Re: Digest Number 9245

D. Scott Chatfield

Gene Green wrote:

Athearn is currently offering at least two gondolas with loads of small containers.
Athearn literature labels these as appropriate for 1980 to the present and, based on
the paint schemes alone, that is likely correct.
Is the Athearn gondola model at least representative of a gondola built and in use
before 1950? Before 1960? I assume it is not actually a model of any specific car.

The Athearn "50-foot gondola" is _based_ on a Bethlehem design built in the early to
mid 1960s for several customers, and copied by N&W's Roanoke Shops, and perhaps C&O's
Raceland Shops as well. Specifically it a version with coil cradles inside, as betrayed
by the line of rivets a third of the way up the sides from the floor. That said, Irv
shortened the model to fit in his standard kit box and/or use an existing underframe,
and in doing so screwed up the post spacing. Indeed, it is tough to lengthen the model
and get the correct spacing for the Bethlehem prototype.

And yes, it should have a straight centersill, not the fishbelly centersill from his
50-foot flatcar (another "what's the prototype" subject, I guess). But Athearn's
standard 50-foot boxcar underframe fits just fine, so that's an easy swap. I've done
it on the couple I have.

As Tony Thompson pointed out, you can kitbash the Athearn 50-foot gon into several
steam era prototypes, but one common change you will have to make is change the ends
to drop ends.

A handful of these cars still run today, and the Norfolk Southern-painted ones are
still fairly common on NS freights, because they were rebuilt with plate steel floors
and repainted around 1990 for shredded scrap service. Some were later repainted MofW
orange to haul scrap ties, and those are also common sights on today's freights.

Scott Chatfield

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