Ulrich-- Gondola Build

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Ol' School
Walt...Thank You! I always liked having the right tool for the right job. Those brass bars clamps I've wanted for quite awhile. This project was a good excuse to get them....lol (As if we need an excuse!) o_O
I like that idea of filing them down. A small square shape I think would look better than a big round blob.
This is a simple kit with a lot less pieces vs a Huff & Puff caboose kit, but, when you want to "bash" it a little bit, now with 4 different kinds of materials, (I added one,) assembly procedures are a lot different than just gluing up the all wood caboose kit. What the heck, I love a challenge...🤪


Ol' School
I've been looking at alternatives (mainly glue type) to attach the side panels to the floor. The issue here, is the pot metal or Zamac sides. I tried several experiments with adhesives and the one that stuck pretty good was contact cement. The, how too make a big mess in a hurry, contact cement! I am going to use the pins through the sides, so I'll have to brain storm on using contact cement with the pins. Walt had a good idea to shape them in a square. A small square will defiantly look better than a big round blob. Here is a pic of a pin filed down (not square, left) and one as is.

So, in deciding to use the pins, I need to get the floor panel positioned to line up with the pin holes, which means also to have the cross bearers line up with the vertical side bracing. That turned out to be a lot easier said than done! The coupler pocket opening in the end panel needed filed to clear all sides of the coupler pocket.

Once the openings were filed, and all pieces swapped around to attain the best fit, I marked all the pieces on one end, so when I go to assemble it, the parts will be in the correct spot. This will be the brake end.

Here is all the pieces filed & fit together.....everything lining up good.....


Ol' School
All the mounting pins have been ground down, I'll retain the full length of the pins.

The latest pair of plyers I got just happened to have grooves in the jaws, which made it great for holding the pins while I ground the ends to shape. I used my Micro Dremel, low speed. Oh yeah, and the Optivisor!

The mounting pins measured out to .0200 thick, 1/2 inch long. One half inch doesn't seem that long, but try pushing that pin in the floor deck (at 1/8"thick) without something going fubar! (I tried it on a piece of scrap wood) And for you guys just starting out, whatever project your working on, if at all possible, do a test run first, to see what works and what doesn't.
Ok, here we go, pre drill the holes. I didn't want to use my Dremel because it's too big and bulky, (my hands & eye balls aren't that steady anymore.) So it's use a pin vise. I mounted up a .0145 drill bit for the pin pre-holes. Since I only have a 1/8 inch to play with, I needed a way to keep the bit square with the floor while drilling.
I have a table that I specially build for projects like this, it mounts in the vise and will get the work area closer to eye level. With the gon on the table and using the pin vise it was fairly easy to control its movement. I concentrated on keeping the pin vise parallel with the table top.

All hole drilled, including ones for the end grabs. No fubars!👍
Here is an over all view, I had a clamp in back & the 1-2-3 blocks to hold the gon in place so I could use both hands to operate the pin vise.

If your going to be doing projects similar to this, (did you note the small numbers I'm dealing with?) Pick up a DECIMAL EQUIVALENT OF NUMBERED, LETTERED, AND METRIC DRILLS sheet. The one I have I got from Kadee, I believe they sent it free with an order I had placed with them. Thanks Kadee....hey they're from Oregon, what can I say....😁
A LOT of good info here.....


A couple more days and the styrene for the cross bearers should be here.....🤞


Ol' School
More prep work while waiting for the styrene to get here.
Drilled out the brake valve, air tank and brake cylinder for piping. I had picked up several of the Tichy AB brake system kits some time ago and need to use one of those for some parts. The chain wasn't long enough on the Ajax brake housing that came with the Ulrich kit, so I'll use the Tichy housing. You can see the difference in length. I also installed a clevis rod from the Tichy kit in the brake cylinder

The kit housing would have to have been mounted down on the end panel so the chain looked long enough.

Here is the Tichy AB kit......

Mean while, the styrene for the cross bearers arrived, and while I still had the sides clamped up from drilling the side pin mounting holes, it would be a good time to install the cross bearers........ cut and installed.........

I did the CA on the cross bearer to floor connection and Tamiya extra thin cement were they butt up against the center sill. This cement is really nice because it comes with a built in brush in the top cap and does a great job of wicking into seams.
Well, I'm not seeing the need for contact cement anywhere that I had mentioned earlier, so wont.
Now it's more work on the brake system......


Ol' School
Since the car has the extended open frame work, I thought I'd concentrate on detailing as seen from the side. So the first thing I did was the rivet decals on the center sill. I used the MicroMark decal sheet. Lots of variety, I believe you get 2 sheets per order.

