Freight Car Friday – Unusual Loads

21 06 2013

Railroads can haul almost anything. Coal, automobiles, steel beams, grain, oil, lumber – you’ll see these on almost any train anywhere. And while these loads may keep the railroad in business, it’s the occasional oddity that grabs your attention and reminds us just how versatile the railroads can be.

high wide train

Because of restrictions, large loads are often moved together. A train like this would be a challenging model.

This week’s blog features several of these “you don’t see that everyday” loads. Many of these could be modeled relatively easily and would make a great conversation piece for your layout. Pay attention to the details. Proper blocking, tie downs, packing labels, etc. can take a model from unique to excellent.

What’s the most unusual load you’ve ever seen?


This new GE locomotive is headed to port. Different couplers, gauge or air brake equipment keeps the locomotive from riding the rails directly. Notice all of the tie-downs on the flatcar. The large tarp hides most of the details of the locomotive. You could model something similar with an inexpensive model.


From new locomotives to old cars… This classic PS-1 boxcar still shows signs of its original Lackawanna paint. In 2010 it was headed to the Delaware and Lackawanna in Scranton, PA. No longer safe for interchange, it was shipped via flatcar. The boxcar is is surprisingly good shape for its age – the deck of the flatcar is another story.

jail cells

These cars may have the unusual load contest “locked up.” These large concrete boxes are jail cells, assembled at a factory and transported to the site for fast assembly. – photo courtesy of Walter A.J. Kuhl.


Here’s another easy-to-model load. This girder bridge was transported on three flatcars and a gondola. The nearly intact bridge is clearly not new construction, but is clearly not ready for retirement yet.



3 responses

21 06 2013
Louis Bruette

I love the big pictures!

21 06 2013

The most unusual flatcar load- the CN North America very Short Bulkhead “Containers” with thick plastic tarps built in the 1990’s. They were seldom seen. Experimental design.

What is also unusual are seeing Dust Cyclones on flat cars.

21 06 2013

I think the most unusual load I ever saw was in Upstate New York. It was a load of Shiny New NYC Subway cars.

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