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Layout “Industry” Idea: Car Storage

June 20, 2008

Sure, it may not seem like an “industry” at first, but let’s look deeper into this interesting layout idea.

Major railroads before TTX (and still today, but to a lesser extent) owned HUGE fleets of seasonal cars, such as:

-Reefer Cars, which were a seasonal car depending on the volume of on-line traffic and the diversity of produce or meat packing plants along the railroads’ lines.

-(Live)Stock Cars are a seasonal car, only activated certian months of the year for droving season. Mather was a major leaser of Stock cars from the 1920’s-1970’s. However major railroads like the ATSF, GN, NP, and UP owned hundreds of cars, and when not in use they had to be put somehwere.

-Boxcars are victim to economic traffic fluxuation, and in the modern era, as more and more industries request shipping containers instead, more and more boxcars are laying dormant. In the steam era, they would sometimes stack old boxcars on top of each other beside yards, trucks removed during long lulls in traffic volume.

-Grain hoppers are subject to storage during a bad harvest season, or lack of demand.

-Almost any cars are subject to storage during hard economic times, like the Great Depression, or during any major recession. Look into your history books and see if the year you’re modeling was a recession or not.

Some nearly obselete cars can be stored for legnthy periods of time, as seen here. (Photo from Flickr )   

How To Model a Car Storage Location

There are two types of car storage: Railroad Owned and Commercial.

Commercial Operations

Large Companies with HUGE tracts of land, such as “EACH” Have 10,000+ Car capacities and a large fleet of swiching locomotives. Most of the trackage conisits of tightly packed ladder tracks that utilize prototype #4 switches to save space. 

Here’s a plan for an interchange between your railroad and the car storage plant. (It might be best to have off-scene staging for the two car storage tracks. The Engine house would hold 2 early EMD switchers or maybe even an ALCo or a Baldwin if you’re modeling pre-2000.



 The Railroad’s Way

 Like the photo that leads this aticle, the railroads did and still do store large numbers of cars on seldom used parts of their system such as:

-Remote Sidings

-Abandoned Industrial Trackage

 (The example pictured on the San Jacinto Branch used to be a short branch line that connected a large gravel plant with the mainline, they typically stored Reefer cars there during the months they weren’t needed for citrus or vegetable packing.)

 -Old Yards, still railroad owned, but the traffic that the yard once saw has dried up.

-Sometimes an entire dead-end branch line would be used for car storage. Example abound the more remote the branchline is. Out near Rio Vista, Ca and near Portola, Ca hundreds of cars are stored on former branchline trackage.

However, if you model a modern urban setting, any cars that would sit for more than 7-10 days would get covered in Graffiti, depending on the neighborhood of course, but how many major railyards are in nice neighborhoods?

It would be pretty easy to model this sort of trackage, lower “code” rail and ties with a wider spacing would be a start. Lots of weeds, not a lot of ballast and kinked track would be hallmarks for Railroad owned storage locations.


One Comment leave one →
  1. August 30, 2015 4:10 am

    The photo is no longer available under caption “Some nearly obselete cars can be stored for legnthy periods of time, as seen here.” – What was it? I’d really like to have seen it. I have a photo saved from a year ago of a large overgrown yard packed with old freight cars, it’s taken from perhaps 100 ft above ground level on a sunny fall or winter day with all dry/dead foliage around. That’s not the same photo, is it?

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