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Walthers Carfloat Model Owner Experiences and Operational Questions

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Walthers Carfloat Model Owner Experiences and Operational Questions
Posted by rfbranch on Tuesday, July 15, 2008 11:59 AM

Hi all-

I’m in the process of revising my layout design, and have decided that I would like to include a carfloat interchange on my layout to save space on staging as well as increase my operational interest.  I’ve searched around, and the only commercially available model I can find is the now-discontinued Walters Carfloat and Barge Series (933-3068 and 933-3152).  I’ve read through the description on the Walthers site as well as some related posts here, and had a few questions I thought some owners and those more familiar with prototypical operations might be able to answer:

  1. Carfloat Apron – I see from the model photo that there is a wye leading up to the plastic tracks embedded in the model.  If anyone is using it this way, can you let me know what why you used to make it fit?  I’m trying to figure out if I need to do a major redesign to make this fit.
  2. Carfloat – Another member made allusion in a post that they only assembled “two of the three sections of the barge”.  Does this mean there are modulated sections and I can reduce the length from the 39” listed on the Walthers site?  This might help with space issues I mentioned above if I can shorten the barge itself.
  3. Plastic Track – Both the Apron and the Barge itself have embedded plastic track.  Since I can’t power the track, would make sense (as well as be reasonably prototypically accurate) to lash a couple of flat cars to the front of my locomotive as a lead to cross the unpowered track to couple to the string of cars on the barge?  I’m going to be using a couple of 44Tonners as motive power, and I doubt they would be any heavier than a lot of the cars they would be pulling so this may not be the most prototypical operation but I don’t have another idea of how to work around this otherwise.

Thanks in advance for your opinions and experience.  If this works, I’m going to make this the primary interchange for my pike and have the barge a removable portion of it so I can go load it directly from my storage shelves!

 

~rb

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Posted by MisterBeasley on Tuesday, July 15, 2008 12:46 PM

This is a picture I took at the Treasure Coast Model Railroad Club in Fort Pierce, Florida.  My in-laws live nearby, and when we visit, my father-in-law and I sometimes take a drive up and check out their layout.

You can get a bit better view by clicking on the picture.  Anyway, I'm pretty sure the terminal is the Walthers model, and the barges are either the Walthers ones or something similar.  Barges aren't terribly complicated vessels, and my guess is that you could scratch-build something pretty decent from wood and styrene, and you could then embed your own tracks to match up with whatever wye turnout you chose.

In a prototype operation, a locomotive would never cross, or even get on to, the float bridge.  The bridges simply aren't designed to take that kind of load, and the engine might find itself sleeping with the fishes that night.  So, your suggestion of an "idler" flat or two between the engine and the cars on the barge is the prototypical solution.

It takes an iron man to play with a toy iron horse. 

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Posted by nedthomas on Tuesday, July 15, 2008 2:09 PM

Answer to #2. The car float is in three sections. It can be built as a 2 section or three section float. Note: the float has a turnout on the deck to make three tracks on the float and only two on the apron.

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Posted by tomikawaTT on Tuesday, July 15, 2008 2:52 PM

Caveat - this is NOT from a Walthers product owner-user.  The data is based on New York Harbor practices observed in the 1950s.

Locomotive on the apron?  NOOOOOO!!! (unless it was being delivered to an otherwise totally isolated location.)  Either ordinary flat cars or 'skeleton flats' (flatcars without floorboards) were used as a 'handle' to reach the cars on the float.  (Having 'skeletons' reduced the possibility that somebody would put an outbound load on a spacer car.)

Waterline models of plain-jane car floats can be fabricated from pieces of ordinary pine 1-by-8 (for a three-track or center-platform float.)  I recall them being able to handle 6 cars on each outside track, which would have made the barge about 250 feet long.  A single tug in the middle could move two, one lashed to each side.  (If I was planning one of these, I'd get some good photos and use maritime model fittings for fenders, cleats and so forth.)

The advantage of the plain pine board car floats is that you can afford to build several, and use them as a form of cassette staging.

Chuck (long-ago Merchant Marine cadet modeling Central Japan in September, 1964)

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Posted by Last Chance on Tuesday, July 15, 2008 3:30 PM

Load the middle track first.

Load the track far away from dock or tug.

