Everything on model trains, model railroads, model railways, locomotives, model train layouts, scenery, wiring, DCC and more. Enjoy the world's best hobby... model railroading!

  

Distance Between Rails in a Boxcar Depot

Greg is into HO and asks readers:

“I was looking at pictures from boxcar depots from the 40s and 50s and noticed that the car are very close between tracks, and that there were multiple tracks between docks. It looked like the cars were lined up so the doors could be opened between cars and multiple trains could be unloaded at once. If so, what would the distance between tracks be? Was this a common practice? Any information would help in designing a switching layout similar to Union Station and the L & N Building in Louisville, KY in the 50s.”

7 Responses to Distance Between Rails in a Boxcar Depot

  • Larry Youngsays:

    In real life train tracks were spaced the san=me as the roman chariots. in the 40’s and 50’s the train cars were shorter. In the 60’s train cars became longer that is why you are seeing fewer trucks between docks. in the 70’s the cars became even longer until today you see that the cars are quite longer and the cars that carry automobiles are really long and have the wheels spaced further in from the end of the actual train car. This is done so that the freight car can still co around the bend in the track without binding.

  • Nigel Woodgatesays:

    I want to know from the picture that I am posting, can someone let me know if I have made the inner and outer curve to sharp for my Flying Scotsman A3 Class-plus my 10.5 inch coaches, The coloured paper I had stuck onto the ‘Incline/Riser. before laying the underlay!

    Nigel

  • Donald Schmittsays:

    “I was looking at pictures from boxcar depots from the 40s and 50s and noticed that the car are very close between tracks, and that there were multiple tracks between docks. It looked like the cars were lined up so the doors could be opened between cars and multiple trains could be unloaded at once. If so, what would the distance between tracks be? Was this a common practice? Any information would help in designing a switching layout similar to Union Station and the L & N Building in Louisville, KY in the 50s.”

    Yes it was a common practice in large freight house/ ICL (less than carload ) facilities. The doors on the buildings were spaced for 40′ cars (about 43′ on center). The cars were lined up on the tracks with their doors opposite the building doors. Wood or metal bridge plates were placed between the car doors to facilitate working multiple tracks at the same time.

  • Tim Morloksays:

    Hi Greg; I use to work as a switchman for UP. The spacing between car doors on a double car spot was about two feet which is 0.276 inches in HO. Today the industries use movable steel ramps to bridge the gaps so that they could drive their forklifts thru one car to unload the outside one. In the 50’s they either used hand carts or unloaded by hand. I would place two boxcars side by side with this separation on parallel tracks and then measure the distance between the tracks. I hope this helps.

  • Donald Schmittsays:

    There will usually be two freight houses “inbound and “outbound” Inbound will usually be larger and served by more tracks because the inbound volume is usually larger than the outbound. Also inbound freight might be stored in the building for a while, before being picked up by trucks while outbound will often move fairly quickly from the delivery trucks to railroad cars.

  • Bobsays:

    I spent the summer of “65 unloading boxcars by hand. We stacked twenty 100 lb sacks of some caustic chemical onto each pallet on hand trucks and pulled the trucks into the warehouse for the forklift to get and stack the loaded pallets. Two guys were expected to unload two and a half cars each day. 100,000 lbs in each car. Got in shape that summer.

    There were three tracks with cars spotted on all three. The warehouse doors, five of them if I remember correctly, did not line up exactly with the doors on all the cars. Final spotting was done by hand. There was space between the cars, and between the warehouse and the cars, for a man to walk comfortably. I’m guessing that space was 30 to 32 inches or maybe a bit more.

    The steel bridge from the warehouse to the first car and between the cars was way too heavy for two guys to place by hand; forklift required for that. We had a large steel lever made specifically for moving cars by hand. I can’t remember what it was called. Amazing that a 170 lb man could move a loaded car so easily.

    • Ron VadeBonCoeursays:

      Greg, I would agree with Bob. I also worked for a dog food company around 1963 unloading 100 lb sacks of cut up dried fish and other food to make cat and dog food. (Stinky) The distance between cars if I remember were about what Bob was saying. We had two to three rail cars parked side be side with the doors open and the fork lift would bring in dock boards made out of manganese to bridge the gaps between the cars. Always unloaded the furtherest car first.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Add a photo or image related to your comment (JPEG only)

Download Your Free Catalog



















N Scale Track Plans

Watch Video

SUBMIT YOUR QUESTION

Submit Your Model Railroading Questions!

Before you submit your model railroading question please add some feedback, answers or comments to other postings on this model train blog. What goes around comes around... so if you can help others in the hobby, someone else may help you.

Important - Please add plenty of supporting details to any question you submit (eg. scale, solutions you have already tried etc.) , as the clearest and best questions usually get the best answers. Also, please check your spelling and punctuation as all questions need to be approved by the blog moderator prior to publication. Approved questions are normally published within a week (if not sooner).

Submit your model train questions here.

Use Tiny Railroad Micro Controllers



A micro controller is basically a small programmable computer device to help the model railroader “make things operate.” It is clever way to realistically replicate the movements, actions and functions you are likely to see on a full size railroad.

Watch These Club Videos

Club members access helpful new resources each month: diagrams, video tutorials, articles, track plans and more. Watch the tour videos here.

Scenery Techniques Explained

Everything DCC

NEW TO MODEL TRAINS?

HO TRACK PLANS

Model Train Help Ebook

Bringing Your Railroad To Life!

Scenery & Layout Ideas

Share With Friends

 

Submit Your Article

Would you like to write an article and have it published?

Preference will be given to articles that help others progress in the hobby, maybe suggesting an idea for their layout, a quick tip or two... or perhaps a little bit of good advice based on your model railroading experiences.

We are all in this hobby together, so the more we can do to share ideas and help each other, the better.

Submit Your Article Here

It’s YOUR Railroad!

Your rolling stock and locomotives might actually be the center of attention on your layout, but the scenic features that surround and envelop your layout is what's likely to make your train setup stand proud of the rest. Your selection of scenery and structures will add an element of customization that will make your railroad truly unique.



Scenery, structures, and fine detailing is a fundamental aspect of any good model railroad, particularly if it is intended to replicate a true-to-life railroading scene. How realistic or authentic you make your railroad is entirely up to you... and you alone.

Some enthusiasts like to replicate every tiny detail so as to accurately depict, in every aspect, a miniaturized version of a real life scene.

Others in this hobby adopt a more "free-style" approach and choose to mix and match accessories and features they personally prefer. Even though the purist will possibly be unimpressed with unrealistic or out of context elements, it is YOUR railroad layout so you can make it anything you personally want!

Model Railroading Blog Archive

Reader Poll

Sorry, there are no polls available at the moment.