Making HO scale gondola loads

Mark’s been in touch – he’s shared how he has been making HO scale gondola loads:

He’s shared a very simple but effective ‘how to’:

“Hi Al,

Looking around for a quick, fun, (and cheap) project this afternoon and I came across an old Varney gondola in the scrap box.

Added some metal wheels and Kaydee whisker couplers.

Cut out a load base from some scrap bass wood, piled some stuff on it from the scrap box along with some rust and dirt powder.

Then sprayed some alcohol on it to break surface tension and then drizzled some scenic cement on with an eye dropper.

Let it set in the Las Vegas sun for a bit to dry, dropped the load in and it was on it’s way!

Took about two hours and just a few bucks of parts.

Great way to enjoy an afternoon!

Thanks for looking!


making ho scale gondola loads

making ho scale gondola loads

making ho scale gondola loads

A brilliant step by step from Mark for making HO scale gondola loads. I loved it – hope you did too. Simple, but effective.

There is also this post from the talented Dan:

Dan’s gondolas

I do enjoy the different ways people do things – there is no right or wrong way to do anything in the hobby.

Another post that springs to mind is Hemi’s. Like many of you, his coal cars contain real coal that is crushed down to scale.

Have a look and see, his post is here:

HO scale single hopper coal gondola

That’s all for today folks.

Please do keep ’em coming because it’s getting very thin on the ground this end.

And if today is the day you stop dreaming and start doing, the Beginner’s Guide is here.



PS Latest ebay cheat sheet is here.

PPS More HO scale train layouts here if that’s your thing.

35 Responses to Making HO scale gondola loads

  1. Dick Chapple Sr says:

    The whole picture is very convincing. I see a nice scenery local along with a good looking outside frame box car. The gon load looks perfect.
    Maybe some more pictures??
    Thanks for sharing.

  2. Marion Each says:

    Mark, that’s just a great looking load you made! The way you weathered it makes it look so realistic. Thanks for sharing and giving me some much-needed inspiration!
    I love the creativity seen on this website, and appreciate that my own husband also has great ideas. I’m one lucky lady. At age 78, we are having fun with the rails!

    Marion in Mississippi

  3. Marion Each says:

    HELP! I am wanting to model a mansion, or antebellum home for my HO layout, and surely would appreciate any suggestions as to how I might kit-bash two houses, for instance, to make one larger one. Landscaping would be fun, putting in a long, tree and flower lined drive, etc., but I need help with the main item.



  4. Peter P says:

    Well done Mark. You have produced a very believable load. Nice.

  5. Tom in Shrewsbury PA says:

    Looks great …this is perfect for my scrap yard……thanks


    gotta say….one mans junk, another mans treasure!
    great detail comes from great experience…
    great project Mark
    and many more waiting in everyone’s junk boxes…

  7. Bob Godi says:

    Would like to find plans for a on30 scale engine house. two tracks.

  8. Mel says:

    Gondola and load look fantastic, realistic.

  9. Ian Mc Donald says:

    a great way to fill in the afternoon looks terrific.

  10. John Reynolds says:

    Well done indeed

  11. Ash says:

    Very creative ideas you have.

  12. Rabbit says:

    Your proof of what I always say—-Never ever throw anything out esp. when your a model RR’er. Great job!!

  13. Anthony Morris says:

    Did you have to pre paint the junk before gluing? or doe’s the rust powder do this effect ? Looks very real…

  14. paul Otway says:

    A neat load of scrap, good way use up un wanted Junk out of the scrap box.

    Paul Otway

  15. christine says:

    Now that’s very nice. Photo’s look very real. Best job. I like the way the junk car was done. I would love to see more photo’s of the layout.

  16. Dave Van Horn Sr. says:

    I liked the junk car.

  17. Jim says:

    Nice. A little creativity goes a long way. And saves $$$. Was wondering if your base was foam or wood? Great work.

    Jim AZ

  18. Neil says:

    Brilliant ! Love it,

    Don’t suppose you fancy making 20 more and shipping them to the UK !!


  19. Brad says:

    Marion,there is a kit out that is fairly common of a courthouse.It’s BIG. Just paint it up,leave the top spires and flags off.Paint it white/off white and trim the windows in a different color and this is easily a “mansion”.Pull some kit bash parts you have lying around to make it your own.I found mine used on Ebay,then also got some “curtains” for the windows.Came out great!!

  20. Fantastic in both cases.

  21. Richard Long says:

    I have that same car. Now I know what load to give it.

  22. Malcolm hodgson says:

    Great use of scrap and your scenery is just epic!

    North Wales

  23. John Frye says:

    Great idea, and came out looking like so many carloads I see leaving the recycling yards here in Baltimore. I have an idea that might help though, the gondolas leaving with the trains here look like they rolled down a mountain sideways, welded patches, and not a straight line anywhere. Truly the “rented mules” of the railroad industry. I think I’m going to heat up one of mine and bend it up some, then use your idea for the load.

    John from Baltimore

  24. Gregory Gray says:

    That’s cool looks awesome

  25. Dave says:

    I worked thru a temp agency at a large scrap yard years ago they cut up railroad equipment. The cars they used to transport scrap were beat all to hell the ones cut up were better looking ! They were on the river in Louisville Kentucky a lot went out on barges too a very depressing place to work I did not stay long .

  26. Marion, the Oct,2020 Model Railroader has an article on a Civil War layout with a scratch built southern mansion. There is also a two-story farmhouse by LAZERKit that might be used as a base.

  27. Mark T. Pianka says:

    Great way to spend your time in Model Railroading,, Job well done looks great!!

  28. Will in NM says:

    Mark, What a great use for all those odds and ends we all accumulate over the years and just can’t bear to toss out. As soon as I find one of my gondolas I’m going to give it a go.

    Marion, The Walthers Bailey Savings and Loan building kit might be a starting point for an antibellum mansion. It has the pillars in front and a portico as I recall. The court house kit someone else mentioned would also include pillars. Add some window awnings and it might pass for a mansion.

  29. Erick says:

    Pretty Kool.!!!!

  30. Great work! Great idea!

  31. Dave Karper says:

    Marion, if it’s still available, SSLtd has/had a kit called Dorothy’s House. It was designed to be be a mansion. It was a craftsman type kit. Also, it was very expensive. It might possibly be available on Ebay.

  32. Dave Karper says:

    Mark, best looking junk load I’ve seen.

  33. Norman "Pete" McGill says:

    Good way to get rid of a bunch of spare parts. Nice job.

  34. Mr. Ron from So. Mississippi says:

    Marion, I live in Vancleave, Ms. What part of this great state do you live in? I am 87 and spend most of my time building model houses, etc. for my HO layout. There are not many train modelers down here.

  35. Thomas Busler says:

    I have been experimenting with a “kitbashing preview” technique. I am in S Scale (1/64) but am currently looking to combine two HO scale Walthers Union Station kits into one which could appear to be S Scale. I have found straight-on photos of the HO model, enlarged them in a copy machine, and spliced the photos together to get a “model of the model”. Cheaper than cutting and splicing on the real kits.
    Tom in Mississippi

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