Then the track closest to tug or dock last.

Choo choos never go onto apron or barge.

You need a small yard close to the apron and barge to shuffle your offloads and onloads.

Bring several hundred dollars to Ebay and prepare to fight for these kits tooth and claw. I sold mine off a few years ago at 5+ times retail. (200-300 dollars at least)

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Posted by rfbranch on Tuesday, July 15, 2008 3:36 PM

3 Hours and 3 replies already...YOWSAH!!!

Thanks for all of the advice.  I'm a little leery on scratchinbuilding ANYTHING at this point only because I know my (limited) level of building skills.  That being said, they are awful basic in design so it may be something I could muster the courage to do.  On the question on the wye, I should have been a little more clear:  I was looking for an idea of the size of the wye going into the Apron, rather than on the barge itself; I’m just trying to figure if I can squeeze it all in.  My issue is more the size of the space I’m trying to squeeze everything in, rather than anything on the structures themselves.

 

Thanks again for all of the advice!

 

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Posted by tomikawaTT on Tuesday, July 15, 2008 4:15 PM

Y going onto the apron?  Not usually.  In New York Harbor (a tideway with sometimes-fast currents) most of the barge slips were parallel to the shoreline (or close to it) and switched like two (or three) more stub-end yard tracks from a parallel loads/empties yard.

Loading sequence?  Center track, HALF of the outside track that DIDN'T have the turnout for the center track, all of the other outside track, then the remaining cars on the first outside track.  If at all possible, the gross weights of the cars would be balanced both fore and aft and side to side.  No gons full of lead ingots on one side and boxcars full of feather pillows on the other...

The biggest issue with a loco on the apron wasn't weight.  It was the longitudinal stress when applying traction.  (CNJ 1000 didn't weigh much more than a heavily loaded box car.)

Chuck (modeling Central Japan in September, 1964)

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Posted by steemtrayn on Tuesday, July 15, 2008 5:51 PM
Shortly after one of the carfloat operations in New York closed down, there was a barge FULL of locomotives tied up to a pier in brooklyn.
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Posted by rfbranch on Tuesday, July 15, 2008 8:53 PM

Again my thanks to everyone for their replies.  I realize from reading posts, I may have a few operational issues to consider.  Here is my trackplan as currently devised:

 

 

As I see it, I'm planning on putting the carfloat on the bottom right section of the layout (it's the thin, blue rectangle that represents the footprint of the barge along with the apron directly "north" of it)  but as I see it my challenge will be getting cars off the barge and back into my yard.  I'll have to pull the string of 4-5 cars back to my inbound track, but then I will have to run all the way to the other end of the layout to go back for the 2nd load of cars.  That doesn't even consider the issue of where I put the 2nd string of cars (this assumes my 2nd yard track is already filled with a set of cars for delivery back to the barge..) as I won't leave myself a track to use as a runaround

 One option could be to remove the Pier Terminal building I had envisioned on my waterfront (I figure with the carfloat, I'm adding way more waterfront operations than I'm losing) and build a 2-3 track stub-ended yard to handle the interchange traffic.

If anyone else sees any potential pitfalls, I'm all ears to hear!  This is my first shot at a layout as an adult, so let me know if there are further issues I'm overlooking.  I'd love to get this design right, as I've just about finished buidling my benchwork so I'd like to make sure it's sound.

Again, my thanks.

~rb 

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Posted by modelmaker51 on Wednesday, July 16, 2008 12:32 AM

Here's a pic of the turnout, the points are on the apron, the rest on the float. The apron rails are your choice, you can install the suplied plastic rail (code 83, I think), or install (glue) your rail of choice. Actually that's true of the car float as well.

Jay 

C-415 Build: https://imageshack.com/a/tShC/1 

Other builds: https://imageshack.com/my/albums 

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Posted by markpierce on Wednesday, July 16, 2008 1:43 AM
 Last Chance wrote:

Bring several hundred dollars to Ebay and prepare to fight for these kits tooth and claw. I sold mine off a few years ago at 5+ times retail. (200-300 dollars at least)

At this moment, there is an unbuilt kit for the Walthers rail barge with a "buy-it-now" price of $290.  Walthers had a MSRP of $58.  OUCH! 

