Railroad scenery – flat bed wagons

Seeing as so many of you commented on Roger’s flat bed wagon ‘how to’, here’s another of Roger’s.

“Hello Al

I was horrified to see that people actually SELL wagon loads on eBay.  Even worse, the proprietary manufacturers sell them!  And if you buy a truck with a load included you can guarantee it will be expensive.  Great fun to make them and of course … for no cost whatsoever.  I call it FREELOADING.  So here’s the first of my free-loads for flat wagons – illustrated for a Macaw double bogie – but it can of course be adapted for all sorts of trucks.

And the pipes could appear at road sides – or piled up outside factories and industrial sites – or loaded on lorries.  If you glue them together in a chunk and attach it to your truck with tiny blobs of Bluetack – then you can take off the pile whenever you like and use it elsewhere on your layout.

I guess we all use plastic drinking straws for all sorts of modelling projects but these are a bit special.  They come stuck in cellophane on the front of those packs of little cartons of juice – usually bought for kids’ lunches.  Most drinking straws are a little thick for OO modelling but these are nice and slim.  Included a picture of them as they are sold so you know what I mean.  Take a look at the bend in the centre of them.  This gave me an idea – which follows.

Best wishes.


There seems no end to Roger’s talents. A huge thank you to him, from all of us.

Don’t forget to have a look at the latest updates on the ‘ebay cheat’ sheet.



PS If you missed Roger’s first, ‘how to’, it’s here.

53 Responses to Railroad scenery – flat bed wagons

  1. dave says:

    Good idea again Roger

  2. ROUSSEAU says:

    What an imagination !
    It’s always a great pleasure to discover a new load for our sad flat cars, event if i “play” “G” scale trains.
    Hold on !
    J.R. (France)

  3. Michael says:

    Great idea Roger. Adds an individual look to a layout rather than a clone store bought load. Thanks for the inspiration.

    Michael (Australia)

  4. Ian says:

    well done your imagination is unbelievable and then to put it in a simple how to finishes the idea off.


  6. Michael Gunn says:

    well done,all for nothing, great.

  7. Paul Johnston (Ireland) says:

    Hi & well done again, Roger, this kind of modelling is what model railways is all about, it can make for so many different types of loads, & not the robotic, STORE repeats, that can look so false. I don’t have my layout yet, but I’m collecting lots of little bits and pieces that I see and some day will fit in somewhere, or make a load for the wagons.

  8. Cord says:

    And finally a railway modeler who can actually write proper English!

  9. Daniel Flynn says:

    Good idea…keep it comming

  10. paul Otway says:

    I was given a coal load from a toy train set, I am modifying it, so I can put it in my Bachmann Branchline wagons. so watch this space. Neat work Roger

  11. Tom Oliver says:

    There appears no end to things that can have a double use in life on our layouts! Terriffic! How about using them for ‘Down-Pipes’ on buildings too?

  12. Dirck Hecking says:

    Hello Roger

    You have mentioned the term “Blue Tack” several times. I have to guess at what that is. Would you help me understand its utility in modeling. Please list some fundamental applications, some do’s and dont’s

    So far I have been guessing..and a little but embarrassed.



  13. Jim H. says:

    Once again, this old man learns how to save a few bucks. This hobby is getting awfully expensive for a guy on a disability retirement. Thanks to Roger and Al.

  14. Roger says:

    Hello Dirck

    ‘Bluetack’ may be a British trade-name. Does it exist in the US? It’s probably sold under different names in different countries.

    Difficult to describe what it is but I’ll try. It’s a stationery product, sold in newsagents and office shops. It’s generally used for sticking posters and lightweight signs to walls. But the huge advantage is that, once mounted, you can remove your posters and signs without leaving a mark on the wall. So it is used for temporary displays.

    When you buy it, it looks like a small lump of clay. You squeeze it between your fingers until it becomes soft and sticky – pull off a little lump – stick it on your poster or sign – then on the wall. You can use it over and over again. You’ll see a lump of it in one of my photos.

    There are thousands of uses for it in railway modelling: –

    – I use it stick things to the baseboard which I may wish to move elsewhere later – temporary buildings – that kind of thing.

    – You can attach ‘people’ to platforms without ruining them with glue.

    – I even use it as a filler – to fill little holes and imperfections.

    – And, as I’ve indicated, to attach loads to trucks and wagons – so that when the load is removed, they are left without a mark on them.

    Remember – it hardens just enough to hold things ‘firmly’. It is not a solution if you have a portable layout.

