Simple Freight Car Mover

Need to position cars at an industrial plant can be done by this simple method.

My hopper cars needed to be moved under the bunker during the loading of gravel at the plant. I have a small Mack switch engine made by Scale Structures Limited many years ago. It is a non-operating model and too small to install a motor inside and too light to move several loaded hopper cars. It would look great in the scene if I could make the little Mack switcher push or pull two hoppers cars.

An idea struck that would be reliable and simple method. Run a thread down the center
of track pulling a switch engine back and fourth slowly for 16 inches of movement.

A pice of household 16 Gauge, copper wire bent with a hook on to each axle of the locomotive, but not too snug for the wheels turn freely.

Carefully bend near the end of a 1/16"(.014 wall), K&S Engineering, brass tube using round-nose pliers, so not to kink the tube. Then use a flat file to remove the top half of the tube and clean up with smaller files so the hole is straight through for easy threading.

The thread will will pass over curve in the brass guide to make the 90 degree turn and down the tube exiting under the layout. Be sure there are no metal burrs left on the tube after filing that may cause ware on the thread. I used white thread in the photos for demonstration, but a gray thread was used and hard to see. Pulling the thread across a wax candle before installing will give some sliding lubrication for the Thread Guide.

Use plenty of gray thread so the center would be knotted beneath the switcher and thread ends drop below table top in the Brass Thread Guides placed at each end of the track.

Showing Thread Guide glued in place and the thread going down inside brass tube to under the layout. After the thread's installation through the both tube ends, the above portion of the tube painted and stained the thread close to ground color so as not to stand out. And because the layout is a 54 inch high shelf layout,the thread is not so noticeable.

Note: By removing the top half of the brass tube, it will be easier to run the thread down the tube.

Under the layout various means can be employed to operate the thread for pulling it both ways. Ocean type fishing weights are added to each end of the thread. A simple crank that uses a 1/8 inch dia. wooden dowel with the thread is wrapped around several times for added friction. Or a slow motion geared down motor with a forward and reverse push buttons on the edge of the layout. Right now I am using ocean fishing weights for counterweights at both thread ends hanging below the layout.