These cars come in either black or green plastic with metal wheels (a really nice feature of Bachmann rolling stock).
I usually paint and weather my ore cars. For a load to put in the car I wanted a load that was removable and, well, not the standard coal or sand that you usually see.
On a recent field trip with her 4th grade class, my wife purchased a number of cheap geode stones about 2 1/2 inches in diameter. Taking a 2 pound sludge hammer I set about making little ones out of big ones and wound up with a bunch of bits.
I cut some 1/2 inch plywood into a size that just slipped into the ore car and set about gluing various pieces of geode to the board.
For this purpose I used E6000 adhesive, which I’ve found very dependable for gluing dissimilar things together.
Some amount of glue later I had covered the board and then using a thin paint brush, painted any exposed wood a flat acrylic black.
It would have been easier to paint the surface first but I was not sure if the glue would adhere as well to a painted surface.
Once the glue on the geodes was dry, I glued two 1/4 x 1/4 runners to the bottom side which provided just enough height, given the depth of the car, and made inserting and removing the load into and out of the ore car easy.
Once the the load was inserted into the car the illusion of a loaded ore car was very good.
The only problem was that the load was not very evenly weighted and when running on my layout the car tended to try to dump to one side or the other. I needed a way to override the “fully functional” aspect of the car I spoke about earlier.
Therefore I consulted that wonderfully helpful resource, MyLargeScale.com, and got a number of great suggestions. The solution I used was a simple zip tie, one on each end of the car on opposite corners.
Once painted to match the axle the ties are not noticeable and they are easily removed with wire cutters should I want to restore the ability of the car to dump it’s load.
Let me know what types of loads you have in your gondolas and ore cars! – TJ
(Originally posted 04/22/2011, revised 06/22/2012)