Allen Keller wonders what tricks Tom Harris has learned for running such a long, big consists on his Lakeside Lines model railroad. The first time Tom had this railroad built with the main yard laid out with the track laid around Heinz Hill, he took all five locomotives and picked up every car that was in the yard—which is about 75 cars—up to the hill to see what it does. It got up onto the big 13 curve and streamlined, sending about a dozen of them onto a concrete floor. From this he learned the tricks for constructing a long train that would actually stay on the track dependently.
The most difficult car to get up to wait is the flat car. Tom has an old Lionel model that he will use for a demonstration on how he brings cars up to weight. He takes the underbody out of it and cuts a slot in the middle from the fish belly. Underneath that, he has a piece of lead sheet that he folded in two and painted the color of the car. He reassembles this and screws the trucks back in place.
Another kind of car he uses extensively on the Lakeside Lines is the Bowser 100-ton hopper. They are significantly underweight and often come packaged with two weights, which still doesn’t add enough weight. However, placing three in one side of the car instead of two does the trick. The extra weights can easily be bought from Bowser.
For more tips on increasing car weights, watch the full video and watch more from Allen Keller’s Great Model Railroads in the Model Railroad Academy archives.