    Hope this helps.

    Best wishes.


  15. Thomas says:

    Bluetack, might be Prestic, comes in stripes 20cm long X 1.5cm wide and .5cm thick. 5 pieces in a box. (S.A.)

  16. Jim Richards says:

    YET another clever idea. Amazing!!!! Love it and thanks for sharing


  17. Donald Lango says:

    I like your FREELOADING ideas Roger keep them coming they are GREAT
    Thanks a lot

  18. Frank Hughes says:

    On the photo where it shows the straws loosely. Street igniting comes to mind. Have you used them before forthat purpose ? As I’ve seen others using straws for lighting. Loads look great, especially the crimped bendy bits. These could be used as stand pipes etc. Many thanks for your brill ideas with items most of us would discard.. You certainly give the old grey matter food for thought.

  19. Tom from South Carolina says:

    This is a great site to learn what to do next in building your layout . I have been doing that for many years now.
    Thanks from ,

  20. Ron Schultz says:

    Great job . it would have been even better with a “wood crate for the elbows”. They will fall off as they are, and then the RR will have a claim against it. Incomplete shipment . Lost or damaged goods.

  21. Billy says:

    IndianaDirck – “blue tack” appears to be what is called “STICKY TACK” here in the good old U S of A.
    And, Roger, feel free to correct me if I’m wrong.

  22. David Hannan says:

    Excellent Roger! Interesting you mentioned they are the right scale for OO!

    Dirty Dave

  23. Robert VanHook says:

    I have done that, but I left some of the flexible part on the “pipe”. It makes it look like the pipe is threaded.

  24. Joe Wrigjt says:

    Thank you for yet another great idea that doesn’t cost a cent

  25. Brad says:

    I’m into HO scale,however would paper towel tubes work for you G scalers? Or maybe ends trimmed cardboard rolls from holiday wrapping paper? I don’t know,maybe someone can check it out

  26. Ted Knight says:

    I am very new to all of this. I can say that I am sure that with the helpful info that I have been reading my layout will give myself and my grand children years of injoyment.
    Thank you.
    Cincinnati Ohio USA

  27. Danny says:

    Hello every one.
    Great site Al.
    Just something I made up some time ago
    If you have some white or clear drinking straws, you could use them as poly pipe loads. I’ve made them into packs of 9 or 12 pipes to fit onto a truck or into a open wagon, use glue to stick together and then paint white. Not shore if they are the right size, HO length or width, but looks OK. Sorry all my stuff is packed away, otherwise I could get a photo for you. I like your load Roger

  28. Rob Kirk says:

    That’s a good idea it also gives me some ideas about other problems i have been trying to solve. Thanks

  29. william f. harris says:

    I really like this site. Been working on my room to put my trains in. Getting closer but still have a ways to go.going to be HO when. I start and I’m getting a lot of good info from all the guys out there.keep up the good work and a big thanks to roger for his ideas Frank. ARIZONA

  30. Joe says:

    ytain would never run with all that wood loose, it would all be straped down !

  31. Appookta says:


  32. Andrew S Lubow says:

    Another product that works similar to blu-tac is Museum Putty

  33. I’m new here, and this is the first time I’ve posted. I am learning more things that I didn’t even know I needed to know. I too don’t have my Board set up yet, but I am collecting as many tools and materials that I can.

    My next comments are mainly meant for the newbies, ’cause the veteran railroadies probably know these things anyhow. .It is also for people who are perpetually broke for many reasons. Like me.

    Play sand for children is a good pick as as it’s cheap and probably will last far later than You or me.
    Get the red rosin paper now. it will not be in stock when you need it.
    Make everything you can now with the extruded foam sheets. I made my ‘required’ mountain with this. stuff. Well, more later. I’m going to try potting soil so I will have two different soils to to use.

  34. Mike DeVore says:

    Looks like I head to the store tomorrow. Thats a great idea! Looks great on the flat car.

  35. Robert Brady says:

    Paint the pipe turquoise and it will look like PVC,That’s what I will do.Thanks a bunch Rodger!

  36. The plastic drinking straws is a great way to go. I’ve started to use them 8 months ago. I use coffee straws, 3 or 4 different sizes of drinking straws and cut them different sizes, for my loads for PBC pipes. If you want you can drill bits to one end in about 1/4 to slip another one to make it longer.for water pipes or whatever. Have fun with this.

