Model train flat bed load

Roger sent this in.

It’s the second of three – but I’ve started with this one as I thought it excellent.

Hope you like it!

“Hello Al

Here’s the second of my FREELOADS for flat wagons – and I think my favourite. I’ve been storing the tops from washing-up liquid bottles for a while – convinced that one day they would appear on my layout. Stuck a couple together and lo and behold.

After you have cut off the tagged, press-in tops (which you keep!) it’s important that you match the halves up perfectly – then you’ll notice that you have a natural, free-standing base. Glue with superglue – works fine with these polythene bits and pieces.

Once painted, you could stick them straight onto the wagons – but I don’t like using glue on trucks – so I made bases for them, attached them to the bases with glue and thread – then used tiny blobs of Bluetack to secure the whole thing to the rolling stock.

Checked it out – and once loaded they fall just short of the height of an OO scale coach – so they’ll pass through tunnels – and probably okay for HO too. And they’re exactly the right width.

Please don’t ask what they represent! Got the idea from old photos of similar looking loads which I’m sure nobody but the manufacturer could identify. Point is – they look great.

Best wishes to you and all out there.


Pretty good eh? A big thank you to Roger.

Lots more here in my fave resource. A real treasure trove.

One last thing. Thanks for all your emails on the ‘ebay cheat sheet‘. Hope it’s saving you a fortune.



PS Latest ebay cheat sheet is here.

79 Responses to Model train flat bed load

  1. dave says:

    A Very good idea , look like giant Turbines , well done Roger

  2. alan worthington says:

    they look like turbines or generators for small power plants. they also could be large electric motors

  3. waryam says:

    Dear Sir,
    Many thanks for your mails. I am a new modler. I need youradvice pleas. I would like to build model rly for my grandson. he is 4.they have a space for about 120cm long. my son wants that baseboard could be folded in half, when not in use. please help me.can you suggest any books, please

  4. waryam says:

    Dear sir,
    Many thaks for your mails. I am a new modler. I wish to build model rly for my grand son who is 4. They have a space of 120 cm long. My son wants that base board to be able to fold in half when not in use. Please how to go about it

  5. Dr Bruce says:

    Hi Roger

    You appear to be a man of my ilk. Now as to what your ‘bottle top’ reuse might represent, I suggest 2 off 500HP electric squirrel cage motors commonly used to drive conveyor belts. To improve the appearance you might consider affixing a small (scaled down 6″x9″ with a horizontal groove indicating the separation line between the body and the lid) simulating the electric wiring terminal / control box usually found on such motors. If you’re interested in further refinements please let me know and I’ll elucidate on further details. In any event keep up the good work

    regards Dr Bruce

  6. Ian says:

    just great something you make it look so real they look to me like turbo engines for hydro schemes

  7. Kiong says:

    Perhaps they are dynamo or transformers for heavy industries?

  8. Louwrence says:


    Thanks for this great tip!

    These loads look like ball mills for ore processing or big electrical motors or electrical generators.


  9. Bob says:

    I like what I see. They remind me of old style generators or motors. But all that aside, very creative and a good looking addition to the lay out

  10. David says:

    Roger, They are fairy bottle tops ,what ever you want them to be,but damm they are good, It just goes to show what is out there in peoples brains. excellent.

  11. John Douglas says:

    Now that’s what I call recycling! Very clever and well spotted Rodger!
    Waryam may like to check out a company called “Steam Powered Video” They do loads of books too and I am sure there will be plenty for the beginner to the worlds greatest hobby

  12. The Old Boot says:

    Simple, but very ingenious. Keep up the good work!

  13. david says:

    im going to add some to my layout, so simple,it pays to wash up thanks.

  14. Barry says:

    What a superb idea and so very practical…combining left over item’s and thus slightly less crap for a landfill..Thank you

  15. charles tabor says:

    great idea will look good anywhere on layout. one evening will produce several. thk u

  16. Nix1369 says:

    Nice job looks a generator for a power plant. I was wondering if anyone has any ideas on train control using multiple linear taper potentiometers. I wanted a control panel with pots or rheostats controlling short distances in my train yard etc. Any ideas welcome

  17. Bonny aka Grannytoot says:

    Wow! I don’t usually like many homemade things on a model railroad unless they really look “real”…and these do. I’m freelancing an agricultural area railroad and those gizmos look like something a packing house or processing plant might use…thanks from California!
    Bonny aka Grannytoot

  18. lindsay.odell says:

    good add for any layout i like it a lot and thanks for shering it with us

  19. Gene "Hat" Hatfield says:

    I knew there was a reason I was saving the tops (lids) of those Wood & Craft glue bottles. Thank you Roger Only problem is may have to buy more flat cars to haul them or just stack on loading dock to save money. Now does anyone have a good idea for the empty bottles?

