I am starting to amass a collection of boxes in which came HO kits and RTR rolling stock. I am thinking that the only reason to save many of them is if I ever want to sell them. In many cases, once constructed and ready to put on a layout they either fit very loosly in the box or for some reason not at all due to size or details that don't fit in the pre-formed shipping inserts. Alternatively, what might be the best way to store and transport the completed items?
After trying many things, I've switched mostly to the A-line 'Hobby Tote" system. These are high grade cardboard 'trays' (with lids) that hold the trains for storage of transport. Several (4 or 5) trays slip into a nylon carrying 'tote' for transport. A 'tote' and set of trays cost the better part of $100, which is not cheap, bu the result is efficient and durable storage. Consider that the contents of the unit will almost surely cost several times what the 'packaging' costs.
I was at first put off by the cardboard, but it's proved more than satisfactory. As long as you don't get them wet, and use reasonable care, they seem to last forever. I have some that are near 20 years old now, and you can hardly tell them from the new ones.
Each HO tray holds approximately: (20) 40' cars, (12) 50' cars, or eight 80' passenger cars. For one 'tote' set, that's a couple locos and about 50 freight cars. A whole moderate sized train.
Separate trays are available.
Almost everyone in our club group has switched to them. Collectively, we probably have about 25 'tote' sets in use. Since out layout is modular, and we haul it around a lot, these have proven VERY useful.
The trains are quite well protected, but everything has it's limits. I have had some very minor damage, but far less than the other transport schemes I've tried. I glue a piece of foam as a pad on the underside of the lids, and use foam block separators between the cars (these blocks are available from A-line, but I make my own). The trays come with a thin foam pad for the bottom of each section, that limits cars rolling about, but they can still slide to one end of the tray, foam and all. I glue the foams down with dabs of hot melt glue.
I currently have seven 'totes' (one for each of several complete trains), and continue to buy trays for bulk storage. I'm totally satisfied with the product.
Having addressed the 'transport' question in the previous post, I'll also say that I've taken to trashing most of the original boxes that things came in. These just take up WAY too much space.
I keep a very few boxes that may be uniquely suited to storing special items. Naturally, I keep 'brass' boxes and a few others that have, or may acquire, real value to collectors (FSM, etc.). MANY years from now, many hobby boxes may have such value, but I won't be around that long, and need the space.
Like many other things, it's a relative value judgment.
Thanks for the thorough description of the A-Line carriers. I found them in the Walthers catalog so I now have a better idea of what they look like and how they're set up. I have a single cardboard tray with a lid and foam dividers inside that I picked up a couple years ago at Timonium. As I recall it wasn't cheap (maybe $10-15) either when you consider it's cardboard with strips of foam glued inside but as you say, it's important to protect the valuable contents. It looks like the main difference is that in the one I have the cars are stored on their sides. And this particular box (Car Case by Axian Technology) does have foam glued to the top perpendicular to the direction of the contents. It has 4 slots and each slot will hold 4- 40' or 3- 50' cars, pretty much the same as the A-line ones as far as capacity. It also came with strips of foam that can be cut to length and nest in the slots as dividers between the cars. Not totally trusting foam I've added archival acid-free tissue between the models and the foam as an extra precaution. I've never these at other shows nor do I think they have a tote case so I might need to build my own hard case of some sort if I was to continue with this particular brand.
I keep my boxes. To prevent the rolling stock from rattling around, I use foam blocks cut to size with ordinary scissors to secure the cars in place. I obtain the foam at work and oft times as packing for stuff that comes to the house in the mail. The cars survive the trip back and forth to the club just fine, and there is a certain psychological satisfaction in having "the original box". Combined with a certain reluctance to throw things out. On the other hand, packing and unpacking all those boxes to get a long train on the track takes forever.
I have tried the 'Car Case's also. I have several of them, and have little problem with them. I prefer the A-line 'hobby totes' after trying both. One issue is the possibility (read almost certainty) of foam deterioration.
The foam is almost an integral part of the 'Car Case', being glued in place, and actually forming the dividers. The cars are in direct contact with the foam over much of their surface area. this raises the possibility of various chemical reactions between plastic, paint, and foam.
