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Another hack is to take a plastic wooden-style barrel (made by a  lot of different o-scale manufacturers) and CA glue a metal washer to one end. Then paint the whole thing a metallic, rusty color. A bunch of them looks good in a gondola.

I also use cheap, medium to large link chain (about 6"-8" long sections) painted a rusty color for gondola loads that can be lifted via a magnetic crane.   

I received the Lionel 282 Portal gantry Crane probably from 1956/1957 as a Christmas present as a kid I loaded/unloaded AC Gilbert erector set lattice trusses into the Lionel gondola cars. I recently rewired the dry rotted conductor control cable with a new cable and everything is working as it did so many years ago, steel loads for the magnet are GarGraves  tin plate track drops that came from fitting curved tracks.   

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