About The Steam Era Freightcars Blog

This blog discusses all aspects of North American freight cars of the steam era, from the dawn of railroading through 1960.
It is intended to support the efforts of model railroaders who wish to produce the most prototypically accurate freight cars possible.
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Monday, August 18, 2014

Tips and Tricks: Weighting a flat car

By Marty McGuirk

I build most of my freight cars to run on the layout, not to enter a contest. This means I often don't bother adding the those parts and underbody components that (1) interfere with operation or (2) can't be seen in profile with the car sitting on the track. I might ignore Rule 2, but I never break, or bend Rule 1.
Adding weight to house cars is pretty straightforward but adding enough weight to a flat car or gondola can be a challenge. You could weight a flat car by adding a heavy load, but it’s nice to have an empty car that tracks reliably.
I used A-Line "lead buckshot" style weights for this. The photo shows about half the weights in place. I tried CA at first, but that was difficult to work with. I found a thick coat of Pacer Formula 560 Canopy Glue is a great way of adhering dissimilar parts (like etched metal to plastic) so I decided to try it. My tests showed the buckshot stayed in place so I filled the "voids" between the center sill and cross stringers above the trucks with Canopy Glue and dropped the buckshot into the glue. I also filled the space between the two center sills with Canopy Glue and dropped in more lead shot. 

1 comment:

  1. Shot comes in various sizes from smaller diameter "bird" shots to much larger diameter "buck" shots. Marty mentions "buck" in this post, but pictures a bird shot - perhaps #7 1/2. The smaller sizes (larger number) are best for ballasting models because they pack more densely. #6 and #7 1/2 are common sizes that can sometimes still be found in sporting goods stores (lead is being replaced in the shooting sports with other metals that are less toxic, though not as heavy as lead). 7 1/2 and 8 are my favorites because they pack tightly, but are not so small that they will "leak" through every gap.

    Shot is typically found in 25 pound bags that will likely ballast 200-400 cars.