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Car Carrying Trays

Storing rolling stock and transporting it to and from the railway is a daunting task for even the most enthusiastic garden railroader. Our club has over 100 standard gauge cars and over 100 narrow gauge cars on the roster. During our railways operations, we are required to move over 60 cars to and from the railway. To solve the problem, we use car carrying trays that are stored on racks in metal storage sheds. One shed holds the narrow gauge rolling stock, the other the standard gauge equipment.


We use old, plastic, bread trays; but the similar ones could be made from pine boards with a thin plywood or hardboard floor. The floor and sides of our trays were lined with 1/8 inch foam, sold in rolls by Home Depot for floating floors. Two pine boards were cut for the front and back of the tray, and four slots were cut in each about 5 inches apart. Hardboard dividers were then covered with strips of the foam and cut to fit in the slots.


The process of foam covering the trays and dividers was messy, time consuming and expensive. While 1:22nd scale, narrow gauge cars fit between the dividers fairly easily, the details on 1:29th scale standard gauge cars caught and tore the foam. The pine boards and foam-covered, hardboard dividers also added extra weight to the trays; so they were removed. Although our bread trays are still lined with foam on the bottom, this would not be necessary if the trays had a solid floor.

Our plain dividers now are cut from either corrugated cardboard or hardboard. The hardboard is more durable, but heavier and more expensive. Loading an empty tray is now much easier. Place a divider against the side of the tray, load a car, add another divider, another car, another divider, until the tray is full.


  1. Paul Norton

    We do not have mice problems in our club car sheds.
    But a chipmunk uses one to store pine cones for the winter.
    We see him running about while we are operating every Saturday morning.
    Since he does not damage anything, that shed gets swept as part of the railway spring clean up.

    A friend built two sturdy car sheds with a layer of metal mesh on the bottom to keep the squirrels out.
    But he did have a problem with one mouse that used a USA Trains passenger car to nest in for the winter.
    We wondered how he got out once the door closed, but I guess its paws are stronger than the door springs.

    There are mouse deterrents used in cars stored in barns for the winter.
    A neighbour forgot to use it one year and the upholstery in his prize Camaro was chewed up.

  2. Duke Snyder

    Looks great!
    I also have used bread trays and an old bread rack for storage.
    How do you keep the mice from nesting in them???

    I moved mine from my shed to the open garage and have less mouse problem but they still manage to set up a home in a few cars.

    Duke Snyder
    Grantsburg, WI

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