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steve turner

Posted - 2009 November 22 :  1:30:50 PM  Show Profile
Im tying to scratchbuild a loading area with incorperating ramp etc for piggyback trailers tobe loaded onto flat cars. Wondering if the flat cars were positioned up to a flat surface the same height as flat car and the trailers backed onto the flat cars with the reversal for taking them off of flat cars.Am i on the right track here .Thanks steve

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Bob Elliott

Posted - 2009 November 22 :  2:20:48 PM  Show Profile
flats were pulled up to a ramp that went from ground level to deck height. trucks backed trailers to the end of the string of flats, dropped the trailers on the cars, then drove back down the string of flats. then repeat for next trailer.

here are 3 shots of the former CNW ramp in Huron SD, taken in 2006.

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Bob Elliott

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steve turner

Posted - 2009 November 22 :  3:40:43 PM  Show Profile
Thanks Bob.Nice shots and even a nice modeling idea. Steve

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Posted - 2009 November 22 :  3:58:07 PM  Show Profile

If you wish, give me a time frame and road please, maybe I can help.

The 50s-60s covers a lot of ground.

Circus loading was common on any thing from a small ramp, made from rock-dirt and wood-ties for small volume use up to larger units. I have seen the smaller ones on the ATSF and TP&W in Missouri and Illinois.

The CNW had metal treadway held up on ties at one location, or more.

MKT had a one or track track complex in crowded North St. Louis. Mop had a multi track complex in crowded DT St. Louis and Pennsy had a much larger complex in Chicago. Ones like these often had a fairly large concrete platform that the cars backed up level to, in lanes and with various accessories. As an aside, Mop was oading their own containers, by crane, into gondolas in the same "period". Thes tracks were pretty "short" and varied, maybe up to 700 feet or so at the max.

The ramps would be pretty pretty easy.

For the 50s and 60' good 50' (Athearn), 75' (Walthers) and 85' (Athearn) cars are tougher. By 1960 and then 1964, many of the cars were TT in the US.

Trailers are tough. You can convert the Athearn shorty to single axle, there are a couple of resin ones out there at 35' if memory serves and the Promotex which is easy to convert to a single axle is around. Two axle can work also. The Promotex was done in a lot of early schemes by Con Cor, and Ron Halffield did GN, NP and CB&Q runs, maybe others and has some decals.

The CMW trailers are not too bad and done for some roads and silver.

Athearn makes the Mack B and CMW makes a fair International for tractors.

You may know a lot of this?


Edited by - Keith on 2009 November 22 4:00:56 PM

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steve turner

Posted - 2009 November 22 :  4:16:18 PM  Show Profile
I have a mix of 40 and 50 ft Athearn CN CP and GN flats with and without piggy back trailers. Im in the era of 50s early 60s. Im just trying to get the gist of things so my freelance job looks reasonable. Seems to me there was plankways maybe between flatcar and rampor special ends on flats??. Thanks steve

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Paul Cutler III

Posted - 2009 November 22 :  4:49:28 PM  Show Profile  Visit Paul Cutler III's Homepage
Ok, I've done quite a bit of research on older TOFC service since the NH was an early user (and was the No. 1 TOFC RR from 1937 to 1953).

Here's some pics I've found:

Download Attachment: NETCo Trailers Loaded.JPG
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The above pic shows the loading ramp at South Boston Freight Terminal being used by a NETCo. tractor and trailer (from a NHRR Annual Report).

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The above is a plan of the South Boston TOFC ramp and facility.

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This is the TOFC facility at Harlem River, NY.

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This is the front tie down of a trailer before the invention of the ACF 5th wheel hitch.

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This is the rear of the tied down trailer.

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Finally, a nice shot from a flat at South Boston's TOFC ramp from a flat car.

I hope the above is useful to you as it was to me.

Paul A. Cutler III

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Steve Wagner

Posted - 2009 November 22 :  5:33:56 PM  Show Profile
Some railroads, for instance the Pennsy, used portable metal ramps on wheels for "circus-style" loading and unloading of trailers onto and off of flatcars. Penn Line made an HO model of this kind of ramp, metal except for the wheels, I think, back around 1960. I bought one used a few years ago; I think its main flaw is a very visible screw head in the middle of the ramp.

