Modeling G31 Series (G31, G31a through G31m?) and G35 Gondolas

by Elden Gatwood


The 2900 G31 gondolas (with no suffix) were originally built in Altoona during 1948 through 1951. The G31s were welded, steel-floored, drop-end gons of 52'6" inside length. Additional subclasses spun off from the G31 subclass, identified as G31a through G31e, were also 52'6" inside length mill gondolas, but had wood floors (identifiable by the small "w" in a circle to the left of the keystone). The G31 series was a substantial class on the PRR. Later added sub-classes G31f through G31m were rebuilds of the above classes G31 through G31e. They were all originally 70 ton cars (140000 CAPY, about 155000 LDLMT, and about 55000 CAPY). The G35s were the same externally as the welded drop-end G31a's and b's, but had a different underframe, which won't make any difference if you don't model the underframe! You should have a bunch of these for good representation of your layout. If you aim to have 200 PRR freight cars, up to a dozen should be G31 series cars. The easiest modeling approach, although it still takes a lot of work, is kitbashing the ConCor/Revell 54' Mill Gon. They can be had for $4 to $6 each (less at swap meets), another $2 for the Detail Associates ends for the fixed end G31d or G31e, or mated-in ends from the Proto 2000 Greenville Mill Gon for the G31 through G31c, probably another $1 for ladders, $1 for Kadees, $1 for weights, and whatever for your choice of trucks. So, you can do a really nice G31 gon for about $10.

Here's how it's done…

You can save considerable aggravation by constructing models three or four at a time. It gives a greater sense of satisfaction to finish off a few models at once, and you save effort decaling and painting in groups.

©1999 Elden Gatwood

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