New from TrainLife! Full Carload Lumber Loads and how to build them!

October 26, 2018 1 Comment

New from TrainLife! Full Carload Lumber Loads and how to build them!

Our TrainLife lumber load kits have been available for sale for some time we are pleased to annouce that they are now offered as a full carload kit in HO Scale! While individual bunk assembly remains the same, to build a full prototypical load there are a few extra steps that will turn your empty flatcars into impressive models. 

With ExactRail's all new release GSI 53'6" Bulkhead Flatcars we based these loads on prototype photos of how they were loaded. This kit includes enough individual bunks to fill a 48-foot bulkhead space to the top of the bulkheads plus two cap bunks on top. It could be rearranged to fit many other styles of flatcars, including standard flats and centerbeams.


Building the flatcar lumber load kit

Assemble the bunks according to the printed instructions (see also the video showing assembly). While spray adhesive is recommended, smearing a thin layer of CA gel (the gel is important) works just as well; just be sure to hold the bunk down on a hard, flat surface for a few seconds to make sure that it cures level and straight. With all of the bunks assembled, this is where things get fun.

The load is assembled in halves, each a mirror image of the other. You can rearrange the bunks into a multitude of variations, but the basic stack used in this build runs in the following pattern:

1st layer: 16-12-10-8

2nd layer: 8-10-8-8-12

3rd layer: 16-12-10-8

4th layer: 8-10-12-16

5th layer: 16 (centered single bunk)

This will build two stacks which will sit side-by-side on the car (one will be rotated 180 degrees to stagger the loads). 

Draw a straight line on your work surface and line up the bunks of the first layer against this line to make sure that the stack is assembled square. Then run a thin layer of CA along the dunnage under the second layer’s bunks and glue them down. Do the same for the remaining layers, making sure that they are square on the ends.

Prototype photos show that in addition to banding individual bunks, each group of two stacks was banded together as well. Most double-stack bands were placed parallel to the single-stack bands to keep the load uncluttered. The banding material included in the kit is a waxed beading thread that holds its shape and is tough enough to thread through the gaps between stacks without binding up. You will need approximately 3-4 inches for the double-stack bands. Start by gluing the lengths of banding to the underside of the stack:

Once cured, thread it through the gap between the second and third layers and pull tight. The beading thread will conform to the corners of the bunk, which will help with gluing the loose end down.

Back the thread out slightly and apply a drop of CA gel to the corner, then pull it tight and hold for a few seconds to glue  it tight to the to the bottom of the bunk.

Repeat for the remaining groups of two stacks and trim the ends of the threads and tuck it into the gap between the bunks to hide it..

Once both halves of the load are banded, cut a number of 2-inch strips from the dunnage and an equal number of ½ inch strips (protip: if in the odd situation you run out dunnage strips, you can use the waste material from between the board sheets). I used ten of each on the sample build, but prototype photos show up to 24 used to space the two halves of the load.

Glue the ½-inch strips perpendicular along the centerline of the complete load, then slip the 2-inch strips vertically in between the halves, securing them in place on the bottom with a drop of CA. Once secure, trim the vertical posts to about 1-2 scale feet (1/8 to ¼ inch) above the surface of the top bunks so that all are an equal length.

The final addition is the dunnage on the flatcar deck. You can use the included dunnage strips, or substitute a scale 4x4 post for the stake pockets. Cut enough stakes approximately two to three scale feet long to fit in every other stake pocket (14 for the ExactRail GSI bulkhead cars) and glue them into the pockets to hold the load in place. With the stakes, unless you plan on handling the car regularly, they will be sufficient to hold the lumber load on the car without gluing.


1 Response

Merwin Hayes
Merwin Hayes

August 06, 2020

Great show & tell; I’ll be ordering more lumber from you. It has been good therapy / meditation / whatever, assembling my first set of stacks.

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