Small car repair shop...

Discussion in 'HO Scale Model Trains' started by Iles, Oct 25, 2006.

  1. Iles

    Iles New Member

    I went to a train show recently and I think the bug has bitten me to get back into the hobby. Currently, I have no room for a layout of any size. I enjoy building and detailing rolling stock and structures and was think of constructing a small (2'x4' perhaps?) diarama. My initial idea is to construct a small car repair shop that I could (hopefully) incorporate into a larger layout someday. I have a lot of repairs (and weathering!) to do on my freight car fleet and thought this might be a fun and managable project to get back into the swing of things.

    I am not really sure what materials would be best for building diarama's and would like some input from those who have done these. Also, does anyone have any ideas about kits I could use for shop buildings? I am thinking I would like to do some detailing of the interior as well and possibly include some lighting.

    Any ideas and input would be more than welcome!
  2. MasonJar

    MasonJar It's not rocket surgery

  3. jetrock

    jetrock Member

    I would only suggest that you DO have room for a layout--just one of an extremely small size! A car repair shop on a 2'x4' foot module can certainly end up as part of a larger layout, and has potential for operation on its own, of a sort.

    If you have been out of the hobby for a while, you might take a look at some new techniques for building layouts, like the use of Styrofoam for scenery and even the benchwork of your layout. Styrofoam is available in 2x4 foot sheets of various thicknesses, and a 2" thick piece is quite suitable for layout use. You can glue it to a piece of 2x4 foot plywood if you want some extra strength.

    Walthers makes a nice car-shop building, and some of the others in the Cornerstone series might prove useful for a medium-sized car-shop complex:

    And here's an accessory kit:

    And some others:

    Another thing to consider is a transfer table: sort of like a linear turntable, a transfer table is used to move cars back and forth between multiple bays in a railroad shop.

    Even with 2x4 feet, you have enough room for a lead track with space for a switcher and any size car, and a couple of switches--potentially even a runaround track. In any case, 2x4 feet is enough room for a nice little shops module. Operations would be based around transferring equipment into and out of the shops--either cars or even locomotives (dummies would be handy for this) for repair. With a siding for a shop switcher, you can set out (by hand or cassette) cars on a main track in the foreground, and then use the switcher to pick up the car for the shops and shunt it into the appropriate bay. It's not much, but it's enough to give you a taste and could of course be part of a larger layout later.
  4. CCT70

    CCT70 Member

    I'd scratchbuild it. Here's a shot of Stockton California's Western Pacific (now UP) RIP track. This is where they do light to medium repairs.

  5. Iles

    Iles New Member

    Thanks for the replies. I enjoyed looking at TomPM's photos and tips. A lot of what he is doing will be helpful to me.

    I have other ideas for diorama's as well, but I am thinking that not too many people model car shops and that it would be something "different".

    The Illinois & Midland (former C&IM) here in Springfield has a small car repair facility that repairs their own cars and does contract work and may have been in the back of my mind (and a possible inspiration), but I want to do a free-lance project and not necessarily something based on a prototype.

    I guess 2'x4', although pretty small, *could* be something I design to be operable. In fact, I *should* design it that way for more long-term enjoyment.

    All things considered, I believe a two-bay main shop building with access on one end only will best fit my needs. A small attached office and small storage/material building or sheds would round out the structures.

    It would make sense to have a "main" track run the full 4' length and include a run-around track. I could have a storage track astride the main shop building and two lead tracks into the building itself. That would make for a total of 5 tracks and that would certainly fit nicely on a 2' wide diorama.

    One thing I am not so sure of is how small shops like this remove truck sets from cars. Do they use jacks and blocks to change out trucks and wheels or might they use a smaller overhead crane inside the shop? I am aiming for the most realistic set-up and don't want to incorporate a crane if it is not logical or prototypical.

    Finally, blue or pink foam board is definitely the way I plan on going with this project. It is very lightweight and thus very portable. I would like to be able to move it with ease and possibly show it off somewhere. I can see this project taking quite some time as I am a nut for little details and shop areas always seem to be cluttered with stuff.

    By the way, any reccomendations on DCC-ready EMD switchers? I know it might seem ridiculous to many people, but I would love to be able to include some sound with this project....
  6. Russ Bellinis

    Russ Bellinis Active Member

    For your building, you could use a Pike Stuff model corrugated steel building. I'm not sure, but I think the modern car shops would just jack the cars up to change out the trucks. The trucks are held on by large pins on the trucks going into a socket on the car, and held in place by gravity. I think if they are just changing out wheel sets, they have a pit inside the shop with a drop down section of track where they can take the bearing cap apart to loosen the axle from the truck and drop the axle into the pit. It is then rolled aside on a transfer table, and a new or refurbished axle is rolled under the car and raised up to the truck.
  7. jetrock

    jetrock Member

    Some shops facilities use an elevator under the rails within the shops building that literally drops the truck out from underneath the car (after bracing the car body in place) and rolls it to a spot a few feet to the side, then raises the truck back up for work. It would be an interesting bit of animation: spot a car onto a truck-elevator track with some parts etc. that hide the truck, then have a truck raise up a while later from a concealed "pit" alongside the track.

