Tuesday, September 26, 2023

Walthers 50ft Auto-Boxcars (Part 3) - GN 43952 Gets End Doors

GN 43952 renumbered into the 43000-series last post, is almost done with tare dates and chalk marks.  Just one little problem...

In the last article in this series, Walthers 50ft Auto-Boxcars (Part 2), I wrote about upgrading the historical standing of these cars by changing the road number into a correct series.  However, two of the cars I have are above the cutoff number of 43900, which means they should have end doors, or I'll have to lower the 'hundreds number to something below a '9'.  Given that 400 of the 500 cars are not end-door cars and I only have four cars, I should probably only do one car with the end door.

Edit: Thankfully Doug Polinder pointed out in a comment to me that: "the model is a Howe truss. GN's cars were Pratt." So at best these cars are really going to just be 'stand-ins' for the GN prototypes. Sadly this is one aspect that the ORER fails us, using it as the only research material.

Swapping Ends?

Sister car, GN 41951, with door end side-by-side.

I found a couple of ends the old boxes for these kits.  I also found the incomplete GN 41951 in one of these boxes, and needs some more work.  The extra end-doors were still in the boxes, so I was able to find one to use on the GN 43952.  Of course the new end doors weren't pad printed by Walthers, so I will of course have to decal the whole reporting mark on the A-end door piece.

I first removed the plain A-end of the car.

The first step with the conversion is to take the floor out of the car, then carefully pop the old plain end out of the body.  Thankfully, 20-year-ago-me didn't soak the end with glue, to 'hard weld' it in like I generally do now.  So it was very easy to pop off and only a little cleanup along the top edge, under the roof.

GN 43952 with test-fitted A-End Door.

The new end's test fit is pretty good.  The end-sill opening around the draft box is rather tight, and I will need to press the 'snap pins' into the end harder when the glue is applied.  Generally the end-doors make the cars look more complicated, which is cool. 

However looking at 43500-series we find double-door 50ft boxcars which should match closer to the Walthers model.

Historically, many cars with end doors became problematic to keep serviceable, so many were fixed in the closed position or welded closed.  It would seem from the ORER 1950 that these 96 cars still had working end doors.

Interior view of the new End Door dry-fitted.

I applied Tamiya Liquid Glue to the four alignment pins and then wicked more in with the brush from the bottom edge up both hinge lines and some into the center.  Then pressed the end into the body carefully.  When the alignment pins were softened just enough with the glue, there was a small 'pop' and the end slid a little farther into correct alignment.  Before the glue dries, I have to be sure the whole end is properly seated.  I also wicked in some glue along the top edge of the end-roof joint, but not much more movement happened in that area.

In Closing

This has been a fun kitbash to balance out the four of these cars I have.  Of course, I'm not addressing the lower 43000-series cars, which were only single-door cars.  These cars still fill a great spot when modeling lumber train traffic into Southern California, of the early 1950s.

GN 43952 with the new door-end in place with road number decals in place and a few more chalk marks.

I had some fun on the chalk-marks on the new car end.  Specifically marking the locking bar mechanism and a hinge that was damaged, but looks like the carmen has chalked the OK for both.  This photo also  showed me that the "2" on the end out of alignment.  So I re-wet the decal and was able to adjust it before I used the MicroScale setting fluid on it.

Jason Hill

Related Articles:

Modeling Auto-Boxcars (Part 1) - Walthers 50ft Double-Door Single-Sheath Auto-Boxcars - An Overview

Walthers 50ft Auto-Boxcars (Part 2) - Renumbering GN Cars to Correct Series - Renumbering the Walthers GN cars into the historically correct number series for 1950 era.

Weathering NP 11661 - A Rapido Double-sheath Boxcar - Some basics of weathering with Acrylics on double-sheath boxcar.

ATSF 129872 WWII War Emergency Boxcar Weathering with Pencils and Acrylics - Continuing the weathering on a single-sheath boxcar with Acrylics.

Sunday, September 24, 2023

Walthers 50ft Auto-Boxcars (Part 2) - Renumbering GN Cars to Correct Series

In the first installment of this series, I just did a general survey of the various Walthers 50ft Auto-Boxcars that I had.  Sadly many of them aren't correct, but in this post, I want to address one of the simpler fixes to get a couple of the cars into more 'historically accurate' number series.

