model train set on track

THE CULVERT TWINS—Abstraction of Spacial Anomalies

e*Train Issue: Jan 2003   |   Posted in:

By Bob Mintz and the mechanics of Bill Meyer

Not having the room to have an operating layout, I sometimes (okay, all the time, 24/7) imagine what I would do if I had the basement, outbuilding or barn of my liking “for the kids”. No children have I, nor pets. But I think that you all know the kids that I am talking about.

The Culvert Stations have always puzzled me. I found this to be a rather cool accessory because with the addition of the Culvert Loader and ramp to the Unloader, one could now have a complete cycle to run the two accessories, at least through one run. But, in order to operate this way, the two NYC Gondolas MUST be separated by about 3 ½ inches. This never made sense to me. Here you drive your train through the accessories itself, and now you have to disconnect the gondolas! Doesn’t make much sense to me.

I have asked several individuals and dealers about this, and they have mentioned to me that they never gave it a second thought.
I was trying to figure out what could be used as a “spacer car” so that everything could be continuously connected. I know that I saw a test weight car at the Pennsylvania Railroad Museum in Strasburg and that MTH made one, but it was too long.

I thought of the smallest piece in length that Lionel ever made. For a while, it was the Operating Burro Crane, but alas, that too, was not the answer. A bobber caboose didn’t work either, and would look awfully weird in the middle of a consist, even if I could add a second coupler to the end of it.

I recalled a recent piece, #19454 flatcar with gondola, as another possible solution.

The removable gondola was the smallest piece of rolling stock that I ever recalled, but it still was not the right size.

I asked my good friend and mentor Bill Meyer for a suggestion.
We first experimented with changing the end couplers of the NYC Gondolas to the same ones used on the extruded aluminum cars (you know, the rolling stock that originally came with the # 2343 Santa Fe Warbonnet).

After rejecting this idea, Bill decided to just use yet another coupler

Yup, he coupled two couplers. With some modifications, I believe that he has discovered the viable and inexpensive solution.

Go to any train show, York preferably, go to a parts guy or gal, and buy two postwar trucks. Spend lots of money on other items, come home broke and then proceed to the next step.
Remove one coupler from the second truck and using tin snips, trim this coupler until it fits into the other. Drill a hole through both and fasten with a pop-rivet.

Neither coupler will ever open, but that is the way you would want it anyhow, as the three pieces will be a modified “married pair.”

There will be no further need to line-up or remove the second gondola once the first one is in place anymore.

Now, how about motorizing the #282 Operating Gantry Crane?