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Proper Car Weight

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Proper Car Weight
Posted by BEAUSABRE on Friday, June 5, 2020 4:24 PM

NMRA Recommended Practice 20.1 sets out the proper weight by scale and length of car for model railroad rolling stock. My club tests every item of equipment proposed to be operated on the club layout for conformance to the applicable standards and RP's to ensure good operation. OK, I'm fine with that. But I have a problem with car weights. I was just reading a review in MR and the car is almost dead on in its dimensions, has RP 25 contour wheels on needle point axles in easily swiveling trucks, the couplers are mounted at proper height, it operates through common turnout numbers and curve radii and has smooth paint work and seperate grab irons and is properly lettered to the point you need to use a magnifying glass to read the fine print. Truly, we are blessed to have such quality products at reasonable (not inexpensive, but not too many years ago, this would have been a contest quality model) prices. Then why oh why, ye Deities Above, does the car not meet RP 20.1....Yes, I know, "Just and some washers, lead fishing weights, etc", but why should we have to. Fortunately, the roof of this boxcar came off easily for the reviwer to bring it up to snuff but I've encountered plenty of equipment where getting inside and adding weight was a problem. So from now on, I'm writing to the manufacturer and letting him know that I have a problem with his products and requesting he change his ways. Your opinions, please.

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Posted by NittanyLion on Friday, June 5, 2020 4:37 PM

A recommended practice is not a standard, so there's no requirement to meet it.

There's a degree of personal taste in the weight of rolling stock in the first place.  We're not talking about the track gauge, which is a standard because otherwise the whole things doesn't work in the first place.  An overweight or underweight car can still work perfectly fine.

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Posted by IRONROOSTER on Friday, June 5, 2020 4:46 PM

Manufacturers are all over the place on car weights.  Some are over, many are under, and some are meet the RP.  I would say the most likely is underweight.

But some people like them light because they can run longer trains. 

Others like them heavy because they track better and behave better during switching.

Personally, I  try to have all of mine meet the RP.

Paul

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Posted by dknelson on Friday, June 5, 2020 6:05 PM

Ironically the greater respect for prototype accuracy in detailing, including frames and underbody detail, puts the modern day manufacturer in something of a tough spot -- the usual places for weight have been "already occupied" by brake and other details.  And more people seem to yell about missing or incorrect detail than do about inadequate weight.

The second irony is that some of today's super wonderful freight cars are so delicately detailed that modifications of almost any sort come at a heavy price.  I just tried to add the required cushion underframe extended coupler pocket to one of these expensively detailed RTR cars and really did a number on the delicate sill/stirrup steps, the corner grabs on the running board laterals, and the air hose.  I'm afraid I'll do more damage when I add the Plano etched metal "trombone" style lift lever.  I'd probably destroy the whole thing if I tried to pry off the roof to add weight.

On the positive side we just had some roof work done and this involved replacing the two "vent pipes" on the roof which turned out to be more or less solid sheet lead.  I often replace the sheet steel weights in freight car kits with lead to get up to NMRA standards (and yes I take precautions including painting the lead thoroghly and washing my hands thoroughly).  

Dave Nelson

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Posted by sandjam on Friday, June 5, 2020 6:30 PM

BEAUSABRE
So from now on, I'm writing to the manufacturer and letting him know that I have a problem with his products and requesting he change his ways. Your opinions, please.

My opinion is you're

just pissing and moaning.

Mainly fishing.

Find a hobby that fits your expectations.

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Posted by BigDaddy on Friday, June 5, 2020 6:42 PM

The post before mine is gonna to get deleted. Big Smile

I watch a lot of youtube video reviews and my take is that weight is less in error than coupler height.  Weight is a guideline, but Kadee set a standard with coupler height.  Even more so on a locomotive that costs a couple hundred dollars.

Henry

COB Potomac & Northern

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Posted by tstage on Friday, June 5, 2020 6:49 PM

BEAUSABRE
...but why should we have to.

You don't have to; you choose to.

The only piece of rolling stock I've found that generally needs weighted are flat cars.  Otherwise, they derail at the blink of an eye.  All other rolling stock in my fleet is good enough as is.

But...whatever boats your float.

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Posted by SeeYou190 on Friday, June 5, 2020 7:05 PM

I have never followed the NMRA RP for weight.

