Getting the load out.

Discussion in 'FAQs' started by Cactus, Aug 30, 2001.

  1. Cactus

    Cactus Member

    I'm constructing my first layout, N-scale, modeled after the Western Maryland/B&O combination. Part of this will be a loads in/empties out scenario (coal mine/power plant).

    I'll require some hopper cars with coal loads and some without. I recently bought several of the new Atlas N-scale 55 ton hopper cars in Western Maryland livery. They came with coal loads installed. They are handsome cars, and I don't want to mess them up.

    How are the loads attached in these cars? Can they be removed without damaging the car?

    The cars are weighted, I assume to NMRA standards. Will removing the coal loads simply expose some sort of weights to view? I don't want that.

    Are there sources of similar hopper cars without loads?

  2. Drew1125

    Drew1125 Active Member

    Hi Cactus!
    The loads in the Atlas hoppers should just pop off. You might need to give them a little gentle encouragement with a hobby knife.
    I'll tell you what I've tried, & I got this idea from an article in Model Railroader -
    Get some of that green foam block stuff that florists use. You can find it in craft stores too. It might seem kind of pricey, but a little goes a long way.
    Cit a piece to fit snuggly, but not too tight, inside a hopper, & sand the top to approximate the shape of a coal load. You might need to shim the bottom of it with cardboard or stripwood to get it to the right height.
    Next, paint the foam with a flat black acrylic paint.
    How, if possible get yourself a lump of real coal. (I got mine off the RR tracks) Wrap the coal in a rag, or heavy sack of some kind, & pound it into powder with a hammer.
    Now take your black foam block, spread on some full-strength white glue, & sprinkle on the coal.
    Now you have a removable coal load that looks better than the ones you buy!
  3. Cactus

    Cactus Member

    Thanks, Charlie!

    I'll give it a shot.

    I'm still not certain about the loads in/empties out scenario. I want to be sure how I'll arrange my scenery. It would look pretty hokey to see the power plant sitting there right next to the coal mine. Why have hopper cars at all in that case? I guess I'll need a mountain and a couple of tunnels and some other creative arranging.

  4. billk

    billk Active Member

    I assume you've read "Track Planning for Realistic Operations". It deals with this very thing (Fig 10-8 in my copy, pg 128). Basically, the mine and the power plant are separated by a ridge, and are connected by tunnels going through the ridge. Empties go into the mine and come out of the power plant, and vice versa for loads.
    Bill K
  5. Drew1125

    Drew1125 Active Member

    Sorry Cactus,
    I got so carried away telling you about my coal loads, I forgot to address the other part of your post.
    It sounds like you're interested in realistic type operation, & billk has a good suggestion, with that book by John Anderson, it has lots of great ideas in it.
    That loads in/empties out scenario is going to involve some kind of hidden staging track. Either under the layout, or off-layout, or behind a wall, or something. Just make sure you provide yourself easy access to the trains, & track. Murphy's Law has yet to be repealed.
  6. Cactus

    Cactus Member

    Thanks, Folks!

    The coal load problem is solved quite well now. I took Charlie's advice on how to remove the loads from the Atlas cars. Then I sanded down the sides of the loads so they'd slip out of the cars easily.

    I glued a couple of steel washers to the bottom of each load. A wave of a magnet over a car causes the load to fly up. Voila! An empty car from a full one! The load can be dropped in at the coal mine and removed at the power plant. These then don't have to be jammed next to each other.

    So, I probably can avoid the loads in/empties out scenario. Loads in/empties out is very attractive because the magnetic hand of God doesn't have to appear, but my l-shaped shelf layout doesn't lend itself to believable location of the mine/mountain/power plant trio.

    I'll have lots more questions. Thanks again.

  7. Drew1125

    Drew1125 Active Member

    Hey Cactus,
    That magnet & washer system sounds like a real stroke of genius!
    I think that might deserve to be in The Academy section of this forum.
    Hopefully, Shamus, or someone will take notice of this.
    What a great idea!

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