Live loads vs. dummy loads

Discussion in 'HO Scale Model Trains' started by Chessie1973, Nov 22, 2003.

  1. Chessie1973

    Chessie1973 Member

    I was wondering what all of you out there prefer in the way of gondola or hopper car loads.

    I plan to have a coal mine servicing a power plant as part of my layout and I was wondering if it is worth the potential cleanup hassle to run live loads in the hopper cars.

    I have two of the planned 10 hopper cars (Athearn Undecorated 40 foot/4 bay hoppers) and I am experimenting using Aquarium carbon as a live load for them. It so far is working well in my short train I am currently running on a simple track loop on the floor.

    I don't want to permanently ruin these cars by gluing in a dummy load but I know how to make removable loads using the water/glue mix method and I am thinking of going that route possibly. I don't want to have to be cleaning up coal spills during my operation sessions once I get my layout running well but at the same time it would be nice to run the more realistic looking live loads in the hoppers.

    I can't decide, what do all of you prefer?
  2. 60103

    60103 Pooh Bah

    I would not use the loose loads. While most of my loads are solid but removable, I use my open cars during layout construction to carry nails, ties, cutoff junk etc. and inevitably one or more get upset. Picking nails out of the scenery and off the floor is one thing, picking ballast out of the rug is another, cleaning real carbon off -- I don't want to think about.
    I have a few that were made for me using the foam that computer boards used to come packed in -- the dimpled or egg-crate pattern. The dimples in this are about the width of an HO car -- cut it to fit with 2 or 3 dimples along and glue load stuff on top of it.
  3. David Rosser

    David Rosser Member

    Let me second Journeyman's comment; do NOT use live loads! Many years ago a friend who was a salesman for a coal mine gave me a large jar of very fine coal that was for use as fuel in power generation. I decided to fill a hopper car or two with real coal. We had a derailment and we had a mess!!! I now use balsa shaped as a coal load, painted black with coal poured over it while wet. It still looks like real coal,because it is, but a lot safer. Dave
  4. Chessie1973

    Chessie1973 Member

    After my little experiment with them I would have to completely agree with you all on the live loads issue.

    Looks liks I got me another project coming up. Making me some removable coal loads for my hopper cars.

    While they look good there is just way to much mess involved. I have been lucky so far my loads haven't spilled but I also know it's not a case of if but when will they spill.
  5. MasonJar

    MasonJar It's not rocket surgery


    First, welcome! (I am a bit late responding to your other thread...:eek: )

    Second, take a look at this thread where I described making simple, but removable coal loads.

    Third, I am not too sure how it works, but if you have a destination for you coal on the layout, you can make some sort of track plan that includes empties in and loads out. I am sure that someone else here has experience with this. I think it works something like...

    Loads go into destination, then proceed by hidden trackage "back" to origin to come out full. Empties go in origin, and move by hidden track to destination, coming out empty.

    That way, you don't have to remove the loads, or fill the empties.

    Hope that helps.

  6. Chessie1973

    Chessie1973 Member

    Heh, thanks for the link, I may use that on my next batch of undecorated Hoppers I pick up.

    I already made my first two loads in my current hoppers using slightly watered down elmers glue and Aquarium Carbon. Theses two loads are permanent loads.

    I was actually already thinking of doing the "emties in loads out" thing on my furture layout. I am thinking of doing a coal mine and power plant as the consumer of the coal and it wouldn't be too hard to make a hidden track loop running between the loading areas to do this I think. Or just have hidden sidings behind a backdrop on the 4x8 for each of the two major industries.
  7. mhdishere

    mhdishere Member

    As far as I've seen, there's only one good reason to use live loads, and that's if you're modelling a rotary dumper or something similar.

    Yes, real railroads have to clean up coal after a derailment too, but personally I don't want to be that prototypical.

    On another forum I frequent I heard a story of someone who modelled a rotary dumper and used real coal, after the first operating session his clothes were FILTHY from coal dust, after that he used "fake" coal, crushed plastic I think.
  8. Chessie1973

    Chessie1973 Member

    Yeah the Aquarium carbon I used is pretty dusty. The little bit that spilled on the carpet left a nice black stain.

    I will go with permanent coal loads in 6 of the planned 12 hoppers on my layout. I plan to have two coal trains going. one empty and one full. I will switch them out when I make the deliveries to the power plant I plan to model and return the empties to the mine for "refilling"
  9. Russ Bellinis

    Russ Bellinis Active Member

    I think the easies way to eliminate the mess from real coal, would be to wash it in water to get the fine dust off, then spray it with dull coat to seal it.
  10. 60103

    60103 Pooh Bah

    loads in/empties out

    To digress slightly, if you use the loads in/empties out, would you have 2 sets of cars with the same numbers on them? or is that carrying things too far?
  11. billk

    billk Active Member

    Re: loads in/empties out

    For me, the answers would be no and yes.
    What you need is a hidden section of dual tracks, with the entrance at each end being an industry, like the attached:

Share This Page