A mystery explained

Thanks to everyone who mailed in and posted on the mysterious floating train.

I could post a number of replies (thanks everyone) but I’ll just go with this one:

“It’s called a motor car turntable for obviously turning inspection and maintenance vehicles around.

It’s basically centered single hydraulic piston jack mounted in the frame of the car with a steel plate that makes contact with the ties/sleepers.

This jack lifts the car enough over the rail so the equipment can be turned around.

Dave C”


If you missed Kim’s “how to” on his LEDs it’s here. Here’s his latest:

“Hi Al.

Not the best I have made. But with that little board can make an end train device.

I have snipped off the led and left the posts. I added a old computer connector on the posts.

That is in case the led fails and all I have to do is slip another end train device with a fresh led into the body and connecting to the connector.

The 1.5 battery will last along time before it drains. The board has a micro switch you can flip off.

I may shrink the device even smaller with a 1.8 mm led instead. But just to show what can be built using that board.


ho scale 007

ho scale 007

Latest ebay cheat sheet is is here.

Keep ’em coming.

That’s all for today folks.

And if today is the day you get started on your layout, the Beginner’s Guide is here.



13 Responses to A mystery explained

  1. david howarth says:

    The floating train had me baffled , glad we now know how it was done …the flashing rear light is a good add on …

  2. builder Kim says:

    Hi Al. We have those little car’s here.They are not used anymore on rail line’s.But people have saved them from the scrap yard’s and have reconditioned them for there own pleasure and ride used and unused rails for site seeing and such.They like to travel in groups to have fun running the rails.We call them speedsters. Anyone can ride them where allowed.We we sure have a lot of no longer used tracks here.I traveled in one a few times and they really zip along.When we stopped and needed to turn around.Some had that piston and some had an attachment on the front like a jack that lifts the wheels and the just pull it around to the other direction and away they go.

  3. David Patterson says:

    I get more info every time I open your e-mail. Enjoy all the articles.

  4. Ian Mc Donald says:

    thanks for solving the puzzle. like the how to.

  5. Glad to find out about the floating train. Thanks.

  6. BIGBADBOB says:

    Al I have tried to work out how Kim has done the lighting but two photo’s of the same part of a wagon’s base and 6 seconds of film do not enlighten me , it’s as clear as mud

  7. Joe Wright says:

    Thank you Al and all the wonderful folks that send in their videos and share their know how,. to help us lessor skilled people. Really enjoy the videos,Joe Wright, Philadelphia Pa. USA

  8. Stephen D Gispanski says:

    Yep, an other mistrery resolved. I thought that he had the train going in a circle and just the speed alone kelp it on the rails !! Ha Ha circle Ha ha ha funny fun ops, I will get back to building my tables. Like the light on the end of the car, Bringing the end lights up to date. Question, when did they start using the end car with a battery’s red light??
    SDG St.Petersburg Fl

  9. Stephen D Glspanski… About the little red light on the end of cars…
    Here in America we call it a Flashing Rear End Device or FRED.
    The early devices were pretty simple but they have grown in complexity over the years. Besides the red light, they monitor brake line pressure and other things now. The use of these devices in American began with a railroad workers strike on the Florida East Coast railroad… This was in the late 1960’s or early 1970’s.
    The workers were demanding more than the railroad could afford to pay… (It was not doing well at the time and the natural disasters common to Florida, hurricanes, were no help either) Management had to run the trains and thus “Two man crews” were used (instead of four crew members per train which was normal American practice before that strike). The strike was a messy one and in the end, the workers lost.
    FRED was the technological fix to a severe need on that one railroad. I
    In time, labor costs and the maintenance of Cabooses/Way Cars/ Cabins/Brake Vans became an issue for other railroads as well and by the 1990’s, the caboose at the end of American trains was essentially a thing of history.

  10. Timothy Morlok says:

    Stephen; the North American railroads started to phase out cabooses on thru freights in the late 1980’s for “safety reasons”. In reality, they wanted to reduce crew size and eliminate maintenance costs of (non-revenue) cabooses (jobs, supplies and buildings). The F..king Rear End Device, as we called them, allows the engineer via a radio signal to control the rapid application of brakes to the rear end in an emergency. In the past, the conductor could control the train brake application from the rear either in coordination with the engineers or by himself if he thought it was necessary to control the speed of the train. The conductor and rear brakeman were also extra sets of eyes to watch for problems from the rear of the train.

  11. Graham Rice says:

    more on the end of train device In NSW Australia we call it a BOG or Battery Operated Guard this is my first post I am into N scale and have pulled my set up apart three times now and rebuilt I have problems with slopes or hills and my first build the trains would get to the top or apex of hill and the cars would return by themselves back down the hill I had not allowed for a recovery area for the train before it uncoupled itself

  12. One summer, returning from a vacation in northern Michigan, my route took me through a small town and I saw about 30 of these little work cars on a siding next to the road. I stopped and asked about them. It was a Sunday morning meet of a Rail Work Car Collectors Club. Each member had brought along there cars and the club members assembled the collection on the siding for all to see and enjoy.
    It was an amazing sight.

  13. Kazar Terterian says:

    Hello Al,

    Thanks for your posts as they are great.
    Just to let you know, the links found in the ebay cheat sheet take me to an error page on ebay.
    Please check the links as there may be an issue with them.

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