Before "Piggy-Packers" and similar machines took over the loading and unloading, all trailer-carrying flatcars had a bridgeplate hinged to each end to allow the trailers to be driven from car to car. Typically a bridge plate was also mounted to whatever kind of ramp was being used. Walthers used to sell bridgeplates and hitches from its piggyback car kits as a separate packet of parts; unfortunately, I haven't seen it in recent editions of their HO catalog.

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steve turner

Posted - 2009 November 22 :  9:21:55 PM  Show Profile
Great info guys! This is more of what this forum should be about........modeling and helpfull help from those who have the info!

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Posted - 2009 November 22 :  10:02:35 PM  Show Profile
I saw a set of TTX 85 footers in Battle Creek CN yard last summer being loaded circus style using the end car with the one end shoved off the end of the track into a bit of a hole and then dirt or ballast built up to make a temporary ramp. They were loading military equipment. View was through brush, no place to park and lots of security that made foot approach seem not to be a good idea to take a photo.

Karl Scribner

Sunfield Twp. Michigan

Just a grumpy old man playing with my toy trains!
Friend of SPIKRE

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Posted - 2009 November 23 :  01:02:52 AM  Show Profile


PRRT&HS 7555
OERM 2133

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Posted - 2009 November 23 :  01:27:19 AM  Show Profile
The CGW, who started TOFC service in the mid-30's, used just a flat car with one end buried into the ground at several ramp locations.


Check out the new forum and website!

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Steve Wagner

Posted - 2009 November 23 :  09:37:07 AM  Show Profile
Note that the photo by Jim Sands of the flatcar serving as a piggyback ramp shows one of the typical bridge plates, mounted in the usual position. The bridge plate on the piggyback flat would be used along with the one on the ramp, or on an adjacent piggyback flat, to bridge the gap.

Athearn had these bridge plates as part of their old piggyback flats; I don't know whether they were sold as separate parts.

Circuses and railroads that were true pioneers in piggybacking (including the Long Island, I think) were moving wagons onto and off of flatcars before gasoline- or diesel-poweored trucks were common. They used horses to do it. Circuses sometimes also used their elephants. One of the Preiser elephants sold by Walthers when they were marketing their circus equipment is posed appropriately for shoving a freight car with his head. He works as an emergency switcher on my railroad.

This is a slightly less farfetched counterpart of the famous John Allen's employing an HO scale (approximately, at least) stegosaurus as motive power on his Gorre & Daphetid; I think several photos of this creature appeared in Model Railroader.

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Steve Wagner

Posted - 2009 November 23 :  09:51:55 AM  Show Profile
Entirely seriously this time, Trains magazine had an excellent two- or three-part article on piggyback technology in two or three consecutive issues in 1960 (at least approximately then). There were lots of black and white photos. Hitches hadn't yet become standardized and piggyback flats were still of varied lengths.

One part of the article I remember was that some railways, notably in Canada but also including the Reading, were reluctant to put two trailers on a car because the lengths of trailers were increasing. An example was a Labatt's trailer about 50 feet long.

Incidentally, what became the standard hitch design has to be one of the sturdiest devices made in recent decades. If a piggyback car derails and flips on its side, the trailer/s it's carrying stay in place, still attached to it.

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steve turner

Posted - 2009 November 23 :  11:40:26 AM  Show Profile
Thanks for all the input guys, you really get a feel of the time period as you read and look at the pictures.

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Posted - 2009 November 23 :  5:29:05 PM  Show Profile
for those "bridge plates" possibly cut some old boxcar roof catwalks to size? just an idea from an old "I think that might work" type of guy

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Bob Elliott

Posted - 2009 November 24 :  1:42:15 PM  Show Profile
Another good source or bridge plates is the Walthers GSC flat car kit. They came with the parts needed to make a regular flat, a TOFC flat or a bulkhead flat. You get to choose which one you'll build. I added bridge plates, a hitch and rub rails from some of them to Athearn cars and made a much nicer model. Not exactly prototype, but much nicer than the standard Athearn.

Bob Elliott

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