  20. Bob da Grouch says:

    I’m totally in agreement with Dr. Brruce. After getting a look at one of these after painting, my first impression was big HP electric motors. Nice work Roger.

  21. Henry Jaynes says:

    I like this a hold lost. All of your thing are great.

  22. Jim H. says:

    Roger, this is ingenious. If the good Dr. Bruce cares to ellucidate I would like to see the details but regardless, I am going to use this on my layout.

  23. Peter Hastings says:

    Agree with all previos comments, look like electricity generators of some kind. Good wok.

  24. Ben Zalewski says:

    Thanks for the tip. Simple yet colorful. Looks easy to apply paint to get a variety.

  25. Ben Zalewski says:

    Thanks for the great idea. Very colorful; with it easy to paint I can get a series of several for the flat cars and a loading doc.

  26. Charlie says:

    Great Job, looks like a turbine, if you paint the ribs on the side with a little black paint and weather they would look used and have the new ones as there replacement. Looks sharp. Good Idea, Thanks

  27. Brian Clauser says:

    Looks great.

  28. Don says:

    A great imagination put to good use. They remind me of turbines you might see in a large factory. I also save a lot of “parts” hoping someday I will find a use for them. Wish the tops came in a smaller size. I would love to use them on my N scale layout.

  29. Roy F says:

    That’s a fantastic idea and a Roger say’s they look like turbines/electric motors/generators. Well done.

  30. matt says:

    Love those. Look like generators, turbines, large ship motors.

    Great job.


  31. bob says:

    This is another great idea. I know N guage doesn’t have a lot of accessories and most of them have to be made and I’m always looking for ideas. I go to an Arts and Craft Store and stroll the isles with my mini ruler and just look at all the trinkets and stuff to see if anything looks like I can use it.

  32. stephen says:

    hi every one i have just joined this site and have just got into n gauge model railway i live in exter have bought alot of railway locos and loads of wagons i like american and german stuff i want to build a layout in my loft anyone know of any local groups in exeter area where i can meetup and discuse n gauge model railway your help much apreciated.

  33. Di says:

    Fantastic idea, shall be saving fairy tops now. Reminds me of the days when we saved fairy bottles but mother always took soo long to use the soap. Who remembers the adverts. What I need is an idea for making pedestrian bridges please. Regards Di

  34. Terry says:

    They could also be large fans, or rolls of conveyor belting – or the large machinery suggested by others – good work Rodger!

  35. Robert Moore says:

    WOW! and all this time I been tossing them in to the recycle bin. This is a great idea. Thanks for sharing your idea.

  36. Jim Richards says:

    It never ceases to amaze me the amount talented model railroaders that are out there! To be able to visualize that from just looking at the lids from squirt soap bottles is definetly seeing outside the norm. Fantastic idea and execution. Keep the ideas flowing.


  37. Joe says:

    Brilliant..! That’s thinking outside the box..!!!

  38. Donald Lango says:

    hey Roger ,
    cool loads they look like old style generators for electric plants , i wish they made them small enough for N-scale , i made my own military train with micro machine military magnifiers which are a little bit smaller than original micro machines

  39. Tommy says:

    a terrific idea for flat car loads

  40. Stephen says:

    Took one look at the finished product and immediately said to myself, generators… fantastic joy at-a-boy. Great thanks for sharing.

  41. JW says:

    A very imaginative and artistic re-cycle!

  42. Some one most likely called it on this one guy , but I would say they look like turbines for power generation or rolls of metal form the foundry or steal mills ?
    Just a thought , but I would say brilliant idea and keep that up so we all can try your ideas on our RR,s -By the way I started working on a 6′ X4′ base for my new
    Pike a couple of days ago , I am trying to see if I can build the base from all 1″ and 2″ foam sheet and get it to carry the load of track , train and scenery+ wires and glue along with the roadbed all together at one time ?

  43. Greg says:

    Very nice now I know why I save the things I do. Very inventive and excellent reproduction of a electric motors. Great job!

  44. David says:

    Brilliant. I always save thees now i know what i can do with them.

    Thanks Roger keep them coming.

    Dave .

  45. Cal says:

    I really enjoyed this and the bridge made from cheap razors. Very imaginative!! My name is Cal and soon I will be able to send in photos of my Cheyenne Intermountain Railroad. Under construction in the mountain building phase. Love being a member here.

  46. David says:

    Brilliant thanks for showing.

