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American Flyer Railcar Loads Part 3 by Ben Swope

November 12th, 2015 · No Comments

For this final installment we will be loading a Tootsie Toy road grader. Other brands of road graders, other construction machinery or even military loads could also use this method. I happen to have a Tootsie Toy grader on hand and liked the way it looked sitting on a flatcar (granted, it is a bit oversized). Besides any shortcomings, this is something the guys at American Flyer could have done.

I found the grader’s wheel spacing was too wide to properly sit on a common AF plastic body flatcar. So an extended platform is required to contain the wheels. This platform will double as the grader’s wheel chocks and keep it secure to the car as it travels over your pike.

My platform was made from simple 0.10” brass sheet stock, obtained at a local hobby shop (K&S was the brand used and was easy to find). Two platforms were required, one for the front tires, and one slightly larger for the two-axle set of rear wheels of the grader.

Utilizing the factory molded holes and slots in the flatcar deck, I located three pairs of slots that the platforms could key into to keep the load centered and contained to the car. The engineering of the platform’s dimensions took these slots into consideration.

The length of the platform (front to back direction of the machine) was dictated by the size of the grader’s tires. The extreme outer edges of the wheel tread was the length of the platform. If the wheel is ¾ inch in diameter, make the platform length ¾ inch.

The width was made 1/4 inch wider than the outsides of the tires mounted on the grader’s axles (the width being the side to side direction of the machine). This extra width allows for the 1/8 inch on each side to be folded upwards to contain the wheels in a side to side motion.

Once this was done, make two cuts with shears near the four corners of the platform, and bend the brass upwards to form wheel chocks, limiting the wheels front-back motion. Soldered these chocks to the folded sides, making sort of a shallow pan the axle assemblies snugly sets into.

Once these steps were done, place the platforms with the road grader inserted atop the flatcar. Locate the molded slots in the flatcar deck were best to install downward tabs to key the platforms to the car.

The tabs created for the front axle were small pieces of brass angle stock. Dropping one leg of the brass angle through the platform slot leaves the bottom surface of the platform flat to sit on the flatcar without teetering.

The four rear platform tabs were simply cut and bent from the platform’s flat base, keying into two other pairs of flatcar slots.

After being satisfied with the assembly and fit of the load and to the flatcar, de-bur all the platform’s sharp edges with a file and sandpaper and wash with hot water and soap. Once dry, I painted it black. The black color paint matches the flatcar and allows the platform to disappear under the machine’s black wheels and yellow painted load.

Tootsie Toy road graders are a bit wide, but railroads haul high & wide loads quite often – so this is still a prototypical load. However if replicating this or other wide loads, you’ll want to check for proper clearance with your load for close clearances on your curved tracks, through tunnel portals and past the AF turnout switch housings.

This has been the third and final part of the AF Railcar Load series. I hope that you have enjoyed it.

Ben Swope

Tags: Main Line

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