I originally had planned to have a rail barge scene on the layout using Walthers car float and apron kits. I soon discovered that there just wasn't room to fit this in the space I had available, so the idea was scrapped. The section of harbor where this had been planned now was open, and I thought I'd just add another boat in that area, or leave it a open water scene. One day while I was down on the Tacoma waterfront near my home I noticed several loaded wood chip barges anchored just off shore from the local Simpson Kraft Mill. This looked like an opportunity!
I began this project by taking the completed Walthers car float, cutting it into three pieces and removing the center section to shorten it to a length closer to the typical wood chip barge. The rails and supporting details were removed using flush-cut nippers and then sanding for what seemed an eternity to get a smooth, flush deck. I then added .040 styrene sheet on both the top and bottom to strengthen the resulting hull. After some model putty and careful sanding I am to the point shown in the photo above. Next will come the sides and then deck details before painting.
Shown above and below is the barge with the scratchbult sidewalls completed. Next will be adding the deck details and then a coat of primer will be applied before the final painting.
The paint scheme I will be attempting to duplicate will be the one in the photo below.
The barge has been painted and weathered as you can see below. Because I don't have a way to print white decals, I was forced to come up with another way to accomplish this paint scheme. The "Seaspan" name was printed on label materials which was then applied to blue painters tape. Then each letter was carefully cut out on a piece of glass using sharp #11 Xacto blades and then applied to the white base coat. This gave me a nice stencil. It worked quite well, although needless to say, a little tedious.
The walls of the barge have yet to be cemented to the base. I am waiting until the wood chip load has been finished for ease of measuring and fitting.
Here is the barge with the load installed. I used expanding spray foam for the load core. I highly receommend you DO NOT use this method. If I had to do it over again I would wait until I found some scrap pieces of insulation foarmboard to construct the core. Sawdust collected from my shop was used for the actual load. (photo courtesy of Trackside Model Railroading)