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August 2006 - Page 24

terminals in which the air was blue from the exhaust of the tractors. T here were some three-wheeled trac tors too, with a pair of powered wheels at the rear and one steerable wheel in front to permit a tighter turn radius. (Manufacturer specifications indicate that their fourwheeled tractors can negotiate a 115" turn radius) See Photos 8-13.

Self-Propelled Platform Transporters
These are a battery-powered variation of the platform wagon. Many of these transporters had a small spring-loaded footplate in the front for the driver controls were on the sides. Depressing the footplate unlocked the controls and released a safety brake. The operator stood facing front with the controls extending from behind...a pretty scary if not dangerous way to run a vehicle of this size and weight, especially in crowded areas and

Maywood station with REA truck and wagon on the platform ready for an eastbound train.

next to train tracks. Batteries underneath the deck powered the wheels. This type of unit is still in use in Toronto Union Station, where they use doubleended versions with controls and bumpers at both ends. The units shown in the photos have a heavy steel bumper bar that extends around the operators feet, and some have an additional safety bar above the operators head. Double-ended variants of the powered and hand-towed wagons were used where platforms were not wide enough to permit making U turns safely. I saw generally similar transporters in New York Citys Grand Central Station, and they were used in many other important stations as well (see Photos 6-7).

Model Platform Vehicles
In both HO and O scale, Grandt Line makes a very complete model of an older-style Railway Express platform wagon, complete with detailed suspension. When assembled carefully, the wheels will turn and the steering operate. The similar baggage wagon from the Jordan line of injection-molded plastic kits is of a slightly older looking prototype than the Grandt Line model. Many of the prototype wagons had no bars on the back I suspect these got broken off or were removed to hold some long cargoes and were just never replaced. Some wagons had solid panels front and rear with a plywood or metal plate covering the open area between the vertical columns, and as described above, some even had roofs which could be built by individual modelers. The spoked wagon wheels on these models represent older wagons; newer ones had more complex wire wheels as shown in the photos. So far I have not found any suitable wire wheels with a light enough construction for use on scale models of platform wagons. Newer wagons, especially those that had to travel on dirt platforms and though open areas such as those at Allentown (PA) Union Station were fitted with pneumatic tires by the 1950s. Some of the older wagons were also retrofitted. Micron Art ( offers an etched-brass baggage wagon kit in HO, N and Z scales that is built by folding and gluing it together. Preiser makes an excellent kit with several European-style baggage wagons which resemble some of the more modern types used in the United States. These only require simple assembly and painting. The front axle assembly is steerable, and the drawbar is positional. There are also side gates, which can be moved from open to closed positions. If you can find some good automobile wheels with tires you might exchange the ones in the kit for another variation. I have slightly modified the Preiser wagons by cementing their sides in place and slicing out the middles to resemble slat-equipped Railway Express wagons. There was even a streamlined REA wagon style with rounded ends, but so far I have not had a chance to model those.

Grandt Line wagon with Pennsylvania RR express car in background.

Maywood station with wagons ready for action on both the east and westbound sides.



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