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Monday, July 8, 2013

An Easy, “Retro” Coal Load

Among projects awaiting their turn was a group of coal loads. The bases for five loads were in the OO Inventory, and I certainly could use more than the one example I had. I made one many years ago by the same methods; if from a magazine article or from my imagination (the methods are basically the same as what I used to ballast track) I do not know.

First up though, the finished product: four shining and easily removable coal loads set up for Scale-Craft OO gauge hoppers. What follows is how I made them.

The bases, as noted, were in the OO Inventory. They are wood and had been painted black, which are the first two steps to this process. They need to fit in so that they are about 1/8 inch below the sides of the car with a little space on the sides. Not too much, of course, but if too little you will have trouble removing the load from the car the first time.

The next step is to put plastic wrap over the cars and insert the load bases. To that you will add your load. I had around from when I made the original load Life-Like black scenic stone. I like the look of it for this project but to extend it a bit I also used some larger rubber toy train coal under the middle of each load.

Fill each car to a pleasing shape. I had hoped to do five loads but I only had enough stone for four. At this point you will need to carefully “wet” the coal. I used a mixture of ½ water and ½ 70% alcohol sprayed on very gently with a sprayer. To this I added white glue very gently as well that was a mixture of ½ glue and ½ water with some dish detergent added as a wetting agent. Soak the load well as you want the coal to stay put. And don’t touch the coal! If you touch it the load will be difficult to get back in shape.

Let the loads dry for a day. It will take a while but eventually the white color of the glue will not be visible. Then carefully remove the loads. You should be able to get them out with just pulling on the plastic wrap, although one stubborn car I had to push the load out from below (through a hopper bay).

At this point again let the load sit. You will see there still is wet glue around and you want it all to dry hard. Wait another day.

At that point the load will be dry and probably won’t fit the cars because there is a little stray material blocking the way. Use sandpaper gently on the sides of the load to clear the way.

There is one last step. The glue has left the coal looking a bit dull, and actually the Life-Like scenic stone had a dull finish to begin with. The solution is Testors Glosscote spray from a can. This step makes the loads “pop” with the look of real coal.

That‘s it! Many add a metal washer to coal loads such as these so that they can use a magnet to remove the loads, but they are removed quite easily by turning the cars over and these big Scale-Craft hoppers are pretty heavy already. This project will work in any scale; all you have to do is adjust the size of the materials used. Good luck!

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