Prototypical flatcar loads

A flat is one of the most versatile cars the railroads possess. The possibilities for loads are nearly endless. The following series of photos are intended to help the modeler with not only load ides, but to help them understand how loads were rigged for transit. The railroads tended to want to ensure that the loads arrived undamaged so that they would be paid rather than having to pay a claim. Blocks, bolts, chains and framework were all utilized depending upon shape and size.

Let's look at a few interesting loads:

A new crawler


Row crop tractors


Steam tractors - the half round things are water wagon tanks


A steam roller and fire wagon


An early gas roller


A steam shovel


A big steam winch


A MoW gas shovel



A big crankshaft


 steel plate





 a turbine part, aka a 'whatzit'... just about any interesting shape under a 'tarp' can be a load!



covered cushioned coils


a diesel


a trolley



and automobiles




even a telescope mirror!


And don't forget the military! There are bunches of models available in both plastic and diecast



 This link to an Army training manual may better tell you how miltary loads should be rigged.


And all these are just the tip of the iceberg!




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  • catherine yronwode
    catherine yronwode I'm glad i found this collection! I am imagining the feasibility of putting together a load of vintage tractors right now. You have enriched my imagination. On reading who posted it, i had to sigh -- i wish i had thanked "Mik" white he was still with us.
    November 10, 2013
  • Greg Greg Elmassian
    Greg Greg Elmassian That telescope mirror is the famous one at Palomar Observatory, here in San Diego, was the largest reflecting telescope from 1948 to 1975, and the first image taken was by Edwin Hubble.
    February 25, 2015