Ramblings of a frustrated armchair Railway Modeller

Everyone is entitled to my opinion, so I've decided to enter the blog-o-sphere in order to share them with you.
My focus is the rationale and development of my model railway, but I am likely to wander off topic from time to time.

Monday, December 20, 2010

On30 Rail Truck - Toyota RAV/4 Galloping Goose Cube Van.

At local NG model railroading meet, I was talking about making modern NG equipment. I like early steam and transition era railroading as much as the next guy, but I feel like this has been done to death. The bonus is that if it hasn’t been done before, there are no rivets to count.

I really like Galloping Geese and my thoughts on the subject of modern Galloping Geese are as follows:

It was suggested that a Lincoln Navigator or Ford Explorer be used. This is fine as far as it goes, but these are luxury automobiles. Not the sort of thing you would find on a shoestring budget NG railroad.

For Articulated Geese, I would choose something in a half-ton truck or van such as a Ford F150 as the motive power for the sake of size and utility, or perhaps, a GMC Suburban 1500. Any Box Car or passenger car would be suitable, but I was thinking that a fifth wheel trailer or perhaps and old Air Stream Trailer would be better. If I decided to haul trains behind this type of motive power, then I would consider something with more horsepower like the Ford F450/F550 diesel, but additional ballast-weight would be needed to enhance the tractive ability.

For smaller Geese, I think that more compact trucks and vans are appropriate. A Ford Ranger, Chevy S10 or perhaps Toyota Tacoma comes to mind. Anything in the quarter-ton range… For Non-articulated Geese, you can go even smaller with the motive power.

Relative HP is another consideration. The larger trucks have several-hundred-horse-power under their hoods. When you look at on road use for these vehicles, that much power is needed. A regular asphalt roadway may consist of upwards of 40% grades. On rails, however, you are facing much gentler slopes to be sure. I did a little research, and I found that the RGS Galloping Geese were running with only about 30 - 60 hp. I also read recently that Class 1 railroads only required 1 or 2 hp per ton on level track. It takes a lot less power to move the same load on steel rails with free rolling trucks than rubber tires on bumpy hilly asphalt.

The Toyota RAV/4 has 120 bhp under the hood. This is plenty of power for a small M of W truck. The Lincoln Navigator has almost twice the power at 230 bhp, which seems like overkill by comparison.

This brings me to the choice of the Toyota RAV/4 Galloping Goose. This first reason was cost and availability… I picked up the die cast model at the dollar store across the street from my house. ;-) Seriously though, it’s a neat little car and it fits right in on a modern NG railroad. There is no indication of what make or model the car is, but after looking around, it seems to closely resemble the Toyota RAV/4 2-door short wheel base car. I don’t know the scale either, but it looks O scale to me. It’s a case of “close enough”. I started out wanting to make it into a speeder but I couldn’t find a decent mechanism for it that would fit. I’m sure that there are plenty available, but none that were in my price range. (Free.)

I found an old Play Art HO/OO 0-4-0 mechanism in a box that a friend had given me. Part of the chassis was broken and so was the shell. The motor runs fine, and with some imagination and styrene I went to work. It has a can motor and a single worm gear to axle gear drive. Perhaps at a later date the motor will be upgraded with the addition of more gearing and a flywheel will be added for better operation. But for the time being, I will be happy that it runs at all…

I decided on a fiberglass cube van configuration. The front rides on an HO 33” Bettendorf freight truck and the rear is a single axle with O scale ~ 30” wheels. I want to modify the rear wheels to disguise that they came from a steam engine. I may end up hiding the rear wheels behind outside frame springs and brake shoes as well as adding sanding hoses. The box represents a scale 18’ fiberglass cube 7 ½’ tall by 7 ¾’ wide with a roll up rear door.

To complete this model I want to:

- Add pilot/plow, headlights and coupler to front.
- Foot boards and grab irons on sides.
- Air tanks and fuel tanks under cube along with brake lines and other hoses.
- Marker lights and reflectors to cube.
- Rear bumper with trailer hitches and coupler. Perhaps a small chase-car.
- Various detail parts like ladders, chains and tools on sides and roof.
- Driver and perhaps a passenger.
- Paint, decals and other lettering.
- Various other detail parts as they come to mind.


  1. Hello Ron. I like the blog...

    It never occurred to me to try a 'galloping goose' but I can see how it would make sense on a modern US line. We never went for them in Europe so I'm not sure what the equivalent would be. Probably something like a VW Bus.

  2. Hi Andy,

    Thanks! Yes, a VW railbus or a Uni-MOG would be the European equivalents. Or, perhaps a M/B Cargo Sprinter would be ideal for modern image.

    This was my first foray into On30 scratch building back in 2003. It also helped me to realize that O scale was too big to accommodate ISO shipping containers and larger equipment that I would want in Modern Image.

    So I'm reverting back to HO Scale, but on 12mm gauge track [HOm / HOn42]

    It also helped bring me to the realization that dedicated railcars would be supplanted by High-Railers. So that will be one of my future projects.