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Athearn 25' trailer mods

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Athearn 25' trailer mods
Posted by soilwork on Sunday, June 23, 2013 7:19 PM
Hello everyone! I am working on a layout based on the piggyback operations of the 50's. Most of my rolling stock consist of the Athearn 50' flat cars with 2 25' trailers(been on a Ebay buying spree) while I like the way they look when consisting one after another, there are some things that bug me about them.
1. When put with other equipment from the same era from other manufactures, they look unscale like.
2. The scale measurements are not accurate.
3. Most of the trailers I remember seeing at that lenght had a single axle, not a tamdem.

The first problem with the Athearn 25' trailers is that there is no king pin, but that fix will come later as other issues need to be resolved first.I like the look of the single axle tractors vs. the tamdem axle tractors of that era.I am doing a freelance phanasty layout, so not everything is going to be prototypical.

I am still learning how to do certain things in this hobby, so please bare with me. The stock landing gear seems to be to far foward to attach to a tractor if they had a kingpin, also if you place them on a flat surface, the stock landing gear is to short . The front of the trailers seem like they sit lower then the rear does.

I replaced the stock landing gear with the short landing gear from some CMW trailers I had. Need to use a # 54 bit to driil some mounting holes for the CMW to work and also need to cut the ends off of the CMW gear to properly seat in the athearn trailer. I will post pics soon. To remove one of the axles, I pulled the wheels apart and nipped the axle holder with a pair of nips( wont notice the uneven cut unless you are a HO scale mechanic.

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Posted by soilwork on Sunday, June 23, 2013 7:33 PM
Sorry, buy I forgot to mention that this mod only works if the trailers are going to be free standing, the CMW landing gear is to wide to sit on the 50' flat cars the trailers came with.
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Posted by zstripe on Monday, June 24, 2013 1:48 AM

Some things sound real fishy to me any way..For one, never saw a 25ft trailer in piggyback service with tandems,32ft,38ft,yes,,legs being too wide,no..50ft,flat cars,no,,Born 1943,Chgo,seen all types of trucks..I think they were supposed to represent,two 20 footers,single axle on a flat car.  Southern Pacific had them and Wabash,had 32 footers,one on a flat car trailers were tandem axles.

Cheers,

Frank 

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Posted by soilwork on Monday, June 24, 2013 10:37 AM

zstripe
legs being too wide,no

Actually, I meant that they are to wide to fit in the tray the stock landing gear sits in. You will need to shave some plastic of the tray for them to fit.

Found an interesting video about the PRR piggyback trains.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=Id6WSO9lT5A

Here is a pic.

The trailer on the left sits to low with the stock landing gear. The trailer on the rights sit  level with the short landing gear from a CMW trailer. 

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Posted by zstripe on Monday, June 24, 2013 11:30 AM

I believe Athearn had a lot of stock,of trailers and flat cars laying dormant and decided to come up with something that they can sell,for those are not proto ,accurate..The railroads found out early on,that having the landing gear rest on the floor of the flat car,would not work well,too much forces going in two directions,when the car would sway,,,so they let the hitch do the work,of holding the trailer and raised the legs so they would not touch the floor.. Being done that way today,,a Intermodal crane lifts the trailer on  the flat car moves forward so the kingpin locks in the trailer hitch and lowers the wheels to the car and then a ground man raises the legs so they don't touch the floor....The old way was to drive the trailer on the flat car and two men would crank the hitch up to the kingpin,,work intensive and dangerous,,The railroads actually got that idea from the Circus Trains of old.the railroads just perfected the idea..Older 85ft flat cars have those hitches and they are called,Circus Hitches...They also found out that the grooves in the floor,were a waste of time..I was a Intermodal crane operator for CSX railroad,Bedford Park IL.

Cheers,

Frank

f

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Posted by soilwork on Monday, June 24, 2013 11:58 AM

Thanks!! it's my intention to by some standard flat cars and buy the detail parts to convert them to TOFC operation.

