A Railgon 53-foot gondola has joined the growing lineup of freight cars in the HO scale WalthersMainline product range. The plastic model, based on a Thrall prototype, features a mix of molded and separate, factory-applied parts; 36″ metal wheels mounted on plastic axles; and body-mounted Proto-Max metal couplers.
The prototype. Railgon Co., a nation- wide gondola pool, was formed as a sub-sidiary of Trailer Train in 1979. Its initial fleet of 4,000 cars was constructed by five builders: Thrall (310000-310999), Berwick Forge & Fabricating (320000- 320499), Greenville (330000-330499), Bethlehem Steel Car (340000-340499), and Pullman-Standard (350000-351499). The gondolas were built between July 1980 and October 1981.
The WalthersMainline sample we received is decorated as GONX no. 310502. The 1,000 Thrall cars have the class designation TSG10. Other classes are WSG10 (Berwick Forge & Fabricating), GSG10 (Greenville), BSG10 (Bethlehem), and PSG10 (PS).
Between 1984 and 1987, more than 600 cars from the TSG10 class were leased by the Seaboard System (500), Denver & Rio Grande Western (93), and Kansas City Southern (17). According to the January 2019 Official Railway Equipment Register, 364 gondolas from the GONX 310000-310999 series were still in service.
For additional information on Railgon, read The TTX Story, Vol. 2 by James D. Panza, Richard W. Dawson, and Ronald P. Sellberg (Pennsylvania RR Technical & Historical Society, 2018).
The model. The gondola is part of the budget-friendly WalthersMainline series. The model has a one-piece plastic body with a molded brakewheel platform, grab irons, and roping staples. The brake wheel is a separate, factory-applied part.
The car’s interior has seams for the floor panels, beaver tail connection plates (these connect the bottom of the exterior posts to the crossmembers), bolster blocks, and body bolsters. The upper corners accurately feature the pin connection between the side and end top chords.
Underneath, the car has a one-piece plastic casting consisting of the draft- gear boxes, crossties and crossbearers, center sills, and body bolsters. The draft-gear boxes have separate, screw-mounted covers. The air reservoir, brake cylinder, and control valve are separate pieces tethered by molded pipes. A painted
13 ⁄16″ x 45 ⁄8″ steel weight is secured to the underbody with glue.
Measuring up. I compared the model to prototype drawings published in the August 25, 1980, issue of Railway Age. The majority of the dimensions are spot on. The inside length and width are both off about a scale 6″. This is typical on most open-top models.
The black and yellow paint is smooth and evenly applied, and the printing is legible. There was some minor yellow overspray at the outside corners where the side and end top chords meet.
The gondola weighs 3 ounces, which 1.7 ounces too light based on National Model Railroad Association Recommended Practice 20.1. Weights could be concealed under the car between the crossmembers and sills. The 36″ metal wheels are correctly gauged, and the Proto-Max metal couplers are at the correct height.
I put the empty gondola in a train on our HO scale Milwaukee, Racine & Troy staff layout, which has nos. 4 and 6 turn- outs and 36″ minimum radius curves. The car ran without incident while being pushed and pulled.
A rugged hauler. I’m a big fan of the WalthersMainline series. The Railgon gondola, like other cars in the product range, has a nice blend of molded and separately applied parts that will stand up to regular handling. If you want to further enhance the gondola, you can add consolidated stencils and Thrall builder’s logos using waterslide decals available from Microscale and other companies.
Facts & features
Wm. K. Walthers Inc.
5601 W. Florist Ave.
Milwaukee, WI 53218
Era: 1980 to present
Road names: Railgon (as delivered, eight road numbers); Baltimore & Ohio (Railgon patchout); Chicago & North Western (Railgon patchout); Delaware & Hudson; Denver & Rio Grande Western (Railgon patchout); Elgin, Joliet & Eastern; and Soo Line. Four numbers per scheme unless noted. Also available undecorated. Features
– 36″ metal wheelsets, in gauge
– 100-ton roller-bearing trucks
– Proto-Max metal couplers, at correct height
– Weight: 3 ounces, 1.7 ounces too light per NMRA Recommended Practice 20.1