I needed a convenient way to transport my K-27. Of course I could always just separate the locomotive and tender and move them in the manufacturer’s original cardboard and Styrofoam shipping containers. This would involve disconnecting the plug-in wiring and handling both pieces multiple times, with all the associated fingerprints and increased chances of damaging something.
What I really needed was a way to simply run the loco from my track into some type of transport case, close it up, safely move it, and then open the case at another location and run the locomotive out onto the layout. I figured it would also make sense to build a case with a removable bottom cover. This would provide access to the underside of the locomotive for maintenance and lubrication purposes. Here is the multi-purpose case I designed and built:
The case is made from ¼” birch plywood with a 1” x 2” exterior pine frame. The two end pieces are hinged at the bottom. They are unlatched and opened so that the locomotive can be run in or out from either end. The two side pieces are inverted “L” shapes that are also hinged at the bottom. When closed, they form both the sides and the top of the case. I refer to these side pieces as clamshells.
The interior surfaces of the clamshells are lined with soft foam glued to the plywood. This foam cradles the locomotive and tender securely at the top and sides when the case is closed. The foam is notched to fit around the stack, domes, cab roof, and coal load. Foam plugs were made for the ends of the case to fit against the front of the locomotive and rear of the tender. These plugs are not permanently attached so that they can easily be removed to run the loco into or out of the case.
Both the end pieces and the clamshells attach to the bottom frame with continuous hinges. When the clamshells are closed, they are connected to each other with three draw latches on the top of the case. One of the draw latches includes a hasp so that it can be secured with a lock if desired. Each end piece is connected to the closed clamshells with two draw latches at the top of the case. Strips of self-stick foam weather-seal material are used to seal gaps along the hinges.
Steel 90 degree angle brackets were added to the interior of the clamshells and inside of the corners of the bottom frame for reinforcement. The bottom cover is attached to the underside of the bottom frame with brass screws that thread into to brass nut plates. Self-stick plastic feet are attached to the bottom surface of the case to provide clearance for the screw heads when the case is setting upright on a flat surface. Wood spacers are placed under the case to provide clearance for the draw latches when the case is inverted.
Rigid foam is attached to the inside of the bottom cover of the case. A section of flex-track is permanently attached to the foam. A transition section of flex-track is also provided to bridge from the track in the case to the layout track. This transition section is stored on the foam bottom beside the permanent flex-track when not in use.
Note: Since my equipment is battery powered, I did not need for the rails in the case or on the transition section to be powered. If your equipment is track-powered, you would need to provide a method for obtaining power for these rail sections.
Elmer’s Yellow Carpenter’s Wood Glue was used for all wood-to-wood joints. Hot-melt glue sticks were used for foam-to-wood, foam-to-foam, and foam-to- flex-track connections. Metal components are brass-plated, nickel-plated, or galvanized steel. I applied two coats of satin-finish, water-based, polyurethane to the wood components of the case after assembly but before the foam, latches, and plastic feet were added.
Material for the case was purchased at Lowe’s at a total cost of approximately seventy-five dollars, except for the following items which I had on-hand: foam, wood glue, glue sticks, and polyurethane. The foam was obtained from scraps from old computer shipping containers.
Fabrication and assembly was performed using normal home shop tools and materials (saw, drill, screwdriver, ruler, square, brushes, sandpaper, clamps, and glue.) I used an electric carving knife to cut the foam pieces. The completed case weighs 28 pounds when empty and 51 pounds with the locomotive and tender on-board.