No. 167: Completing the Traverse Table, and Milwaukee Road Single-Sheathed Box Car Re-Do

I had minor arthroscopic knee surgery last Wednesday and took a few days off from work to recover. I was able to make some good progress on the layout during those days. Here’s an update.

Traverse Table

Here’s what the small, 7 x 18-inch Hermitage Road layout looks like today. At the far end, the dark square box is the entrance to the staging area.

Below. Here’s the other side of the portal to staging. There wasn’t enough room for a traditional staging yard with all the turnout ladders and all that, so I built a British-style traverse table instead.

A traverse table is a yard without the turnouts. The advantage is that it saves a lot of space in a given area. My design has a single entry track from the layout, a five-track “table”, and two exit or runaround tracks at the opposite end. The table is secured to the layout with a single screw underneath the center of the table. Each yard track holds 5-6 cars plus an engine. I used Atlas Code 83 track because I had it on hand.

In this photo, the traverse table tracks are mocked-up to see what’ll fit. The drawer slides are underneath the table, and extend out behind the table to allow the table to slide across all five tracks in either direction.

Below. After the table was built and aligned, I was able to lay track. First, the roadbed must be placed. Getting everything straight and lined up as perfect as possible is important since the all the tracks need to line up on each end of the table. After gluing the roadbed down I used switch locks to hold it in place.

Below. I laid the roadbed at the entrance end first. Then one-half of the roadbed was laid using a straight-edge. Before going any further, I waited a day and allowed the glue to dry, and then glued down the other half of the roadbed.

Below. In this photo, roadbed for three tracks has been laid. Using the 90-degree angle tool and the long straight-edge kept everything in proper alignment.

Below. All the tracks have to be spaced exactly the same so they will line up with the end extensions.

After all the track was laid, I wired up the table. Wiring was simple. I had to wire the front and end extensions, and each track, and that was it. I wired all the tracks together into a bundle and left enough slack in the bundle to allow the table to move. The track wires have quick connections so I can disconnect the table in just a minute if needed.

Below. Work in progress. What a mess!

Below. One of my daughters came upstairs to give me a hard time.

The layout is now operational again, thanks to the Mr. Traverse Table. Below, you can see that the engine is powered up and we’re hard at work moving coal cars through the portal to Hermitage Coal Co.

If you look closely at the bottom of the photo you can see that the height of the table doesn’t quite match up with the end. See the difference in track height? That’s something that needs adjusting soon.

Milwaukee Road 713471…or is it 714142?

You may remember this car from a previous post. It is an old Sunshine Models car that I finished about a year ago. I used the salt weathering technique on the roof, but in this case was never quite satisfied with the look.

Above. In August, during my “16 Days” building bonanza, I stripped the paint on this model and started over. First I sandblasted the model and then repainted it with Tru Color TCP-213 Milwaukee Road 1930-50’s Freight Car Brown. I decaled the car with K4 decals’ Milwaukee Road Single Sheathed Boxcar set.

The weather here in Germany was nice in September so I set up a table in the garage and did a lot of painting out there. Unfortunately, when I shot Testors Dullcote on the roof of this car, the finish turned white.

Below. Time for damage control. I gave the roof a bath with paint thinner and that took off most of the white residue. Then I weathered the roof with various AIM weathering powders, like Soot Black, Weathered Brown, and Oxide. I mised a new batch of Dullcote and sealed the powder.
A couple of weeks ago, Charlie Duckworth posted on one of the lists and showed a few new cars he’d built. One or two of them had really nicely-weathered running boards. He used darker gray colors–darker than I normally use–and they looked great. I mixed up a palette of grays, and mixed in some earth tone paint color, and used used various shades on this car. I think it turned out well. Contrast is the key!

Finally, a last overhead view. I think the weathered running board turned out well against the darker roof.

What’s In The Box?

I got a mystery box in the mail last week with my long-awaited Rapido PRR X31-class box cars!

The cars look terrific and they are a great improvement over the Bower models, which–despite the molded-on stuff–I always thought looked great too. I got one of each for now because I need to save my sheckles for X-3s, GLas, an SP single-sheathed car, and whatever else they can surprise us with.

The Pros, in my opinion: Overall appearance, color, lettering, brake gear, details like grabs, etc. The Cons: Trucks (they’re awful!), brake wheel, coupler box/draft gear (why can’t we have something with some detail???), #5 couplers. There’s also no bell crank on the B end, but I’ll have to research that to see what equipment the real cars had. As for replacement trucks, Bowser has a nice pair of PRR-specific coil-elliptical trucks that can be used to improve the models.

Below. Here’s a closeup of the B end on the auto car. It looks terrific. The PRRT&HS had a lot of say in the development of this model, in particular the paint color, and I trust their judgement.

May God richly bless you and your families during Thanksgiving. Don’t forget to give thanks! – John

5 thoughts on “No. 167: Completing the Traverse Table, and Milwaukee Road Single-Sheathed Box Car Re-Do

  1. John, great modeling! I am contemplating a traverse table for my staging also. I have room for continuous running back to the visible layout and want to stage trains for ops and variety. A traverse table can make that efficient and since it’s not part of the layout operations, just a prep it doesn’t need to be prototype accurate. Have you seen a turntable to turn locos in such a scheme? I will ask more questions soon. The Rapido PRR boxcars are great, my biggest fault with them is the stirrup steps that are accurately thin but so easy to break. The Kadee solution is much more elegant. A PS-1 fell 5’ onto carpet, they broke, but I could order more and replace them quickly. The Rapido parts are very fragile and I hope they try to use metal in the future. I hate to have to “upgrade” such a nice model with A-line steps. As we give thanks, it is also important to give to those in need. God bless you and your family.


    • Hi Bruce,  Merry Christmas!  Sorry for the very late reply.  ‘Tis the season to be very busy. The Traverse table works great and it doesn’t take much time to get used to.  It’s fast and easy.  The only drawback is it took A LOT of time to build, tweak, and balance.  I have seen the big turntables but of course they can take up a ton of room, and don’t work on shelves.   Concur on the Rapido X31s.  A great improvement over the Bowser model, but still not without it’s imperfections.  I recently bought some Bowser trucks to improve the model, but with no more Reboxx it’s hard to find wheelsets that fit.  I’m using Kadee wheelsets for now and they’re working fine.  Anyway I’m happy to have one of each car and am trying to muster the courage to weather them.  I need to conquer that fear a-s-a-p! Thank you for the blessings.  I pray you and your family have a wonderful Christmas and a blessed 2022! John


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