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.
|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).
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).
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.
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.
|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.
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.