TIP: realistic coal loads from black foam

You can find shiny black foam packing strips in many electronic products boxes. It's a little wider than an HO hopper. Trim it on the
plus side for a snug fit so the edges will tuck in and stay put. The stuff is resilient so you can raise and dip it to simulate a realistic load of coal.
It looks incredibly real considering it's just foam with not a lot of definition. I'm sure this stuff can work for larger gauges too. The illusion of coal is very effective.
I was going to use this for an underlay to save on simulated bagged coal. Much to my surprise, it serves the purpose with no mess. I loaded up 4 hoppers this way and they look terrific.
Robby
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Robby wrote: You can find shiny black foam packing strips in many electronic products boxes. It's a little wider than an HO hopper. Trim it on the plus side for a snug fit so the edges will tuck in and stay put. The stuff is resilient so you can raise and dip it to simulate a realistic load of coal. It looks incredibly real considering it's just foam with not a lot of definition. I'm sure this stuff can work for larger gauges too. The illusion of coal is very effective. I was going to use this for an underlay to save on simulated bagged coal. Much to my surprise, it serves the purpose with no mess. I loaded up 4 hoppers this way and they look terrific. -------------------------------------------------- Great idea! Thanks for sharing, Robby. I used emery cloth for my N scale coal loads.
Bill Bill's Railroad Empire N Scale Model Railroad: http://www.billsrailroad.net Brief History of N Scale: http://www.billsrailroad.net/history/n-scale Model Railroad Bookstore: http://www.billsrailroad.net/bookstore Children's Books and Toy Trains: http://www.billsrailroad.net/bookstore-4 Resources--Links to 1,000 sites: http://www.billsrailroad.net/bills-favorite-links
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Be very careful of soft plastic foams. The reason they are soft is the addition of loosely chemically bonded solvent-type chemicals. In time, these agents can migrate and distort/destroy adjacent "hard" styrene type plastics. Look back on this newsgroup and you will see many reports of beautiful custom paint jobs on expensive brass locos ruined by old foam packing going to goo, and chemical migration from old Lionel rubbery hand car figures ruining the hard plastic handcar bodies. Modern foams may be better, but time has not yet proven these products, and you get no identification of the chemical makeup of the foams you may choose to use as coal loads. Gary Q

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I don't think there is much to worry about using the black anti-static (conductive) foam which is used in protecting electronic devices. That foam is usually stiff and should not react with plastic or paint.
Yes, other types of foam can react and melt plastic. But those are usually the soft, squishy type. Like some kitchen drawer liner foam.
I've used the black conductive foam as a coal load in a N scale Challenger loco. I have a sound DCC decodre in the tender and the speaker is right under the "coal" load. It looks great and lets sound right through.
Peteski
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Geezer wrote:

I 'second' the warning!
While soft foam car loads are fine for short term use, DON'T store your models with the foam installed. Most of the common foams will either eventually attack many other plastics, or will break down into components that will.
There are SOME foams (polyethylene for one) that are far more stable, but when using scrap foam you rarely know what it's chemical makeup may be. Usually it's an expendable item, so the manufacturers/users don't care much about long term effects.
Dan Mitchell ==========
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I have used kitty litter mixed in a thin glue solution for fake ballast in model ships. Since it just clay, it would be a lot more chemically stable. Plus it can be randomly mounded for better realizm
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Daniel A. Mitchell wrote:

Luckily, most of my models are either wood (Ambroid, Silver Streak, Central Valley, etc.) or metal (Ulrich, Roundhouse, etc.). Shouldn't be a problem.
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Rick Jones
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