Mark

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Posted by Last Chance on Wednesday, July 16, 2008 1:29 PM
 markpierce wrote:
 Last Chance wrote:

Bring several hundred dollars to Ebay and prepare to fight for these kits tooth and claw. I sold mine off a few years ago at 5+ times retail. (200-300 dollars at least)

At this moment, there is an unbuilt kit for the Walthers rail barge with a "buy-it-now" price of $290.  Walthers had a MSRP of $58.  OUCH! 

Mark

Ouch indeed.

One simple phone call from Walthers to the factory and rerun these kits in the thousands at 60 dollars retail will water down those hot ebay prices overnight.

Why wont they rerun the things??? In fact are they dense dum dums? Here they are charging 60 retail while people paying 5 times on the open market. **Shakes head, I dont know.

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Posted by PA&ERR on Wednesday, July 16, 2008 2:35 PM

It is easy enough to scratchbuild your own carfloat and transfer bridge. I built mine with strip wood and sheet styrene. (For something less than $200-$300)

George

"And the sons of Pullman porters and the sons of engineers ride their father's magic carpet made of steel..."

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Posted by MisterBeasley on Thursday, July 17, 2008 7:15 AM
 Last Chance wrote:

Why wont they rerun the things??? In fact are they dense dum dums? Here they are charging 60 retail while people paying 5 times on the open market. **Shakes head, I dont know.

Well, calling someone a "dense dum dum" is not likely to win them over to your point of view, buy has anyone tried contacting Walthers?  Send them an e-mail, and forward a link to this thread.  In recent years they've brought back the giant steelworks model.  The Parkview Terrace background building is back in production, too, after some time off.

It's not as simple as a phone call to China, though.  Some careful planning has to go on first.  The molds are probably still available, but the factories are probably tooled up to make other things right now.  So, there is a scheduling issue to work out.  Next, they have to decide how big a production run to do.  Too few items, and the setup cost for the production run will make each one cost more.  Too many items, and they'll end up with a warehouse full of these that the market can't absorb.

I've noticed that Walthers has been offering mix-and-match component sets recently.  Think of the whole Grain Industry thing from a few months back.  More recently, they've announced the Transfer Table and a host of structures to complement its installation.  I would think that a ferry/harbor theme would fit in nicely with this marketing strategy.

It takes an iron man to play with a toy iron horse. 

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Posted by rs2mike on Thursday, July 17, 2008 1:27 PM
 rfbranch wrote:

Hi all-

I’m in the process of revising my layout design, and have decided that I would like to include a carfloat interchange on my layout to save space on staging as well as increase my operational interest.  I’ve searched around, and the only commercially available model I can find is the now-discontinued Walters Carfloat and Barge Series (933-3068 and 933-3152).  I’ve read through the description on the Walthers site as well as some related posts here, and had a few questions I thought some owners and those more familiar with prototypical operations might be able to answer:

  1. Carfloat Apron – I see from the model photo that there is a wye leading up to the plastic tracks embedded in the model.  If anyone is using it this way, can you let me know what why you used to make it fit?  I’m trying to figure out if I need to do a major redesign to make this fit.
  2. Carfloat – Another member made allusion in a post that they only assembled “two of the three sections of the barge”.  Does this mean there are modulated sections and I can reduce the length from the 39” listed on the Walthers site?  This might help with space issues I mentioned above if I can shorten the barge itself.
  3. Plastic Track – Both the Apron and the Barge itself have embedded plastic track.  Since I can’t power the track, would make sense (as well as be reasonably prototypically accurate) to lash a couple of flat cars to the front of my locomotive as a lead to cross the unpowered track to couple to the string of cars on the barge?  I’m going to be using a couple of 44Tonners as motive power, and I doubt they would be any heavier than a lot of the cars they would be pulling so this may not be the most prototypical operation but I don’t have another idea of how to work around this otherwise.

Thanks in advance for your opinions and experience.  If this works, I’m going to make this the primary interchange for my pike and have the barge a removable portion of it so I can go load it directly from my storage shelves!