Since I was decaling the center sill, I picked doubled rowed closely spaced rivets. Strip styrene glued between the cross bearers for air brake component brackets.

This is a test fit for the brake components.....I'll probably finish the air brake piping after I decide on how I'm going to finish the floor boards first.

The top side of the floor represents wood with boards going cross wise.


Looks like some options at the point.
-----I could assemble the pieces & finish the floor boards all in one with the rest of the gon. My least favorite of the options.
-----weather the floor boards, assemble the pieces, protect the floor boards when I paint the rest of the gon.
-----finish the floor section & side pieces separately, then assemble.
I haven't done this part of a project before, I was kind of dragging my feet a bit, was kind of waiting to see how Greg@mnrr was going to proceed on his Flat Car Decking. Finishing the two pieces separately seems appealing.
What do you guys think?



Ol' School
I thought I would expand a bit on the decaling of the center sill.
I cut a length of the double row rivets, trimming pretty close to the rivets as there is not a lot of room on the side of the center sill. You don't want extra material going past the width of the sill, it's a PIA......

Cut off a length of decal to fit in opening, immerse in water for about 30 seconds (don't' soak long enough that the decal comes off the backing in the water.) In the majority of my cases, after a 30 second soak, I'll place the decal on the spot that will get the decal.

The paper backing absorbs a lot of water, after placing the decal, as above, I'll tear a piece of paper towel, and with the ragged edge, touch it to the side for a moment and soak up the extra water. There will still be plenty of moisture in the backing paper to "work" the decal. Try not to touch the decal with the paper towel, you'll risk pulling the decal off the paper. (ask me how I know ;))
If you leave all the extra water there, when you pull the decal off the backing, that extra amount of moisture with it's surface tension, increases the chances of the decal wanting to go were it wants to. (ask me how I know;))...lol
(You can also touch the decal to a paper towel when you pull it out of the water, I'm merely showing what works for me.)
For me, I like using the back side of a fresh #11 blade to work the decals. I like the long handle of the Exacto knife and the really fine point of the new blade. I'll periodically check the decal to see if it will slide on the backing paper.

When the decal slides, I'll push it back on the paper a bit, grab the paper with tweezer's, pin the decal to the surface with the blade point & pull the paper out. (need a third arm for that pic. :oops:) If I need to adjust the decal, it's fairly easy to go to the edge of the decal and pull/push it around with the back side of the knife tip. If at all possible I try and avoid adjusting the decal by pushing down on the surface of it. That's when things can go fubar! (ask me how I know o_O)
Once the decal is in place, again I'll take the paper towel piece and touch it to the corner of the cross bearer/sill, getting any residual moisture.
Let decals dry.
Not so much with these particular decals because they're on a smooth flat surface, but were decals are on a textured surface, I'll use Solvaset to help the decals conform to the surface irregularities. Good stuff! Use it!

The Walthers brand has a built in brush that's good for bigger areas, (like rivets on the center sill,) and the Microscale with micro brush, for small & hard to reach decals.
I, don't apply any solvaset until the decals are DRY! Applying extra moisture to a wet decal that you want to stay in one place, I see a fubar happening.....(dare I say it....🤪)
Here are two other decal working fluids that have come in handy for me......

The liquid decal film (lft) is used to coat old decals to help maintain their integrity while applying them.
The Micro Gloss is a surface prep liquid that you put down before applying the decal.
I've used both of these several times with good results....


Curse You, Red Baron!
Staff member
Nice, Jerry, You are refreshing my memory - I have not done any decal work for a long time.
I am going to have to check out those last two products as my decals are almost as old as I am ...
How do you like the rivet decals?


Ol' School
Sherrel, I like the rivet decals, easy to work with (for me), a good variety, but, the hardest part is cutting out a section that your going to use. The rivets are spaced closely together.


Ol' School
Got out the couple of books I have, looked at the 'ol internet to see what I could come up with for weathering the gondola floor.
I'm going to go with the video from MRHM, Train Masters TV. Pierre Oliver is doing the weathering, & this is with oil based paints. I want the floor to have a rather dark look to it, and his technique does that. Also, he is weathering plastic decks, mine is wood. (he hasn't done wood.) So, we're going to do a bit of experimenting here. I didn't have all the paints for this project so I stopped by the local Michaels to pick them up.
The one color they didn't have, (nor me) is an "earth" tone. Ok, not completely true, I do have a "earth" tone, but it's pretty dark from what Pierre uses for a base coat. I just didn't see anything for a lighter earth tone at Michaels.
So with my Earth and Light Stone (Vallejo Acrylics) for a base coat, I painted two different pieces of strip wood.
This is the Earth color.....