One of the nearly completed Great Northern 50ft OB Auto-boxcars by Walthers, from the early 2000s.

These cars needed a bit of work, so lets look at what's involved with updating and correcting a couple of issues with the stock model.  I'm not going to get into the odd brake equipment arrangement in this post, as I don't think it's the first think I look at on a freight car like this.  Even if the model is going to be a stand-in, I would like the primary exterior visible parts of the model to be mostly correct, i.e. roof, ends, sides.

Edit: Doug Polinder pointed out in a comment to me that: "the model is a Howe truss. GN's cars were Pratt."  So at best these cars are really going to just be 'stand-ins' for the GN prototypes.  Sadly this is one aspect that the ORER fails us, using it as the only research material.

Historical Data

Pre-relettering look of the car in the GN 41700-series.

To find out if the car's even existed and had the right door arrangement, I turn to my Westerfield Models CD of ORER 1950 fleet data.  Under the Great Northern, I can see that they do not have the stock model road number listed.

Clipping from 1950 ORER - No 41000-series cars active on the GN this year.

Great Northern's entry in ORER 1950 does not show the 41900-series is empty by 1950.  However, don't give up hope on your model yet.  Search the rest of the company's roster.  There may be another series, or the original road number may have been changed during a rebuild, etc.

However looking at 43500-series we find double-door 50ft boxcars which should match closer to the Walthers model.

 The ORER does show 43500-43899 series show steel frame, 12ft staggered-doors. The 43900-43999 are similar, but also show full end door. The Walthers models come with end-doors as an option in the kit, so it would be possible to model either series if some minor decalling and renumbering was done.


So I'm doing some renumbering of the GN cars that I have into the 43k series, which should be easy to change the 1 to a 3.  The 43500-43899 and 43900-43999 show as XM (General service boxcars) in the AAR Mechanical classification column.

Removed the "1" with a No.11 blade scraping carefully.

I started the renumbering work with a No.11 X-acto blade carefully scraping the surface just down through the pad-printed ink of the "1".  If I go too far, a small drop of darkened FCR paint works to fix it, although the new "3" will be covering most any scratches that happen.

The new decal in place with a bit of water still around.

I'm keeping the renumbering simple with Micro Scale's Block Gothic Alphabet and Numbers, White #90051.  The 9" lettering is what I'll need to change the side road numbers.  If your decal collection has a more "GN" standard lettering style, then obviously it's better to use that.

Buckled End Joints

One of the problems of putting the optional ends on is getting solid joints in the corners.

Given that I built these models about 20 years ago and some of them saw years of service, getting knocked around, the ends were starting to come loose.  So I wicked in some Tamiya Liquid Plastic Glue, which is lower viscosity than water into the corners of the ends.  Then I carefully pushed the end in to get the mitered joint to close.  

After closing the end up with liquid plastic glue to secure it.

The end looks much better after closing the openings.  A little bit of plastic actually squeezed out from this process, but that's easily cleaned up.  I did a little wash with water and AppleBarrel 20512E Burnt Umber to dull down the new white decal to match my previously weathered numbers on the cars.

Adding Tare Station & Date

I also need to add some basic 'tare dates' to the cars.  This is a station code, month-year stenciled onto the side of the car, usually in the panel just inboard of the car's weight data block to show when the car was last weighed to 'zero' it.  This allows the clerks working the car scales to be accurate within 200 pounds of the car's loaded weight when billing cargo by weight.  The weighing also allows the railroads to detect over-loaded cars which are a safety hazard and could cause additional wear and tear on the engines, infrastructure, and bridges.

The Great Northern has a very odd system of station codes, using an alpha and sometimes a number as well.  Some of the great past researchers of railroad history have documented these codes and what they station they represented, so I'm able to 'build' plausible station tare date codes for my models.  One GN car that I've done already has A-1 on it.  I made it out of some spare 3" stencil white decal "A" and a "-1" from the January month of a decal tare data set.

Operations Notes

ATSF 140 BK-4-H Cliff Jan 8, 1953, (at LMRC in 2018, Jason Hill photo)

Most of these GN cars traveling to Southern California would be in the lumber trade with finished lumber in these big double door auto-boxcars.  The routing usually would be GN, then interchanged to the WP at Bieber, then to the Santa Fe at Mormon Yard (aka Fresno), before routing to Southern California on the Santa Fe on symbol 'GWS' over Tehachapi.  Eastward routed cars onto the Santa Fe, would be switched over to N-34 or BK-symbol at Bakersfield to Barstow, then they would be worked into the eastward symbols from there out of San Bernardino.