~rb

Couple on ebay for sale right now with the dock and tugboat.  I saw the float for around 85 bucks

alco's forever!!!!! Majoring in HO scale Minorig in O scale:)

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Posted by rfbranch on Thursday, July 17, 2008 2:53 PM
Way ahead of you my friend...already on my watch list Wink [;)]
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Posted by MisterBeasley on Thursday, July 17, 2008 4:21 PM

You realize, of course, that you've caused me to re-think the track plan for my planned extension?  This is such an intriguing idea that I'm going to look into modelling it myself.  Don't worry, this plan is a year or more away, and I promise not to bid against you on this one.

I think I would make a barge out of foam, anyway.  That would be very light and very solid, and would certainly require expanding my scratchbuilding skills.  Something, for some reason, has always drawn me to the one booth at the train show that sells model shipbuilding supplies...Aaargh!   Pirate [oX)]

It takes an iron man to play with a toy iron horse. 

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Posted by rfbranch on Friday, July 18, 2008 7:56 AM

Misterbeasley-

 

Sorry if I've infected you with this disease.  In case you're interested in my inspiration, take a look at the Hoboken Shore Railroad.  It's the greatest railroad ever devised! The link is to a pretty good fansite with a lot of useful information on these types of operations.

 

 

 

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Posted by railandsail on Wednesday, October 30, 2019 8:46 AM

ID this carfloat?

Last weekend I picked up a misc box of HO parts at my local flea market. In the box there was a plastic carfloat model about 23.5" long that was made in 2 sections. It was 3 tracks with an interchange, and the rails were metal.

The only identifying marks were a molded on the bottom

C 2012
James & Anna Cleveland

Any idea as to history/origin of this model?

I can take some photos later if desirable.

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Posted by MisterBeasley on Wednesday, October 30, 2019 11:00 AM

Since this original thread, I have built a carfloat, apron and surrounding scenery.  I think it came out pretty well.  Walthers did indeed make another run of these kits, and I snatched up two carfloats and an apron before they all disappeared again.  Hmmmm...Walthers does have the apron still in stock.

These are large, over 3 feet long.  The rails in the kit are plastic.  Since the engine should not be on the float itself, that is not a problem electrically, but with 5 or 6 freight cars and 3 idler flats, that's a lot to push around with a single tank engine.  Hence, I bought a few pieces of flex track, removed the ties, and used metal rail and metal wheelsets to greatly reduce rolling friction.  I was also meticulous about maintaining level terrain for the entire area.  I did not power the barge rails.

 I actually built a fold-down shelf where the barge itself sits, for access.  I built the barge into a foam frame with hardboard sides, and put a small ring of Envirotex around the barge.  I still have another unbuilt carfloat kit, which I will eventually get to so I can we these as casettes.

The apron takes a standard Walthers wye turnout.  It all fit together easily.  I powered both turnouts with Tortoise machines.  I added single bulb illumination to the headhouse of the apron.

I built the whole carfloat scene into an urban scene using street running.  I used Proto 87 girder rail for the approach tracks.  That took a lot of time.

It takes an iron man to play with a toy iron horse. 

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Posted by railandsail on Wednesday, October 30, 2019 11:58 AM

railandsail

ID this carfloat?

Last weekend I picked up a misc box of HO parts at my local flea market. In the box there was a plastic carfloat model about 23.5" long that was made in 2 sections. It was 3 tracks with an interchange, and the rails were metal.

The only identifying marks were a molded on the bottom

C 2012
James & Anna Cleveland

Any idea as to history/origin of this model?

I can take some photos later if desirable.

 

Oops I think I just discovered the origin by way of 'google images'

http://frenchmanriver.com/Photo-Gallery-3_ep_49-1.html

Looks to be a Frenchman River product,...and made in sections such that it can be longer in some situations.

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Posted by SeeYou190 on Wednesday, October 30, 2019 11:39 PM

I have two of the Walthers Carfloat kits. I intend to build a single float without the turnout on the carfloat or apron, it should be about 4 feet long.

.

I will scratch built the apron with three seperate tracks going through it.

.

-Kevin

.

Wink Happily modeling my STRATTON & GILLETTE RAILROAD. A Class A line located in a personal fantasy world of semi-plausible nonsense on Tuesday, August 3rd, 1954.

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Posted by railandsail on Thursday, October 31, 2019 11:35 AM

Rather interesting site I found that dicusses Walther's carfloats

http://www.bronx-terminal.com/index.php?s=walthers+carfloat

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Posted by SeeYou190 on Friday, November 1, 2019 10:49 PM

What does everyone use your car floats for?

