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Soggy Gondolas: Modeling Wet Weather

Soggy Gondolas: Modeling Wet Weather

May 2018by Joseph Kreiss/photos by the author

One of the many joys of modeling open top freight cars, such as gondolas, is the variety of lading they are assigned to carry. The general service gondola does yeoman’s work hauling everything including pipe, lumber, scrap metal, and aggregates. This ability to carry so many types of loads adds variety to our modeled freight trains along with upping the ante for car spotting options at industries and team tracks.

That interest doesn’t have to end once the gondola has been unloaded. Many times, remnants of past loads litter the car floors. If you model a railroad that operates in wet weather region, as I do with my HO-scale Big Island Rail, adding trapped rainwater to the cargo area of the car can be a detail that takes your empty gondola to a new level.


The railroad operates on the Big Island of Hawaii, with my modeled portion depicting the Hilo Industrial District and Port of Hilo on the eastern shores of the island. Hilo receives its fair share of moisture, averaging of around 126.72 inches of rain annually! And, with 272 days of the year receiving some rain, Hilo holds the record for the most days with rain of any place in the Northern Hemisphere.

soggy gondola

I wanted to reflect this rainy region on my layout. Not adding puddles and standing water to my layout would not represent the area very realistically. The open-top gondola is a natural for showing effects of weather. If you model a prototype or freelanced line that runs through a snowy region of the country, reflect the winter weather by adding snow to your empty freight cars. If your model railroad is based in the rainy Pacific Northwest, damp and humid deep South, or the tropics, adding this subtle detail is an easy one-night project….

May 2018Read the rest of this article in the May 2018 issue of Railroad Model Craftsman!


This article was posted on: April 25, 2018