If it was heading to a Southern Pacific destination, the car may have be interchanged at Bakersfield to avoid additional congestion in the LA basin.  So this ends up being more of a Santa Fe-centric modeling post for today, but the skills are good to learn for any prototype modeler that needs to do renumbering of the freight cars.

Open Doors or Closed Doors?

GN 43741's Left side with doors closed, representing a loaded car.

One of the nice aspects of the Walthers model is the option to model the car with the doors open.  While normally, you don't want cars running around loaded where the stuff inside can fall out or be stolen, often the empty car doors wouldn't be properly secured.

While the Right side of GN 43741's doors are modeled open, for returning empty towards home.

This lead to a tendency for the doors to open themselves with the slack action in the trains.  On layouts with reversing loop staging, it is possible therefore to set up one side of the car as the "Loaded" side, and the other as the "Empty" side.  At La Mesa Model Railroad club, this trick is really only visible in two places (Caliente-Tunnel 2 and at Walong on the Loop).  

More Tricks!

For discussion during a video shoot with TSG Multimedia, I cut down a couple OwlMtModels 3004 lumber loads to make a lighter weight faux load for the Walthers boxcar.

In one of the TSG Multimedia videos I filmed a number of years ago on the new OwlMtModels 3004 lumber loads, I talked about putting them inside of boxcars in a cut-down form.

OwlMtModels 3004 Lumber Load inside Walthers DD boxcar.

So that's always an option too if you want to show an open door as the load and claim the closed door is empty!

SP 67789 with a stash of 3004 lumber loads hiding inside at King Lumber in Bakersfield, at LMRC. Jason Hill photo circa 2018.

Another option is the photo below, where I staged a photo at King Lumber to show the car being unloaded.

Pondering future options, it might even be possible to put magnets inside the lumber load to remotely move them back into the ends of the car to hide them. - Although, I've not actually tried this --- yet.

In Closing

The majority of my cars are now in good shape residing in the 43000-series!  However, one now has a new problem.  Next time I'll be having a closer look at the 43900-series cars which need end-doors.

Redecalled GN 43952 with tare date added.

This car is now renumbered to the correct 43000-series from the 41000-series, however now the 43900-series should have end-doors.  Not a problem as these cars came with the option for end-doors.  So I'll be digging out the old spare parts from 20 years ago to rebuild the A-end of the car, seen at left in the above photo.

Jason Hill

Related Articles:

Modeling Auto-Boxcars (Part 1) - Walthers 50ft Double-Door Single-Sheath Auto-Boxcars - An Overview

Weathering NP 11661 - A Rapido Double-sheath Boxcar - Some basics of weathering with Acrylics on double-sheath boxcar.

ATSF 129872 WWII War Emergency Boxcar Weathering with Pencils and Acrylics - Continuing the weathering on a single-sheath boxcar with Acrylics.

Tuesday, September 19, 2023

Open Loads (Part 9) - West Coast Loading of Foreign Gondolas & Flats

Some of you might be wondering why a West Coast modeler is doing multiple lumber loads for foreign East Coast gondolas. 

What to do with all the empty East Coast cars?  Reload them! - Jason Hill photo at LMRC, San Diego.

Well, I do like modeling equipment that would have been seen over Tehachapi Pass, which includes the lumber load traffic from Oregon and Northern California to Los Angeles and much of it was then sent east to El Paso and beyond.

A sizable number of the cars in this traffic flow were 'rollers' which were brokered en route and were sent via the longer route down out of the Pacific Northwest to Southern California.  This allowed more time before turning east to sell the load of lumber and diverted to the customer, which was preferred by the shippers.

Prototype Operating Considerations

From the collection of Dan Holbrook, the SCO C507 (May 1950 issued) includes notes that both LV and PRR allowed their gondolas on the west coast to be moved north or south to find loads that can move the cars back east of the Mississippi River, towards home.  The C507 also includes B&O, BLE, CNJ-CRP, DL&W, Erie, NYC-PLE, NKP-WLE, PWV, Reading, Union, and WM, so for western modelers, don't be afraid to load your empty foreign gondolas with lumber loads!  - This is one of the reasons I've been building lumber loads for my B&O, Erie, NYC, and PRR cars.

