Working the Float

More HD Video of Operation

While at the Train Show I didn’t get a chance to make any video of the layout running, I was quite busy for every minute of all three days. To make up for the missing train show video I promised to shoot, I made this one up last evening.

This is a bit HD video of operation on the Bronx Terminal, focusing on the process of unloading a carfloat following prototype practice. The fully loaded three track carfloat holds about 17 cars, two rows of 6 cars on the outer rails, and 5 down the centre (depending on car size). To unload a float, three cars are pulled off of one of the outer tracks, these three cars are then coupled onto the cars on the opposite outer track. All nine cars are pulled and stored into the adjacent yard. The final three cars from the first track are pulled and coupled onto the cars of the centre track, these 8 are then stored. This keeps the float balanced when loading or unloading and reduces stress on the floatbridge.

Occasionally idler cars were used at the Bronx Terminal, but not always. The main use for idler cars wasn’t to keep the locomotive off the float, it was to aid in visual clearance and safety. It was not uncommon to drive the loco’s onto the floats at the Bronx Terminal, as I do here.

The loco was re-worked at the train show by the guys at Tony’s Train Exchange. Lew White installed a new High Bass speaker, which improved the sound of the engine dramatically, the speaker that was in there initially was very tinny sounding, the new one is very clear. Josh Shedaker tweaked the sound samples in the QSI Revolution decoder in the loco and improved its operational abilities with some modifications in the CV’s. It now has white LED lights in it, before they were green. They are also very bright and operate correctly.

At some of the major train shows, Tony’s Train Exchange sets up a workbench where you can have a decoder installed in your loco right there at the show, its a great service as the work performed is top notch, done by professionals.



About the Author:

I'm your host, Tim Warris, a product developer in Port Dover, Ontario. Since March of 2007 I have been documenting the construction of the former CNJ Bronx Terminal in HO scale. For my day job, I design track building tools for Fast Tracks, a small company I own and operate. Fast Tracks makes it fast and easy to hand lay your own trackwork. Stop by our website to learn more!

Posted by: Tim | 07-27-2009 | 10:07 AM
Posted in: 2009 NMRA Train Show - Hartford | CNJ 1000 Boxcab | Latest Posts | Operation | Video


  1. Great video. What’s your source for the unloading practice? was the prototype based on some sort of load balancing equation, or just trial and error?

    Comment by Philip H — July 27, 2009 @ 11:04 am
  2. Fantastic! You must be feeling pretty good about all your work thus far, cause I know I would! LOL!!! The layout looks great and the loco sounds incredible!

    Comment by Shane — July 27, 2009 @ 1:31 pm
  3. Thanks for getting some operations video posted. Had found
    the little district facinating, but didn’t make the Nat. train show. So this was very worthwhile!
    Hope to see more. Jon

    Comment by Jon C. — July 27, 2009 @ 7:23 pm
  4. Tim,

    Thanks for another great documentary on your progress. I’m modeling Delaware/Maryland/Virginia (DELMARVA) carfloat operations and have always kicked around the idea of having the carfloat on springs as a way of simulating the shifting of weight with car movements. Understanding this would require the apron to be hinged as in the prototype, I’m not sure if the work would be worth the result but might give it a try. Guess a gimbled mount might accomplish the same result.

    For now, awaiting my Fast Tracks shipment…thanks for the extremely rapid turnaround and exemplary customer service.


    Comment by Dave — July 27, 2009 @ 7:25 pm
  5. I remember seeing the Santa Fe (in San Francisco) car barges being worked with idler flat cars so to keep the engine off the float and barge. Also they unloaded a few cars at a time on the outside barge track so as not to tip the barge. I don’t know if your railroad did this with lighter cars of the day but it adds to the operation.

    Comment by Bruce Petty — July 27, 2009 @ 9:07 pm
  6. Sometimes when the float bridge was higher than the float, they would drive the locomotive out onto the bridge to lower it down.

    Great video!

    Comment by Chris — July 28, 2009 @ 2:38 am
  7. Excellent video. Your trackwork is amazing

    Comment by Neil — July 28, 2009 @ 5:05 am
  8. Great work Tim! Loved the last portion of the video with the low POV.

    The sound difference is amazing with the updates. Need a tug whistle now… heh

    Also after watching all the videos of you building the trackwork, it’s nice to see it operate so smoothly – but was that clicks I heard running through the diamond…gaps? (about 7:20)

    Comment by Chris Arsenault — July 28, 2009 @ 8:10 pm
  9. Dear Tim,

    This is very interesting> I like the carfloat. I had never heard of it. Ive been to the terminal while on vacation in NYC. A great place!

    Dave Smith N-Scaler from Ohio

    Comment by Dave Smith — July 29, 2009 @ 12:45 pm
  10. Chris,

    I am not sure what the clicking sounds were. The camera picks up lots of ambient noise from the room so it could be just about anything. Especially irritating is the clicking of the DT400 throttle! Next video I will have to remember to shut that off.

    Comment by Tim — July 30, 2009 @ 9:28 am
  11. Phillip,

    There was a great article on float bridges and their operation in issue #12 of The Transfer magazine, published by the Rail Marine Information Group.

    No longer published, the back issues are available as scans from them directly….



    Comment by Tim — July 30, 2009 @ 9:31 am
  12. Awesome! Great to see this layout operating!

    Comment by Colin 't Hart — August 4, 2009 @ 8:39 am
  13. This is a wonderful story. I saw it in Hartford and I am very impressed. I am going to take one of the MWTM clinics that Clark Kooning puts on about your turnout jigs

    Comment by Jim Long — August 10, 2009 @ 11:19 pm
  14. Thanks for sharing this well-produced, interesting video of a really well designed and built layout, with a fantastic little loco to boot! All around enjoyable.

    Just a couple questions – why did you have to circle the warehouse for the second cut of cars? Why not just take the cutoff track you used to bring the light engine back after setting out the first group of cars? Is there a clearance issue or was this prototype practice?

    Thanks again,


    Comment by Galen — September 3, 2009 @ 1:52 am
  15. Hallo Tim,

    what a wonderfull layout you have built and a great video about it. I`m interested in carfloating too, since I contact the websites of Phil about BEDT etc. I`m constructing a H0-model of the PRR-yard at the North 4th St/ Kent Av in Brooklyn (10ft long and 1,5ft deep). It would be kind if you will mail me length and depth of Your layout.
    With kind regards

    Comment by Joerg Minten — September 26, 2009 @ 1:20 pm
  16. I notice from your video the lettering on the loco. Is it hand done or decals? If it is the latter could you let me know the supplier please as I’ve more or less finished a model of this loco in S scale. I realise that the lettering could be a bit on the small side, but is far better than I could do by hand.

    Comment by John Dale — March 18, 2010 @ 2:14 pm
  17. Totally awesome. Cars and locomotives are beautifully weathered and the trackwork is phenominal. I was born and raised in NJ and all I can say is “if I had known then what I know now” I would have definately visited the original terminal. I’d definately like to see a video of the engine entering the engine house especially with that “removable crossover”. Keep up the excellent work.

    Comment by Bob Lerf — March 29, 2010 @ 1:44 pm
  18. Hi Tim,
    SUPER absolutely incredible, what you’ve built!
    I am very excited.
    Did this page under my “favorites” folder.
    Many kind regards
    Volker Lange, Großpösna, Germany
    (Please see once in H0 Scale Walthers 2010 Model Railroad Reference Book, page 612, and up in the Referenece Books of 2007, 2009).

    Comment by Volker Lange — June 12, 2010 @ 6:58 am

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