Monday 2 November 2020

Steel Beam Flat Car Load

A CV switcher is about to spot a load of I beams for unloading

An Easy One Afternoon Don Janes

     I was going through my stash of freight cars that are stored under my layout and found a Walthers Pennsylvania 50  foot bulkhead flatcar I had forgotten I had.  I decided to pull it out and update it with a few extra details.  The car was already lightly weathered so I added Cal Scale air hoses, Tangent cut levers and new Rapido 33" wheels.  These wheels are great and roll exceptionally well.   
The finished Bulkhead flat car before the load was added.

     While I was at it I thought it might be fun to add a load to the car. About a year ago I bought a large box of  Evergreen assorted styrene shapes from a friend of George's who was taking care of an estate sale so I  rummaged through it looking for something suitable for a load.  I found several packages of 1/4" "I" Beams so decided to go with that.

Styrene "I" beams used for the flat car load

  I started by cutting the styrene "I" beams into 40ft lengths.  Each piece yielded two 40' beams and a shorter leftover piece.  I cut a total of ten 40' beams and five shorter ones.  I used a dark gray primer to paint each beam before assembling the load. Going from my memory of my working days at CN and from photos for reference, I laid out the load by gluing the bottom row of three beams to scale 6" x 6" wooden strips.  I also used a 6 x 6 vertically to space each beam.  After the beams dried I added a second row.  Once they dried I cut thin strips of black electrical tape to represent metal band iron and wrapped it around two layers of beams, then added the third layer and added more banding.. The top row consisted of one long beam in the middle and four of the shorter pieces on the outside at each end. More banding was then added.  Although I would have liked the load to be removable I decided to glue it to the deck so I could add some banding through the stake pockets and over the top of the load to help secure it in place.  For this strapping I used some black " Easy Line", an elastic material that is often used for telegraph and hydro lines and is sold by Berkshire Junction Railroad Supplies. I used the heavier size.  The line was tied on one stake pocket, stretched over the load and tied off on the other side of the car.  I think it adds a nice touch to the car.
The completed load with the 6x6 spacers and band iron strapping
This view is looking at the top of the load
This is a view of the bottom of the load showing the horizontal and vertical bracing.
Another view of the completed load.

     Before I attached the load to the flat car deck I decided to add a bit of rust to the beams.  I didn't want to overdue it but give the impression it had been exposed to the elements for a while.  To do this I used AK Rust Streaks and lightly dabbed a little bit here and there just to give it a bit of texture and interest.
Here is the finished car with the load.  I think the rust gives it a little extra detail to draw your eye to the load

     I am really happy with the final look of this car.  I think I will go through my freight car fleet and add a few more interesting loads to some of my open top cars. I was an easy one afternoon project which was a lot of fun to do.