I will also say that in my other research it would appear that some of these roads also allowed their flatcars to be reloaded also, so I'll be mentioning that at the end as well.

Some of the 1950 SCO directive from the eastern roads is probably a carry over from the WWII directive for the flatcars to be nationally pooled 'for the duration', which was found to be useful in some commercial revenue applications in the post-war era into the 1950s.

Note, some of these cars are repeating the use of the same loads in other cars... but that's to prove my point about being able to use a single set of loads to add variety to a single set of operating routing.  I've taken to index numbering the loads so I can keep track of them. I will be using their ID numbers in these photos so you can see which loads are swapping to other cars.

So let's have a look at some examples:

Tangent 52'6" Bethlehem Gondola

Load 1145 - B&O 259798, Tangent 52ft Gondola with full 3-stack OMM 3005 Lumber Load kit. 

The Tangent Bethlehem 52'6" gondolas can trans-load the lumber loads between them without any problems to create variety in the operating look of the trains.  This is an example of a B&O car.

Tangent 52'6" AC&F Gondola

Load 1145, 2 Stacks - PRR 372468 with two smaller stacks of lumber from OMM 3004 kit.

Tangent also produced this ACF 52'6" Gondola on the PRR these are G31Bs, which numbered in the 10's of thousands!  So by the early 1950s a very common East Coast type of car.

Load 1164 - This load is about 5/6s of an OwlMtModels 3005 kit.

This load is 5/6s of the OwlMtModels kit, configured in 2-3 stacks with 48" tall units.  Wooden cross bracing is replaced with 6lb fishing line 'iron wire' between the stakes over the load.

Load 1145 - Here's the full 3-stack 3005 kit in the PRR gondola.

There aren't many options when the full load is used, basically just the height of the units used.  The AAR standards say not to make units less than 30" and not more than 48".  Some cars in photos are not stacked out to the cubic limits of the car, as sometimes 'wet' or 'green' wood would weight much more than expected.  So there is some rhyme and reason for why cars appear to be "under loaded" in the same train.  Remember also that some of these cars are heading home towards restricted vertical clearance home-roads.  If the car makes it all that way as a 'roller' without being sold, then it will have to navigate the Plate-C Clearances, so on those cars, be sure to cut the stakes down and not load the car too high, even if cubic and weight allowances aren't a consideration.

Load 1065 - Fully wooden-braced 3005 kit.

This load is made up of 36" tall units in a 2-3-3 configuration.  Wooden bracing is used on this load, with two full stake sets outboard of the central top units.

Proto2000/Walthers 52'6" Greenville (WWII AAR) Gondola

Load 1145 - Proto2000/Walthers Greenville 52'6" WWII-built gondolas.

The Bethlehem and ACF cars by Tangent don't have collapsible stakes pockets on the interior of the sides, but instead moved to strap tie-downs along the top edge of the sides.  Proto2000/Walthers gondolas (NYC below) have molded collapsed stake pockets, which narrows the interior size of the car slightly, which means that full-size stakes can't be used effectively there on the OwlMt Lumber Loads.  Also providing actual stake pockets, instead of just wedging in the stakes for the cars that have no stake pockets, mean that it's possible to line up the stakes with the theoretical pockets if they were deployed.

Load 1065 - Swapping loads to the NYC P2K gondola

I will be building a couple more loads, one will specifically be with stakes to align with the stake pockets of the Proto2000 gondolas.  I will also be using the notched stake option, so that the load is more freely fitting, so I can easily remove the load from the car without catching the stakes on the carside.

Tichy 52'6" WWII Emergency Composite Gondola

Load 1145 - Tichy NYC 52'6" WWII Emergency Gondola with OwlMtModels 3005 3-stack load kit.

Tichy also makes a compatible composite WWII gondola, which can be loaded with lumber.  These cars are fun to weather with the contrast of wood sides with steel structure over the top.  Some railroads resheathed these cars in steel after the war-time material restrictions were lifted.

Walthers 46ft USRA Gondola

Load 1159 - Walthers 46ft USRA PRR 317083. one of the thousands of G25 class cars.

