Author Topic: Storing trains and structures in an attic?  (Read 744 times)

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nuno81291

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Storing trains and structures in an attic?
« on: October 26, 2021, 07:35:40 PM »
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Hello TRW,

We moved to a new house and unfortunately trains will be boxed up for some time. I have a walk up attic that isn’t climate controlled and was wondering what advice you Asshats may have for long term storage of rolling stock/locos and structures? I plan to finish the attic next year and it will be the new layout space, but in the mean time I would like to get my boxes where our 2 large dogs do not pose a hazard. Any advice on this? Guess I was mostly worried about cold/heat and unchecked humidity fluctuations doing damage to plastics and loco mechanisms.
Guilford Rail System in the 80s/90s

Maletrain

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Re: Storing trains and structures in an attic?
« Reply #1 on: October 26, 2021, 08:32:47 PM »
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It really depends on what climate your house is located in. 

Dry cold isn't likely a problem.  Moist heat is definitely a problem. 

You might be able to get away with moist cold if it is only over one winter.  But, as a guy who once thought he was going to finish the "new" attic for a big train layout, I can tell you that too many years have dragged by due to "distracting events" for any of my stuff to have survived up there.  Fortunately, it has been in boxes in my bedroom, not that attic.

I do keep some of my stuff at our club, where the air conditioning and heating is turned on only when members are present.  So, it does get uncomfortably warm and cold, but the humidity is no where near as bad as an unfinished attic and the temperatures never get as hot in the club as they do in my unfinished attic.  The locos in the club seem to tolerate those conditions.

So, I think the proper answer to your question really depends on how extreme the conditions in your attic are likely to get before you can finish it enough to control its temperature and humidity.


samusi01

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Re: Storing trains and structures in an attic?
« Reply #2 on: October 26, 2021, 10:11:29 PM »
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Regarding locomotives, I tend to try and store them on their wheels… I’ve found that locomotives that have been sitting for ages in stores and whatnot often have lubricant that has gradually flowed down and ended up on the lower side of the shell.

Point353

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Re: Storing trains and structures in an attic?
« Reply #3 on: October 26, 2021, 11:40:42 PM »
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The following study showed that the temperature extremes encountered in an ocean shipping container, on a trip from Japan to the USA, were a maximum of +135°F/+57°C and a minimum of -21°F/-29°C. Relative humidity varied from 32% to 96%.
How does that compare to the worst case conditions in your attic?
https://interdry.wordpress.com/2012/01/27/ocean-container-temperature-and-humidity-study-2/

Rivet Miscounter

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Re: Storing trains and structures in an attic?
« Reply #4 on: October 26, 2021, 11:43:17 PM »
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My advice is a climate controlled storage unit.

Admittedly, we don't know a lot of details but that is what I would overwhelmingly recommend.   The smallest is about the size of a large closet and runs about $60/month for climate controlled in our area.  About $90 gets you a 5x10.    Not chump change for sure, but you can likely store a few ancillary items in there as well that will take some of the pressure off any other storage issues you may have.

I have stored trains in attics before...one was semi-protected by attic fans that did "barely enough", until they didn't and it cost me.   Not a lot...ruined some Walthers metal stack cars and a few other similar items.   But I think the damage was minimal only because I caught it fairly quickly.   Of course that was during a north Texas summer.

If you have space but the sole concern is the dogs, buy some heavy duty tubs to put things in.   Get a doggie corral/fence and stack the tubs inside if they're big time chewers.
Doug

nkalanaga

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Re: Storing trains and structures in an attic?
« Reply #5 on: October 27, 2021, 01:52:36 AM »
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Even better, get one of the "indoor kennel cages", designed for large dogs, and put the trains in that.  If it will keep a dog IN, it should also keep the dog OUT!
N Kalanaga
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mmagliaro

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Re: Storing trains and structures in an attic?
« Reply #6 on: October 27, 2021, 02:50:49 AM »
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I don't know what your temperature extremes are.  When I lived in Pennsylvania, the attic got beastly hot in the summer (well over 100 when it was in the 80s outside), and mid 20s cold in the bitter cold winter (around 0 F outside).  Even though things like Christmas decorations survived year after year up there without damage, I would never have trusted my trains
to those extremes.   I'd find a way to box them up in totes on the lower floors to keep them safe from the dogs.
As for the extremes on a cargo ship, yes I can believe it gets that bad.  But on the ship, the stuff isn't there for months at a time, year after year.  There is damage that happens right away from extreme temperatures, but I'd be more inclined to worry about the damage that long-term exposure causes - especially heat.

Maletrain

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Re: Storing trains and structures in an attic?
« Reply #7 on: October 27, 2021, 07:29:50 AM »
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Regarding the conditions in shipping containers, there are a few more aspects to consider.

First, I expect the merchandise is packaged in a manner that is protective of whatever parameters are a hazard to that specific type of merchandise.  So, for model locomotives, I expect they are at least wrapped in that individual plastic shrink stuff that we tear off as soon as we get it in our own doors.  Plus, the whole pallet is probably wrapped in plastic.  This probably limits the humidity that a model loco actually sees inside its jewel case during transit. 

Second, the containers on the top of the high stack of containers on a ships deck probably see a lot more peak heat and thermal cycling than the ones on the bottom, not to mention the ones below decks in the ship's hold.

Third, there is often "loss" of merchandise during shipping, which runs the gamete from going over the side in the middle of the ocean to having handling damage and maybe water intrusion from handling damage.  So, it isn't clear that some model railroad stuff doesn't get damaged during shipping.  Remember the posts with videos of the 1:1 locos being dropped on the docks?

I think you will get more useful advice here about what has happened to people who put their model railroad stuff in attics.

NtheBasement

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Re: Storing trains and structures in an attic?
« Reply #8 on: October 27, 2021, 08:23:17 AM »
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OP is in Massachusetts.  I agree with what has already been posted - not a problem in the winter but summer heat will bend plastic.  A few of the polystyrene building kits that I bought had walls that were no longer flat and sprues that were no longer straight.
Moving coal the old way: https://youtu.be/RWJVt4r_pgc
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JMaurer1

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Re: Storing trains and structures in an attic?
« Reply #9 on: October 27, 2021, 10:55:30 AM »
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Calif here but I had some trains that I was storing in the top shelf of a closet. When I went to get them out after a year or two, there was heat damage. Several cars (in this case it just happened to be some O scale cars that I got because it was the RR I model) were melted beyond saving. Never thought that would happen in a climate controlled closet. I can only imagine what would happen in an attic (if you live in an area where it would get hot enough). 
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davefoxx

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Re: Storing trains and structures in an attic?
« Reply #10 on: October 27, 2021, 12:45:55 PM »
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Don't do it.  Depending on where you live, you might be surprised by how hot it can get in the attic.

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Dwight in Toronto

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Re: Storing trains and structures in an attic?
« Reply #11 on: October 30, 2021, 09:54:30 PM »
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As my “signature” implies, I’m in Toronto, and if the OP is in Massachusetts he is in a similar climate zone.
I would never put model railroad items in an attic in these latitudes - the summer extremes are damaging indeed. We had stored some children’s toys in our attic for five years or so. When I finally brought them down for our grandkids, many of the plastic items literally crumbled like wafer cookies. So yeah, don’t do it.

nkalanaga

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Re: Storing trains and structures in an attic?
« Reply #12 on: October 31, 2021, 12:58:00 AM »
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Will the boxes go under a bed?  Large dogs shouldn't be a problem, especially if there's no odor to attract them.
N Kalanaga
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