  47. Warren Ferguson says:

    What a great idea! So ingenious and simple. What paint did you use for the silver nozzles or shafts? It looks very realistic and leveled out very well. I’m just coming back to model railroading after many years. Since retirement, I have built custom rifles, but arthritis has made it pretty difficult. I have sold off some of my larger machines, but they haven’t been moved yet, so I can’t build a layout until they leave. My wife says a place to park her car would be nice as well. I’m keeping my Myford Super 7 lathe and Clausing vertical mill and tooling, so I can do repairs. I live in Alabama, in the U.S of A. Any suggestions on sources for supplies, types of paints I should use for HO steam era American railroading. I really enjoy the projects and comments. Thank you. Warren

  48. Dan Renwick says:

    Viewed a painting video not long ago that hit heavy
    On fact that as a modeler you are creating illusions.
    Looking at all the responses about what these bottle
    Caps could be, I congratulate you for creating a very
    Successful and might add attractive illusion. Great job.
    Dan Renwick

  49. Paul Schwartz says:

    Just have to say, “Very clever”!

  50. David Hannan says:

    I love the idea of using scrap materials – they do look like “something” but it does not matter exactly what they are meant to be, they are super!

    More please! I wish I was that inventive!


    Dirty Dave

  51. Sam says:

    I work in a steel mill and we ship loads like this all the time. The only think I can add is that in reality these would be extremely heavy and there would be wedges of some sort on each side to keep them upright. You have the thread tie down correctly wrapped (belly wrap) but it is to light. Would most likely be chain. I can’t get over how good they look. Thank you.

  52. Charles ZEIS says:


  53. Nicholas Sanchez says:

    Very nice! A person can use the necklace chain sold in craft store’s to tie down the load insteam of thread. Many thanks on a great idea. Nick

  54. John says:

    WOW.. Who woulda thought….. Seriously? I am impressed!!!!! NOW the question is, who do I (or how do I) make up a posting like this on what I’ve done?

    I love the idea, more scrap in the recycling pile that can be used and look good with a small amount of effort! I’ll be doing this, and calling those I so up, large electric motors…..

  55. Rick Martin says:

    Love the idea too – and I am going to use it! Just a small comment from the career I have had as part of the electrical power/generation equipment market – you would not tie down major equipment like this – either a power generator or large motor by the end shafts/couplings. This would destroy the bearings that are located in the end shells.

    Tie down should be over the whole equipment casing, and/or bolted to the shipping foundation through the equipment foundation mounts.

  56. steve joyce says:

    Excellent use of scrap material. Will start saving the caps off my stuff

  57. Hemi says:

    Thought I’d bring this to the top… I was looking for this posting and had it on a computer I don’t normally use! Al, if you will REPOST this build as I believe its VERY useful! Specially when every single one of us has some sort of dish liquid bottle in our kitchens!!!!!

    That said, I seen them on the ones in my kitchen and for the life of me could not find this posting, and that I went on a hunt (I even asked Al, and he came up short) as I’m not sure if he knew the posting I was referring too at the time.

    I have PLENTY of these caps to start, (I plan to load 2 on each 50 foot flat car, (US Railroad) and then I found in building them, I seen that I have a few “caps” that are miss matching, (from other bottle sources) and those? I’ll load them onto a built wooden pallet, that looks like a replacement motor of generator casing being sent for a repair……. That way, I don’t have them to worry about “matching” but the ones I have that do match will be assembled as seen here with a little different painting to mine, and all. I also plan to use chains instead of what looks like “cable” tie-down method’s…..

    I may even make a Gondola or 2 with them as well…… Which the railroad car they’re loaded onto is in question as I’m not sure which way I’ll go!

    I liked this posting so much I’m gonna be doing a few of them in a few different era’s as I model a wide range of “era” so…… B&O to Western Maryland all the way to the present day CSX!!!!!

  58. Thomas Murphy says:

    Roger, I find this a fine representation for a load to be used either a rail cat or a flat bed of a tractor/trailer hauling its load to the rail head.

  59. peter says:

    now I know what to do with the tops thank you

  60. Tony Bruno says:

    Very cool idea. Thanks!

  61. Charlie says:

    Great idea and recycling put to use. Your artistic ability shines. Kudos to you Roger!

  62. Chip Aderholdt says:

    This is a great creation Roger. I was looking for something unique to use as loads, Thank you for sharing this brilliant model.

  63. Richard says:

    Very imaginative, thanks for sharing.

  64. Dick Walter says:

    Very creative! Will definitely try this. But on a truss rod flat car?

  65. James P Ripley says:

    its a flat car!!!!!!! not a flat bed!!!!

  66. John Wolfe says:

    Brilliant! Thanks for sharing a great idea!

  67. Don Goss says:

    This is an awesome example of what can be done with common household items! I, too, save things that one day will be a flatcar load or roof detail. This idea, however, was very well executed! After seeing the finished photos, I would never had known these were caps from soap bottles!

  68. Vinnie Monti says:

    What a great 👍 idea. Very innovative. Using house hold “junk” to make a million dollar load. Keep up the talented ideas. Regards Vinnie from Staten Island 🌴 NY

  69. Frank Harris says:

    Those bottle caps look like the containers used during the 1950’s to ship rebuilt airplane rail and also trucks, They were collapsible so more could fit in a small space and were extended when loaded with the props.