    Overhead cranes are common features in railroad shops. Only the heaviest can handle things like locomotives, but lots of things involved with railroad equipment repair are very heavy and can use a mobile crane.

    Depending on how much room you can free up, you might even have room for a turntable. A modern facility probably wouldn't have a roundhouse, but there is often a need to turn locomotives or special-purpose cars, and a small turntable pit would add a little interest to the scene, depending on how much track you end up having to work with.

    Another thing to consider is re-arranging that eight square feet: here's an example of a track plan that fits into eight square feet, using a 1x8 foot shelf:

    Imagine, if you will, a two-bay car repair shop on the left with a RIP track in front, a three-bay locomotive servicing shop on the right, and a track for the shop goat on the middle left, with the mainline along the front. Shuffling cars from the main track into the various bays could keep you busy for a while! Admittedly, this is kind of an extreme example of what can be done--and if you don't have 8 square feet to spare on a full-time basis, you could very easily split it down the middle and join the two halves for operating sessions.
  8. gottaBreal

    gottaBreal Member

    LOL thats is a great trackplan JETROCK looks like lots of Fun
  9. MilesWestern

    MilesWestern Active Member

    WOWZA! talk about an efficient use of trackspace! :eek:

    Who makes 3way turnouts? How much are they?
  10. 60103

    60103 Pooh Bah

    Miles: Peco make 3-way turnouts in HO. The code 100 is symmetric while the code 75 is staggered - just a pair of turnouts overlapped. Price was 20-23 pounds 2 years ago ($40 and up in Canada.)
    Iles: look up the Gorre and Daphetid railroad of John Allen. John is one of the saints of model railroading, but his first railway was about 2 by 4; built to show off his prize-winning engine shed. It would be adaptable to a car repair shop, but with very tight curves.
  11. Iles

    Iles New Member

    Thanks everyone for all the ideas and info. I am grateful for the planning help and the ability to bounce ideas out here. When I was last modeling on a regular basis, forums like this didn't exist.

    Initially, I was thinking of a coffee table-type design that I could easily move around while building and later move it in and out of storage for display. Now, I am leaning more toward a the idea of a narrower shelf-type design that I could add to and possibly set on top of wall shelving. This way I could keep it available for display and use at any time I choose.

    The main concern I have with constructing this type of display/layout/etc. is connecting the individual diorama's or "modules" (not sure if that is correct terminology).

    Anyone with tips in this area would be helpful. Thanks!
  12. Jim Krause

    Jim Krause Active Member

    I would think that with some advance planning of your layout topography, you could incorporate a 2X4 diorama into a yard on a larger layout. There will not be any huge changes in elevation to deal with in the type of scene you are planning to start with. and you could just remove a decorative facia from your diorama and bolt it into a pre arranged hole in the laout, fill any seams and add ground cover. As I said. preplanning is the key.
  13. jetrock

    jetrock Member

    I have a shelf layout of this sort. There are many ways to attach modules together, but personally I just use C-clamps to hold them tight (it has oft been said that C-clamping is a hobby within the hobby of model railroading.) Of course, if you are building on foam this becomes a bit more tricky: there should be some sort of solid structure to connect modules together. Setting foam-based modules on top of wall shelving might be sufficient.

    A layout built of modules that are not standardized is generally called a "sectional layout", a bit like a sectional couch. My own layout is sectional, they can be nice because you just build one piece at a time, then build more as time, space and money become available.
  14. Iles

    Iles New Member

    Yes, that was the term I was looking for - "sectional". Thank you. Sometimes this planning stage is boring or unexciting etc. But I know if I don't do a good job in this area, this little car shop will never be anything but. I am hoping to be able to secure more space down the road and want to build something that will require minimal modification later.

    I have been looking up small track plans on the web and going through old magazines and books and have found a lot of helpful info. If anyone else has anything else to add, feel free. I will check back in with more info when I have made some definitive decisions about what my section size will be and the track plan. Thanks everyone!
  15. alexander

    alexander Member

    hey, you sure you dont have any room? How big of a bed do you have? It could go under there. Or, look at N scale. My layout is on 2 doors, and if i need, it can be folded into 2, and, takes up little room

    you have to think outside the box
  16. Jim Krause

    Jim Krause Active Member

    The comment that Alexander made above jogged my memory. I built a 4X8 layout for my son that folded up against the wall over his bed. I used boat hardware called slip hinges to support it on the wall and two folding legs from boat tables on the side toward the center of the room. Your scenery would be limited to removable buildings but you would have operating space. Now that I think of it, you could add two additional legs and move the layout into another room for use.

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