Handling Derailed Models

Discussion in 'General' started by Rick McClellan, Dec 21, 2010.

  1. Rick McClellan

    Rick McClellan 2009 Engineer of the Year

    There is another thread that talks about picking up models and some bad things that can happen. I think I have done just about everything bad that can be done and here are my observations and how I plan to keep things safe(r).

    Picking up a locomotive by the long hood or cab can result in disaster as outlined by Terry in the thread under HO Scale. Unfortunately picking up a locomotive by the fuel tank can also cause damage when the well-meaning operator pinches the delicate (Atlas SLSF) handrails (or fuel gauge, fuel filler, etc.) and breaks them off at the walkway. Both of my Atlas GP7s have suffered this damage. Picking units up by the cab, no matter how delicate will crush or break off the cab shades. AND the more you run, the more this happens.

    Locomotives - The Answer
    My new operating briefing to all crews (veterans and new guys) includes my request and demonstration on how to pick up a locomotive properly. My preferred method is to use both thumbs and index fingers at the center of the front and rear truck side frame to pick up the locomotive to either rerail the engine or remove the engine from the track. Just about every other approach will end in agony.

    Rolling Stock
    Most operators take the easy route and pick a car up from the center of the car body or from the extreme lower corners by the trucks. Let's take those one at a time.

    Generally picking up a car from the center of the car body is not a problem UNLESS it is a detailed car with a plug door (Genesis) with those nice door latch bars on them. These beautifully detailed cars can be turned into ugly, non-detailed cars easily by the clumsy, apathetic operator.

    Lifting a car by the extreme lower corners by the trucks causes even more damage. Stirrup steps, coupler lift bars, ladders, grab irons, etc can be snapped off in a heartbeat. Repair and replacement of these delicate parts is difficult (as Ken noted) if not impossible.

    Rolling Stock - The Answer
    Just like a locomotive, the very best approach I have found to rerail or remove a car from the rails is to use the "thumb-index finger" on the truck sideframes. That way the delicate parts are out of harms way and you can still accomplish your objective.

    As previously mentioned, I now start all my operating sessions with the briefing on my preferred method to rerail or remove equipment from the track. It is my hope that this education process will keep the detailed equipment "detailed."

    I believe that everyone has a responsibility when operating. The owner must educate his crews and be willing to accept some level of risk when opening up his/her layout to others. Part of this education is (1) how to rerail or remove cars and, even more important, (2) report all damage immediately and get the car in the Rip Shed. The operators have a big responsibility as well. First, comply with the owner's request for care of the equipment. If you are uncomfortable rerailing or removing a car, get the owner to do it. Observe how he/she removes or rerails the car and use that approach in the future. Second, report all damaged equipment to the owner immediately. Most of the time this is a coupler issue but it is also important to report damaged parts as well. That allows the owner to educate as well as to take the car out of service and schedule the car for repair.

    I wish I could say that I have not damaged equipment on other layouts but that would not be the truth. The best policy I have found is to report it immediately and describe how it happened as a learning experience. I have not found one layout owner who was angered by the damage or who did not invite me back. Please be careful with the owner's equipment. But above all, honesty really is the best policy.

    All this is being said to protect the equipment and the operators. This is a fun hobby but we do need to exercise care and respect for the owner's equipment and preserve everyone's self-esteem.
    Last edited by a moderator: Dec 21, 2010
  2. FriscoFriend (Bob Hoover RIP 4/12/2018)

    FriscoFriend (Bob Hoover RIP 4/12/2018) Passed Away April 12, 2018 Frisco.org Supporter

    Re: Picking Up Models

    Rick makes some great points and his location poses a question for he or others to ponder. As plastic locomotives or cars continue to evolve and increase in their level of detail, will even his locations be safe on some models. Below are two examples:

    (1) By looking at the pilot model photos of the upcoming GP15-1 it looks like they have gone to the extraordinary detail level of adding a speed recorder and attached wire to the front truck. At the very least I would think extra care might be necessary here.

    (2) Kadee is using a new 2 piece truck casting under all of their new offerings. Using Rick's method, is this going to possibly risk damaging this unit?
  3. yardmaster

    yardmaster Administrator Staff Member Administrator Frisco.org Supporter

    Re: Picking Up Models

    Rick -
    Excellent informtion that is born from experience and trial-and-error, I dare say.

    Coming from a Risk Management background, this is certainly a very good method of loss prevention. However, I'd never really given it much thought. In cases of derailments, I think Rick's advice will be heeded and posted on my budding layout room' bulletin board.

    Piggybacking on Bob's comments, with the advent of a greater level of detail in both locomotives and rolling stock, I think that in spite of my own best efforts, I do tend toward the clumsy end of the spectrum. To wit: I was knocked unconscious playing kickball in 2nd grade. Enough said.

    Furthermore, I have never been comfortable fiddling with a finished car more than absolutely necessary; greasy fingers leave smudges and fingerprints. Even among the most fastidious of us, natural oils from one's skin can eventually leave their mark.

    In short, I recall seeing that Peco makes a locomotive lift. I'm not sure how it works but it seems like a good option for lifting/turning/moving a locomotive without subjecting it to butterfingers.

    Furthermore, Model Railroad Planning from a while back featured a layout where the builder runs highly-detailed brass or resin rolling stock and wants to prevent damage at all costs. He constructed clever individual wooden boxes with HO-gauge grooves where the boxes could be put into a staging place and switched out by the locomotive without digits ever touching the car. I'd have to find the copy to get more information.

    In my quest to find ways to move prototypical examples to the modeled world, I wonder if Northwestern Scale lumber 2x4s could be used to rerail a freight car? :)

    Rick, thanks for starting a very thought-provoking thread.

    SAFN SAAP Member

    Re: Picking Up Models


    I sent you a PM.

  5. JamesP

    JamesP James Pekarek

    The rule on my railroad is that I always rerail no matter who derails. I prefer to take all the responsibility for rerailing damage, not to mention mashed fingers! :mad: Kids, don't try this at home:


    - James
  6. frisco1522

    frisco1522 Staff Member Staff Member

    If it's a diesel, just do like Hulcher and roll it over and leave it there.:)

    SAFN SAAP Member

    Now, now. Be nice! We all can't be perfect, now can we! :D

    We're ALL Frisco friends...

Share This Page