    I am 88 and too old to start building a layout although I have a 20 x 30 room over the garage.

  70. Howard says:

    Very creative and inspirational as well…

    They look like turbines or jet engines to me.

  71. Frank Vazquez says:

    I love this idea. Those little widgets really do look like large electric motors or some kind of drum or canister for industrial use or to work with some large machinery. After I saw them painted, they suddenly became “something” real.

    Your idea is akin to what modelers who play RPG’s often do, which is to find and repurpose anything cheap and/or free that they can use to represent or that can be passed off as something. And it’s often very convincing.

    We all enjoy buying nice stuff, but budget projects can allow us to stretch our money and even add some interesting items or details to a model, diarama or layout.

  72. val says:

    hi al, I’d like to thank all of cleverideas and tips that I’ve seen in this site.ive gotten some really good ideas as to how I can make my model railroad look as great as the ones I’ve been seeing in the site.. the the one just posted is very impressive. I’ll be using it very soon, the razor blade post was one that really impressed in the process of build my own girders bridge using the razor blades, except I’ve given a new twist on using the blades . it’ll be a while before it’s done, and then I can send in some photos. question, how do I get on the site to post photos, thank val in Utah. thanksagain

  73. val says:

    hi al,,in really impressed with all the tips and photos as of now . I love the ways that Roger used the bottle top lids . the one I really liked was using razorblades .I’m in the process of building a girder bridge, using the razor blades. it won’t be done for awhile but it’ll look great, and I’ve given it a new twist on how I implemented the blades .how do I get on the site to send photos of my new bridge. please let me know. thanks again for all the great tips and photos!! val in Utah

  74. val says:

    hi al, please pardon my second post, I guess I was a little confused as to what I wanted to say,everything that I’ve seen on the site to date, has been very helpful in building my ho layout . hopefully soon I’ll be able to send photos of my girder bridge for all to see. thanks again for all the tips and photos, they’ve been very inspirational … thanks. val in Utah. !!

  75. Eugene says:

    Because of this tread I am saving all types of bottle caps before they end up in the recycle bin. For those in the U.S. I found similar tacky strips by Gorilla Glue at Michaels Craft Stores, as well as and a few other brands. Target also as some. Apparently very common since the wife knew allabout these handy items.
    Wile I have nothing to post for my set up which I am planning I will use several old engines and cars from my childhood in the late 60’s still packed away in original boxes. Will post one day but keep the great ideas coming, very helpful

  76. Jim Finnie says:

    I had a “Christmas” layout in the mid to late 70’s for my kids, that made it’s “appearance” for a few weeks every year for several years.
    After almost 50 years of not having a layout, but still looking at other’s layouts, but no interest in having one, I am putting together an HO layout I have a vague memory of from the 1950’s, with a double two layer loop using about 40 foot of track. My current one also has an inner loop with a turntable to put the locos until I need them. I am tying the two together as I write so I can get from the inner loop to the outer loop.
    An N scale layout on a door, because I saw a T scale coffee table layout.
    I built a test layout for HO and N scale to test what I fix, and a I have a 2 x 8 sheet of plywood in another room for playing with N scale until I get the HO layout to the point where I can run trains on it again.
    Everything is DC because I’m still trying to work details and changes out before I start fastening track down.
    At this point in time, I throw almost nothing away anymore, because of the above.
    I scour the internet looking for ideas, I have a lot of your printable buildings and structures, but not all yet. I don’t think I do.
    And in the process of helping me make houses for my layouts, my wife has taken up taking apart and rebuilding a doll house she didn’t finish 30 years ago.
    And I’m helping her also.
    So working in scales 1:12, 1:87, and 1:160, almost nothing gets pitched.
    And since I signed up for your newsletter, I go through every post trying to find some little tidbit that I can use to make something for one of the layouts I have.
    We just don’t use enough dish soap to make flatcar loads, so I’ll have to think about something else.
    Keep up the good work passing out your’s and others ideas, and I also get a lot from people making comments on the ideas that you are putting out there.

  77. James says:

    Ingenious I say !👏👀

  78. Charles Specht says:

    I think they look like a pressure vessel of some kind. In N Scale I would put one on a dropped center heavy load flatcar. That would really look “cool”. I agree that tiny chain or even flat lacing cord like used in telephone installations would be better as tiedowns.

  79. Dave Best says:

    Everyone here has come up with all kinds of things for what you have made. To me what you have is incredible. Makes me wonder if you’ve ever seen the reactor core section that the Navy cuts out of the nuclear subs when they scrap a submarine. I’ve seen the sections on barges being shipped to the Hanford disposal site, and I really think you have nailed them here. Two is the way to move them. That’s how they do it on the barges. Keep up the inspiring work.

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