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Posted by ATLANTIC CENTRAL on Monday, June 24, 2013 1:27 PM

Soilwork,

I too model 50's piggyback and use the Athearn flat cars with the 25' vans. You may want to learn about my modifications before you do much more.

First, the trailers. You do not have to replace the landing gear. You can actually move the original landing gear rearward to the next rib location on the trailer.

Yes, most 25' trailers had single axles, so I cut off the forward set just like you have. I take one of the left over tires and glue it to the bottom of the trailer - spare tires were common on trailers in the 50's.

The flat car. I actually cut apart the Athearn "rub rail" piece leaving only the two side rails, then I glue them in place. Also, most cars of that type used a stake in the the stake pocket near the bridge plate to secure the bridge plate in the upright position with a chain - I add those stakes with Athearn factory stakes from their regular flat car kits.

I also add bridge plates, usually from Athearn 85' cars. Athearn use to sell those parts packets seperately, not sure if they still do.

Not the best photos but here are a few of my cars:

Since early piggybacks did not use hitches, I use the left over tires with the axle end as a simulated fifth wheel jack - not exactly like the prototype, but looks OK.

I have built about 70 of these, some from Athearn kits and some from the new RTR versions Athearn has offered over the last few years.

A few other thoughts:

Yes the exact scale size of the Athearn vans and flat is compressed, but the proportions are not bad after the mods.

Some 25' trailers did have dual axles, I generally leave a few of t he trucking company trailers with dual wheels, just moving the landing gear.

I don't bother with the pins, I glue my trailers on the flat car, and glue my fifth wheel jacks in place.

Sometimes I make my own bridge plates just so some of them look different.

In that same era, a number of 40' flat cars were equipped the same way to handle a single 32'-35' van. I have done a few of them as well with various brands of flats.

Hope this helps. If I get time, I will try to take some more detailed photos.

Sheldon

    

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Posted by chutton01 on Monday, June 24, 2013 1:33 PM

zstripe
Being done that way today,,a Intermodal crane lifts the trailer on  the flat car moves forward so the kingpin locks in the trailer hitch and lowers the wheels to the car and then a ground man raises the legs so they don't touch the floor....The old way was to drive the trailer on the flat car and two men would crank the hitch up to the kingpin,,work intensive and dangerous


A crankable hitch on a TOFC? <Monty Python "Four Yorkshireman" Skit voice>LUXURY!</mpfysv>
THIS is the true old skool trailer securing fashion, so chop down that trailer tandem axle to one axle, get out your scale chain, jacks, cross-brace, and wheel chocks, and detail away!

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Posted by ATLANTIC CENTRAL on Monday, June 24, 2013 1:37 PM

zstripe

I believe Athearn had a lot of stock,of trailers and flat cars laying dormant and decided to come up with something that they can sell,for those are not proto ,accurate..The railroads found out early on,that having the landing gear rest on the floor of the flat car,would not work well,too much forces going in two directions,when the car would sway,,,so they let the hitch do the work,of holding the trailer and raised the legs so they would not touch the floor.. Being done that way today,,a Intermodal crane lifts the trailer on  the flat car moves forward so the kingpin locks in the trailer hitch and lowers the wheels to the car and then a ground man raises the legs so they don't touch the floor....The old way was to drive the trailer on the flat car and two men would crank the hitch up to the kingpin,,work intensive and dangerous,,The railroads actually got that idea from the Circus Trains of old.the railroads just perfected the idea..Older 85ft flat cars have those hitches and they are called,Circus Hitches...They also found out that the grooves in the floor,were a waste of time..I was a Intermodal crane operator for CSX railroad,Bedford Park IL.

Cheers,

Frank

f

Frank,

True, Athearn did not attempt to accurately model the attachment of the trailer, they just made a rub rail piece that would allow it to sit there. But I assure you it had nothing to do with "left over" anything. Athearn first offered those cars as a "yelow box" kit in the late 50's. The current RTR item is exactly the same as those kits - but with better paint jobs.

