Rock Island 50 foot Gondola
December 27th, 2011


Doug Welding a Gondola

My son, Douglas was home for Christmas vacation and didn't have much to do. So he asked if I had anything he could work on. I always have stuff to do. I told him he could build that gondola I bought three years ago but never built. - Tap Tap Tap... - Bonk Bonk Bonk... - Ready, Aim... - You guessed it! This car is a fairly simple kit from Precision Steel Car Company. If you want one for yourself, just select the link. If you'd rather look at the kit instructions first, just select the drawing below it to go there. - - This is my second kit from Precision Steel Car. My first kit was their coil car. And although nothing can ever beat the coil car in the "fun" category, this car is fun to build. I think it's a great kit for anyone who wants to learn welding. The coil car was my first welding project. For the pro, this kit is a snap. - Putting the sides on. But alas, Doug had to go back home to Pennsylvania, leaving me to finish the car. - A completed gondola end. - JB Welding the gondola end on. Hey, Did anyone happen to notice what I am using for a welding bench? - This is a pair of fifteen dollar saw horses from Sears and the table top is the box the gondola kit came in! "We don't need no stinking welding bench". And the car passes the Tom Bee frame squareness test. Would anyone like to guess where I'm going to get the plywood from to put in the bottom of the gondola and glue the flooring to? - Yes the frame is welded on and the bolster plates are nice and square. Oh don't worry about floor not touching all of the cross members. The floor is a little wavy and I am not going to weld it down. - So the frame is on, couplers are on, details are on. So we are ready for trucks. And speaking of trucks - I bought a pair of Tom Bee freight car trucks about three years ago to use on the gondola. But they are the WRONG gauge. Check out my Tom Bee Wheel Puller that I used to solve the problem.

February 9th, 2012 Time to set on the rails.

- So the trucks are back together and installed on the gondola. Now it's time to put it on the track and get it out of the garage. Turns out it was more anxious than me. I didn't quite get to the rail head and the car rolled off onto the track on it's own. - So I roll it onto the bridge for a photo. And what a nice car it is! - Sorry. no primer, paint, or Rock Island decals yet. It's much too cold to paint. (select photo for hi-res version) - With the river frozen solid, it is fairly clear why we aren't painting today.

August 14th, 2012 Time to Test the gondola and Get some Photos.

- But eventually, the gondola did get painted and lettered. So I put together this test train to see how it ran for the first time. - Here's the new gondola sitting in the yard waiting for an engine. - Painting is NOT my specialty. (I wish it was) But I am happy with what I got. - And today the camera seems to be having issues with the lighting. - Even so, in my opinion, it's a nice looking car. - The test went well. No derailments. And the gondola is really long. Here we are pushing the train up the big hill. Next thing to do is make it into a riding car. But that's another story.