Subscriber & Member Login

Login, or register today to interact in our online community, comment on articles, receive our newsletter, manage your account online and more!

Bulkhead flatcar lumber loads

1146 views
14 replies
1 rating 2 rating 3 rating 4 rating 5 rating
  • Member since
    February 2008
  • 1,527 posts
Bulkhead flatcar lumber loads
Posted by kasskaboose on Monday, August 3, 2020 10:21 AM

I saw youtube vids of folks making them for N scale but not HO.  The N scaler stacked 1/4" thick balsa wood.  How to make that for HO?  

Thanks!

  • Member since
    March 2002
  • From: Milwaukee WI (Fox Point)
  • 10,590 posts
Posted by dknelson on Monday, August 3, 2020 11:22 AM

Rather than model from someone else's modeling, it seems to me the first quetion is, what prototype load -- what look -- are you trying to replicate?

  1/4" would be a huge hunk of timber in N so I have to assume the N modeler was letting one big piece stand in for many separate pieces.  

I have seen timbers about the size of railroad ties shipped on bulkhead flats but which did not appear to be railroad ties per se.  If I was making such a load in HO I would use the craft sticks that you see at Michaels or Hobby Lobby because they are uniform in size (more so than wooded match sticks which they somewhat resemble), clean with no fuzz, but are much cheaper than true scale lumber.  Forster Mini-Sticks are the brand I use and you get a big bag of 2 5/8" long sticks for a few bucks.  In HO they measure out as 7" by 7" by 19 feet (scale) long, so with a chopper even just one stick gives you several large timbers to stack up as a load.  And the package has 500 sticks!

Just for the record there are also small dowels at the craft/hobby stores.  Loew Cornell "Woodsies" Mini Dowels (250 per package) measure out in HO to be 6.5 inches in diameter and 18.5 scale feet long. 

Dimensional lumber is usually shipped in wrapped form, and Jaeger makes or made the wrappers that would fit around blocks of wood.  Now and then you do see dimensional lumber shipped unwrapped.  

Here is an idea for an interesting load - I have seen dimensional lumber wrapped, as well as wall board loads, where gaps between the piles are filled with either inflatable white plastic "pillows" (which I understand are also used as gap fillers in boxcars) or with large cardboard tubes to prevent loads shifting due to the gap.

Another approach for the modeler, and I seem to recall an MR article and perhaps a video on this website by David Popp or Cody Grivno, is to make a central core out of wood or a block of foam - since nobody will see it -- and surround it on sides, above, and ends with the separate pieces of wood, be it craft sticks or scale lumber.  No sense in "wasting" wood that isn't seen. 

Dave Nelson

Moderator
  • Member since
    June 2003
  • From: Northeast OH
  • 15,396 posts
Posted by tstage on Monday, August 3, 2020 11:34 AM

Since N-scale is 1:160 and HO-scale is 1:87.1, the conversion for 1/4" thick balsa wood from N-scale to HO would make that 0.460" or 7/16".

Tom

http://www.newyorkcentralmodeling.com

Time...It marches on...without ever turning around to see if anyone is even keeping in step.

  • Member since
    September 2013
  • 2,029 posts
Posted by caldreamer on Monday, August 3, 2020 12:38 PM

I have quite a number of wrappers from lumber producers in n scale that I wrap around a piece of wood or plastic. I printed these into full size sheets and cut the wrappers to size and glued them around the load. Wrapped the loads with a thin piece of string glued to the load to look like strapping 

    Ira

  • Member since
    January 2004
  • From: Canada, eh?
  • 10,933 posts
Posted by doctorwayne on Monday, August 3, 2020 4:58 PM

kasskaboose
...I saw youtube vids of folks making them for N scale but not HO. The N scaler stacked 1/4" thick balsa wood.

dknelson
...I have seen timbers about the size of railroad ties shipped on bulkhead flats but which did not appear to be railroad ties per se.

I recall seeing a 60' bulkhead flatcar at the steel plant where I worked.  It was loaded with timbers at least 12"x12"x30', some of the nicest-looking lumber I have ever seen.  It was reddish in colour, like perhaps cedar or maybe redwood, and appeared to be absolutely without blemishes or knots.  I can't image what its intended use might have been, but they did use a lot lumber as forms, temporary scaffolding and such.

Maybe one of the mucky-mucks had plans to build a cottage.

While I doubt that there were many bulkhead flats, or perhaps even any, in use in the late '30s era of my layout, but my freelanced road built a couple in their own shops, specifically for lumber service...

The flatcars are from Athearn, while the bulkhead ends are from Walthers' version of the GSC flatcars, all of which were built without the ends...

I also have a couple of bulkhead gondolas, which likely weren't too common at the time, either....

I created them by cutting a couple of Athearn 40' pulpwood flats in half, then inserted another 10' of deck in the middle, and added some scratchbuilt sides.  They're useful for lumber or pipe loads, but can be used like any ordinary gondola, too...

Wayne

  • Member since
    December 2004
  • From: Bedford, MA, USA
  • 19,267 posts
Posted by MisterBeasley on Monday, August 3, 2020 8:52 PM

I think that bulkhead flats are neat enough by themselves that I run a couple of them empty.  I do have a small lumber yard that's not rail served, so lumber loads don't do anything for me operationally.

It takes an iron man to play with a toy iron horse. 

  • Member since
    February 2008
  • 1,527 posts
Posted by kasskaboose on Monday, August 3, 2020 9:12 PM

Thanks everyone for the help.  It seems the effort is too challenging since I don't have a jig.  I might get a pre-made load and cover up the labels with one from lumber company in southern VA. 

BTW: Love the photos!

  • Member since
    January 2004
  • From: Canada, eh?
  • 10,933 posts
Posted by doctorwayne on Monday, August 3, 2020 10:22 PM

MisterBeasley
...I do have a small lumber yard that's not rail served, so lumber loads don't do anything for me operationally.

Just because a car is not heading to one of your modelled destinations, that doesn't mean that it can't pass through, headed to "elsewhere".

I'm modelling the late '30s in southern Ontario, and while I do have a lumber yard, I also have lots of cars that simply pass through, starting in one of my staging yards and terminating in another one.  There's also a wide selection of rolling stock from all over North America, Mexico included, because that's what I saw in my hometown of Hamilton, probably the most industrialised city in Canada at that time.  This allows for a lot more variety in the make-up of the trains.

kasskaboose

Thanks everyone for the help.  It seems the effort is too challenging since I don't have a jig.  I might get a pre-made load and cover up the labels with one from lumber company in southern VA. 

BTW: Love the photos!

 
Thanks, I think that photos make any explanation clearer.
 
The lumber load shown was made using left-over basswood, as by that time, I wasn't using it for scratchbuilding.  As you can see, the loads are hollow, with some added weight, so not a lot of material is needed to create a load of lumber.  It can be cemented together using ordinary white glue, and smaller-size basswood is available for the stakes, holding the load in place. 
Give it a try...it's not that difficult and even if it doesn't meet your requirements, you'll have learned that there are ways to create the stuff you need, instead of having to search for something that costs more than what you can do yourself.

Wayne

  • Member since
    June 2007
  • 7,795 posts
Posted by riogrande5761 on Tuesday, August 4, 2020 7:55 AM

Time frame makes a difference.

If you want lumber loads that have outside frames like Waynes, Owl Mountain offers kits.  Those would probably be for 1950's and earlier:

 
1960's and later, lumber loads were usually in stacks that were strapped.  Trainlife sells kits for very nice 2x4's in stacks that are 8, 10, 12 and 16 feet long.  Wheels of Time offers HO kits for lumber loads as well.

Rio Grande.  The Action Road  - Focus 1977-1983

  • Member since
    January 2004
  • From: Canada, eh?
  • 10,933 posts
Posted by doctorwayne on Tuesday, August 4, 2020 1:12 PM

Thanks for the link, Jim.  Those Owl Mountain loads look pretty good, although the price could be a problem if one needed multiple loads.
As you mention, my lumber loads are more suited to an earlier time, but I have done a few pipe loads using strapping, in conjuction with stickers and side-stakes...

I bought the strapping material on-line, I think the seller was Nail Art, or something similar.  However, a friend's wife saw the tape and mentioned that it was available much more cheaply at any nail salon.  It comes in various widths and colours, although I'd guess black to be the most useful, unless someone needs that "rusted" look on their fingernails.

I also made a lumber load for a boxcar, modifying the doors to be operable...

...which shows a somewhat shifted load, likely due to rough train-handling.  The load was made from basswood strips, and was labour intensive....

I'm thankful, though, that it's finally used-up most of my stock of stripwood.

All of the stacked lumber at my on-layout lumber yard was done with strip styrene - still labour-intensive, but at least quicker with solvent-type cement...

kasskaboose, the loads offered by TrainLife and Wheels of Time look good, too, and appear to be more affordable.

Wayne

  • Member since
    October 2008
  • From: Canada
  • 1,273 posts
Posted by cv_acr on Tuesday, August 4, 2020 5:03 PM

kasskaboose

I saw youtube vids of folks making them for N scale but not HO.  The N scaler stacked 1/4" thick balsa wood.  How to make that for HO?  

Thanks!

 

Lumber is typically bundled in one of three standard sizes:

2'6" tall (most common), 3'6" tall (distant second), or 2'0" tall.

Width 4'. (Just a shade over 1/2" for HO scale)

Standard stud lengths for board lumber 8', 10', 12', 14', 16'.

This is how I do it:

http://vanderheide.ca/blog/lumber-loads/

  • Member since
    November 2002
  • From: US
  • 2,367 posts
Posted by wp8thsub on Tuesday, August 4, 2020 7:30 PM

You have a bunch of options in HO.  Some of these you can scratchbuild, others can use commercial products.

DSC03227

by wp8thsub, on Flickr

This is a plastic lumber load kit from Wheels of Time.  It's painted with a combination of spray cans and washes of acrylic.  As with all the loads I've done, the banding is 1/32" or 1/64" vinyl chart tape harvested from other kits or ordered online.

DSC03231

by wp8thsub, on Flickr

Above is a laser cut wood load from TrainLife.  These are micro plywood layers stacked to create the bundles.

Cannon Load 1

by wp8thsub, on Flickr

Cannon made this load, which was wood strips with laser etching to create the appearance of stacked material.  I cut the strips into separate blocks to hide the grain pattern.  This concept is similar to the OP's question about balsa, and could be mostly reproduced by cutting balsa or basswood strip into the bundles.  I don't think these are currently available.

DSC02420

by wp8thsub, on Flickr

The next one is from Out West Lumber Loads (also out of production).  It's varying lengths of wood veneer glued together.  Again, this type could be scratchbuilt from veneer cut to size.

Owl Mtn Load

by wp8thsub, on Flickr

Owl Mountain Models offers plastic loads that are intended for pre-1960s configurations, but they can be kitashed to represent later style loads as I've done here.

DSC03229 (2)

by wp8thsub, on Flickr

Last is a wrapped load.  I built this one from a Jaeger HO Products kit.  You can also wrap pieces of wood with your own coverings, including plain paper, patterns you make yourself, or downloadable patterns online.

Rob Spangler

  • Member since
    June 2007
  • 7,795 posts
Posted by riogrande5761 on Wednesday, August 5, 2020 6:38 AM

Excellent series of load possibilities Rob!  We have some great options these days for lumber loads.

Rio Grande.  The Action Road  - Focus 1977-1983

  • Member since
    August 2003
  • From: Collinwood, Ohio, USA
  • 10,691 posts
Posted by gmpullman on Wednesday, August 5, 2020 9:11 AM

doctorwayne
I recall seeing a 60' bulkhead flatcar at the steel plant where I worked.  It was loaded with timbers at least 12"x12"x30', some of the nicest-looking lumber I have ever seen.  It was reddish in colour, like perhaps cedar or maybe redwood, and appeared to be absolutely without blemishes or knots.

I wonder if the wood might have been cypress? We used to build wood tanks out of cypress that arrived by rail.

 GEfaceAH_0026_edited-1 by Edmund, on Flickr

Just a thought.

 NKP_FLat-1945 by Edmund, on Flickr

The above is a timber load made by American Model Builders.

Regards, Ed

  • Member since
    February 2008
  • 1,527 posts
Posted by kasskaboose on Wednesday, August 5, 2020 12:00 PM

Outstanding pictures and ideas!  Thanks all! I plan on ordering min-sticks from Walmart and gluing them together to build a load that I can wrap.  I hope the suggestions here encourages others to replicate a somewhat less popular industry.   

Subscriber & Member Login

Login, or register today to interact in our online community, comment on articles, receive our newsletter, manage your account online and more!

Users Online

Search the Community

ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
Model Railroader Newsletter See all
Sign up for our FREE e-newsletter and get model railroad news in your inbox!