Transload facilities are the modern era version of a team track. The facilities can range from very small operations on a single siding, to a very large complex that covers several acres, and can accommodate hundreds of rail cars. All types of products are offloaded at these facilities, making them prefect candidates for an industry on your model railroad.
On a recent trip to Aberdeen, North Carolina I was able to take a few photos of a couple of transload operations served by the Aberdeen and Rockfish Railroad. The first area was located a few hundred feet southwest from their locomotive maintenance facility. The transload area was nothing fancy, just a gravel lot located off of West Maple Ave, with easy access for tractor trailer trucks. Several pneumatic trailers were parked in the lot, and they also had a mobile conveyor to unload hopper cars. Two sidings served the transload facility with the gravel lot located between the two tracks. This facility would be very easy to model and could add a lot of operations in a tight space. Depending on the companies that use the facility, cars might have to be moved and re-spotted to access empty cars that need to be pulled while other cars are waiting to be offloaded by the customer. This turns a simple pull and spot switch job into a more complex operation as it will require extra moves to get all the outbound cars gathered up. All of this adds time and enhances operations on a small layout.
The second transload area was located just east of the Aberdeen and Rockfish Railroad maintenance facility. This transload area was again nothing complex, a gravel road and unloading area along the track with a portable conveyor is all that it took to offload the cars.
One interesting note is that the portable conveyor was positioned on top of a switch. Any excess material that fell off of the conveyor catch basin would fall between the points of the switch, making extra work for someone to shovel out before they could throw the switch. This small transloading operation would be easy to model and add an interesting industry on your layout without taking up much space.
Recently Trucks N’ Stuff has come out with a HO scale pneumatic dry bulk trailer that is perfect for modelers to have at their transload facilities. The model has very nice detail and has options for numerous company names and paint schemes, so you can replicate what is appropriate for the area you model. In addition, Mini Prints has developed a 3D resin printed portable conveyor (listed on the website as a portable auger) that would make a great detail to add to your transload facilty.
All you need to do is find some space along a siding, and make a gravel lot for the transload facility. These facilities receive a wide variety of cars, and make for an interesting compact industry on your layout.
Until next time, stay safe, and keep model railroading.