Mine is very simple:

1) 40 feet and less: 4 ounces

2) 50 feet: 5 ounces

3) 60 feet and longer: 6 ounces

Everything works just fine, and I do not need to do any math.

Since I build 90% of my freight cars from kits, this is just part of the process of assembly.

-Kevin

Wink Happily modeling my STRATTON & GILLETTE RAILROAD. A Class A line located in a personal fantasy world of semi-plausible nonsense on Tuesday, August 3rd, 1954.

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Posted by RR_Mel on Friday, June 5, 2020 7:50 PM

As far as I’m concerned if a freight car doesn’t have a problem I don’t even check the weight.  If it has problems I dig into it.  Rarely is there a problem with weight.  I’m a firm believer in “if it ain’t broke don’t fix it”.

I don’t have many cars freight or passenger.  I have a small layout and not enough track to run long trains, 120’ of mainline in a twice-around.  My freight consist of about 30 cars and passengers have 11 cars. 

Because I’m really into passenger car detail I do add weight to them, normally 2oz over the NMRA standard.  I power the lighting from the baggage car and all cars have jumper wires hidden in the diaphragms.  The extra weight helps keep the cars from uncoupling and derailing do to the diaphragms and wiring.

All of my locomotives have a lot of drawbar so the extra weigh isn’t a problem even on my 3½% grades. 



Mel



 
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Posted by BRAKIE on Friday, June 5, 2020 8:00 PM

I have never followed RP20.1 and never will. When RP20.1 was introduce it was surely needed because a lot of plastic cars like Hobbyline and Varney didn't come with any weight or was built from wood kits that was light. 

As a side note if you wanted to use those Hobbyline cars you had to buy trucks that would roll like Central Valley.

The majority of today's cars come weigh close to or matches RP20.1.

 

Larry

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Posted by SeeYou190 on Friday, June 5, 2020 9:46 PM

RR_Mel
As far as I’m concerned if a freight car doesn’t have a problem I don’t even check the weight. If it has problems I dig into it. Rarely is there a problem with weight

I think you make a great point Mel. I adjust my weights because I build my freight cars from kits, but if I was buying Ready-To-Run models, I certainly would not re-kit them to adjust weight if there was no problem.

I doubt there has been many occassions where a freight car did not run correctly, and ALL it needed was a weight adjustment.

I would bet fair money that any 40 foot boxcar would run OK if it had Kadee wheels, trucks, and couplers, and weighed anywhere from 1.5 ounces to 8 ounces.

As others mentioned, people that run long trains or steep grades might want to adjust low.

-Kevin

Wink Happily modeling my STRATTON & GILLETTE RAILROAD. A Class A line located in a personal fantasy world of semi-plausible nonsense on Tuesday, August 3rd, 1954.

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Posted by wvg_ca on Friday, June 5, 2020 9:55 PM

I run close to the RP weight, in most cases... A lot of mine run in the 2 1/2 per cent grade area, and it's all smaller stuff [1890 era] so no long cars ..

All have Kadees, Intermountain metal wheels, and mostly Tichy archbar trucks ..

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Posted by BRAKIE on Saturday, June 6, 2020 5:19 AM

SeeYou190
I would bet fair money that any 40 foot boxcar would run OK if it had Kadee whe

Kevin, For around 20 years I used stock Athearn trucks on my Roundhouse 40' boxcars.. Both BB and Roundhouse cars was stock weight and I had zero detailments. 

After changing eras around 2000 I still used BB and Roundhouse stock wheelsets.

I started a slow change over to metal wheels starting in 2012 after returning to HO from  N Scale.. 

Larry

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Posted by csxns on Saturday, June 6, 2020 8:42 AM

tstage
rolling stock I've found that generally needs weighted are flat cars. 

And some Walthers tank cars.

Russell

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Posted by olequa on Saturday, June 6, 2020 9:21 AM

SeeYou190

I have never followed the NMRA RP for weight.

Mine is very simple:

1) 40 feet and less: 4 ounces

2) 50 feet: 5 ounces

3) 60 feet and longer: 6 ounces

Everything works just fine, and I do not need to do any math.

Since I build 90% of my freight cars from kits, this is just part of the process of assembly.

-Kevin

 

I had been following Joe Fugate's rule which is 1 oz per each 10 scale feet of car length. I like yours better.

