By Scott Seekins
Illustrations by the author
Although very excellent commercial gondola and hopper loads are currently available in N scale, even more startling effects can easily be attained by improving these existing loads with a minimum of effort.
Most gondolas hauling scrap are only a step from being scrap themselves. Age steel cars by "denting" the inside surfaces. Heat a blunt, rounded metal instrument (such as a fork handle) to the point where one can push gently from the inside until the exterior surface protrudes. This takes practice, as too much heat will ruin the car. Continual and repeated pressure of the heated tool along the interior of the model can distort the plastic surface in a very realistic way. And in some cases, the more protrusions the better, dent upon dent, until the sides buckle outward. Don't be concerned about how the gondola looks on the inside – it will be covered by the load – the appearance of the exterior is what matters. Scrape and sand certain areas and weather as de sired, but you need not bother to paint the interior now.
For wood composite cars, holes can be scratched or gouged to represent decomposed areas. Sanding lengthwise simulates wood grain. Don't worry about sanding off lettering. Often the only readable lettering on the prototype is the car’s number, which has been restenciled.
Improve Existing Loads
Start with existing products, such as Chooch N Scale scraploads, and glue them in place after razor sawing them to fit. If you are finishing a number of cars, it might be advisable to vary their appearance by cutting the pre-formed loads into pieces, and reassembling each again. That way every load will have a unique look and avoid the unrealistic appearance of numerous cars with identical scrap. Cast Metal Additions Now comes the fun part - adding extra junk in a way that achieves authenticity subtlety. Select various small metal castings, such as those offered by N Scale Details that might relate to scrap metal. Model engine blocks, sections of discarded doors, gears, and any other objects or mangled parts of castings, can be incorporated in miniature junk piles.
More variety is possible by cutting up HO products, such as Sequoia or Evergreen Hill Designs. Place these items randomly on top of the Chooch scrap loads, using Gap Filling Hot Stuff to glue them in place. Also, old rail, wheels, sections of turnouts, can be weathered and then added. Lengths of pipe or cable can be duplicated by twisting fine wire or even finer human hair between two fingers, then gluing and trimming as desired.
These individual pieces of scrap give the model a 3D effect.
Sheet Metal Loads
Sheet metal and cut galvanized scrap can be made by cutting out triangular sections of silver MicroScale decals (and backing) with a sharp X-acto knife. (Any decal with large areas of silver will suffice.) These various decal shapes should be soaked, re moved from the backing and picked up with a soft-tipped brush, and then placed on a bed of metal filings, which have been poured over Chooch ballast loads.
Adhere filings to load with a few drops of Acrylic Matte Medium. DO NOT try to glue filings with Hot Stuff as a chemical reaction occurs. Be sure to give the load adequate time to dry, then paint surface with a metallic black/silver coat, and finally add shaped decals. To hold decals in place on filings use Acrylic Matte Medium, thinned with water brushed over the "sheet metal" a few drops at a time.
Painting and Finishing
Coat the entire surface of the scrapload cars with a mixture of Floquil Grimy Black, red oxide oil paint, and silver oil paint, thinned with Turpentine. Let dry thoroughly. Now, using the dry brush technique, lightly brush oil colors, right out of the tube, over scrap details. Very small amounts of paint, without thinner, on the tip of a brush, works best. Just adding color, in slightly brighter hues on exposed parts, gives the model added depth. Subtle additions of pure silver or red oxide, to imitate rust, along with powdered chalks, can be used for the final touches. When completing sheet metal cars, leave some of the cut decals alone, so they will stand out from painted filings. The inner sides of the gondolas, not covered with scrap, should now be painted with a thinned Floquil Grimy Black and red oxide mixture. The top of the load should be sprayed with a coat of Dullcote spray.