Tuesday, December 10, 2019

Fixing lumber loads

I  have written a number of posts about lumber loads for open-top cars, both on the prototype and for model freight cars. (You can readily find those previous posts by using “lumber” or “open top cars” as search terms in the search box at right.) What I am going to focus on in the present post is a project to correct the lumber loads on a friend’s layout.
     I will say more about the problem(s) to be fixed in a moment, but I will begin by stating that these loads were made from the cast resin lumber stacks produced by Fine N-Scale Products or FNSP, and yes, they do produce these stacks in both N and HO scales. I first discussed these lumber loads awhile back (see: https://modelingthesp.blogspot.com/2019/01/lumber-on-flat-cars.html ), and I observed that they are really too narrow for modern flat cars. The way to make them useful is to put a wider spacer between the lumber stacks, as I showed in that post.
     I followed up that first post with some additional investigation, exploring whether the narrow lumber stacks of the FNSP kit would be suitable for gondolas, since gons are narrower than flat cars (you can read that post here: https://modelingthesp.blogspot.com/2019/01/lumber-in-gondolas-part-2.html ). The post showed that they can indeed be used in gondolas, and it’s one good way to use these nicely made resin castings of lumber.
     But let me return to the problem with my friend’s loads. An example is shown below, with the FNSP lumber stacks simply glued onto a Red Caboose model, an accurate rendition of Southern Pacific Class F-70-6 or -7 flat cars.

The model shown has two problems, for  me. First, operationally, the loads are glued down, which means there are no empty cars to return to the lumber mills, but the cars have to operate in both directions with their lumber loads on the cars. Second, visually, the stacks entirely lack side stakes and cross-ties, which secure prototype stacks to the car, and they have their edges well inside the inner edge of stake pockets, so that you cannot very well add stakes to such loads even if you accept them being glued down. This is the narrowness issue of the FNSP lumber stacks.
     Obviously the first step was to remove the stacks from each car. I slid a razor blade under each stack and gently sliced through the glue areas. Then the deck could be cleaned up, distressed to show use, and finally weathered. You will note in the photo above that the deck is painted body color, but SP did not paint flat car decks. Thus this deck needs to be stripped, re-colored and weathered. My method of doing so has been described already (here is that post: https://modelingthesp.blogspot.com/2014/10/my-acrylic-weathering-method-part-6.html ).
     But to return to the lumber stacks, they were first cut apart in the center, and larger center spacers used to widen the complete stack. The spacer needs to be 10 or 12 scale inches wide. I showed this in the post cited in the second paragraph of the present post, and show again below how this looks when the stacks are assembled using scale 10 x 10-inch stripwood.

Here I have applied two different colors to the stacks.
     With the spacers inserted, it remains to add “stickers” (as they were called) under the stacks, as well as dividing the stacks into two, one atop the other, in some cases, and then using stripwood for stakes and cross-ties. The stakes are carefully placed so they are exactly at the stake pocket locations on the destination flat car, in my case entirely the Red Caboose models. The finished stacks look like this, and of course are separate so they can be removable. Stakes vary in height, as did the prototype.

     Next, I want to show these stacks in place on one of the Red Caboose flat cars, carefully placed so that their side stakes line up with those on the flat car. In most operating situations on layouts, these will not particularly move around on the flat car deck during train movement. Here is an example.

You can see here that I have placed the stacks on the same car you saw in the first photo of this post, so that there is no distraction with the different appearance of a properly weathered car.
     These modified lumber stacks (widened and with side stakes) are steadily being made ready for service on my friend’s layout, and all the old glued-on loads have now been removed from service. This makes operation more realistic, because empty flat cars can move in the reverse direction of loads, and when the cars are loaded, the loads look much better. But I have a bunch more of these to do yet, so it’s still a work in progress.
Tony Thompson

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