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Freight Car Shop Detail Assistance (70s era)

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Freight Car Shop Detail Assistance (70s era)
Posted by FRRYKid on Friday, September 24, 2021 3:25 AM

(This is another one I'm not sure is in the right place, so moderators if not feel free to move.)

Picked the October Trains magazine a couple of days ago for the "Freight Car Doctors" article and was wondering how much of the equipment mentioned in that article would be accurate for a car shop in the 70s era. I have a Walthers car shop on my layout as part of my freight yard and would like to get it detailed so that it doesn't look like just an empty shell. The only detail that I'm faily sure of is the arc welders. (The ranch I grew up on had one in the early 80s and it was used until probably the mid 2000s at least.) Of course, I'll have to look up how to make a lighting circut to repricate that. Other than that I'm stumped. I'm working in HO scale for parts purposes.

As usual, any assistance that can be provided would be most welcomed.

"The only stupid question is the unasked question."
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Posted by dehusman on Friday, September 24, 2021 7:59 AM

A lot depends on what you are really building.  Are you building a RIP track that does running repairs for a railroad, a contract shop that upgrades cars for anybody that hires them or a car manufacturer that builds the original cars?  The RIP track for reapirs at a yard will have the least machinery since it does the lightest repairs.  The contract shop will have the most variety since it has to deal with all sorts of cars and the manufacturer will have a lot of the same machinery since they will be churning out runs of hundreds or thousands of the same type of car.

A yard generally has a RIP track to repair bad order cars it finds in trains.  That shop is rarely a big brick building.  Most are a metal or wood shed, some older ones may look like an older style engine house (like the old Revell engine house).  The big Walthers buildings are typically former car or locomotive manufacturers.

Dave H. Painted side goes up. My website : wnbranch.com

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Posted by SeeYou190 on Friday, September 24, 2021 9:19 AM

I can only speak for truck shops, but I assume train shops are similar.

For the most part, as long as there is a place to stash it, old equipment never goes away. There is always that belief that "we will need this again someday, and we don't want to need it and not have it."

As such, in older truck shops you will find stands for obsolete engines, lifting brackets for transmissions that have not been made in thirty years, and line boring tools that will never be used again.

I have seen shops where they have replace broken transmission jacks, but the old ones going back several generations are still there "waiting to be repaired."

Even old forklifts and service trucks seem to hang about long after they should have been scrapped.

Shops are kept clean and neat for the most part, but old equipment tends to linger on in the corners and shadows.

When we moved our Atlanta shop to the new location in 2016, four 40 foot containers full of scrap metal (old tools) went to the recycler. The old shop had been there since 1962.

-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 FRRYKid on Saturday, September 25, 2021 3:06 AM

dehusman

A lot depends on what you are really building.  

What I have is the Walthers car shop with tracks extending about 6 inches or so out the east end. There is 3 way turnout on the west end that then runs into a single track running across the east yard ladder via a 12 1/2 degree crossing and connects to the west yard ladder (a good two to three feet actual track) to move the cars to other tracks. (Probably not the greatest design but I couldn't come up with any other ideas when I built the yard in the first place.)

The yard itself is part of my protolanced road (Forest Railway as seen in my avatar) who leases the old NP lines from the BN. (If you remember your prototype history those lines had a 100 year mortgage on them and they couldn't be sold outright.) Something akin to how MRL started except in the mid 70s.

I would almost consider it an online repair shop for both the FRRY and the BN as a blend of the shops here in Miles City from the old Milwaukee which are still used to this day for car repairs and the NP shops in Brainerd, MN. I still would need a paint booth. Due to the track geometery, the only way to do it would have to add a turnout with the divergent route on a standard Atlas 22" curve and I don't know of any HO turnouts off the top of my head that meet that requirement. (The shop would be on the straight leg.) Otherwise I would be running engines and cars throught the paint shop as a matter of normal operations and that's probably not a good idea.

"The only stupid question is the unasked question."
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Posted by mvlandsw on Saturday, September 25, 2021 2:40 PM

The B&O car repair tracks at Glenwood, Pa. (Pittsburgh) were entirely outdoors except for a locker and tool room.

