Build a railcar barge

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How to build a simple rail barge






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railcar barge

Great article! This gives me ideas of what I can do on my layout.  I will be having some dockside ops on my layout, and this will really add to it's realism.

Thanks for such a timely article.

Happy railroading,

Dan Harriman

Modeling the GTW circa 1976ish in Orange Texas                                                                                             If at first you don't succeed, maybe you shouldn't try sky diving!

Weathering Powder Fixing?

Congratulations on a wonderful magazine!  Three years ...  Who'd a thunk it :)


My question concerns weathering powders.  I had also (and obviously) noticed that spray over-coats caused the powders to simply disappear. What methods and materials are available to protect the applied powders from necessary procedures like simply cleaning the layout?


Thank you,


Jeff Thompson

Mr. Incredible65's picture

Great article and very timely

I'm in need of a car float for my new layout, right now. I was just starting to research them this past weekend.

Terminal Railroads of Brooklyn, etc

You are absolutely right. That website is a great place to look at. But you really have to see the locations referred to there because some of the places still feature rails in the streets and many of the buildings are still standing though much of it is unused. To see the equipment you have to visit museums though none are really in the area anymore. And one should not that the only carfloat operation that still exists is at the old Brooklyn Army terminal but you can't see t from the street. And due to concerns with possible terrorist activity getting in to see it is an iffy proposition at best.

But can see a place called Gantry Park which still has an inoperable float bridge that is chained off as well.

I wish I could get to these places more often but parking is a problem and not all these areas are safe (in terms of street crime) either. Afterall, this is still New York City.



Great Article

I would like to build this in O scale for my On30 layout. The guys at the club said that you can buy really

big sheets of styrene.If I build it I will let you guys know of my progress.

Rob Teed

Look for a plastic supplier.

"The guys at the club said that you can buy really big sheets of styrene.If I build it I will let you guys know of my progress."

Look for a company that handles plastic for sign makers and such.  Plexiglas, styrene, etc comes i 4'x8' sheets, and in bulk is quite a bit less expensive per square inch, foot etc than the packages from Evergreen that you get at the local hobby shop.

Plastic Supplier

Thanks Russ,

Thats what the guys were saying at the club. I'm going to go halfers with one of them on a 4x8 sheet.

Down the Hatch!

I look the "Alameda-in-a-Box" layout (which has the car float featured in this article) down to the PCR / LDSIG meet last weekend, and one grizzled veteran started talking to me about his experiences working the rail barges back in the 50's / 60's.

One interesting detail he told me was that, during the day, workers would use mirrors on a stick to check the water level inside the buoyancy tanks (the hatches are those round things), because flashlights were too weak.

And since this type of model is permanently attached to the dock, there's no reason why you couldn't model one of the hatches open with a dude lowering a mirror inside to check water levels.

A rather unusual, groovy prototypical detail to add realism to the car float / waterfront scene.
I'm sure there's plenty others!

More modern detail photos

Also just came across this "Transportation Safety Board of Canada" report on a man overboard / death that occured while birthing the 6-track rail barge "Juneau" in Seattle.

And while a gruesome subject, and sad a man lost his life, the report itself is a gold mine of info and pictures about the Juneau (built in San Francisco! Woot!) and all sorts of dockside details.

The Juneau is a 6-track rail barge with squared ends and looks like would be a great candidate for this type of model, though I'd probably halve the number of tracks.

There are detailed measurements of the barge, and photos of all the railings, cleats, ropes, and other details on the barge and dock.

If anyone else has some unusual sources of car float info & details, feel free to share!

M.C., are you a member of the SFRHMS?

That is the Santa Fe Railway Modeling & Historical Society.  They publish a quarterly magazine titled the Warbonnet.  The 1st quarter 2011 issue was devoted almost entirely to the "Santa Fe Navy", Santa Fe marine operations in the San Francisco Bay.


Thanks for the link, Russ!

The issue is on it's way!

Water area

M.C., How did you make the depression in the MDF for the water area?

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