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A picture of a Covered Gondola in the May 2020 CTT magazine was found and this was the first time I remember seeing one of them, real or model.  A search found they were common in the 1940s and 50s. Covered gondolas are used to transport items that needed protection from the weather and commonly used by some steel plants to transport steel plate or steel coils.  Other uses are for material that is dusty and that could be dangerous if blown out of an open rail car, like coal ash or radioactive clean up.

The gondola covers in the 1940s and 50s were made like roofs of box cars, with a slightly peaked metal roof and a roof walk grate down the center.  Most covers had hooks on the covers to allow removal with cables with an over the rail crane.  Newer covers for gondolas are made of lighter fiber glass and some are shaped to cover coils of material and could be removed with wheeled Mobile Galion Cranes.

I am always looking for different, unusual cars to add to my layout and train collection and being readily homemade is another plus.  The Covered Gondola is an excellent choice to model as it is uncommon, easy to make from existing gondolas and a junk box car roof and the cover provides another use for my Lionel Gantry Crane.

Lionel makes two sizes of common gondolas, a stubbier, cheaper 8 inch, in at least two levels of detail and a longer, more realistic detailed 9.5 inch in length gondola.  A junk Marx 8 inch box car was used and the roof cut off with a band saw.  It was hard to cut both sides of the roof off the box car evenly (I should have stayed an 1/8 inch off the the line and ground the extra off) and I did a poor job that required some patching to even out the bottom edge.  Probably a razor saw or saw blade in a Dremel should have been used.


Plastic braces were glued under the cover to hold the cover in the proper place in the gondola car.  The new gondola cover was left the color the existing off white color of the box car roof, as many covered gondola roofs are white.  Four lifting loops were added, to allow removing roof from the gondola, with four cables by my Lionel gantry crane.  I am always looking for different uses or loads for the gantry crane.





I am planning to make a lifting rig from four pieces of black braided fishing line and four hooks from thin solid wire.  The gantry crane hook can be used.  Another method is to glued the four lines to the a steel washer with E6000 glue.  Then the magnet of the Lionel Gantry Crane can be used to pick up or lower the rig steel washer, with the cover attached. The cover can then be removed or installed on top of any 8 inch gondola rail car.


Only one 8 inch gondola cover for my smaller gondola cars will be made as it can be installed on any one of my small gondola cars.  Another gondola cover, for my 9.5 inch gondolas rail cars, may be made when a junk 9.5 inch box car is found at a train show.



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Last edited by Choo Choo Charlie
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