Thursday, March 29, 2018

More gondola loads

The great thing about open-top cars is that they not only can carry neat loads, but also that those loads can be interchangeable. That is the main reason I rarely glue a load into a car, so that other loads can also be used, but of course a removable load also enables the car to run empty.
     One example of a load that isn’t necessarily simple, but was easy for me, was a pair of bridge girders. These are actually the girders that I originally built for the Chamisal Road overcrossing in my layout town of Shumala. But they were too deep, as explained in a post about replacing them (see that post at: ). The excessive depth resulted from simply cutting Atlas bridge girders to length (not exactly how engineers design bridges). But the effort I’d made to complete a pair of girders with rounded top corners, and overlays with impressed rivets, seemed like something I did not want to waste, and accordingly I dismantled the original model bridge, saving only the girders.
     In an earlier post, back in 2012, I showed the loading diagram for girder loads, and illustrated its use with a couple of model loads (that post is at: ). I followed the same approach with these reclaimed girders, arranging the girders upright, with diagonal braces to keep them that way. My first step was to set the girders on scale 6 x 6-inch wood supports.

The next step was diagonal braces to keep the girders upright in transit. These are also made from 6 x 6 stripwood. The load is now a self-contained unit and can be simply set into a suitable gondola.

     Some time back, I acquired a handful of fancy plastic skewers, used at a reception for raw vegetables intended to be eaten from the skewer. For some time, I wondered how best to use these, and finally decided to make a gondola load. They looked a little like some decorative lampposts I once saw, so I decided to identify them that way. I cut them down to fit into a 40-foot gondola, glued them to 6 x 6 lumber as in the preceding girder load, and spray painted them medium gray.

Again, this is a load that can simply be dropped into a gondola.
     Finally, I made a load of aluminum pipe some time ago, using actual thin-wall aluminum tubing. I added Alcoa logos to the load. I recall such loads being so placarded when I worked in the summers of my college years at Alcoa in Vernon (Los Angeles County). These placards are actually little aluminum lapel badges handed out at Alcoa, presumably in the hope that employees would wear them in their personal lives. Let me digress a moment about Alcoa logos.
     From the 1920s until about 1951, when long-time Alcoa chairman Roy Hunt retired, Alcoa used a kind of shield logo, with stars on it (see left-most graphic, below). But after World War II, as both Reynolds and Kaiser aluminum products were being marketed to the general public, Alcoa began to recognize the need for a more distinctive logo for public consumption. At first they adopted a pair of triangles, either in black or in red and blue (middle graphic below; note that the old shield is there in miniature). Finally, in 1963, they moved to a logo that essentially has been used ever since, originally red-blue but in more recent years all blue; and you can see the original pair of triangles inside this logo (right-most graphic below). I suppose the white shape is kind of a letter “A” to represent Alcoa’s name.

My lapel badges had the color version of the 1951 logo, so I liked using them on this load, even though they are probably oversize by a fair amount. Here is how the load looks.

     These kinds of loads are pretty quick and easy to make, and permit variety in what kind of work your gondolas do on your layout. That’s something I always enjoy in setting up an operating session.
Tony Thompson

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