Kitbashed Beet Gondola

by Thomas Beutel

A long time ago I won a Details Associates beet car at a PCR door raffle and it was only last year that I decided to put it together.

Sugar Beet Gondola built from Detail Associates kit

It’s a wonderful kit, but it did take me several evenings to put it together. Now that I had one, I wanted a whole train of course, but the kits are rather expensive. I decided instead to kitbash some stand-in models.

I took a close look at the standard 8 panel 40ft gondola made by AHM and others. I figured it would be easy to scribe the sides and add extensions to give it the look of an SP wood side beet car, but I was held back by what to do with the underside since a drop bottom gondola has a bunch of hardware for holding and releasing the floor doors.

After pondering this for a while, it occurred to me that I should just treat this as I do other 10-foot models. As long as it looks OK from 10 feet away, I’m not going to worry about the missing underbody details.

Kitbashed Stand-in Beet Gondola

The first step was to raise the car to match the height of the Detail Associates car. I added .060 blocks of styrene to the bolsters so the cars would ride higher. Then I scribed the sides and add diagonal braces using .020 styrene.

I tried modeling two types of extensions, plywood and plank. For the plywood extensions I used styrene, but for the planks I used real wood that I cut from coffee stirrers. After I glued the extensions, I painted and decaled the cars, and applied a good amount of weathering. For beets I used wheat berries which are oversized but I think they look fine at 10 feet.

Stand-in Beet Cars

My beet car train is now 10 cars long and it looks great, even with the Details Associate car in the mix.