Storage? How boring is that?!?

Posted by Bob Keller
on Saturday, May 30, 2020

I always thought that if you purged your collection a bit, you would have plenty of extra room. I wish.

So last month I did a bit of a purge of the collection. It was several box loads of equipment. All modern era, most not taken out of the box, and which I had no notion of when or if I would ever use them. I didn’t worry about value because I simply gave the equipment to someone I hoped could use it. And I hoped he didn’t think I was making my storage problem, his storage problem. This in turn got me thinking about re-organizing what remained in the basement.

 When I came to Wisconsin to work for CTT back in ’96, my whole collection was maybe 100 pieces. Tough to store in an apartment, but much easier when I got a basement. My idea (and it wasn’t a bad one), was to buy a few four-shelf storage units, assemble them 2x2, and store my trains beneath the bench work. That actually worked pretty well for several years. 

 About two years later I had accumulated so much equipment that I had to add additional racks. I decided to use the below tabletop storage for all the empty boxes of equipment (locomotives and rolling stock) that were actually on the track. At the time I was running two 30-car trains and another 20-car train. So that was about 80 cars, plus, oh, 20, more in a freight yard. Between powered and dummy units, I had about 12 locomotives on the track. This would let me store the boxes for equipment I was running close to the track, and avoid co-mingling gear.

After that, things went downhill. I added seven additional storage racks.  To my regret, I simply stacked stuff as it came in. Oh, there was some organization in mind. On a four level unit locomotives went up top. The next two levels were cars. I wanted extra weight on the bottom so I placed either LPs (yes, the thing before CDs) or water softener cubes!

In the two years since I left CTT I’ve had a goal of reorganizing. My concept was simple: Everything by road name, but all passenger car sets and locomotives on their own unit. And that is about where I’ve stopped.

It is true that if you need to clean something up or reorganize something, you have to first make a mess. I’m still in the mess stage. I’ve segregated some of my New York Central cars and I’ve grouped almost all my Railway Express Agency cars. This is where I’m at now. 

The only equipment I have in quantities of more than five are New Haven, Florida East Coast, TTX, and Lionel Lines. So it seems that this will still leave me with a jumble of equipment only slightly more organized than it had been.

So what are your tips for storage? Do you store by railroad? By era? By car type? Or even by train type (such as military trains, coal trains, intermodal, or tank car trains). I am curious and welcome outside input!

Placing the empty 'in service' boxes beneath the train table avoided much box hunting when I swapped out cars.

Moving things around a bit. The shelves have not been 're-stocked.' And yes, there are some Large Scale pieces in the basement!

My intent was to fill this with locomotives, but it didn't workout that way. Curse those 11% back sales at Menards!

You may not believe it, but about half of the purged equipment came off this shelving unit. Yes, it was stacked pretty high!

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