The Union RR car shop at Mon Jct. where I worked for a time was the same, although there was a large building with an overhead crane that handled heavy repairs and new or rebuild car construction.

There were small buildings that housed a storeroom, an office/locker room, a tool room, and a blacksmith shop.

Mark Vinski

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Posted by gmpullman on Saturday, September 25, 2021 3:54 PM

Smile

Good Luck, Ed

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Posted by NHTX on Saturday, September 25, 2021 5:01 PM

FRRYKid,

    Since I don't have that issue of Trains, I don't know what it showed but, you will find the same things anywhere people work on large things with heavy, awkward components.  Especially steel components.  First and foremost will be oxy/acy rigs for cutting and welding.  In the 1970s oxygen/acytelene was much more common (economical?) than arc, and, railroads sucked the last dollar out of any investment.

    Another item necessary for freight car work was elevated work platforms.  Pneumatic hammers, chisels and other such tools abounded along with air supplies.  There was also a limited sand-blasting capability.  Most of the wrenches were much over sized, compared to your 5/16 X 3/8 inch box end.  There were all sizes and types of hammers.  Chain hoists and floor cranes were available for hoisting items as far as the roofs of cars.  Not to be forgotten are the jacks used to raise a car off its truck(s) and the stands to support the body, while necessary repairs were made.  

     One of the last things most smaller shops were concerned about was painting. 

Most smaller shops doing repairs to keep equipment safe to operate, simply touched up what they did to the car, often using whatever color their railroad's standard color was.  Then, there was always red oxide and good ol' black, if you didin't like Penn Central green or Daylight orange.   I doubt a paint booth would be part of a smaller shop.  That space would be used for smaller component shops or storage.   

     Unless this shop was a daytime only operation, lighting would also be necessary for working on, in, and under the cars.  Portable lighting is a must in any car shop.  By the 1970s mechanical material handling equipment had taken over the movement of that which had gotten a lot of men maimed and, killed.  Think about trying wrestle a 10 X 10 foot plug door into place, and then adjust the opening/closing mechanism.

     Car repair shops must keep steel plate, channels, rod and angle iron on hand.  They also stock most air brake parts along with couplers, knuckles, brake wheels, and wheelsets.  In the 1970s, the boxcar was still king and, most were wood lined therefore lumber was also at hand.  If the railroad was in the grain belt, there would be lots of hatch covers and discharge gates for covered hoppers on hand.   A coal road would cater to the open hopper instead.  An agricultural line would have the necessities to keep the reefers rolling.  Most shops did not make repairs to the tanks of tankcars due to their special linings and coatings.  They did repair what was necessary to get the car to a home shop, for any tank work.

     A final thought on storage, especially in the 1970s, at smaller shops.  A lot of the stuff used was large, heavy, and of not much use to anyone, but the railroad.  And it was weatherproof making it possible to store it piled on the ground as we modelers love to do.  Stuff that didn't like the weather or, had a tendency to grow legs, needed dry, secure storage.  What better storage facility than a fully amortized house car, no longer fit for even on-line service?  Many freight cars lasted for years after being retired, either on their trucks or "grounded", ladders and couplers optional.  Some of this repair stuff would come by rail, some by truck.  It all had to be stored somewhere.  Same goes for the scrap metal generated in car repair.  It could be sold to a local merchant, or tossed into a waiting home road gondola.  I doubt a small shop would regularly engage in scrapping freight cars.  These cars are usually sold to scrapping firms en masse.  A car deemed too badly damaged may occasionaly be cut up, but for the most part, they're cut up at the site the damage occurred or they ride a flatcar home.

    Modeling a car repair facility can make or break a model railroad, by trying to cram ten pounds into a five pound bag.  Even the largest model railroads crowd the believability factor with this type of scene by making the model try to do what common sense tells you it can't.  Sort of like spotting a 50 foot boxcar at an "industry" that the car dwarfs.  Another thing about this type of facility is rust, rust, rust.  And then there is mud-if its not dust.  No bright colors, nothing glossy.

