Sunday, February 25, 2018

A scratch built car puller

In my original plan for the layout there was going to be a coal burning power plant where the Battle Mountain section is.  It was to have it's own 44 ton switch engine to move cars around the facility.   Battle Mountain has 4 smaller industries, each with a single spur track.  In all but one of these industries cars can be spotted by the local in the correct location and won't need to be moved by the facility itself.

The Barite crushing facility in Battle Mountain will have a long enough siding for six 2-bay covered hoppers to be moved through the loader.   One car can be loaded at a time and then the string of cars will need to be moved one car length to get the next car under the loader.  I began to wonder how an industry like this moves railroad cars down the track without having their own locomotive.

Researching this topic on the web I discovered that railroad customers use a variety of methods to move rail cars around between the times the railroad either drops cars off or picks them up.   This prototype photo shows just one of those.

I decided that to position the 2-bay covered hoppers under the loader the barite crushing facility would use an electric winch.   In the mood for a small scratch building project I came up with this.

I keep all my small styrene scraps in a sandwich sized Tupperware bin and that is the first place I go to get materials for a project like this one.  All of the stryene came from that bin.  The spool sides were punched from a scrap of .020 styrene sheet with a hole punch.  The motor is .125 styrene rod and the shaft is .020 brass wire.  The control / reduction gear housing is .080 x .125 strip and the doors .020 x .125 strip.  Some copper magnet wire was wrapped around the spool.

Here is the same model after being painted.  There is the motor and drive shaft.  The drive shaft enters a cabinet where there are reduction gears and also electrical controls.  Doors on the cabinet allow for maintenance access.

Another shaft from the reduction gears then exits the cabinet to drive the pulley.  This would all need to be securely anchored to a thick concrete slab.
Here is how this now looks on the layout with the track ballasted.   When I posted about this project on the replies seem to indicate that these were more common than I thought so it was strange I could not find any ready made models of it.  This seems like it would be a good project for 3D printing.


  1. Nice job with that car puller. I have a few places I could locate one myself.

  2. Very neat Brad and a nice bit of detail that could indeed be applied to many model RR's.

    1. Thank you guys, Seems like lots of our smaller industry models could use something like this but could not find anything in N Scale. Good opportunity for one of the Shapeways designers to jump in with something.

  3. Nice information, valuable and excellent design, as share good stuff with good ideas and concepts, lots of great information and inspiration, both of which I need, thanks to offer such a helpful information here.  EPLaw

    1. You are welcome Zack. Glad you found this helpful.