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Modeling Trailer-On-Flat-Car (TOFC)

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Modeling Trailer-On-Flat-Car (TOFC)
Posted by Benjamin Maggi on Monday, November 11, 2013 11:50 AM

I am modeling the early 1980s in HO scale and wanted to build or buy some models that would be period appropriate. My memory recalls lots of freight trains in my New York State area (Conrail) were either solid TOFC or else a mix of them with Containers on Flat Cars (COFC).

What types of railcars were prominently used in the early 1980s? What sizes of trailers- 40/45/48'- were common. And who makes them for HO?

There have been articles in MR about modeling modern container trains, outlining the different types of containers, the different makers of well cars, etc. How about something for TOFC?

Modeling the D&H in 1984: http://dandhcoloniemain.blogspot.com/

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Posted by wp8thsub on Monday, November 11, 2013 12:33 PM

Most of the cars you'll need will be 89' flatcars, either "all purpose" (having retractable container pedestals and hitches to carry either trailers or containers) or those set up for trailers only.  As-built, these tended to support one 40-foot trailer and one 45-footer, or a combination of 20- and 40-foot containers.  A mixture of trailer lengths would be appropriate, but 40 footers were quickly disappearing.

Models of these cars are or have been available from Walthers, Atlas, Athearn Genesis, BLMA and Accurail among the major manufacturers.  Save for BLMA, they make trailers too. 

You may be able to include some of the "twin 45" conversions which showed up around 1983, and modified the cars to handle two 45-foot trailers.  Some of the above cars are available in twin 45 versions.  You're also right on the edge of being able to use spine or well cars.  Those are all after my era (at least on the road I model), which ends in 1982.

A very few of the older 85 foot cars still survived, sometimes carrying a single 45-foot trailer.  Athearn's model of the Trailer Train F85B can be used for these.

Rob Spangler

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Posted by chatanuga on Monday, November 11, 2013 1:03 PM

The Front Runners came out around 1982, if I remember right.  Some of those mixed into a piggyback train would be appropriate too.

Kevin

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Posted by zstripe on Tuesday, November 12, 2013 3:13 AM

Benjamin Maggi,

One thing you must remember also,is the fact that,Oversea's container's are 20ft and 4oft,that is what the container ships are built to handle, racks that go from the top to the hull,as much as 9 high, they used to    have some container lines that would transport,45ft containers,but there was no provision for them,to be loaded in the racks,so they had to ride on deck. Now a days,only,20ft 40ft are oversea's containers,no more 45ft and Van Trailers also. Anything over 40ft,is for domestic use only, 48ft,53ft. They are also these days, eliminating, 48ft containers. CSX is one of them. A lot of Manufacturing now a days,do not warehouse, it is on the rails,in containers, constantly, all over this continent. Smile It probably

won't be too much longer,that the only TOFC,you see,will be UPS, along with the're 28ft containers,that will have to go TOFC, because,they never take them off the chassis. CSXI, Intermodal crane operator, last five years,before retiring. 13yrs ago.

Cheers, Drinks

Frank

Edit: You may like to check this out for Models:

http://www.modeltrainstuff.com/HO-Scale-Intermodal-Trailers-Chassis-Containers-s/1475.htm

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Posted by chutton01 on Tuesday, November 12, 2013 9:31 AM

Frank, not sure where you're going with this.

I agree that COFC traffic is now much greater than TOFC traffic, and has been for some time.
But are you saying that in the very near future all semi-trailers will eventually be replaced by Container on Chassis? There must be millions of 53ft Dry Vans in use, in the near future none of them will go by rail? That seems to be a big waste of resources (admittedly a lot of them just seem to be standing around in industrial parking lots).

Of course, it's just as likely I misunderstood your post...

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Posted by dknelson on Tuesday, November 12, 2013 9:39 AM

The HO scale Piggy-Packer that Wheels of Time was showing at Trainfest this last weekend (check out the Trainfest new product report on the MR website) is a gorgeous model.  They also have one in N.

Dave Nelson

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Posted by zstripe on Tuesday, November 12, 2013 10:02 AM

Chutton,

Yes, I believe,you really did,misunderstand. Of course,there will be common carriers,of 53ft trailers,they just won't be going by rail. Did you ever witness, a Intermodal crane,pick up a plain 53ft van,like JB Hunt and Schnieder, They break in half,most times,for they are not built,to withstand being lifted so many times, the Railroad will not accept,responsibility in that case, the owner of said trailer has to eat,the damage. That is one good reason why the mentioned carriers are switching to 53ft containers,that many ride TOFC, for the simple fact, that when they reach, the destination,there are no chassis's to put them on. Chssis's take up a lot of real estate,to store at any facility,especially 53 ftr's. they can't be stacked,or stood on end, too much damage occurs that way. There are also some new things going on at a lot of the yards,as far cracking down,on the weight that the carriers state that are in them, in most cases, they are grossly over loaded and loaded improperly, contributing to them breaking in half. I have had my share of them breaking. They tried to say it was operator error, they soon found out that was not the case.

Cheers, Drinks

Frank

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Posted by twcenterprises on Tuesday, November 12, 2013 1:33 PM

To add to Frank's reply, I was once told that shipping 53' containers is cheaper than 53' trailers, I would assume because the can be stacked, as well as having somewhat less empty weight.  I have seen 53' (and shorter) road trailers break as Frank said, both in yards, and even a few out on the road.  As often as not, it's either because they are grossly overloaded, or loaded improperly.  Dry vans simply shouldn't have a heavy load concentrated in the center (as I have witnessed), heavy loads either need to be spread out, or concentrated over the kingpin and rear axles.

Also, dry van trailers have a fairly short life expectancy.  I don't see many out on the road over, say, 10-15 years old.  Oh, sure, there's a handful over that age roaming around, but many are retired and used for local runs, or storage.

And I'll second what Frank says about chassis being stacked or stood on end ... while they *can* be done that way, and I have been to my share of yards that do that, it does tend to result in a lot of damage, and RR's try to avoid it whenever they can.  Other facilities, either don't care, or have their own shops (ensuring billable repair work to keep their guys busy).

Brad

EMD - Every Model Different

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CSX - Coal Spilling eXperts

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Posted by 7j43k on Tuesday, November 12, 2013 4:28 PM

zstripe

Now a days,only,20ft 40ft are oversea's containers,no more 45ft and Van Trailers also. Anything over 40ft,is for domestic use only, 48ft,53ft. 

I think Hyundai might be an exception.  I've seen a fair amount of their 45's.  Here's a sampling of some, with some shots from this year:

http://www.rrpicturearchives.net/rsPicture.aspx?road=HMMU

Going the other direction, I think I MAY have seen an Evergreen 45' once.  Only once.  And I've seen a lot of Evergreen.

45's won't go belowdecks on a container ship, but there's plenty of room up top.  I think there must be pluses and minuses about using the 45's, with some lines opting to use them and others not think they're worth it.

Ed

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Posted by jrbernier on Tuesday, November 12, 2013 4:49 PM

  The OP was asking about TOFC in the early 80's.  45' trailers were around in the late 70's.  These trailers did not fit on standard 89' flat cars until the 'Twin 45' conversions that allowed them to be loaded via a Mi-Jack or Piggy Packer in a 'back to back' format on the 89' flat cars.   And by 1982, the small 4 wheel front-runner type cars were being built to carry them.   The 48' trailers really did not hit the scene until the late 80's or early 90's.

  So, most of your 1982 TOFC traffic was either 40' or 45' trailers.  Container traffic was quite small on railroads, but Sea Land was working with several railroads and this resulted in the 'double stack' car we now see.

Jim

  

Modeling BNSF  and Milwaukee Road in SW Wisconsin

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Posted by wp8thsub on Tuesday, November 12, 2013 5:10 PM

jrbernier
45' trailers were around in the late 70's.  These trailers did not fit on standard 89' flat cars until the 'Twin 45' conversions...

Just to clarify, photographs of loaded cars show a standard 89' flat could handle one 45' trailer and one 40' (unless I've completely lost it, which is possible).  It couldn't handle two until the Twin 45 was developed with the revised hitch configuration.  As 45' trailers proliferated, it was fairly common to see flats with only one such trailer loaded, usually with the unused hitch knocked down.

*EDIT* I remembered where I had seen some images to illustrate trailer loads.

Here's a WP 89' car showing the typical configuration for a pig flat before twin 45 conversions.  Note that one of these trailers is a 45' while the other is 40'.  Photo credit Thom Anderson http://www.wplives.com/archives/freight/flatcars/8964.html .  This car was built to Trailer Train specifications, so hitch placement and other details are essentially identical to contemporary Trailer Train cars.  These were originally painted identically to Trailer Train cars too, and the data was masked off when they were repainted overall black (reportedly since Trailer Train was upset about WP's use of their paint scheme).

