Train-Scale Comparison Display
Over the years I've seen displays with examples of the various scales for model trains. I decided I wanted one too! I began accumulating 'matching' boxcars. I was looking for a 40-foot 'boxcar red' car with logos "Lackawanna" and "The Route of Phoebe Snow" on either side of the door. Except for the reporting marks and the Z-scale car, I found a 'matched' set!
|G - 1:29 scale model by Aristo-Craft. G gauge track is used to run trains in several different scales, from 1:19 to 1:32
||O - 1:45 - A Lionel car
|S - 1:64 model by S-Helper Service
||HO - 1:87 - A Bowser kit. The car number is sequential with the N-scale car. Notice the horn-hook couplers!
|N - 1:160 - A 40' Atlas boxcar, road number consecutive to the HO!
||Z - 1:220 - A 40' Marklin boxcar. It's not a Phoebe Snow, but at least it's a Lackawanna!
Cars On Track
I mounted each car on a suitable piece of track. Here's how I fastened the cars to the track.
- G - The track I picked had no 'ballast', so the ties were exposed. This picture is a bit of a cheat-- until I found my "Phoebe Snow in G" I used another G-gauge car. For that car I used cable ties around the car axles & track ties. I criss-crossed the cable ties so the wheels all stayed on the track. I notched the ties so the assembly sits flat. For the "Phoebe Snow" in G, I used the same basic method, but the cable ties went around the truck cross-beams.
- O - I used a piece of Lionel FastTrack, which has built-in 'ballast.' I drilled holes between the track ties, and used cable ties around axles. I only used ties around 1 axle on each truck, so the trucks don't hug the track as well as I'd like.
- S - I used S-Helper track without a ballast strip, and cable ties go around the truck cross-beams and track ties. This is a picture of the original non-Phoebe-Snow car, but I used the same technique on the Phoebe Snow car.
- HO - I used a segment of Bachmann EZ-Track (with built-in 'ballast'). I drilled holes in the ballast, and wrapped cable ties around the truck cross-beams and through the holes in the EZ-Track. And, yes, I did snip off the part of the EZ-Track that locks onto the next piece of track!
- N - I used a piece of Kato UniTrack. In N, the axles and trucks are a lot more fragile than in larger scales! I removed the car body, and used a pin vise to drill through the melted plastic that holds down the car weights and through the bottom of the car.
- There is one hole thru the deck at each end of the car, and corresponding holes in the Kato UniTrack. The holes are large enough for the long part of the cable tie, but too small to pass the gripping end. Cable ties are inserted down thru holes in the car deck and thru the holes in the UniTrack. I slid the gripping end of 2 more cable ties onto the cable ties dangling thru the UniTrack and slid them tight. Make sure the wheels are on the track!
- Z - I wanted to damage the car as little as possible, and wanted the holes to fit between under-frame members. This would require a smaller hole than in N-scale, and the cable ties wouldn't fit through the holes. I removed the car body, then drilled those smaller holes through the deck at each end of the car.
- The deck of this Z-scale car is metal-- the only thing that has weight-- so the drilling took a bit longer! I used a needle and black thread and made a few rounds-- up at one end of the car and down at the other, then tied the car down firmly!
These pictures are of the original Z-scale car I used in the display. The current Lackawanna Automobile boxcar was mounted the same way.
Now for the display. Some displays I've seen have loops of track with running trains in each scale, but I'm not quite that enthusiastic! I decided on a tri-fold display panel.
- I had previously built a 6-panel display for our local NMRA chapter's store, and it worked well, so I decided to make a 3-panel display for the assorted-scales display.
- The local Lumb-R-Store sells 2' x 4' pegboard panels. One side is finished in white, the other is 'natural.'
- Each 2x4 panel is cut to make 3 display panels. Cutting each panel in thirds would make 24" x 16" panels, but I cut mine to 15" x 22" to better fit in my carrying totes. I centered the trim cuts around the holes.
- I used two 1-1/2" hinges between each panel. The holes on these hinges are on 1" centers, and line up perfectly with the holes in the hardboard panels.
- The hinges come with wood screws, but these are now in my 'spare hardware' bins. I bought #8 flat-head 1/2" bolts, matching washers, "star" lockwashers, and nuts.
- Front view of the hinges that only have to fold 1-way. Although the holes in the hinges are large enough for a #10 bolt, the heads of a #10 bolt don't sit low enough in the holes to let them fold nicely. So I used the #8s.
- Rear view of the hinges that only have to fold 1-way. The #8 flat-head bolts are inserted from the front. A plain washer, a 'star' lock washer, and a nut hold things together from the rear.
- The hinges I found will open more than 180 degrees-- about 45 degrees more. This let me fasten the panels to fold in a "Z" shape, yet still open to a "C" configuration for display. This is a front view of the hinges that fold 2-ways. The washer/lockwasher/nut combination is the same as the back of the 1-way hinges.
- I did have to trim the edges of the panels that were to fold the 'wrong way' so the hinges could open beyond 180 degrees. If you look at the pictures you can see that there is less material between the hardware holding the 2-way hinges in place and the edge of the panel, compared to the same area on the 1-way hinges.
- Rear view of a 2-way hinge.
I needed shelves to slip into the pegboard to hold the cars. The best and simplest (and cheapest) solution I found was at http://www.FamilyHandyman.com.
Start with short lengths of shelf stock (they used 2x4 lumber, but that's overkill for this display). I bought a length of pre-finished plastic baseboard molding for my shelves. I cut it into lengths long enough to hold the cars on their tracks.
L-hooks screwed into the back edge of the shelving will hook onto the pegboard and securely hold the shelves. I used Crown Bolt Screw Hooks (#16021 Square Bend Screw Hooks #110 - Zinc Plated - Polybag of 3 UPC=030699160211). Home Depot shows the size as 1.8" x 0.7" The hook should be large enough to provide support, but small enough to screw into the plastic molding without splitting it!
Pre-drill holes in the back edge spaced a multiple of 1" apart (to match the pegboard). Chamfer the top edge of the shelves at a 45 degree angle to meet the line of holes. Screw L-hooks into the holes, leaving them protruding 1/4". After screwing in the hooks, you can fine-tune the 'grip' they have on the panel, and the front-to-back tilt of the shelf, by tightening or loosening the hooks, or by bending the hooks to more or less than a 90 degree angle. Once tweaked, they shouldn't need more adjustments.
The best spots for the support hooks is 1/4 of the way from each end-- most of my shelves are 12" long, so the hooks should have been 3" from each end. That way, each hook would hold up half the weight of the shelf (plus contents). That will also help reduce or prevent the shelf from sagging. In my case the hooks are 1" from the ends of the shelves. Because the track sections are relatively stiff, I don't think sagging will be an issue.
Although the underside of the molding is unfinished, once hanging on the display panels only a little kid will notice!
For display, I made captions for each car showing what the car is ("40' Boxcar"), scale name, proportion, and stating "It would take xxx of these models end-to-end to be as long as a real 40' boxcar."
If space is limited, you can just open up the panels in an "L" configuration, and mount all of the cars on 2 panels. This is a little cramped, but will work.
And, finally, the completed display...