early Intermodal Car Kit

N Scale Kits are tooling the Flexi-Van Mk II Intermodal car kit.

As trailer-on-flat-car (TOFC) service evolved in the late 50s, many roads began trying to cut costs, opening the door to new ideas. Among these was the Flexi Van system, first tested by the New York Central in 1957. Another system used by some roads was the Clejan Spine car system already produced in N Scale by N Scale Kits.

Designed to speed loading and unloading, the Flexi-Van design used a special turntable and a 36' or 40' trailer with a removable wheel assembly called a bogie. In operation, the trailer on its bogie was first aligned with the turntable and backed into place. The bogie was then unlocked and the trailer slid aboard the Flexi-Van car. Once in position, a pin locked the trailer to the turntable, which was turned to the loaded position using the on-board hydraulics.

The NYC introduced its Flexi-Van cars and trailers in 1958. These were low profile skeleton cars, designed to meet clearance restriction on the NYC and carry two trailer units.

Early cars handled only 36' units, but as 40' was quickly becoming the standard length for highway trailers, the later Mark II models carried a 36 and a 40' unit; some Mark III and Mark IV cars built from 1961 to 1968 carried two 40' units. It is the Mark II cars that N Scale Kits will be producing.

Lighter and lower than standard TOFC cars, the unique Flexi-Van design proved well suited for high-speed operation and many cars were rebuilt so they could be moved in both freight and passenger service and the system eventually proved most popular for handling mail including head end cars. A number of roads used the Flexi-Van cars including the CB&Q, IC, MILW, WP and more.

The rapid rise of containers, the acceptance of industry-wide methods for moving trailers on flat cars and the unusual design of the Flexi-Van system ended the Flexi-Van service by the early 1970's.

The N Scale Kit cars will be cast in metal, and therefore have a very low centre of gravity and sufficient weight to track very well even when not loaded.

The grabs and steps will be produced in etched stainless steel.

The kit will comprise of a single Flexi-Van spine to which all the fittings, including the container turntables are glued/placed. CA is recommended. Simple hand tools are required for assembly

The pre production Flexi-Van is now here and shown below; the produiction cars are expected by January 2013 and will be shown here.

Photograph by NYC of their vans in service

The pre production N Scale Kits Flexi-Van Mark II car.

There is a chapter describing FlexiVan service in Brian Soloman's book 'Intermodal Railroading' (2007) St Paul, Voyageur Press, accompanied by an excellent series of photgraphs of loading the FlexiVan containers onto the Mark II Vans by Jim Shaughnessy.

We expect that the Flexi-Van 36' and 40' containers will be available for these cars.

Decals for the cars in NYC paint scheme will be available, and for a number of different paint scheme Flexi-Van containers.

For the trucks we will be suggesting MTL 1033, with body mount couplers

Other Intermodal Cars

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