It’s that time of year again when I build the newest batch of Freight Crates from Fast Tracks to carry cars to RPM Chicagoland as well as store them until they’re in use on the layout that, (fingers crossed) will be up and running in early 2019.
For a few years now, I’ve had a couple of bits of difficulty with my crates, but in my book there isn’t a better option on the market for storing and protecting equipment. About 6 years ago I had things in large cardboard boxes that are made to store and transport cars. During a move, 95% of my equipment, including locomotives, were smashed to the point of unrecoverable. After moving over to using Freight Crates, I have taken cars to multiple RPM’s and not broken anything, so the protection is sound.
The issues I’ve had surround two items. 1. The locking tabs on the bottom of the crates have a tendency to brake off. During repeated opening and closing of the crates, I’ve broken more than one. 2. Getting the locking tabs to not become glued in place during construction is difficult (for me), 3. Getting crates to open when the lid slides all the way down to the bottom can be difficult. Humidity and air temperature can affect how things slide.
So when I set out this year to build my newest batch, I decided on two things. First, if I could avoid using the locking tabs, because I don’t really need those, I would. Second, if I could solve the opening issues by figuring out a way to add leverage for my fingers I would do that as well.
The first part that solves both of my first two issues was easy. I simply build the bottom of the crates following the directions and leave out the locking tabs. The way I handle the crates I always have a hand on the bottom anyway. Replacing the locking tabs with a pair of stout rubber bands around the crate wound’t hurt either, or I may wind up adding some velcro straps to the sides to keep the lids on. Either way, without the tabs, there is no frustration and the crates still stack.
Solving the lid-opening issue took a little more thought. What I decided to do was to set my Bladerunner table saw to have a 1.5″ cut. Then I ran the parts for the sides and ends of the lid through there before assembly. Once cut, I used a sanding sponge to just knock down any “hair” from the bald that was raised on the hardboard material, and assembled the top following the rest of the instructions. I use blue painters tape to hold everything in place while I’m gluing and assembling both the top and bottom. I find it works nicely to hold joints together, but peels off with ease once things are dry.
The end result is a Freight Crate that I can lift the lid off of easily, that stacks, and that protects my equipment. This modification isn’t for everyone, but for me, it works. The same modification I made to the new crates I can make carefully to the existing set, at least to the lids, with the saw, so they function just as easily.
I have a bunch of cars to finish if I’m going to make my deadlines this year, so it’s probably time to get back to the workbench!