The On-Line Magazine of Rideable Model Railroading
© October 03, 2011
©Discover Live Steam. This material may not be published, rewritten, or redistributed without written permission.
Southern Pacific Project in 1.5" Scale
Written by Gordon Payne
Many riding railroads include gondola cars. Riding-scale gondolas can haul most anything, including people, tools, buckets, rail, and anything else you can think of. I guess that's why real railroads have so many.
The original LT&P plan called for a gondola, and I patterned it after an old Atlas O scale car I acquired in the 1970s. My new car also has elements of gons from the rrpicturearchives.net web page. Click here. I scaled the model up 600% and used internet photos to determine the placement of ladders; my model and the photos had different ladder set ups.
The following manufacturers provided materials for my car:
Precision Steel Car Co. - ladders, brake parts (brake wheel, reservoir, valve, cylinder, etc.), body bolsters, car ends
Mountain Car Co. - couplers, roller bearing trucks
Real Trains - coupler pockets
Connie Miracle - vinyl lettering
Lowe's - aluminum stock for frame, ribs and sills, 10-24 screws and nuts, Valspar spray paint, ¼ and ½" plywood
MicroFasteners - miniature bolts, washers and nuts
The first step was to lay out the frame. I used ¾" x ¾" x six-foot square aluminum tubing for the main frame and cross pieces. The bolsters are 3/8" x 2" x 7" steel from PSC, with a tapped 3/8 x 16 hole for the truck mounting screw.
I measured the PSC ends to be sure the floor and sides would fit. The floor is ½" plywood, which was cut very carefully to ensure it is square and the edges are straight. The frame and floor were assembled and bolted together. The sides are ¼" plywood, sealed with two coats of sanding sealer and two coats of brown paint. I had to trim about 1 ½" off the top of the PSC ends to match the height of the car I was modeling.
With the sides and ends clamped in place, I drilled the ends and side panels for 4-40 bolts. The lowest hole fits an 8-32 screw, as it goes through the main frame, too.
I laid out the centers for each rib on the car sides. The ribs alternate between 5/8" and ¾" aluminum. At the centerline of each of the larger ( ¾") ribs, I drilled a 3/16" hole through the side into the main frame aluminum tubing for a 10-24 x 1 ¼" bolt. This made the side/floor connection very strong
I mounted the Real Trains coupler pockets so they extend past the end of the car to better match the set up in the prototype photos.
I used ¾" x six-foot aluminum angle for the sills on the inside face of the sides and ends. I ran a 4-40 x 1" bolt through each 5/8" rib to hold the angle in place, then added the outside angles, made from ½" stock. I used 4-40 screws here, too, run through the outside ½" sill, each ¾" rib, and the inside sill. Now, the ¾" angle on the inside of the sides is held in place by a screw on each rib, enhancing its strength.
The outside angles do not reach the ends of the car in all my reference photos, so I duplicated this facet of the model.
In Part 2, I will go over the ladder and brake details, final painting, and lettering.
Continued in Part 2
Written by Gordon Payne
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The On-Line Magazine of Ridable Model Railroading