BUILDING A GONDOLA CAR
OCTOBER 1-7, 2010
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FREIGHT TRUCKS - FINALLY - I ordered a pair of Bettendorf freight
trucks from Mountain Car Co. in early June.  It took over 15 weeks but they're
finally here.  They are made entirely of steel and the pair weighs almost 50
pounds.
FIRST TRY - The sides were cut from 3/4 inch plywood.  I made matching
frame boards from 2x6 lumber. The problem was that the floor space was
severely narrowed by the 2x6's, making the floor only 12 1/2 inches wide
instead of 14.
BOTTOM - FIRST TRY - You can see the 2x6 pieces on the inside of the
side panels.  The design was intended for as low a center of gravity as possible.
BOTTOM - SECOND TRY - The 2x6's have been replaced by 1 x 1 1/2
inch strips of wood underneath the floor.  The floor is 1 inch higher but 3
inches wider.
PUTTING IT ALL TOGETHER - I started by attaching three of the 1 x 1 1/2 strips to the bottom of
each side panel with 2 inch drywall screws, then installing three of the floor panels.  The side panels are
strong enough to hold a lot of weight without needing the 2x6's.
BASIC BODY COMPLETE - I placed it on the trucks temporarily to get an
idea of how it will look.  Here are the dimensions: length 6 ft, width 15.5 inches,
side panels 9.5 in high (7.5 at ends), narrow portion 14.5 in, slants 7 inches.
VIEW OF THE FLOOR BOARDS - Here you can see how the floor drops
in the center so riders' feet will be lower than with a straight floor.  The ends
are 4 3/8 inches off the railhead, so the center is only 2 3/8 above the rail.
DADDY'S LITTLE HELPER - Bella is helping me paint the car.  I had
installed the sills and ribs the day before.  The sills are 1/2 by 1 1/8 inch pine,
and the ribs are 1/4 by 3/4 inch pine, spaced at 4.5". The ribs are attached with
glue and 3/4 inch brads.
OK IT'S TIME TO PLAY NOW - Bella wants me to throw her the ball now
that the painting is done.  It will require a second coat tomorrow.  I used Sears
Weather-beater Ultra satin latex paint, Visionary Blue.