.

My intention is the swap out the cars on the float between operating sessions. The vessel itself will be permanently fastened in place.

.

-Kevin

.

Wink Happily modeling my STRATTON & GILLETTE RAILROAD. A Class A line located in a personal fantasy world of semi-plausible nonsense on Tuesday, August 3rd, 1954.

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Posted by railandsail on Saturday, November 2, 2019 8:21 AM

Initially I had no plans (or very little) to include a carfloat on my layout. But I did have a Walthers one, and now I have a another one, a Frenchman River carfloat. I might be able to include a car float down at the tip of my peninsula, across from my waterfront scene that already has some tug boats. And that center peninsula was going to be primarily a number of port scenes.

And I would have it on the edge of that center peninsula deck, and make it a REMOVABLE piece somewhat similar to my waterfront scene. I recall seeing a 'removable installation' somewhere recently, but can't recall where at the moment.
 

 


......just across the aisle there is the cutout that my waterfront scene sets into,...with its tugs, lighthouse, and small coal barge

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Posted by MisterBeasley on Saturday, November 2, 2019 12:23 PM

My carfloat is not permanently installed as part of the layout, but rather built into a small box made of pink foam and hardboard.  The box sits on a fold-down shelf, and is designed to be easily removable.  I still have to work out how to keep the cars from rolling away when I do this.

I do have a second carfloat kit, still unbuilt, and I would like to use them as cassettes.

My layout is in pieces now, and it will be some time before "Mooseport" is even connected, let alone operational again.  I decaled the little tank engine and idler flats for the Westport Terminal Railway, in honor of Wolfgang Dudler, a late model railroader and forum member.

Are carfloats still in common use?  They are fine in my Transition Era setting, but would they be out of place in a modern layout with a cryogenic facility?

It takes an iron man to play with a toy iron horse. 

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Posted by "JaBear" on Saturday, November 2, 2019 2:59 PM

MisterBeasley
Are carfloats still in common use?  They are fine in my Transition Era setting, but would they be out of place in a modern layout with a cryogenic facility?

https://www.workboat.com/blogs/the-noreaster/return-rail-car-float/

Smile

"One difference between pessimists and optimists is that while pessimists are more often right, optimists have far more fun."

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Posted by HO-Velo on Saturday, November 2, 2019 10:35 PM

railandsail
a Frenchman River carfloat

Brian, I like my Frenchman River carfloat, matching float bridge, pilings and tugboat.  They provide my switching layout's connection to 'the rest of the world'.

loading & unloading the static carfloat as prototypically as possible adds both interest and fun to my limited operations.  In-between operating sessions I'm able to stage the carfloat from a small hidden fiddle yard via layout trackage.

Carfloat and float bridge rail is M.E. code 100.  Starboard approach track to the float bridge can be a modified turnout or custom gauntlet.

Santa Fe's carfloat operations upon San Francisco bay ceased in 1984.  1985 saw the last of the Milwaukee Road's carfloat service between Seattle and Port Townsend, Wa. 

Carfloat service between Seattle, Wa. and Whittier, Alaska continues to stay afloat.

Regards, Peter

  

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Posted by railandsail on Monday, November 4, 2019 7:51 AM

MisterBeasley

Are carfloats still in common use?  They are fine in my Transition Era setting, but would they be out of place in a modern layout with a cryogenic facility?

 

Not so sure that cryogenic facilities are that young. I think we had a number of them around in WWII?

Besides that fact, my layout is not going to be 'era specific'.

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Posted by railandsail on Monday, November 4, 2019 9:01 AM

railandsail

 


......just across the aisle there is the cutout that my waterfront scene sets into,...with its tugs, lighthouse, and small coal barge

 

Location of my waterfront scene across from the tip of that peninsula


Cut-out I provided for that waterfront scene, so I could remove it during construction phases, and possibly detail repair work later on,...

 

 

 

I have some close up photos of scene,..barges, piledrivers, tugs, etc, if someone wants to see them? I bought this waterfront scene from an estate situation that was being dismantled, and have been saving it for quite a few years trying to determine IF I would be able to incorporate it into a new layout. Had to trim it up a little bit, but I'm pretty happy with my decision as to where to place it

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