I started with blocks of blue styrofoam cut to lenght and width with a table saw (be always careful when handly styrofoam and electric saws).
I fitted the styrofoam block into the car and draw a line with a pencil following the car's top. This line will serve as a handy reference to sculpt the top load.
Next, I roughed up the general shape of the load with a utility knife and smoothed the profil wiith a rasp. I was careful enough to make sure the car load top would have a fine texture, not a coarse one. As quick test shown me the load fitted perfectly the car height.
For easy of removal, I added a small brass wire loop glued with PVA on top of the load. Using a small hook, removing the load will be a piece of cake.
Instead on painting the load then gluing woodchip, I decided to combine both step to save on time. I used a light brown interior latex paint I generally use for basic sceneric work. It fits perfectly woodchip color. I was cereful to not plug the brass loop with paint.
When paint was still wet, I sprinkled generously real sawdust from the table saw. To ensure a realistic look, Louis-Marie sifted the sawdust with a screen. It resulted in fine and relatively long sawdust particles that mimick perfectly woodchips. I too often saw coarse sawdust sprinkled on cars and it just looks like sprinkled sawdust and not woodchips.
Here's the 6 loads completed and drying. Building the loads took about 1 hour, but that includes the time wasted in coming up with a correct prototype. Making these loads is a matter of a few minutes and there's no excuse to not make them.
As you can suspect, the new loads were an immediate succes with other club members and soon found their way on the layout. Honestly, they tremendously improved the appearance of the woodchip cars fleets and we now can easily spot them without wondering which one is loaded and which one is empty.
By the way, a lot of things happened yesterday at the layout including a new way to operate the trains, a new and more prototypical configuration for Clermont little yard, redifining the peninsula fascia contour and installing Ciment St-Laurent weighing station. Stay tuned!