Sheldon 

    

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Posted by zstripe on Monday, June 24, 2013 1:44 PM

Yes,,Sheldon,I knew,Ive had quite a few and still do from the 50's,,,,,The remark I made,,,was a pun,,should not have made it,but what the heck..

Cheers,

Frank

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Posted by soilwork on Monday, June 24, 2013 1:49 PM

Thanks!! I would of never thought of using the tires from the removed axles as spare tires for the trailersThumbs Up  Thanks Sheldon for your post, the only problem I have is securing the trailers down to the flat cars, because I want to be able to move them on and off when I run a operations session. I think that eventually I would like to try adding a kingpin to them and get some kind of fifth wheel atachment. I am in the experiment stages right now. I ordered a couple of books on piggyback and intermodal operations from Ebay which will help me out . 

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Posted by ATLANTIC CENTRAL on Monday, June 24, 2013 1:52 PM

zstripe

Some things sound real fishy to me any way..For one, never saw a 25ft trailer in piggyback service with tandems,32ft,38ft,yes,,legs being too wide,no..50ft,flat cars,no,,Born 1943,Chgo,seen all types of trucks..I think they were supposed to represent,two 20 footers,single axle on a flat car.  Southern Pacific had them and Wabash,had 32 footers,one on a flat car trailers were tandem axles.

Cheers,

Frank 

Yes, Athearn got the single axle/dual axle thing wrong - easy fix with a saw.

That's funny, I have all sorts of photos of 25' and 26' vans - B&O, C&NW, Southern Pacific, etc, etc, etc. Yes, most were single axle, especially the railroad owned ones, but I have photos of a few with tandems.

As well as lots of 32' and 35' vans on 40' flats, 50' flats and 53'-6" flats.

My father was a terminal manager for Carolina and before that a piggy back supervisor for the Southern RR - I grew up with trucks and piggy back.

After hundreds of hours of research, I have the early piggy back thing pretty well documented.

Lackawanna built 40' flats with sliding bridge plates for their 32' vans. B&O took old 40' and 50' box car frames and built many of their early piggyback cars. And of course many railroads converted the common GSC 53'-6" flat to piggyback service.

Then the PRR and the Wabash bought the 75' cars from Beth Steel - and the long flat car revolution began.

But that is were I stop - its is fall of 1954 on my railroad andf the first few of those have just been delivered.

Sheldon

    

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Posted by ATLANTIC CENTRAL on Monday, June 24, 2013 1:54 PM

Well Frank it is hard to know when people are joking around when one is just reading.

Sheldon

    

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Posted by ATLANTIC CENTRAL on Monday, June 24, 2013 1:58 PM

soilwork

Thanks!! I would of never thought of using the tires from the removed axles as spare tires for the trailersThumbs Up  Thanks Sheldon for your post, the only problem I have is securing the trailers down to the flat cars, because I want to be able to move them on and off when I run a operations session. I think that eventually I would like to try adding a kingpin to them and get some kind of fifth wheel atachment. I am in the experiment stages right now. I ordered a couple of books on piggyback and intermodal operations from Ebay which will help me out . 

I thought about being able to remove them, but decided my imagination can do that. I just shift them into the piggy back yard and pretend they get unloaded and reloaded - I have a few empties here and there for effect.

Sheldon

    

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Posted by zstripe on Monday, June 24, 2013 2:04 PM

Sheldon,

Yes I can relate to trucks,when I was young more so than trains,,also rode in many,my Dad,and two of my uncle's were truck drivers ..Do you recall ever hearing about a truck,called a ''LaMoone'' to name one of others,even rode in a solid rubber tire,chain drive ''Mack'' with a planetary trans,always grinding,if you will..

Will never forget those days..

