Now that you have learned a little bit about our work, we want you to see what our customers say after they receive their completed model. We know you will be just as satisfied with your Custom Project!

Mike - Received models today. They really look great! Thank you so much for the time and effort. I might at the first of the year have another set to be assembled. Thank you again

Chris Y., Greenbelt, Maryland

Scratchbuilding a Virginian G5 Gondola  

Larger view

The inspiration for this project came from an issue of Mainline Modeler, in which drawings of this car appeared. The drawings from the magazine are in one of the pictures below.

Modeling rivets has always been a challenge to modelers. I have used many techniques of the years, embossing, punch, drill & glue, etc. In many cases I have found a combination of techniques is required to achieve the right overall look for a model. For this particular model however I have relied on drill and gluing to achieve the look I want.

The sides of the model began as .040 styrene sheet. I chose the .040 thickness for stability; this is a low-rise car. I did not want the sides to warp with all the small holes that would be drilled into them. With a pencil I marked all the major details, including rivet lines. The ribs and flashing were then built on top of the flat sheet. Once this was complete the task of drilling hundreds of #77 holes was undertaken. I used Tichy’s .030 rivets. The brown color of the rivets makes them show well against the white styrene. Once I had installed them in a section I gently applied Plastweld to the back of the panel. Then I would install more rivets, and repeat. After the Plastweld had sufficiently cured I trimmed of the protruding stems from the back of the panel. With the two side panels complete I moved on to scratchbuilding the floor.

Again a base sheet of .040 was used. The lines for the center beam, as well as all the bolsters and braces were marked in pencil. Styrene channel was used for the center beam. The bolster sides were cut from .020 stock, with more .020 used as the bolster cover. The smaller rafters were also styrene channel, although this time a much smaller profile. Holes were marked and drilled and a train line was installed using .015-brass wire. I glued metal washers in the middle of the bolster where the trucks will attach. The metal was already a proportionate size, and it will not wear the same way a styrene shoulder would.

The frame was turned over and a center mark was scribed into the floor to simulate separate panels. Weld plates were fabricated from .020 styrene and attached with Plastweld. Again all the rivet locations were marked, drilled and attached, however since the frame on the underside was already fabricated the holes were not drilled all the way through. The holes were only lightly drilled and the rivets were trimmed prior to being installed. A dot of Plastweld was placed in each hole then the rivet inserted. This technique required considerable more time than the sides.

The ends were cut down from a Detail Associates set of gondola ends that were too tall for this car. Once the ends were marked they were cut and sanded. The sides were attached to the under frame first, and then the ends were installed. Once the sides, ends and floor were all assembled the underframe detailing was started.

The brake system was installed, again using Detail Associates parts. These parts were selected because this particular set is complete with all the mounting brackets. After the brake parts were attached to the car the brake rigging was completed using .012 brass wire. The car was then flipped over and using a drill template the holes were located for all of the grab irons. Most of these were hand bent to fit the car properly. After the grab irons were installed NBW castings were surface mounted next to each mounting location. Eyebolts were attached for the coupler lift bars, mounting brackets for the air hoses were attached to the ends and holes were drilled for the stirrup steps. The corner braces were cut from .030 styrene strip and rounded to fit the prototype. The entire car was painted black, and sealed with a gloss coat. For the Virginian Decals a set from Great Decal by Bill Mosteller was used. The set is actually for Virginian Battleship gondolas, but the letter and herald size is accurate for this car. The car data decals had to be cut and modified to accurately portray the prototype dimensions. Once decaling the model was complete a flat finish was applied to the model.

The completed model will have Kadee couplers installed and Walther’s metal wheel Bettendorf trucks. Check back with us to see the progress of this and other models.

If you have any questions please feel free to contact us!
TMB Custom Models
12 Penny Lane
Newark DE, 19702
Fax (302)-283-1042


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