There have over the years been many different ways to making realistic loads for things such as Coal, Iron Ore, Timber, Ballast and so forth. Some companies make removable loads but being mass-produced tend to lack in realism. I personally make my own loads and in modelling an area with lots of coal traffic this means that I have to make a lot. So I have made a method of making loads for about 30p/50c per wagon, are removable and look very convincing.
To Start with we need something to simulate the load which in my case is coal. So I’m going to use coal scatter from WaR-World Ltd which is to scale for ’00’ and has a really good colour to it. Along with this I use a length of balsa wood preferably 6mm thick and a thinner length. You can get that from any hobby shop or most hardware store. Other things you will need are:
Measure the inside of the wagon to be fitted and then cut a piece of 6mm balsa that is smaller than the internal space so that the load is easy to move in and out. I
personally leave a 2-3mm gap on the end so I can use a piece of very stiff steel wire with the small bit at the end bent at 90 degrees to lift out the load easily. I do this simply by twisting the rod after inserting it and pulling up the load.
Next cut some smaller pieces of thin balsa gluing them to the bottom of the larger piece. Keep adding pieces until the top of the balsa sits 4mm below the top of the wagon when
fully down. After this you can paint the top to whatever colour matches your load . In my case this is black to match coal.
Next take a wide strip of Cling-film and place it over the wagon and push the balsa form down into the wagon until it sits fulling in place. Now pour some of the ‘coal’ into the wagon so there is enough to cover the whole area and create a domed shape to the coal, but i will leave that up to your discretion.
Now this step is very similar to laying ballast in place. Take some water with a drop of wasting up liquid in it and with a spray
bottle or dropper apply to the ‘coal’ letting it sit for a few minutes before adequately applying a 40/60 mix of water and PVA. Make sure that all the material around the edges is thoroughly soaked. Now leave it to the side to dry solid for a day or two in a warm place.
When the glue is solid pull out the whole load by putting the Cling-film ends together and pulling the load out. Sometimes the glue doesn’t make it all the way through the material which easily fixed by repeating step 4. Once the load is out gently pull off the Cling-wrap. Now some bits of coal will fall off but thats nothing to worry about because thats why we painted the balsa. Now we take some PVA and apply it around the entire edge of the coal and take a finger to wipe any excess away and force the glue into and gaps making sure that everything on the side is covered in glue. This will, when dry, prevent the edge from crumbling apart. When dry take a file or very sharp knife and smooth thesides of the load so that they are not hard to place/remove from the wagon. Now you are ready to go.
Now these can be mass produce or even have an assembly line if you have many of the same loads to make. Cheaply.