     At one time the hobby had an annual catalog that came out and listed all the goodies you could possibly imagine.  One could sit and gaze at the pictures of HO tables, tablecloths, and table lamps-along with F-7s and power packs, for days on end.  That all went away.  Oh, the catalog still appears, usually close to September but the pictures are gone--BUT WAIT--you can get them on their website!  If I have to go to a website to see what I want to order, I'll go to the manufacturers', to begin with.  And not spend $12 on a catalog that is more like a website directory.  That $12 may be erroneous, I haven't bought one since 2010.

     FRRYKid, I hope I've given you something to think about.  Thats what I recall from the rail vehicle repair facilities I have seen, since 1960.

a

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Posted by FRRYKid on Sunday, September 26, 2021 2:53 AM

NHTX

    Since I don't have that issue of Trains, I don't know what it showed but, you will find the same things anywhere people work on large things with heavy, awkward components.  Especially steel components.  First and foremost will be oxy/acy rigs for cutting and welding.  In the 1970s oxygen/acytelene was much more common (economical?) than arc, and, railroads sucked the last dollar out of any investment.

That is the newest issue.

If I remember the prototype torch one that I grew up around, that can be represented by a couple of tanks painted the right colors. (I don't don't remember the colors off the top of my head as it has been a few years sine I looked at it in person.) I also don't exactly know how to represent the flame with lighting. I has seen arc welding circuits but not oxy/acy torches.

NHTX

    Another item necessary for freight car work was elevated work platforms.  Pneumatic hammers, chisels and other such tools abounded along with air supplies.  There was also a limited sand-blasting capability.  Most of the wrenches were much over sized, compared to your 5/16 X 3/8 inch box end.  There were all sizes and types of hammers.  Chain hoists and floor cranes were available for hoisting items as far as the roofs of cars.  Not to be forgotten are the jacks used to raise a car off its truck(s) and the stands to support the body, while necessary repairs were made.  

I knew I would need the car jacks. (I think I have a few around somewhere. More can be obtained if needed.) I also remember the ranch I grew up on using 1 1/8" and 1 1/4" wrenches as well, so I'm familiar with bigger wrenches. I'm not exactly sure how to represent the mentioned tools in HO. Air supplies could probably be hidden in a side structure. Platforms could be scratched from regular styrene, I would think. The cranes and lifts I don't know if I've ever seen in HO but I haven't gone actively hunting them either.

NHTX

     One of the last things most smaller shops were concerned about was painting. 

Most smaller shops doing repairs to keep equipment safe to operate, simply touched up what they did to the car, often using whatever color their railroad's standard color was.  Then, there was always red oxide and good ol' black, if you didn't like Penn Central green or Daylight orange.   I doubt a paint booth would be part of a smaller shop.  That space would be used for smaller component shops or storage.

For what it's worth, the red building in this link is the paint booth for this faclity (overhead shot here). This is the former Milwaukee shop facility I mentioned and they don't scrap cars that I'm aware of but repair all sorts of cars. Admittedly this is mordern times but the idea is the same.

NHTX

     Unless this shop was a daytime only operation, lighting would also be necessary for working on, in, and under the cars.  Portable lighting is a must in any car shop.  By the 1970s mechanical material handling equipment had taken over the movement of that which had gotten a lot of men maimed and, killed.  Think about trying wrestle a 10 X 10 foot plug door into place, and then adjust the opening/closing mechanism.

I had also figured on the need for lighting as well. The eventual plan was to put some actual lighting in. I think I have an idea of what to get for the portable lighting. It just goes down to finding the right detail. I'm not quite sure what mechanical material handling equipment would be needed and how to model them in HO.

NHTX

     Car repair shops must keep steel plate, channels, rod and angle iron on hand.  They also stock most air brake parts along with couplers, knuckles, brake wheels, and wheelsets.  In the 1970s, the boxcar was still king and, most were wood lined therefore lumber was also at hand.  If the railroad was in the grain belt, there would be lots of hatch covers and discharge gates for covered hoppers on hand.   A coal road would cater to the open hopper instead.  An agricultural line would have the necessities to keep the reefers rolling.  Most shops did not make repairs to the tanks of tankcars due to their special linings and coatings.  They did repair what was necessary to get the car to a home shop, for any tank work.

