Make a Gondola Scrap Load

If you’ve been following our conversion of a gondola from one of our Scout sets, you’ve seen just what can be done with a little work. We’ll finish this project with a simple but interesting load to complement our railroad bone yard.


With a load of old locomotive parts, our gondola is ready to roll.

Scrap metal comes in many, many varieties. Often, there is no visual clue as to what was scrapped; the metal is compressed, bailed or shredded that well. Sometimes however you get a pretty good look at what has been recycled. Such is the case with this particular load. In keeping with our railroad bone yard theme, this car is carrying the remains of several locomotives and cars on their last trip by rail.

Making a Base

A scrap of foam serves as the base for the load. Labeling the underside will be helpful when you have more than one.

Like the tarped load we featured in an earlier blog, this load is designed to be removable. You can take it out to run the car in loaded/empty cycles or swap it out with other cars of the same dimensions.

The base for the load was made from a scrap of 1/8″ rigid foam insulation sheet. Cut the base for a close fit. On the bottom, identify the car the load will fit. This will help later on when you have multiple loads for several different car types.

Making Scrap

The scrap for the load itself was created in the same manner as the shells and parts strewn about the bone yard. Disassembly, and when necessary cutting old shells provides a bounty of potential.

Just remember to wear proper protection when cutting and follow these steps to create material for your load.



A plastic bag prevents the load from sticking to the car.

Before you start to assemble the load, lay a plastic bag in between the car and the base to protect the floor and sides of the gondola from the glue.

Next smear a heavy layer of white glue on top of the foam base. Arrange the pieces of scrap as you see fit, covering the entire base. If you are working with a lot of metal parts, be sure to balance the load.


Pour on a thick coat of white glue. Don’t worry, it won’t look this bad in the morning.

Finally, completely secure the load by pouring a heavy layer of white glue over everything. Don’t worry, it will dry clear.

Leave the car to rest and dry for at least 24 hours before removing the load.

Paint and Weathering

Once the glue has set, remove the load from the car and peel off the plastic bag.


Paint and weathering hide any faults and highlight details with slight contrasts in color.

Finish the look by painting the load. Shades of rust and grimy black work well. Use acrylic paints to prevent attacking the foam base. Apply with a brush and take solace in knowing that neatness won’t help much with this project.

After the paint has dried, you can add more color and highlights with weathering chalks. Just weather the load the same way you treated the car itself.

There you have it! Compare the finished model with a new one in the photo below. In a few evenings you can convert an inexpensive car into a one-of-a-kind model sure to turn a few heads. And when people ask, you can proudly say, “I made it.”

Before and After

It only takes a few evenings to convert an ordinary train set car into something unique.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: