules for loading and securing loads.

Robert Leners and I have been corresponding on building loads.  Robert has been working on a 42′ post-war gondola using a set of plans that were in an old Mainline Modeler.

The model is not complete but the load is finished.  The car was built from styrene and painted with Scale Coat II.  Robert was lettered with a new set of decals from Protocraft.

You can see that Robert created an open area in the load so weight could be added.  He also used the Model Masters wood color for his load.

6 thoughts on “MODELING: Lumber Loads

  1. Wood coffee stirrers for lumber loads is a great idea. Where did you find them? I have not seen anything but the little plastic tube stirrers in many years around here.


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