Cheers,

Frank

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Posted by soilwork on Monday, June 24, 2013 7:00 PM
I was always facinated with trucks and trains when I was a kid. I was born in 72, so much of the equipment that was used in the 50's was obsolete by then, but I still seen some of those trailers being used as storage units in lots here and there.
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Posted by hon30critter on Monday, June 24, 2013 7:15 PM

Soilwork

Great thread! I just learned how to make my piggyback trailers and flats look much more realistic. The Athearn trailers never looked quite right to me but I hadn't recognized why they looked too "heavy duty". Cutting off the forward axle had never occurred to me.Dunce

Sheldon, the spare tires and bridge plates are excellent ideas.

Thanks!

Dave

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Posted by "JaBear" on Tuesday, June 25, 2013 3:21 AM

 Soilwork, an interesting thread, I hope you don't mind if I hijack it.Whistling

(1) Could a Southern Pacific Flat with SP trailers be found on , for instance, the (1950s)"Boston & Maine ??

(2) In the 1950s, could, for instance, a Southern Pacific piggyback trailer be found on another railroads flat ??

Thanks, the Bear.

"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 zstripe on Tuesday, June 25, 2013 3:37 AM

Bear,

I would venture to say,that you have to remember,that,piggyback was relatively new in the 50's,so I would guess,that anything was possible,,I recall BAR piggybacks,,they were not all pig trains they were mixed with freights..So based on my visual experience,,I would say yes to both your questions,,,My thought Only..

Cheers,

Frank

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Posted by ATLANTIC CENTRAL on Tuesday, June 25, 2013 5:32 AM

"JaBear"

 Soilwork, an interesting thread, I hope you don't mind if I hijack it.Whistling

(1) Could a Southern Pacific Flat with SP trailers be found on , for instance, the (1950s)"Boston & Maine ??

(2) In the 1950s, could, for instance, a Southern Pacific piggyback trailer be found on another railroads flat ??

Thanks, the Bear.

Bear, Yes and no.

Some railroads quickly ventured into interchange operations with their piggy backs, other kept them mainly in captive service on their lines at first..

As Frank points out, most would not be solid trains of piggy backs, they were more generally just mixed in with other freight - BUT - as demand for the service increased, it was common to see them grouped together at the head end of a freight train so they could be easily switched to the unloading/loading ramps.

You used SP in your example. At first those were in captive service north/south on the CA coast. And while mixed with other freight, you would likely have seem pretty large blocks of them in a single train.

Mixing of one railroads flats with other railroads trailers did not happen at first - that took a while, but the carring of trucking company trailers was common early on on many, but not all, railroads.

I have given you a "general" over view, there are long detailed specific histories for each railroad that had early piggy backs.

In my modeling I do stretch some of the history to allow running most all the roadnames that had piggybacks, but I do tend to keep trailers in captive service with their railroad as that was more typical in the early days.

Keep in mind that in many cases, including the SP, these vans and flat cars were used to promote LCL (less than carload) business - much like UPS today.

Some roads focused just on the LCL thing with their own trucking operations. Some used it to go after customers with no rail service, some did both early on.

Hope that helps.

Sheldon

    

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Posted by soilwork on Tuesday, June 25, 2013 12:09 PM
On my railroad, I wiil be mixing them up. Right now I am in the proccess of doing a extension on my layout and this is where the flat cars will be backed into the ramp and loading and unloading trailers will take place(circus style). I have more trailers than flat cars, so yes, I wiil be mixing them up. I also and trying to learn about ops so I can keep bills and manifest of each trailer and where it is and where it needs to go.
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Posted by ATLANTIC CENTRAL on Tuesday, June 25, 2013 12:44 PM

soilwork
On my railroad, I wiil be mixing them up. Right now I am in the proccess of doing a extension on my layout and this is where the flat cars will be backed into the ramp and loading and unloading trailers will take place(circus style). I have more trailers than flat cars, so yes, I wiil be mixing them up. I also and trying to learn about ops so I can keep bills and manifest of each trailer and where it is and where it needs to go.

Actual operation with the trailers sounds like an ambitious project, best of luck.

