|Some doodles came in from the PoNY Marine Shops just before bed last night.|
Something I hinted at a few posts ago was the desire to have an operating car float service for the PoNY, and late last night I received some initial sketches from the PoNY Marine Shops.
Much of the "staging" is going to happen via car float service since most of the layout will be comprised of isolated pocket yards. To get traffic to and from the different parts of the layout, it will be necessary to move car floats around just like the prototype situation in the harbor.
This may be a wild hare, but wouldn't it be fun to pilot those car floats to and from the different destinations?
The idea is pretty simple, but the execution may be a bit tricky. Calling on some experience in radio control cars, I bet I could get a pilotable car float and tug boat service working for about $600. Using the chassis from an R/C truck with modified suspension (a lot stiffer for the increased load) as the basis for a lightweight aluminum cart with a tug boat mounted on top of one and car floats mounted on others. The idea is to be able to steer the tug boat cart to the car floats, have it lock in place and push/pull the car float carts around to the different pocket terminals of the PoNY.
The tricks will be in the wheels of the car float carts that should function as omni-directional as possible to simulate being on the water. The tug boat cart will steer like a truck, which I think is fine. Docking will also be interesting, and some sort of mechanical capture system like a hitch assembly with an adjustable connection at the float bridge/car float possibly using magnets to hold things tightly while working the float. These could have power feeds attached in order to allow locomotives onto the floats (which did happen). Install a Dallee or similar tug boat sound system that is tied into the R/C, and viola! an operating car float service.
Lateral stability will be an issue when the tug and car float carts are separated, but when they are together, they will have a wide stance. Weight may be an issue for the R/C power system, but that should just be a matter of finding a hefty large scale motor and chassis assembly. I'm not too worried about this aspect, as the aluminum construction will make for a stiff, yet very light load for the drive system. Another potential sticking point is the car float wheels. It would be ideal to have large casters or wheels that are independent and easy to change directions with.Conceptually, large ball bearings that have totally free 360 degree movement would be best. This may take some searching for anything with these qualities.
So that seems easy enough, eh? I'll keep doodling and get some input from you all and my go-to engineering buddies here in town. I'm thinking I should build at least one other pocket terminal before tackling this so that it has someplace to go. I just have to decide which one as I am ready to try a Gatorboard and aluminum baseboard structure for easy deployment/removal and possible transport of the next yard around the house and to shows. Stay tuned for updates as this project develops.