MODELING: Packing Up Your Stuff

cnj autobox

I have started to pack up my models for the trip to Arizona.  Packing up delicate models to survive a 900 mile trip in a car does require some thought and planning.   Over the years, I have packed up many models for customers and to friends.   One thing that has worked for me is to make a simple cardboard “taco” to capture the model so it doesn’t move in a shipping box.  Sunset Models used (uses) a wood plank to support a locomotive that was wrapped in padded paper.  The models were taped to the board preventing the model from sliding or bouncing inside the box.

card frame

I start by making the “taco shell” out of corrugated cardboard.   I sized the cardboard for a 40′ freight car which is 11.5″ long, 3.5″ and 3″ wide.   Make two cuts to create the 3.5″ side and 3″ width.   Fold to create the “taco”.  I make a “board”  less than 3″ wide.  Wrap the model in paper towels and tape closed.   Place the model on the board and tape it in-place.   Fold shell and tape the top and ends to capture the model.

card base

card taco

I found a mailing box at Staples that measures 12″ x 9″ x 4″  It will hold found cars with a little packing paper to stop movement.   The boxes are not being shipped in a the moving van since the temperatures inside the van would destroy the models.  I am renting a minivan from Jim Gaffigan.

card box

I found the picture shown below of a model that Robert Leners was building before he decided to switch to On3.  The depot is nice rendering of the Soo Line Sussex, WI depot.   It is one of my favorite depots.  I sure wish that Robert had finished the model.


Model by Robert Leners

Happy Trails,


3 thoughts on “MODELING: Packing Up Your Stuff

  1. Since I do not have a layout I have always used a similar solution for freight cars. I used a banker box capable of holding 9 freight cars, separated as you have. I find that storing them as they would naturally sit, on their wheels separated by the coupler to buffer them, as they would riding the rails. They nicely survived a trip from Indiana to San Diego. The Banker Box is number 706 and measures 24x9x4. I recall taking them in a minivan, along with my brass models, packed in the original boxes, or a carrying case. I did ship some built models, and some HO in smaller versions, wrapped in a similar way and they were fine in a moving van. Of course, it was may, not July. Structure models take a different requirement. Mostly you have to anticipate load shift. If you can stabilize them, then they should survive nicely. Crumpled paper makes a fine stabilizer, so long as the model is not heavy, and there is no shifting when testing the box. Movers are usually good about understanding and preventing load shift as well, so it should be a relatively easy journey in a moving truck as well. Point is to anticipate movement and if packing multiple cars in one box, make sure they are lined up as they would be on tracks. After all, they are designed for movement. Of course, be prepared to address some small detail repair. Good luck with your move!

    • Moving O scale structures can be a real problem. In 2000, I moved 400 miles to a new house in a U-Haul truck. Some structures like a long icing platform or turntable were enclosed in cut up and taped boxes to fit. But, most of the building type structures were put into a very large box that was then filled with those plastic peanuts. In packing, the structures were separated from the box and each other by loose peanuts. The models remained in that box for a few years while the basement was finished out and the layout construction began. Still have the box and peanuts and just this month dug out two structures that I’d forgotten about since they didn’t fit in the new layout scheme.


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