If you are planning on running some industrial style rolling stock as well as or instead of passenger carriages, then you will find that the majority of open topped trucks (known as gondolas) available will be empty. While you can run empty gondolas on your layout, if you want to add that extra bit of realism you will want to think about adding actual loads to your gondolas. In real life, gondolas are used to transport all kinds of materials, although typically these loads are ballast, coal, and scrap metals (basically they are used for carrying loose bulk materials).
While you can get model gondolas that have loads built in (or you can buy the loads separately) its very simple to make them yourself. A common mistake that people make is to find a material that they want to have as their loads and just fill up the gondolas directly. Because of the added weight (depending on what you are planning on having as your load) this can effect you model trains performance, especially on corners and gradients.
In the following video ChessieFan2 shows how he creates light weight loads that can be easily added and removed from a gondola. They also look great.
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