The 8 Walther's Extendable Container Chassis kits I purchased have now been built, painted and ready for service. The chassis is a generic model of a common prototype found in service through out the Country.
Longer and heavier containers introduced in the 1980's led to the need for new railroad equipment and new types of chassis for moving containers by truck. Most containers up to this point were 20' or 40'. New containers however were being built in 45' and 48' lengths. To overcome the need to build a suitable chassis for each 40', 45' and 48' container the extendable container chassis was developed. This saved the railroads both money and space. No need to buy a fleet in each length and have a fleet ready to go at each terminal.
The Walther's model is a pretty straight forward build with decent directions, a good drawing and parts diagram. The kits are basic plastic with rubber tires and metal axles. The frame castings left a bit to be desired and required a good amount of sanding to remove unnecessary ridges and parting lines. Failure to adequately sand the frames will lead to a leaning chassis.
*For model railroading purposes the placing of chassis around the terminal and next to a train / container is an excellent way to model the intermodal container train to truck interface. On Intermodal Ramps Intermodal Service Workers or ISWs are responsible for the lifting of the containers, the movement of containers within the ramp boundaries, the marrying of the right container to the right chassis and the recording of said marriage. Agreements between container companies and chassis fleet owners vary so not every container can go on every chassis of the appropriate size. JB Hunt Containers are the easiest as they ship only on a JB Hunt chassis.
A long double stack container train arriving at an Intermodal Ramp and the ensuing action are basically poetry in motion when done right. Once the train is safe to work, blue flag protected and switches locked an ISW groundsman (a tough job) will mount the train and begin to unlock the inter box connectors used to hold the upper and lower containers together. Using a computer in the ISW yard tractor a senior ISW will assign the other ISWs in their team the task of finding the right chassis in the storage yards and spotting it next to the appropriate rail car. As the containers are removed from the train and placed on the waiting chassis the truck operators will begin to remove the container chassis combo from the ramp noting the lower container in the well.. The groundsman meanwhile is removing the IBCs from the lower container and storing them on the rail car.The combo is then parked and the spot recorded. The operator then returns to the ramp with an empty chassis for the remaining container in the rail car. When all containers to be removed have been unloaded the truck operators finish parking the container chassis combos. At this point the train and ramp are ready to switch to outbound.
Starting at one end the operators will find the outbound containers in the parking area(s) and place them adjacent the receiving rail car. The crane operator lifts the container into or onto the rail car and proceeds along the train lifting and placing the waiting containers. The groundsman follows along inserting the IBCS. Empty chassis are removed and the next process starts all over again for the upper containers. The groundsman then goes the entire train and locks all the IBCs.
These trains are usually on a very tight schedule and all efforts are made to ensure the departure is on time even if the train was a late arrival at the terminal ramp.