Light Concrete.....

Side by side....

The Light Concrete has a bit of a greenish tint to it, (crappy lighting,) but I think it will work ok because it is a light color. I'll finish both of these.
I'll let these dry for several days before moving on with them.
A note on painting these two strips, because my water here is fairly mineralized, I don't use it when I do any acrylic painting. I picked up a bottle of acrylic thinner, it's meant to mix/dilute with acrylics.
Water would work for this trick but, I took the thinner and wet the brush bristles before using it with paint. Blot out extra thinner on paper towel. This helps keep the paint from" setting" in the base of the bristles. Use cold water in the clean up after painting, also helps keeping the paint from setting.



Ol' School
Picked up 4 paints at Michaels', ---Raw Umber---Raw Sienna---Yellow Ochre---Payne's Grey---all Oil Colors (O)
I have 3 of the colors that I had gotten some time ago---Burnt Umber---Burnt Sienna---Primary Black---all Acrylic Colors (A)
Well, Ok, water base paints and oil base paints, This was an experiment anyway, so I'll just go with what I got.
I used Pierre's technique of making a wash of each color.
Next coat on the two samples......
Left side with the -Model Air light stone, (A)
-Dull Coat first, (light covering)
-Gouache Burnt Sienna (A)
I gave it a mist of Dull Coat thinking that might help in adhesion of the two coatings. Nope, won't do that again, makes it worse!
Right side with the -Model Air Earth (A)
-Gouache Burnt Sienna (A)
I don't like the right side at all now. Way too dark. But I'll go ahead and finish it out.

The next layer will be the oil based umber. so I let both pieces set a full 24 hrs after the Acrylic was applied.

Another 24 hrs...... and the Burnt Umber (A) is applied.

Hard to convey color tones with a phone camera & crappy lighting....I took several pics of each step trying to show the best tone difference......
The last color will be black, in 24 hrs.
I like the left piece with the lighter colored base coat, because some of those lighter tones do come thru, were as the center piece is jut too dark.
The right piece has a base coat of Model Master Aged Concrete (A) with Raw Umber (O) on top of that. I really like the looks of this as it is, it has some lighter tones that come thru, with out the orangey tone to it.
Here is the Model Air lite Stone... .

The Model Master Aged Concrete (A)

I don't care for the yellowish tint of the Lite Stone......MY base coat on the gon will be the Aged Concrete.
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Ol' School
While I was at it, I coated a couple pieces of strip wood with a couple different blacks to see what they looked like
This one has a base of Model Master Aged Concrete (A) with Dyna-Flo-Black Dye on top.

These two have no base coat.
Left, Model Master RR Tie Brown Flat (A)
Right, Dye-Na-Flo Black
I like the grayish tone of the Model Master, but don't care for over all how black they are.

On this sample, I started & stopped the brush strokes in the middle of the piece. I don't care much for that effect! This is the same piece in the #2 pic of post # 30 above.

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Ol' School
One last coat on these four samples, Primary Black.
Here is two different angles of the samples, Primary Black applied.
All of the other samples I'll leave as is.


Since I thought all of these samples were pretty dark before the coat of black, I would thin out the black as thin as I could get it.
I put a dab of black on a piece of corrugated plastic sign and then added the Acrylic Medium to make a thin wash.

After drying, I liked the look of the sample in the lower left corner above, (1st & 2nd pics)
Over all it's not as dark as the other samples and the Burnt Sienna comes through giving it an appearance that rusted metal has been in the car.
On to the floor....base coat, Model Master Aged Concrete Flat (A)


Ol' School
I had mentioned earlier in keeping with the black color for the car, and it looks like the N&W was the only black War Emergency Gondola. The Tichy web site has information on the cars that comes with selecting decals, (which I need, none came with kit.) Another resource mentions the correct trucks for the car, I need to look into that. In the mean time I came across the Tony Thompson site (modelingthesp.) He acquired one of these cars and did some mods to it. One mod was the hand brake location, its not mounted on the end panel of the car. It's mounted on a plate on the end of the side panel, parallel with it since these were drop end gons.
Another mod he made is the addition of a retainer valve & piping on the side of the car. I've got the retainer valve from the Tichy brake kit.
I went through my parts stash and low and behold, I have a hand brake assembly for this application. I'll use a Kadee brake wheel.


Ol' School
Continued work on the end of the gon, brake chain corner lever installed. from the Tichy brake kit. Had to do a little filling on it so it would fit in the stirrup corner.

Next was to mount the brake mechanism and brake wheel. I used a Kadee wheel here. Metal to plastic parts was CA'd.

