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Home made coal load

7655 Views 24 Replies 14 Participants Last post by  Dave F
I wanted to try to make some coal loads for my Aristo 100 ton hopper cars. I used 1 3/4" blue styrafoam board. I cut this to 18 3/8" length by 3 11/16" wide. Then set this into car and marked the four corners where top of car is on foam. Put a mark on end 1 3/8" up from bottom of foam. Set blade about 1 3/4" high to tip of teeth and set blade at just under a 26 degree angle. Cut sides and ends of foam. USE CAUTION AS BLADE IS HIGH AND DANGEROUS!!! KEEP FINGERS AND HANDS CLEAR OF BLADE. then set blade at 90 degrees and 1 1/4" from fence and cut point off foam. I then painted this with 2 coats of latex black paint.

I built a jig to hold foam then applied liquid nails construction adhesive to 3 sides, smoothed out alittle with a putty knife and coated with some small rock I found between the rails at Iowa Falls about 5 years ago. Press rock into adhesive. Turn foam around in jig and do the same to the last side. Dump off excess rock and reapply more to touch up and dump excess off again. I then spray painted it black with Rust-oleum semi-gloss enamel. After that dried I painted it with 2 coats of Krylon indoor/outdoor flat black and let dry.

The rock I used was a redish color and varied in diameter from less than 1/16" to 5/16". Most was 3/16" and less.

here are some pictures:

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adding adhesive and rock
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The first 3 coal loads I made and the furthest one is by Aristocraft.
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I used a similar technique for coal loads for my delton/aristo classic hoppers. I used a Tippi hot wire foam cutter to shape the pink foam board and gave them a couple of coats of spray latex. Then I sprayed them liberally with 3M Super77 and sprinkled on real coal.

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Hmmmmm.. An ICG loco haulin' coal??? That never happens.../DesktopModules/NTForums/themes/mls/emoticons/whistling.gif

Looks great, nice job. I may have to give it a go myself...
(We haul a lot of coal on my ICG as well...)
Great job.
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Great idea Leon! And it looks like the real deal! Very well done, thanks for posting pics too.
First: great modeling, looks almost real!

Why almost? Loaded hoppers tend not to be completely full. For a load like that, it would take hand packing around the edges or a lot of spilled coal. It would also create a possibly dangerous situation with coal coming off the load while in motion.

Look at this picture of a coal load in a hopper:

The coal doesn't come all of the way up the side of the car. The pile in the middle is higher than the edges , but at the edges (least at the front and back of the car) it is clearly lower.

Small nit-picky thing I know and certainly offered with no intent to diminish the modeling effort which is really very good.
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Hi Leon,

Snap, that is the way that I do it, as a final touch I add some extra bits of real coal, to give some different glinths of light to the load.

My loads are lumps of polystene block, hacked about with a knife, then add the rocks which are Horticultural grit. Put it on as Kevin Strong does in GR with roof adhesive, thats black on hides the bright white of the polystyrene, the lumpier style is the best if you can find it large enough.

Nice work!
The current issue of GR has an article on doing a coal load. I mostly followed it. Jerry
Years ago, coal was just piled into the hopper until it hit the weight limit and away the train went! Spillage over the side and dust was not considered.

Now the RRs are finding that the dust is ruining the track and wheels and the bearings on the car. The customer is also concerned about not getting the weight of material they paid to be shipped. The RRs are experimenting with various methods of reducing the losses to the customer and the damage to their property. They are combing the loads and shaping it to reduce loss, dust and wind resistance. They are using various chemical coatings over the load to glue it together and smooth the surface.

One thing odd that I have noticed is that the upper surface of the load is an odd shape.

If you consider the shape of the modern coal car you will notice that the lower portion of the ends are sloped toward the area between the ends starting at about half of the cars height, down to about the height of the truck. This leaves a large area on each end of the car that is not used to carry the product. I can understand the sloped ends if it is a bottom dump car, but even the rotary dump are shaped this way.

If you look down on the load from the top you will notice that is has the same shape as the car, but inverted. The upper surface of the coal load starts at each end about half way up the height of the car and slopes up toward the middle of the car. Crossways to the car the upper surface is a gentle curve, but end to end there are these steep slopes on the each end.

The highest point in the load extends above the height of the sides of the car, but at the very ends of the car you can see the metal bottom of the car at the start of the slope! It seems there is plenty of room in the ends to take all the coal that is above the rim of the car sides and tuck it neatly down below the rim, and thus out of the air stream over the car.
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Thanks for the comments guys. I know it may not be an exact prototypical coal load but its cheap, fun to make,all you need is a table saw and some readily available material and it works for me.
That's the way to do it Leon-your way! That's what the hobby is all about. Jerry
Leon, the bottom line is that it really looks like coal in there!!! I like it.
I had a chance to see Leon's coal loads up close. As his mallet and coal cars came down from Iowa to run on the UP Evanston Sub. They are very nice! Had a great time running with Leon.
Hi all-
I just wanted to re-emphasize that I was in no way criticizing Leon's work or the choices he made. I think it's great he chose to share it with us.
I may someday run a hopper with a single lump of coal in it if I want, and if it pleases me, that's what counts.
I appreciate all of the gentle and gentlemanly defense of Leon's coal load but it isn't necessary, my observation was just that, an observation.
No offense was taken by me so don't worry about it. You said it looked almost real and good so I took it as a complement. You just pointed out something that others may want to consider if building some loads. I opted for a easy to make load. No Problem here.
Thank you Dave F, Jimtype, peter bunce,CCSII, Jerry, SandyR and Don for your replys.
You know, it might be that the way the coal is loaded could indicate the time frame of the railroad...if you're modelling before WWII, it would be the older style, hopper filled to overflowing, and then more recent years would have the newer loading style...
Fish tank charcole from Walmart makes good coal for loads also.
Along those lines, I've been using black fish tank gravel.. Works great and spills prototypicaly when you have a derailment...

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