Monday, March 14, 2016

Another group of Richard Hendrickson open-top car loads

I have posted several descriptions of Richard’s open-top car loads, for example this recent one (see it at: ). I also posted a set of photos of his interesting and varied lumber loads (that post is at: ). In this post, I want to present a few more of his load ideas.
     [For anyone who doesn’t know, or has forgotten, who Richard Hendrickson was, I wrote a post in his memory after he passed away in June 2014, and touched on many of his accomplishments. If you’d like to read it, the post is at this link: .]
     Nearly all his loads were glued into or onto the freight cars. This permitted some complex modeling of tie-down details and other arrangements for some flatcar loads. Personally, I forego those details and make nearly all my loads removable, because the car normally will need to move both to and from a destination on the layout. But Richard’s layout plan was really a kind of “railfan” arrangement, with a fairly small diorama having essentially no switching locations on it, supported by a lot of staging. That way, the observer could witness multiple trains passing through the diorama in a single session, and of course the loaded or empty cars would not be switched, but simply roll by. Glued-down loads would not pose any problem.
     Let me now show a few additional examples of his loads. I will start with a signature Santa Fe freight car, the Caswell gondola. Richard modeled it as it was in later years, with the added top chords on the second and seventh side panels. ATSF 172307 was Class GA-7, and is an InterMountain model with added detail and a sand load, glued to a shaped piece of Styrofoam.

I like this load because it shows the smoothed and slightly slumped appearance that I have seen in prototype loads of fine materials like this.
     Richard enjoyed poking fun a coal-country modelers and their needs for massive fleets of hopper cars. “In the West,” he liked to say, “most railroads didn’t move that much coal, and those that did, moved it in gondolas.” He thus left the impression that he had no interest in, nor need for modeling hoppers. But being a serious freight car modeler in spite of those comments, he did build a number of models of hopper cars with coal loads. This car, MP 56037, has had wire grab irons added and other details modified from the Athearn quad hopper.

     A traditional bulk load in model railroading is the scrap load, and the variety of scrap visible in such carloads can make it a very interesting load. Often modelers represent a car as entirely full of scrap, but in fact partial loads were and are common also. Here is one of Richard’s scrap loads, PRR 860017, a Class GS gondola. I believe this was built from a Westerfield kit.

     In addition to bulk loads like these, he did a number of loads of steel pipe, a common sight in transition-era prototype photos. I showed one of them in the first post cited at the top of the present post. Here is another, one of the cars described in Richard Hendrickson’s by-now-classic articles on modeling various mill gondolas by kitbashing the Athearn gondola. This was a two-part series in Prototype Modeler, in the September-October and November-December issues of 1982, pages 31 and 12, respectively. The car is EJ&E 32386.

I was intrigued by that article, “back in the day” when we had few prototypical gondola models available, and I went ahead with a couple of the projects described in those articles (you can see my own version of the EJ&E car in an earlier post, which is at: ).
     Finally, I should mention that Richard also modeled numerous open-top cars which were empty. This may not sound interesting, except that he endeavored to depict the kinds of scrap, dunnage remains, cables, steel straps, stakes, broken braces, and other materials that often remained on unloaded flat and gondola cars. Here is one example, ATSF 97198, Class FT-M, an Athearn flat car lengthened to the prototype 44-foot size. The vertical-staff brake wheel isn’t obvious in this view, but it is just visible at lower right. (As with all these photos, you can click to enlarge.)

     As I have spent time with the photos I took of Richard’s freight car models prior to dispersing them to many of his friends and colleagues, I continue to enjoy seeing the thought that went into them. These cars illustrate the depth of modeling which extends beyond mere multiplication of detail, to realistic representation of prototype cars.
Tony Thompson


  1. Great models!

    Is that real sand in the Caswell gondola or N scale ballest? Do you know how Richard actually made the load?

    George Corral

  2. George, I don't know in detail. He did mention to me that he had carved a piece of fine-grained styrofoam to serve as a base. I don't know the material for the sand, and the car has now been given to a friend of Richard's. But I can state that the material is quite fine (maybe not fine enough to really represent sand in HO scale . . .), though I don't know its origin.
    Tony Thompson