  37. Keith says:

    Blue Tack! I was shopping at our local Lowe’s for adhesives, and was looking over all the various products they had on display. I noticed that they carry one product that must be America’s version of Blue Tack. I don’t remember what it is called, but it begins with Blue, and after reading the package and how it’s used, it’s definitely the same product as that described by Roger. So Lowe’s has “Blue Tack”. Around $6.00 for several 6 inch strips of it if I recall correctly. I looked at a lot of products,so the prices started blending together after a while.

  38. Sid Pratt says:

    That’s really cool. I’m trying to figure out something similar for 7.25 gauge trains but the commercially available pipe doesn’t look correct, either too big or small. Has anyone else figured out the ratio on pipe sizes? Also I’m going to build a 120′ long tressel and am having the same problem figuring out the proper scale.

  39. I LOVE the ingenuity!
    It reminds me of my dad, when he retired he spent the next 10 years or so doing wood carving scenarios using materials like this to create them.

  40. John Young says:

    Pipe loads don’t have to be any particular scale. Check out the multitude of pipe sizes you see stacked at the roadside for water or gas and the various loads one sees on trucks on the road or on railway wagons. Also on silos and various types of factory. There’s no end of possibilities.
    I recently broke the ‘H’ stovepipe off a caboose and have made a replacement out of a ball point pen ink tube – after the ink was used up of course!.
    Roger’s loads made out of washing up liquid caps can easily pass as large electric motors. They look very much like the motors which drove the boiler fans at a power plant where I once worked.
    It pays to look at everything around you that might get thrown away and think “What could I use that for on my railway?”.
    Incidentally, aluminium kitchen foil makes good corrugated iron sheet for roofs etc. Cut it to size and run over it with the edge of a screw on cap from a jar of Vegemite, Marmite or other spread for 00 or HO and use other suitable caps for O or N scale. The foil is a bit flimsy so handle it carefully until painted which will give it some stiffness.

  41. Amazon also carries Blue Tack.

  42. John H Wolfe says:

    Brilliant… But you’d better bind down that load before it becomes an insurance mess for the company and YOU! 🙂 🙂

  43. Marklin ed says:

    Great job Rodger, I found that you can use the inside of pens, some look like aluminum pipes.

  44. Danno Five0 says:

    Now, this is cool. Got to love it!

  45. Ray in Illinois says:

    Regarding “Bluetack”. In the American market, look for Poster Putty, Mounting Putty, Fun Tak, Sticky Tack, Hang Tak, etc. depending on the manufacturer (Loctite, Gorilla, Scotch, ADXCO, …) you can find it in white, gray, pink, blue, green, etc. Loctite makes a version – 2 oz. for ~$2.60 USD in blue.

  46. Frank Vazquez says:

    Yeah man! Those look great. You know, I would bet that in the next few years your ideas will become well established and used by many model railroaders.

    Just by using different paint, different size straws, and cutting them to different lengths I can imagine lots of things can be represented on any gauge layout.

  47. Al K says:

    I bet if you plugged the ends of the straws, went over them with some coarse sandpaper to give texture and some brown and black (to bring out the texture) paints and you can have some pretty good looking logs/telephone poles.

  48. paul says:

    i have used co-ax cable from redundant ariels
    paint them blue and they look like mains water pipes

  49. Gary Hildebrandt says:

    Wow, what a memory! I always loved that “colour” (pretending I’m not from Detroit) . I painted an HO trolley, in that hue, back in 1958. Gonna get some more! Love this site. Peace, Huck

  50. Russell Leamey says:

    To Sid Pratt If memory serves me rightly from my time as a “Fettler” (“Platelayer” to you guys in the U.S.) here in “Oz” AND it does…. “STANDARD” guage in FULL SIZE (real life) is 4′ 8″ so if your 7.25″ model is true to blueprint your conversion ratio is 1: 7.72437931034483 (call it 7.725:1) your 120′ trestle would work out to 198.85.” in length The diameter of the support poles is either the REAL pole size (if you can access prototype specs) divided by 7.725 or whatever looks right…. up to you (But that’s the fun bit ‘eh) Russ T. Bear

  51. val says:

    hi al,. I really love all of the tips and photos I’ve seen on this site. it has really been very helpful in getting my layout started. I’m in the process of building a girder bridge using razor blades that were recently shown . I’ll have it finished hopefully in a few days and would love to share photos of it,but I still don’t know what the site address is ! would you kindly send me the sites address, so I can share my creation to others. thanks again for providing this site… thanks. val in Utah.

  52. John W Snyder says:


  53. Wayne says:

    What a great idea! Well done!! Thanks!!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *