Freight car files


A&D 90 ton depressed center flat.

This little guy started out as an old Lionel “spot light” car! I found a pair of cast metal bodies minus everything on the “Bay” for less than $10. A few minutes in a bead blaster removed what little paint remained, followed by a trip across my mill. Using the mill, I removed any casting marks or mounting pins from the underside as well as the spot light base from the top deck. I selected a pair of Weaver cast metal rolling bearing trucks (they are equalizing, heavy, and I had them on hand!) as well as the old reliable Kadee 805s. I scatchbuilt a set of bolsters and coupler mounting pads from styrene. Function was the priority as none of this would normally be visible from trackside. The center section of the body forms a hollow box between the side sills and the ends of the deck. I filled this area with lead buck shot encapsulated in Elmers white glue. After the glue dried, I seal off this area with sheet styrene. This car is only 9 inches long, but weights nearly 14 ounces… without a load! The body casting has some decent wood decking cast into it, but removing the spot light base left a giant hole over on truck as well as a hole in the drop deck where the original generator load snapped in place. To fix this, I chose to “plate” the entire deck by super gluing .010 styrene sheet to it. The brake stands are salvaged from old Roco/Atlas caboose platform railings, and enhanced with various styrene shapes. The stirrups/ladders were made from boxcar ladders I found in my scrap box. I bent cut levers from brass wire and mounted them with HO scale eye bolts. I also scratchbuilt the pulling pocket/lifting holes found above each truck sideframe. Next…painted and weathered, and loaded!


Sweet work there, my friend. It is great to see you putting your mill to good use. You have a talent for finding bargains to adapt/scratch/modify.

For those “tuning in” on the A&O forums, Rick gave us a preview of his nearly-completed model at last weekend’s A&O work session, along with a very tall, complex, well detailed and “presumed heavy” Honeywell load he scratch built. The combination looked great. Stay tuned for his photos of the finished model.



Painting amounted to a coat of primer from a rattle can followed by a shoot of gloss black. The decals are pieced together from a custom set I made and had printed by Rail Graphics. The gloss paint allowed the decals to lie down nicely. A thin coat of Testors Dull Coat sealed the decals and killed the shine. It also added a “tooth” to the finish that worked great to grip the chalk powder I used to weather the car. The trucks and wheels were given a shot of Krylon camouflage brown as a base color followed by a dusting of chalk.

I have done some work on a load for this car, but haven’t figured out the tie downs yet. I would like to eventually come up with a couple different loads that could be swapped out between operating sessions. Final weight is 15oz so running empty is still an option, but a lot of cool loads would be a plus!


Nice build! Amazing what can be done with so called tinplate cars. A friend put me onto the Lionel post war gons being scale width for a mill gon. It takes 3 Lionel cars to make 65’. The underframe is scratchbuilt with the intent to reproduce in 2 part resin using an RTV master.



Awesome idea! I’m now looking for some old Lionel 12 panel gons! I have got to try this!


Here is another cheap (and old) toy train conversion. I start with an ancient AHM o scale gondola and turn it into a scale pulpwood gondola. AHM, POLA, and Lionel have made these over the last 60 years. I watch for them at swap meets and junk tables, and pick them up for a couple bucks. I cut away the ends, build up the bolsters, and add new bulkheads. Since I use these for my own freelanced railroad, they do not have to be prototype accurate. I add grab irons, stirrups, Intermountain trucks, brake gear, and custom decals. I have never measured this model, but it looks right.


Great conversion to a pulpwood car! How ironic you posted an old AHM gondola. Here’s a shot of what I’m working on while watching some college football.

Another master being made to cast 11 rib sides to essentially create an N&W G5. I don’t have any drawings for this car so working from some pictures. The ribs came from bad casts of the WM 9 rib hoppers. I cut them off, sanded the backsides down and repurposed them onto this car. I’ll have to create new ends and don’t plan on doing anything with the underframe.


Two AHM gondola cars cut and stretched into a 50’ car. I saw in a video of a very similar car being scrapped.
Master for the fish belly underframe I built for these cars.


First resin sides for the kitbashed AHM gondolas are fixed on the car.