Building an Undercar Rollout


No room next to your railway car for a forklift? No room in your budget for a forklift? Not to worry. These notes describe how to build a handy little piece of equipment, we call the Undercar Rollout, that will allow you to insert and remove equipment under your car with ease. One person can install a generator set, airconditioner, water tanks, etc. by themself. Removal is just as easy. Clearance required, under the car, is only 4", while beside the car is only 4-5' so you should be able to use it almost anywhere.

The two main pieces of steel required are the two rails, a pair of ten foot lengths of wide flange beam (W 4" x 13#) cut from a 20' section. The carriage bolsters are cut from three 20' lengths of I-beam (I 4" x 9.5#). We use four different lengths (i.e. 10', 8', 6' and 4'), to give us plenty of flexibility in the width of the piece of equipment that we can handle but you can use whatever lengths you wish (the four lengths mentioned can be cut from three 20' pieces of I-beam [leaving two, 2' drops, which make nice anvils, incidentally]).

You'll also require some lengths of 1" x 1" square tube (four 20' lengths, if you make all of the bolsters), two lengths of angle (L 1" x 1" x 1/8"), a piece of flat (4" x 1/2"), a piece of bar (2" x 3/4"), two pieces of channel (C 4" x 7.25# and C 2" x 2.57#), and a small piece of 4" x 1/4" strip (for the jacking pads -- or you could use some of the left over 4" x 1/2" flat, if you have no 4" x 1/4" lying around). Probably three to four hundred bucks for the steel.

We used plastic wheels (Grainger part #1A198) which give the rollout a load limit of approximately 1 ton (so far, we haven't blown up a set of wheels). You can use steel wheels for more load, if you wish. All of the bolts should be Gr. 5 or 8, whatever you have in the parts bin.

The drawing Tools_RollOut can be downloaded and viewed with Acrobat.

This drawing shows an overview of the assembly plus a couple of sketches of the cutting and assembly sequence for the key parts. Cut them out with Mr. Torch and Mr. Chopsaw and glue them all together using your favorite stick (e.g. E6011 or E7018). I shot a couple of coats of epoxy (e.g. International Orange, Grainger #6A932) onto everything. You can see pictures of the rollout in action on the Canal Car Mechanical page.