Chalk marks on the car side are used to align the stakes to the load.  In some ways this cuts down the positional options of the loads, but if the loads are kept as A/B stacks, then they can be transposed or rotated in multiple arrangements to vary the look of the same load.

Load 1169 - Another PRR G25 with a steel-top-banded load which has started to shift noticeably.

This load is the subject over the previous Open Loads (Part 8) post.  The load uses the ChartPak 1/64" tape for the high-tension steel-bands across the top of the load.  I modeled this load as a shifting stack of lumber.  Thankfully the load therefore is not centered around the stake sets, which should stay aligned with the car's pockets... and allows off-set arrangements if I rotate the two stacks or transpose their positions.

Load 1169, transposed - LV 27202 is another Walthers' 46ft USRA gondola.

In this photo with the Walthers LV model, the loads have been transposed outwards from the car's center.  The load's still shifted, but the two stacks aren't to the point of impacting each other.

Load 1159 again, this time in Erie 15503, a stock Walthers 46ft USRA Gondola.

As can be seen, just changing the loads around a bit creates new looks to the cars, thus making each train look unique, even if you've not re-blocked the train.  Just changing which load goes in which car and how, will make your sessions 'feel different' from a visual stand point.

Load 153 in NYC 501536, another Walthers 46ft Gondola

I'm not sure if the black NYC gondolas are correct for post-WWII cars.  The stock Walthers model comes with a tare date of 1947, so might be right.  Any NYC modelers are welcome to tell me if it's wrong.  In any case, NYC cars certainly were available to reload and send towards home.

The Load 153 is one that's actually designed to fit a Red Caboose steel GS gondola, but it works well here too, although the stakes don't line up with the car's pockets, so these would have to be wedged in against the car's sides.

Foreign Flatcars?

I know of at least one photo of a B&O 40ft P-11 class car loaded with lumber in San Diego, circa 1955.  San Diego actually had sawmills to cut up large log rafts brought down by ocean-tug from the Pacific Northwest and British Columbia.  So it's hard to tell if the B&O flat was a 'roller' from the PNW which was diverted to San Diego because the lumber was sold, or if it was a foreign car being reloaded for movement eastward towards home.  In the end I guess it doesn't really matter, as either would be a reasonable explanation of what the car was doing loaded with lumber at the southern edge of the USA.

F30A Flatcars from Bowser or Rapido

PRR 475237 with a pair of lumber stacks over the trucks.

Here's some examples of PRR F30A flatcars from Bowser loaded with the new OwlMtModels 3003 Lumber Loads.

PRR 475260 with a couple of centered stacks. - Looks like the brakewheel got smashed, gonna have to get a carmen to fix that up!

While these smaller 2-stack loads wouldn't be taxing the 70-ton capacity of the Pennsy flats, it was a way to get some extra lumber moving east if these were 'rollers' and cover some future order from a yard along the way.

Again PRR 475260, this time with a much higher board-feet count load.

In this load, I kitbashed some of the panels into a very long load, and then did a couple of more regular stacks.  The 50ft deck length of the F30A makes "fully loading" it a bit trickier, but possible with some creativity.

A high-view of 475260 with a load of older 3001 lumber loads, in this case with iron-wire banding.

Don't forget you can build centered stack loads, like this one too.  I suggest putting some of the separator pieces lengthwise to tie the bottom of the load together for strength.

P2K/Walthers 52'6" AAR WWII Standard Flatcars

C&NW AAR WWII Flatcar loaded with lumber. (Walthers/P2K flatcar, OMM 3003

Other cars from the mid-west could also be reloaded, as it would be easier to send them home.  However, this would not have the SCO authorization from the owner to send them empty anywhere in the western US to find that load.  So these would be locally unloaded near the lumber loading areas of NP, GN, UP/OSL, SP, etc. and then sent out as needed, hopefully towards home rails!

A heavy load of lumber, probably near the capacity for the 50-ton NKP flatcar.

Here's an Nickle Plate example, this car would be a 'long east' car working its way back towards home.  If it was a 'roller', it could probably show up just about anywhere in the country with this load.

Balancing the Message

Obviously, the 'home roads' would have to provide their own cars if enough 'foreign' cars couldn't be used.  This results in the mixed consists that are what we see most of the time: home road cars, interchanged partner roads, and then the really far from home cars that have been reloaded all mixed together.  