One good source for period appropriate photos is the rr-fallenflags site.  Look at photo dates under known operators of pig and container flats like TTX and see what types of cars were in use and what their loads looked like  http://www.rr-fallenflags.org/ttx/ttx.html .  Note that car numbers get re-used for newer equipment, so you have to wade through a lot of the roster to find older cars that are scattered around.

For example, here's a car reportedly from 1979.  http://www.rr-fallenflags.org/ttx/lttx550197akg.jpg

This car shows the gap between 40' trailers at the center of a pre-twin 45 car. http://www.rr-fallenflags.org/ttx/ttx602436wba.jpg

Rob Spangler

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Posted by zstripe on Tuesday, November 12, 2013 5:37 PM

Most RR's today are eliminating the flat car's all together, they are not cost effective anymore, take up too much room, one 53ft can COFC,89FT flat car,or one 53ft van TOFC, ten such flat cars,are considerable in length, compared to ten COFC, 53FT cans in a 5-pack,tub car, twice the amount of revenue,in less length.

Spine cars,are more versatile, than a flat car.

Cheers, Drinks

Frank

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Posted by Benjamin Maggi on Wednesday, November 13, 2013 5:14 AM

Thank you everyone for this really helpful information!

Modeling the D&H in 1984: http://dandhcoloniemain.blogspot.com/

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Posted by mlehman on Wednesday, November 13, 2013 9:49 AM

I can only add that containers were relatively scarce in the early 1980s on most US RRs, with that traffic being almost exclusively in overseas 40' and 20' containers.

While 45' trailers were on the scene in rapidly growing numbers, 40' trailers still made up the bulk of these fleets until ~1985. Part was just the normal turnover cycles in equipment purchasing, but the changeover was also slowed somewhat by the need for longer flats in TOFC service as elaborated above.

Mike Lehman

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Posted by ndbprr on Wednesday, November 13, 2013 11:10 AM
The PRRT&HS had an issue covering trailer train co. As the PRR was one of the founders. Lots of details. It may still be available from the society.
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Posted by riogrande5761 on Sunday, November 24, 2013 10:47 PM

If the OP was asking about early 1980's, that time is of interest to me.  From what I understand, it was around 1982/83 when 45' trailers were approved for nation wide highway use and railroads began converting flat cars to cary 2 45' flat cars converting single purpose TTX flat cars to WTTX, and all purpose TTAX flat cars to TTWX flat cars.  Around 1985 KTTX flat cars began to be created where two 45' trailers were mounted back to back to prevent the doors from being opened to thiefs, those were loaded using lift loaders.  So the transition from 40' to 45' trailers was around 1982 to 1983.  After that many 40 trailers were stretched 5 feet and most new TOFC trailers were built 45' rather than 40'.

Rio Grande.  The Action Road  - Focus 1977-1983

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Posted by wjstix on Wednesday, November 27, 2013 12:44 PM

Memory can always be a little fuzzy but...back in 1984 I worked in an office with a small window overlooking a busy rail line (downtown St.Paul MN). I do remember seeing trains with containers - first time I saw them IIRC - but I don't believe there were 'double stacks' included at that time. Mostly it was two containers end to end on a flatcar.

Stix
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Posted by tgindy on Thursday, November 28, 2013 9:23 AM

Benjamin Maggi
How about something for TOFC?

Keystone Crossing's, Overview of Pennsy TrucTrain Service, explains all about the first 20 years of TOFC.  Pennsy's TrucTrain and New York Central's Flexi-Van became Penn Central's TrailVan for TOFC & COFC in 1968.

Conemaugh Road & Traction circa 1956

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Posted by zstripe on Friday, November 29, 2013 5:36 AM

riogrande5761
riogrande5761 wrote the following post 4 days ago: If the OP was asking about early 1980's, that time is of interest to me.  From what I understand, it was around 1982/83 when 45' trailers were approved for nation wide highway use and railroads began converting flat cars to cary 2 45' flat cars converting single purpose TTX flat cars to WTTX, and all purpose TTAX flat cars to TTWX flat cars

I did not address, this sooner, so I did not reply. 45 FT trailers, were used well before, the time frame above, the 70's being a more correct answer. The difference being, there were two types, there was a 45ft 98'' wide and a 45ft 102'' wide, the latter, being approved for highway,use in the 80's. The first attempt, was to put a 45ft 102'' wide, on a 45ft 98'' wide frame with 98'' axles, if you ever noticed that, the wheels did not match the width side of the trailers, they discovered, that did not work so well, so they start using 102'' wide axles, for better, stability, on the flat cars and highways.

Cheers, Drinks

Frank

 

 

 

 

 

 

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