Next was the air valve (Tichy Kit)...... I cut the little foot off the valve (arrow) & drilled a #62 hole in the car for the valve body to set in.

I cut the tail off the valve and drilled a 0124 hole in the valve for a piece of 012 wire. Holding the valve to be filed and drilled would be a little problematic. It just so happens that the brass clamps I just got, have a square jaw that worked good for holding the valve.


Of course, without the Optimizer, not much of this work would get done....lol I have a cork board tack that's a bit over sized, has a round head on it, easy to hang on to. I heated the tip so it would push some plastic out as I pressed it for the air line hole. This made it easy to pin vise a 0124 hole for the 012 wire.
I used CA to glue the parts.


Ol' School
Base coat dry on floor, applied coat of Burnt Sienna, half way across here....

This is the first coat of Burnt Sienna after drying. Way too light for my liking. Another coat to apply, thin like the first one.....


Hard to tell the difference but the second coat (above) is darker than the first. I like that much better....
I'm going to paint the car the same red I used in on the cinder cars I made for the Pacific Lumber Co. I'll have to do some digging to look that up. I'm going to decal the car for the PLC, figured they could have a revenue car hauling cinders......
There has been lots of pro's & con's on primer painting models. I've done enough of this to know that I want all the pieces one color to start with. There is black/new metal, natural wood, white plastic. Unprimed, each will give the red a different shade, don't want that!
I've had problems with primers in the past. Used a Krylon Colomaster Gray Primer Flat, and it was crap! It took forever to dry! It used mineral spirits for clean up.
Picked up a can of Rust-Oleum 2X Gray Primer Flat to give that a try. It is also a mineral spirits clean up. I made three test samples for the primer, natural wood, white styrene, an off white parts sprue. I cleaned the plastic, then sprayed the samples.

This primer laid down nice, (I did heat the can up, warm to the touch), dried like it said it would. I'll mark this can for model painting, the Krylon can has been marked ---not for models---
So now I have some more paint samples to add with the weathering samples for the floor deck for future reference. I'll add them to ones I had made a few years back.....below....
The cardboard piece has a piece of white styrene primered and then sample color strips painted for comparison.
The wood strip is alcohol based stains.


Ol' School
3rd coat of weathering applied to floor deck, Raw Umber. (O)

While that is drying, more work on the gondola sides. Each end has two grab irons, one half way up and the other towards the top of the car.

I used .012 wire and bent them in an L-shape to match the other end. The short leg mounts up against the end post while the long leg mounts to the second post. I used the spade end of a screw driver to smash the long leg end where it mounts to the post to give it something of a finished look.
CA to glue them in.

With the grabs installed, the end and side panels can be primed. A quick little clean up on the new grab iron ends and it's out to the train room.
I heated the primer up as before, a pan of water on low heat, watched closely, warm to the touch.
I have quite a bit of .010 wire so I made some hooks to hang the parts with.

I sprayed the parts with the first coat, waited about 5 minutes, rehung them from the opposite end and gave them a second coat. On both coats I sprayed them from a distance of 20-24 inches. Hung them up to cure while the floor gets finished.

I had mentioned painting the gon, using the color I had used on the Pacific Lumber cinder cars. The trick here, is to find a box that one of the cars is in, and look at the assembly sheet---the color is written on it----Found it!
Tru-Color GN 1930-45 Frt Car Red. Even though it's Acetone base I had picked it for the deep red color.

One last picture, the mounting pins for the gondola sides. I think this is a better pic that shows the heads of the pins. I just wasn't into the look of the big round blob they were originally



Well Known Member
Your gondola is coming along very nicely. I can't wait to see it completed. Also, You have probably said somewhere, but what CA do you use? I think you need to stop watching Saving Private Ryan, it is starting to have an effect on your vocabulary😛.


Ol' School
Luke, Thank You, much appreciated. I've been using Gorilla SUPER GLUE Impact Tough Formula. I would have to say that it's something of a medium viscosity glue. Really haven't looked yet, but I need to see if I can find some with a thinner viscosity. This CA I'm using here comes in little 3 gram tubes, so if something happens, you don't waste that much glue.
stop watching Saving Private Ryan
o_O...you caught me! I was wondering when somebody would notice! I guess I'll take the DVD off the continues loop! 😁😁😁


Ol' School
The gon sides & ends are still hanging in the train room, work on the floor deck continues.
The next to the last weathering coat is on, and that's the Burnt Umber(A)

Difficult to tell in these pictures the difference between the Raw Umber (previous) and the Burnt Umber here, but there is a difference.

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