SP 4177 Lumber Drag 1-671 two miles east of Oakridge 1947 - Vanishing Vista postcard JT-63, Jason Hill collection

In the photo above, we can see many different railroad's cars mixed in this consist.  For Southern Pacific trains leaving Oregon, interchanges would be from the friendly NP, and less friendly UP, CP,  CN.  The GN and WP were at the time more friendly with Santa Fe's connections, but they certainly would still interchange if the customer had ordered the routing to go via the SP.

The advent of hump yards allowed for better sorting by destination of interchanged cuts, but even then the 'rollers' are going to be a wildcard as to when they will be sold and need to be cut out of the train.  Usually the diversion points would be a place which had the yard facilities to handle breaking up the consist anyway.

In Closing

The east coast sends the rust, the west coast will return the favor with splinters.  So it's fun to have both removable steel loads and lumber loads for the same pool of cars, then you can mix up sending them away from home loaded and either send them home empty or reload them with local products.

An overview of the lumber loads shown above. - Notice specifically the differences: wood paint/coloring, shifted loads, and bracing with wood, iron wire, and steel bands.

Another point of variation is not building all the loads with identical methods of bracing, or even style of bracing.  Unless you're modeling a lumber mill shipping 20 carloads of lumber under the same crew and foreman, the different mills would each load their cars differently.  Mill A might have started using steel banding and palletized loads on flatcars, but the rest haven't except for Mill C, which only uses them to connect the top of the stakes.  Mill B is still using iron wire between the stakes, while D, & E all are still using wooden bracing because they have the extra scrap hardwood pieces.

Jason Hill

Related Articles:

Open Loads (Part 8 ) - Modeling High-Tension Steel Banding on Lumber Loads

Open Loads (Part 7) - Shifted Lumber Loads - What happens when your load moves?

Open Loads (Part 5) - Lumber Loads on Flats & Gondolas - Examples of Open Lumber Loads.

Open Loads (Part 2) - Lumber in Boxcars - Ideas for building lumber loads inside boxcars.

Lumber Load in Gondola SP 160522 - MDC Kitbash - Modifying OwlMtModels 3004 Lumber Load for gondola with false-load below gondola sides.

Sunday, September 17, 2023

Open Loads (Part 8 ) - Modeling High-Tension Steel Banding on Lumber Loads

I've been working on a large number of lumber loads this fall, including pilot models of the new OwlMtModels 3002/3003 "Short-Wide" kits, which are now available for pre-order.  

Finished OMM 3004 "Narrow" Lumber Load with ChartPak 1/64" 'Steel-Banding' replacing the wooden cross-ties.

I've been wanting to try the high-tension steel-bands, which started being used on lumber loads during the 1950s, and became widespread in the 1960s and beyond.  Modern modelers need to use high-tension bands on almost all of their modern loads, and even by the 1970s, wooden stakes were becoming very rare to see in prototype photos.

ChartPak to the Rescue!

My package of 1/64" ChartPak tape arrived yesterday... time to get tied up, or is that tied down?

The High-Tension Steel Bands - Hyatt Graphics sells 1/64th inch chart tape in 54 yard rolls for $10.30, which should last a number of lumber loads and other needs for steel banding around your model railroad.  Amazon and Walmart on-line also offer the same tape, but for more like $15.  I prefer to support the actual company that would be shipping the Walmart orders, so I went to Hyatt and talked with Nick.  Their phone number is (800) 234-9288 x630 if you want to talk to Nick as well.

Done Before?

Beautiful work on the steel-bands for this lumber load by Dave Maffei - Jason Hill photo at BAPM 2023 meet.

While I'm new to this technique, there have been plenty of modelers out there who have made wonderful use of this material.  The main difference in the application I want to explore here is the use of the ChartPak for replacing the wooden cross-ties on a load, not fully palletizing of each unit of lumber (aka bundle).


The "Special" tools I used for this project.

I did dip into my tool kit for some unique tools.  Including at least 3 self-closing tweezer/clamps.  I've used tools like this before when rigging ship models and fishing line "iron-wire" for freight car loads.  The clip/tweezer is a great and fast way to attach weight to a line and get it to hang straight while you tie knots or do other things to it.  The pen is a Silver ink, fine tip from Uni-ball that I picked up at Michael's Craft Store (along with my white "chalk marking" Gel-pen).  

