Convert an Accucraft gondola to a pipe gondola

In this article I will describe converting an Accucraft gondola into a pipe gondola.

We'll start with the brake end, because its the hardest.

Remove the brake wheel and staff. Twist and pull up CAREFULLY. It will come out.

Remove 3 grab irons on brakewheel side, and the two on other side. CAREFULLY pry out one side with a screwdriver, then twist slowly to remove the other end. They are brass wire, so they wont break, but you dont want to bend them up too much, you might need them for another project. The attachment bolt will not come out with it, it is cast as part of the end. The bottom one is particulary tricky, as it is bent.

Your car should now look like this:

Now, separate the end from the corner brackets. First, using a very thin bladed flat screwdriver, and a small hammer (tack hammer, etc), start from the top and wedge the screwdriver between the car end and the corner bracket. Once you have it separated a bit, use a thin piece of brass as a chisel, and separate the rest of the side down to the floor. Repeat for the other side of the end.

The corner brackets now can be cut off to make 2 flat brackets. Score the bend with an exacto knife to get a straight cut, and snap them off. File the cut ends square.

The ends are attached to the sides by 4 little metal pins, and they are also lightly glued. Separate the sides a bit by flexing, and prying with an exacto, until the top pins pop out of the end. Now you can pivot the end down, and see where the bottom 2 pins are. Carve the plasticut one of these pins out using an exacto knife, and remove the end.

Now file down the 4 pins, and glue the 2 inner brackets in alignment with the outer brackets. Make sure you get the row of bolts on the correct side.

Remove the bottom brake staff bracket from the end beam by gently prying it off.

Now, you can do one of two things. They both are prototypical.

Move the side step. The side step is brass, and is held on with 4 brass bolts. Back these out using your needlenose pliers, and set everything aside. Glue the brake staff bracket as far forward on the side beam, touching the end beam, as you can. Now, locate the step centered in the space left over, drill holes, and re-attach the step. I used brass NBWs instead of the bolts.

2) Mount the bottom brake staff bracket on the end beam.

NOTE: Method 2 will allow you to put an Ozark (or similar) brake pawl hanging off the end beam.

Cut the upper brake staff bracket off the car end that you removed, cut it into the bracket, as shown, and slip it over staff. Insert the bottom of the brake staff/brakewheel combination into the lower bracket, and glue the collar to the side bracket, about at the top grab iron. Drill for an NBW. Move the brake chain, and lengthen it. Attach it to the bottom of the brake staff.

Now, take off the other car end, as described above. This end is easier because there is no hardware to relocate.

Rustoleum "Painter's Touch" red primer is very close to the original color.

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