     A final thought on storage, especially in the 1970s, at smaller shops.  A lot of the stuff used was large, heavy, and of not much use to anyone, but the railroad.  And it was weatherproof making it possible to store it piled on the ground as we modelers love to do.  Stuff that didn't like the weather or, had a tendency to grow legs, needed dry, secure storage.  What better storage facility than a fully amortized house car, no longer fit for even on-line service?  Many freight cars lasted for years after being retired, either on their trucks or "grounded", ladders and couplers optional.  Some of this repair stuff would come by rail, some by truck.  It all had to be stored somewhere.  Same goes for the scrap metal generated in car repair.  It could be sold to a local merchant, or tossed into a waiting home road gondola.  I doubt a small shop would regularly engage in scrapping freight cars.  These cars are usually sold to scrapping firms en masse.  A car deemed too badly damaged may occasionaly be cut up, but for the most part, they're cut up at the site the damage occurred or they ride a flatcar home.

At least for my neck of the woods, I think most of the metal parts and even the lumber would probably be kept in the mentioned boxcar to keep it dry. (I could probably find a cheap boxcar to fill those duties. I'm thinking an Athearn NP 50' DD would probably do the trick.)

NHTX

    Modeling a car repair facility can make or break a model railroad, by trying to cram ten pounds into a five pound bag.  Even the largest model railroads crowd the believability factor with this type of scene by making the model try to do what common sense tells you it can't.  Sort of like spotting a 50 foot boxcar at an "industry" that the car dwarfs.  Another thing about this type of facility is rust, rust, rust.  And then there is mud-if its not dust.  No bright colors, nothing glossy.

As I am discovering. (The Walthers building is one of big buildings on that part of the layout. I also have a kitbashed engine/car storage house on a harbor area and a big freight storage house kitbashed from three Laube Linen Mill kits.) I do have some Earth turf left from another part of the layout. I wasn't planning on using that around the shop but I can always change my plans. I haven't quite figured out how to put "rust" on a masonry building but I imagine there are spots.

NHTX

     At one time the hobby had an annual catalog that came out and listed all the goodies you could possibly imagine.  One could sit and gaze at the pictures of HO tables, tablecloths, and table lamps-along with F-7s and power packs, for days on end.  That all went away.  Oh, the catalog still appears, usually close to September but the pictures are gone--BUT WAIT--you can get them on their website!  If I have to go to a website to see what I want to order, I'll go to the manufacturers', to begin with.  And not spend $12 on a catalog that is more like a website directory.  That $12 may be erroneous, I haven't bought one since 2010.

I know exactly the one. I haven't purchased one for a number of years myself. I end up using the site as need be but I mostly try to purchase things elsewhere.

NHTX

     FRRYKid, I hope I've given you something to think about.  Thats what I recall from the rail vehicle repair facilities I have seen, since 1960.

It most definitely has. Thank you.

"The only stupid question is the unasked question."
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Posted by dehusman on Sunday, September 26, 2021 10:18 AM

This harks back to the question about what are you building.  There are RIP tracks that are attached to yards and handle normal running repairs on cars.  They normally only handle the cars that that railroad is handling.  They are at most medium to large yards.  They also have smaller building, that don't look anything like the Walther's buildings.

What the walther's building is is a major car construction shop.  Only major railroads or large established car builders would build a building like that.  A major class one railroad might have two or three locations on the entire railroad that has one of those buildings.  Only railroads that built their own cars from scratch would have one of those buildings.  They didn't handle running repairs in those buildings (they were handled at the RIP track).

In the 1960's or 1970's the major railroads started merging and consolidating shops and began selling off railroad shops.  Many of these were bought up by private companies and shortlines and used as contract shops.  

Railroads used them for "surge" capacity and the rising number of private car owners used them to maintain their fleets.  They were generally not used for bad orders straight out of the yard.

They were also different than the shops used by the more modern car builders.  The more modern car builder shops would have fixtures to work on an entire car side or car, some could even rotate an entire car to work on all sides of it.  Since contract shops worked on small batches or onesie/twosie projects they wouldn't be able to use fixtures.

Your railroad probably bought the shop from the BN and it would have had the equipment from the BN when it sold it.  So it would be 1950's, 1960's era stuff.

