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Unofficial T-Trak Handbook

Train-Scale Comparison Display

Completed 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-Scale Boxcar O-Scale Boxcar

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-Scale Boxcar HO-Scale Boxcar

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-Scale Boxcar Z-Scale Boxcar

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!

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Cars On Track

I mounted each car on a suitable piece of track. Here's how I fastened the cars to the track.

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Display Panels

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.

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I needed shelves to slip into the pegboard to hold the cars. The best and simplest (and cheapest) solution I found was at

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.

Shelf Cross-SectionL-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!

Shelf 3/4 Rear ViewPre-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.

Hook PositionsThe 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.

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Shelf In Action

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...

Completed Display

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