I have a good sized piggy back yard with ramps, but again, I just "pretend" the truck operations.

I do have a number of extra trailers to make the piggy back yard look relistic, but they are just "scenery".

Sheldon

    

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Posted by chutton01 on Tuesday, June 25, 2013 1:30 PM

Have you seen this list of TOFC historical events (I stumbled across it looking for the beginning of the ICC TOFC (Piggyback) Rate plans (I, II, II.5, III, IV), which seem to have begun in 1955-1956.

It may be of some use in putting your TOFC operations into historical perspective.

ETA - I just scanned over that list of events, and this one: "ACF introduces a reliable collapsible hitch" occured in 1956. Before that, I'm pretty sure you'll need to use some version of the chains/jacks/bars/chocks setup I mentioned (and linked to) in a previous post, and IIRC that lot was used for a number of years afterwards to some degree on various roads (maybe up to 1960?)

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Posted by zstripe on Tuesday, June 25, 2013 4:20 PM

soilwork
On my railroad, I wiil be mixing them up. Right now I am in the proccess of doing a extension on my layout and this is where the flat cars will be backed into the ramp and loading and unloading trailers will take place(circus style). I have more trailers than flat cars, so yes, I wiil be mixing them up. I also and trying to learn about ops so I can keep bills and manifest of each trailer and where it is and where it needs to go.

Soilwork,

I used to and still do operate that way,,,,I cut off all the kingpins on the trailers and drill a small hole where it was and screw in a #1 black round head wood screw and then cut the head off,file down any rough areas,the shank of the screw is a little or more over,1/16,never actually measured,any way,the shank of the screw,is the same diameter of the hole in the fifth wheel,,,,the extra length of the kingpin will keep the trailer on the flat car if you use hitches,no need for any type of tie downs....You may have already found out that the ''Models'' that are made for the layout from athearn especially,have all the same numbers,,,that's a bummer,for the numbers are about the size of Z-scale..So you will probably have ten piggybacks all going to different destinations,with the same number,,just like the problem years ago with buying five BB box cars and they all had the same number.   When I ever get my camera problem solved I will post some of my work with not only trailers,but tractors..One other thing that was not readily available in the 50's,60's...Ulrich kits you could get a H-model Mack and a long nose Kenworth,,and that was about it as far as HO-scale models went..PENN-LINE, came out with a Ford tilt cab in the 50's and there you have it... Wow!! didn't mean to carry on...Any way have fun..

Cheers,

Frank

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Posted by soilwork on Tuesday, June 25, 2013 8:45 PM

For a new RR, its sure seeing a good amount of traffic!!

 

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Posted by soilwork on Tuesday, June 25, 2013 9:24 PM

chutton01

Have you seen this list of TOFC historical events (I stumbled across it looking for the beginning of the ICC TOFC (Piggyback) Rate plans (I, II, II.5, III, IV), which seem to have begun in 1955-1956.

It may be of some use in putting your TOFC operations into historical perspective.

ETA - I just scanned over that list of events, and this one: "ACF introduces a reliable collapsible hitch" occured in 1956. Before that, I'm pretty sure you'll need to use some version of the chains/jacks/bars/chocks setup I mentioned (and linked to) in a previous post, and IIRC that lot was used for a number of years afterwards to some degree on various roads (maybe up to 1960?)

 

Thanks for that link!!  Now I have somthing to read durning the morning commute home on the train. 

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Posted by "JaBear" on Wednesday, June 26, 2013 5:22 AM

Thanks to Frank and Sheldon for your replies.

 

ATLANTIC CENTRAL
In my modeling I do stretch some of the history to allow running....

I guess I'm going to be carrying out some re-decaling, but will also use some "poetic licence. Smile

Soilwork, I'd have never thought of using the trailers themselves for operations, you've now got me thinking, ( that would explain the burning smell). Please keep us informed as to your progress and keep having fun.

Cheers, the Bear.

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

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