Model Progress


Some of my projects are long term affairs but they eventually move forward. Here’s a peek at one of those projects. This freight car started about five years ago when Accurail released their very nice 41-foot steel gondola. Except for the ends and a couple of small details, the model is a close match to a Wheeling & Lake Erie prototype. 2000 of those gondolas were built in 1921.


There were a couple of initial attempt to model these ends. I tried to modify a Details Associates GS gondola end, but there was just too much to change. I tried to create a master so resin copies could be cast, but a household move put that into storage.

A couple of years ago a friend needed a project to create a digital file for 3D printing. He also liked the prototype and the fact it was a small project to modify an easily available kit. Eventually the part was printed and a few copies were cast. I’ve been working on several details and just finished installing grab irons on the sides. The prototype had one fewer grab irons than the model, of course, so the cast on grabs had to be removed. I also drilled holes in wrong locations and just filled in those holes with pieces of 0.020-inch styrene. The brake system needs some work, the couplers need to be installed, and there are a couple more details to add, but the project inches closer to the finish line.


The brown piece at the bottom of the above image is the gondola floor that came with the kit. I sanded off the detail and scribed boards into the surface. Add some paint, color a few boards with different shades of brown, splash on a darker wash, and a apply a couple of PanPastel weathering colors and this floor is ready to install after the model is painted. Proper decals are on hand, too! The excuses to delay this model are falling by the wayside. Soon it will enter service on my home layout.

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14 thoughts on “Model Progress”

    1. Is this the same Accurail gondola that John Golden published an article about in
      RMC where he added a wood floor?

  1. Eric,

    Great model. like the work down on the floor.
    I’ll try to follow your blog. SJS is progressing. Sandy and I
    were out in Colorado, and I brought back some ‘dirt’


  2. Looks good, Eric. I especially like what you did to the floor; I want to do the same to a MTH gon for the WM. Even thin scale basswood, weathered & laid in would improve the look, but may take too much depth from the car… can you elaborate on the methods you did to make it look so good? Thanks,

    1. Thanks for dropping by, Norm! The gondola floor is the plastic part that came with the Accurail kit. The part represents a steel floor with plate seams and rivets. I sanded the top surface smooth. I then used a sewing needle to mark the location of each wood groove at about 6-8 inch separation. I have a small square that was used with a #1 X-Acto blade to scribe the grooves. A small dental tool chisel was used to remove the pushed up plastic that appears on each side of the scribed line. A sanding bloc with 150 grit paper was used to give a little rough texture to the floor. The part was washed then painted a sand color with a rattle can. After the paint dried, a few Prismacolor pencils were used to color individual boards grey, umber, and sienna. Not all boards were painted. A flat coat was applied and once that was dry I applied a wash of Burnt Umber acrylic. After the was was dry, the PanPastels came out. Raw umber and a dark charcoal color were applied in varying degrees. Corners attract dirt, so the edges of the floor have more dirt, grime, and soot accumulation. Play around with some sheet styrene before you tackle the model. The more you weather stuff, the easier it becomes.

  3. Hi Eric,

    Have you considered marketing those new gondola ends or having someone like Ted Culotta do so? I’d love to be able to acquire some sets.

    1. Yes. The plan is to offer the ends and decals as a mini-kit but there have been delays. Availability will be announced here when the time comes! – Eric

      1. Glad to hear it. I have a different gondola to model, an L&M, that’s basically a USRA composite gondola with those style ends. I’m hoping they will fit the Intermountain model.


  4. Beautiful work,Eric. Also, would certainly be interested in getting at least two pairs of those ends. Let me know when they are ready.

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