Monday, January 14, 2019

Lumber in gondolas, Part 2

In a previous post, I introduced the cast resin lumber loads from Fine N Scale Products or FNSP (they make these loads in both N and HO scales), and commented on the fact that they are a little too narrow for modern flat cars (that post can be found at: ). In that same post, I also mentioned the Owl Mountain lumber kit, which is full width, and now has a companion “narrow load” kit that I will review in an upcoming post.
     But narrow loads ought to fit nicely into gondolas. Rough or unfinished lumber was efficiently shipped on flat cars in the transition era, but when flat cars were in short supply, shippers did use gondolas, despite the greater labor needed to both load and unload them. I have posted before about lumber in gondolas (see it at: ).
     I went ahead with trying to see if the FNSP resin lumber stacks would work well as gondola loads. On the Southern Pacific, there were considerably more drop-bottom or GS gondolas than tight-bottom ones, so these would be a logical choice for lumber loads. I have a number of models of the composite classes of post-war SP GS gondolas, including the Red Caboose styrene ones, along with the Challenger brass models. Ideally these loads would also fit into models of earlier cars, such as the old Ulrich models of 1920s steel cars.
     I quickly discovered that the loads are not that narrow. I had to use thin lumber for the stickers between the lumber stacks, and I chose scale 1 x 4-inch strip. There was not a need for horizontal separators within stacks, as you can see in the loading diagram (a link to it is contained in the first paragraph of the present post). I then added scale 3 x 4-inch stakes and 1 x 4-inch cross-ties. I attached all these pieces with canopy glue. This makes a stack like this.

     Another point to recognize is that many GS gondolas had a slender slanted side right at the floor on the inside. This means that a separator stick under the load must not extend to the sides unless you want the load to ride on the top of that slanted area. I chose to add thicker pieces of stripwood under the load, both making it a little higher, and keeping the load off those slanted sides.

     I was of course checking throughout the process of assembling this load, to make sure it would fit into my GS gondolas. For example, here is one of the stacks in an Ulrich white-metal GS gondola.

     Once I was sure my choices of sticker and stake size would work, I completed the stacks, I ended up with fairly nice-looking load stacks, as you see in the photo below.

     This is certainly a good use of the FNSP resin lumber stacks, for gondola loads, though I should mention that older flat cars (built before about 1940) were a little narrower, and could well accept these loads also. But I will leave that topic to a possible future post. Certainly it is clear that these resin lumber stacks do work well for gondolas.
Tony Thompson


  1. Were lumber loads in that era as uneven in length as those shown here? Certainly today, all the lumber in a given stack is the same length.

  2. Yes, Jim, transition-era photos show VERY irregular lengths of lumber. Usually these were later cut to size at a lumber yard. You are of course right that today lumber is all pre-cut to length.
    Tony Thompson