Getting Started

As I've mentioned, my modeling era is just before these steel-bands became wide-spread in the lumber industry, but were used for other loads starting in WWII when it was developed.  I probably should have started with getting familiar with the tape on a unitized or palleted load, but hey, I didn't want to do that on this load, so I'll just show the process that it took to get it to work for me.  (The last build-photo I'll be talking about what finally worked well for going forward!)

After messing with a couple tries, I started getting some ideas...

The vinyl really likes having something to stick to and be burnished against.  Free-floating and anchoring very lightly around the stakes is not the ideal use for the tape.  I think you need to be a mutient 12-armed octopus to be able to do this without 'mechanical hand' help holding.  Two hands to hold the ends of the tape tight, another two to work No11 blades (wait, don't cut the tape!) or fine tweezers to get the tape to lay in the right place while glue dries, another two or three to work the ACC bottle and get a wire applicator to put the glue on the over-lapping section of tape/banding.  Then at least a couple more to grab another set of mini-clips to hold the two layers of tape together for the glue to dry!

That's one down... starting working number two on the right.

The basic idea is to get the loop of tape fairly tight, which usually means extra material is needed out both ends, over each side.  The tape won't want to lay on top of itself at the stakes.  In the photo above, I was able to get the lapped section of tape to bond with the ACC glue, but the 'under' layer of tape us pinched against the stake, if that slips or comes out, it will slacken the band-set... so not ideal.

Silver craft fine-tipped pen to make the steel clips that crimp onto the steel-bands.

The completed band... time to grab the silver gel-pen and mark where the tension clips are holding the steel bands together.  The ink flows fast and makes a slightly larger mark than I was hoping, but I may come up with ways to 'black ink' it smaller again, - but that will have to wait for the next post on using steel banding.

Annoying challenges continue, the tape won't want to lay on top of itself at the stakes, as we can see at the left-stake here. - At first, don't worry about that.  You can come in after the band is 'done' with the flush-cutters to clip off the excess from the 'inside' of the loop-band.

Victory! - ?

Finally, I got the hang of this, I think!  It gets rather busy in the foreground of this photo, so I'll try to explain.  

My final anchoring solution - wrapping around stakes/boards & Mini-clips!

There's two mini-clips, each is weighting down one end of the tape.  The tape has been wrapped around a post/brace to anchor it off, then the clip provides the weight to keep it there.  (The tackiness of the tape isn't reliable with this much force.)  I've already fitted the longitudinal bracing over the top of the tape bands, which gives me something more to anchor to.  The tape was fed under and around the bracing and stakes to form nearly two complete loops between the stakes.  The 'inner' one is at the lower far right, the front loose end is the one coming diagonally from the left stake, around the close stake and brace, then clipped off with the mini-clip.  In this jury-rigged mess, the two far-side loops of tape are laying on top of one another that I can apply some ACC with an extra piece of plastic stake material (anything will work, wire, etc).

Once the glue has set, I can clip off the extra material with the flush-cutter and put some silver inked band-clips on with the pen.

The new load is designed to fit Walthers 46ft USRA Gondolas, so let's sit back and enjoy the finished model.

Of the 6-sets of banding that I did for this load, I tried probably a dozen times to get the tape to start.  The tape stretches too, so it is very tricky to use.  

More of an end-view of the steel banding.

I will also say, the ideal way is probably to use some ACC and let it fully dry tacking the band  to the end-side of one stake to provide an anchor.  

Covert Chalk Markings

The Walthers 46ft USRA Gondolas are good for many different prototypes, which could be reloaded with lumber.

On a couple of my USRA 46ft gondolas, I've marked on the outside where the inside stake pockets are located, so I can quickly align the loads as I place them in the car.  There's nothing actually inside the car to keep it aligned fore-aft in this position.

In Closing

Other side of the PRR 316083 gondola with the load bunched together, towards the center of the car.

Perhaps form a single loop to enclose one stake, then close it off, that will provide the anchor, then wrap it around the other stake and back to the first after the glue dries.  This from above would form a loop, but with a 'crossover' between them.  Rather like a 4x8 layout with a track cutting across the center of the loop, forming two reverse loops. - I'll probably try that on the next steel-banded load I do.

Jason Hill

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