A recent mishap on my Petra Pizza layout presented an opportunity to replace a longer flat car with a much shorter customised one a similar length to the 4 wheel open gondollas on the Tropical Pizza layout.

I was walking past my Petra Pizza layout some time ago, and I happened to knock the baseboard, and one of the 22 foot open mineral hoppers fell off the layout, and smashed to the floor. The carriage was somewhat broken with the chassis and hopper section separated and bits and pieces strewn all over the floor. Originally the carriage looked like this one:

​As you can imagine I was annoyed at the carnage and I wondered whether I should try and fix it or scrap it or something else. I had been wanting a shorter flat car for a while for my Tropical Pizza (Bamboo island) layout, and as I surveyed the damage to the hopper that little light bulb above the head went on, and I realised I could convert it to a flat car. So after some further thinking and experimenting, I came up with this:

​Basically, it is the chassis of the 22 foot mineral hopper, with a 20 foot container glued to it. I think it’s come up ok. So now I have a short flat car in keeping with the other short rollingstock on the Bamboo Island layout.

After some looking closely at the ex-Southern Pacific caboose which is used for the passenger train on the layout, I am thinking that I could shorten it too by removing the platform and steps at one end and cutting either side of the side bay to make it a lot shorter – not quite as short as the flat car above, but still a lot shorter than it currently is. These changes are quite in keeping with a cash-challenged railway separated from other railways by ocean, and the need for the railway to make do with what is available in the form of quirky and unusual custom rollingstock.


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