The foam in the A-line cases is merely a cushion, and is easily replaced if deterioration sets in. It touches the cars only on their wheels and couplers. If a top pad is used (not included with the A-line product), it will touch the tops of the car. But again, it's easily replaced, or left out, if it begins to cause problems. I *DO* use foam top pads, usually 1/2" thick SOFT carpet pad material. I stick them in with a few small dabs of hot melt glue. If necessary, these could be replaced MANY times before any significant damage to the cardboard occurred. Ditto for the thin foam pads in the bottom of tray slots which I also glue down the same way.
Your idea of using acid free paper to cover the foam in ANY container is a good one. The dividers in the A-line trays, that do touch the car sides, are cardboard. I've had a little white paper dust rub off onto the cars, occasionally, but it just brushes off.
The only damage I've had to anything due to the A-line trays themselves occurs when some minor detail sets on the side of the car at JUST the same height as the top of the dividers .. due to a jolt, the divider might then strike the detail and bend of knock it off. This is particularly true of caboose and passenger car marker lamps (BTDT). Once you recognize the problem, it's easy to deal with with some additional padding at the offending locations. If you ALWAYS put the cars back in the same locations, you could also notch the divider a bit to clear the lamps (I don't bother with this). A REALLY bad jolt might bend a few hand grabs or such. ALL are a VERY minor problems.
I've seen the 'let's wrap EVERY car individually' crowd do far more damage just in wrapping and unwrapping cars! I've transported hundreds of cars and locos all over the area many times, and had only the most insignificant damage occur. As I said, I'm totally satisfied with the product.
Thanks again, especially since you are familiar with both brands. Having used the on-side storage I can see the advantage to the A-line ones where the cars rest on their wheels. One problem I encountered was fitting a high-cube boxcar in the Car Case. I could carve out some of the foam if I decide that that car will permanently reside in that location but I have other high-cube cars as well so the idea of the different heights of case available with the A-Line cases is another plus.
And I also find that the divider foam tends to push the couplers to one side. Maybe not a problem with Kadees but could be if I had any clones with the plastic centering springs.
email@example.com (Hzakas) tickled the keyboard:
This is Axian, with an 'a' and Axion Technologies with an 'o' is a computer maker. I did a dogpile search with the string: Axion railroad model storage car case and the closest I came was a link to my own r.m.r post.
A phrase my parents used to use in reference to playing the piano. I just adapted it as a more interesting way to say that somebody pressed a series of keys in response.
There are 6 billion potential collectors out there. Many will pay more for something if the wrapper and box come with it and are in good shape. This fact, however, must be traded against the amount of storage space available and the disposition of the wife and or girlfriend. :-)
Exactly why I have some reluctance to toss the boxes, though most of what I have I can't see being highly collectible, Atlas, Athearn, etc. I also don't anticipate selling any of these either so it might be a while before I or my heirs would need the boxes. By that time who knows what will be valuable and what not so.
In my case it's a wfe and we both have too much stuff and no time right now to build storage for stuff we use let alone empty boxes. However it still might be worth finding a place for them just in case the above comes to be the case.
If you want to store the empty railroad boxes, use the file boxes from office max or staples. If you watn to get 'anal' about it, type a list of all the boxes that go into a 'master carton' and tape it to the front. The file boxes are easy to assemble and stack very nicely. They also have handles to make moving them very easy.
If you or anyone wants to see the storage carts that I made for my train show modules, email me and I will send back the pictures that I took when I first made them.
I got the cart from staples and added corregated plastic, ripped > West Coast Engineering
That's how I feel too. I just don't have the space (I'd need a warehouse!) to store many boxes of minor interest or only very long-term potential value. SOMEDAY, they may all have some value to collectors ... I can't wait that long.
I keep OBVIOUSLY collectable boxes for brass locos, FSM kits, and similar. These already take up more space than I want, but they already have substantial value. Such boxes need to be well stored, too, as they lose a lot of value if they get scuffed up, or get mildewed. I think the 'collectible' boxes will include the nice plastic boxes for Kadee HO cars.
I keep many of my locomotive boxes, especially those with exceptionally good 'packing' features to protect the stored loco. I keep hardly any cardboard car boxes, or structure boxes, as the completed structure wouldn't fit back in the box anyway.