There would be floor jacks, portable welders, portable and overhead cranes.  There would be metal shears, lathes, drill presses and all sorts of heavy power tools (drills, saws, grinders).  They could be air or electrically powered.  

The floor will be paved, probably with concrete by the 1970's (brick or wood block if older).  The building will have 25-50 ton overhead cranes.  Any elevated work platforms will be portable since they are working on a wide variety of cars, one position wouldn't be helpful.  Forklifts would be used as mobile cranes and could be used to move parts around.

One thing that would be easy to model is that along the walls there would be workbenches and tool cabinets, plus bins of small parts (bolts, rivets, screws).  they could be modeled with plastic or wood blocks and could be faced with photos to make them look like bins without having to make the detail.

As mentioned there would be store stocks of sheet metal, structural shapes and pipe.  There would be stocks of parts from vendors such as couplers, grab irons, air hoses, draft gear, knuckles, car doors, hatches, truck sides, bearing parts, air brake equipment.

Actually the Walther's kit doesn't really have enough room for much equipment inside, you have to allow clearance for the cars and there would need to be enough room for a forklift to drive by, so that doesn't leave much room for machinery.  Store stocks could be outside or in a store building.  Actually much of the work could be done outside (depending on season and weather).  Cars in shops like the Walther's one usually take days to weeks to go through the shop (as opposed to RIP tracks where the dwell is hours to days).

Dave H. Painted side goes up. My website : wnbranch.com

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Posted by FRRYKid on Monday, September 27, 2021 3:45 AM

dehusman

What the walther's building is is a major car construction shop.  Only major railroads or large established car builders would build a building like that.  A major class one railroad might have two or three locations on the entire railroad that has one of those buildings.  Only railroads that built their own cars from scratch would have one of those buildings.  They didn't handle running repairs in those buildings (they were handled at the RIP track).

In the 1960's or 1970's the major railroads started merging and consolidating shops and began selling off railroad shops.  Many of these were bought up by private companies and shortlines and used as contract shops.  

Your railroad probably bought the shop from the BN and it would have had the equipment from the BN when it sold it.  So it would be 1950's, 1960's era stuff.

There would be floor jacks, portable welders, portable and overhead cranes.  There would be metal shears, lathes, drill presses and all sorts of heavy power tools (drills, saws, grinders).  They could be air or electrically powered.  

The floor will be paved, probably with concrete by the 1970's (brick or wood block if older).  The building will have 25-50 ton overhead cranes.  Any elevated work platforms will be portable since they are working on a wide variety of cars, one position wouldn't be helpful.  Forklifts would be used as mobile cranes and could be used to move parts around.

One thing that would be easy to model is that along the walls there would be workbenches and tool cabinets, plus bins of small parts (bolts, rivets, screws).  they could be modeled with plastic or wood blocks and could be faced with photos to make them look like bins without having to make the detail.

As mentioned there would be store stocks of sheet metal, structural shapes and pipe.  There would be stocks of parts from vendors such as couplers, grab irons, air hoses, draft gear, knuckles, car doors, hatches, truck sides, bearing parts, air brake equipment.

Actually the Walther's kit doesn't really have enough room for much equipment inside, you have to allow clearance for the cars and there would need to be enough room for a forklift to drive by, so that doesn't leave much room for machinery.  Store stocks could be outside or in a store building.  Actually much of the work could be done outside (depending on season and weather).  Cars in shops like the Walther's one usually take days to weeks to go through the shop (as opposed to RIP tracks where the dwell is hours to days).

As already mentioned the line is a regional shortline that operates the former NP (a major railroad) lines that are leased from the BN who maintains a presence but the shortline still runs everything. (At least in my version of history.) I also have a different line that is similar to the Central Montana Railroad, but is publically held that operates on former Milwaukee track. (I have them embargoing operations in 1970 rather than 1980 in my version of history.) From those ideas alone, there would be enough to keep the shop busy at least IMHO.

I have a few links for forklifts so a few more wouldn't be hard. I also had been debating a crane but hadn't quite figured out installing it.

The plan calls for getting an old car or two or building something to hold the parts needed.

"The only stupid question is the unasked question."

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