Saturday, November 7, 2015

Load Making Workshop

A couple of Sundays ago fellow Nickel Plate Road modeler John Albaneeze invited Brendan and I over for a group work session building loads for our hoppers and gondolas. We were also joined by Tim Moran and Jerry Jordak who's Penn Central layout I got to operate on with Tim earlier this year.

I brought along a bunch of plastic hopper load inserts by Accurail (I really recommend them) that needed finishing, a bottle of Scenic Express mine run coal, the Dollar Tree black decorative sand I also use as coal and few other supplies not knowing what to expect. I've been to John's house a few times and he's always been the ultimate host, so I should've known he'd be well prepared for us.

There were tables to work on and a table full of supplies, containers full of different grades of sand, real coal, metal shavings, rust and all the glue and paint we might need. There was even a table with donuts and coffee which helped pass the time waiting for everyone to arrive. Once Tim and Jerry arrived we got to work. Tim brought several grades of Smith & Sons coal and gravel and added it along with my coal to the communal material supplies.

Here's a view of my set up on the work table I shared with John.

Coating the Accurail loads with real coal assembly line style.
While I dug into coating the tops of the Accurail loads with different sizes of coal, John showed Brendan how to craft a sand load for a gondola using a core of insulating foam.

John explaining the fine art of turning foam into a load base.
I believe Tim came up with the trick we all started using of mixing a bit of Mod Podge glue with a color of acrylic paint similar to the load material we were using. This was helpful for concealing the color of the foam and adhesion of the load material. Even though Mod Podge dries clear, I used the glue and back paint mix to better hide any spots I might miss with coal on the plastic loads. Making my coal loads was a simple process of painting the load top with the glue/paint mix and then pouring the coal on top. After about a half hour I shook the loose coal off for reuse and set the load aside for further drying. Pretty simple stuff.

After Brendan built two sand loads, his attention wandered to the connecting room where John's Carrollton Branch layout resides.  Brendan and I had the opportunity to run one of the local trains in a operating session there a couple of months ago, so Brenadan was hungry for some more switching fun on John's layout.

Brendan on a step ladder works Canton Yard while Tim inspects John's recent additions to the Carrollton Branch.
After a while we broke for a great lunch of sloppy joe's then continued our load building work. I had more loads than I realized piling up around me, but Tim came to the rescue and helped stack the driest loads to make room for more as I worked. Jerry made a whole bunch of gravel loads for his cement plant and some loads that may work for a coke train.

While we might have been working on our own load projects, we all had a great time working together and talkin' trains.

Once Brendan and I returned home and I unpacked my new loads to spread out to dry completely. It was only then did I realize I had completed 42 new loads for my coal hoppers and gondolas!

42 new car loads!
Gondola loads of rusty metal, scrap steel, sand and coal.
I believe John said the rust flakes came off his old Ford Mustang. Where ever they came from they'll look pretty good as a load headed to the steel mills at Mingo Junction.

Pony pieces in my Walthers W&LE gondola.
Thanks again to John for having Brendan and I over. We look forward to any future activities!

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