If you’re looking for a showcase for your modeling skills, a flatcar can be the perfect stage. Like gondolas, flatcars come in many variations and carry an array of loads. From lumber to heavy construction equipment, flatcar loads come in all shapes and sizes.
Like steel products, lumber comes in a variety of raw and finished forms. Bulkheads and center dividers are often used to help secure loads. Finished lumber can be exposed during shipping or wrapped in plastic sheeting.
Commercial products are available for a variety of lumber loads from fresh-cut logs to bundled plywood. Many are designed to fit a specific manufacturer’s model. Premade loads are a great starting point for lumber since most of these loads require a lot of repetition and careful stacking to obtain a realistic look.
Flat steel plates, rail and structural shapes are equally at home on flatcars and gondolas. In addition to spacers between the load and the deck, flat car loads also usually receive additional banding and tie-downs not always necessary in gondolas.
Loads Under Wraps
Often loads require more protection from the elements than a flat car can offer but are too difficult to load in a boxcar. These loads are wrapped in heavy tarps. Today plastic is common. In earlier decades canvas or burlap were used. Steel, lumber, manufactured goods can all be kept under cover. This offers a lot of flexibility for modeling.
You can recreate one of these loads easily with wood, string, and a plastic bag.
Flatcars for automobiles and intermodal equipment are among the most common cars on the rails today. Loading autoracks and trailer or container flatcars is often as easy as placing appropriate model vehicles on the car. Modern cars require very little if any additional blocking to facilitate loading and unloading. Older intermodal flatcars did employ additional chains and tie-downs for added security.
Other vehicles, like farm machinery or construction equipment, are loaded on their own flatcars and often require additional protective measures. Adding tie-down chains , wooden chocks beneath tires, masking windows and crating additional parts all add a lot of interest to these already-eye-catching loads.