George

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Posted by rrebell on Saturday, June 6, 2020 9:52 AM

Manufactures don't follow NMRA rules nor should we neccisarily. As was said there used to be a time when just getting good trucks was an issue. Even the old Ertl cars run great if you change out the wheels and they had a few issues. I have gone through different weighting in my years, from NMRA standards to heavy (so the sprung trucks would move up and down on rough track) to anything that rolls well. Real railroad cars weigh varring amounts which changes with if they are loaded or not and what loaded with. Clubs set up standards because they want uniformity so that you can pick up any car which will work with any other car. On a home layout you can go with say light cars on the back or whatever works, it is part of the switching puzzle, if you just run trains then maybe you want a standard weight but even then it dose not have to be exact and some cars if unloaded will never make it to the proper weight even if rebuilt.

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Posted by wrench567 on Saturday, June 6, 2020 10:10 AM

I only add weight to my locomotives. I have flats with no added weight except for trucks and couplers. The RP was introduced when track and wheels were so bad cars needed to be heavy to stay on the track. Also sharp curves, bad turnout frogs and sectional trackwork that would not allow easements would stringline trains. Better to fix lousy trackwork than to add a ton of drag.

 Just my opinion.

 My former club had an S curve that would derail most trains. Some guys would add weight and still have problems. I spent a weekend and fixed the track and also removed a dip that would uncouple cars. From then on there were 0 derailments. I could run  empty unweighted flats on the tender coupler followed by 48 to 50 hoppers behind at speed.

  Think of your trackwork as the foundation of a building. No matter what you do above it, it's still may collapse without a good foundation.

    Pete.

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Posted by SeeYou190 on Saturday, June 6, 2020 10:30 AM

wrench567
Think of your trackwork as the foundation of a building. No matter what you do above it, it's still may collapse without a good foundation.

Many have commented that I overbuild benchwork and roadbed, but it IS THE foundation of everything.

I agree 100%. Skimp elsewhere.

-Kevin

Wink Happily modeling my STRATTON & GILLETTE RAILROAD. A Class A line located in a personal fantasy world of semi-plausible nonsense on Tuesday, August 3rd, 1954.

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Posted by selector on Saturday, June 6, 2020 10:53 AM

I rarely add any weight to my rolling stock.  If I find that stringlining has become a problem in a consist, I'll take a closer look at the two or three cars where the derailment took place.  As the previous two posters have agreed, get the trackwork right and you'll eliminate several limiting factors for the reliability and fun of operations.

But, each of us has to come to terms with our designs and with our trains' ability to haul some trailing tonnage over the pike.  If our locomotives can't manage, you back off on the tonnage.  Just like the prototype.  Or, you add motive power, again like the prototype.  If you're getting stringlining, arrange the cars differently or take the trouble to add more weight. 

I think we have a Nothing burger here. 

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Posted by SeeYou190 on Saturday, June 6, 2020 11:08 AM

Back to the OP's question about whether or not the manufacturers should try to meet the NMRA RP weight, I would say no.

They might satisfy some, but aggravate others.

I rarely hear any complaints about modern manufactured rolling stock, and like Larry said, Athearn and Roundhouse were always great runners with very little work.

-Kevin

Wink Happily modeling my STRATTON & GILLETTE RAILROAD. A Class A line located in a personal fantasy world of semi-plausible nonsense on Tuesday, August 3rd, 1954.

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Posted by AntonioFP45 on Saturday, June 6, 2020 4:49 PM

Imho, the manufacturers today do a "reasonable" job regarding rolling stock weight, although some still lean towards the "lightweight" side. I can't blame the manufacturers for producing rolling stock under the recommended weight as (most of us realize) some modelers will complain. So the choice is ours to add the weight (which is not difficult for most modern production models). 

A note to keep in mind is that many of us that are into DCC-Sound will sacrifice some pulling power since some older HO and N locomotives require creating space inside the units for the speaker / decoder combo. This usually involves shaving or even cutting the factory installed weights. So some modelers, with grades, may prefer to keep rolling stock weight slightly below recommended standards.

OTOH.......one eyeball "glitch" that, imho, is annoying is seeing rolling stock wobbling whenever they roll over turnout frogs and rail joints. You can see this on some YouTube vids. To me, it spoils the illusion of watching a realistic looking "heavy" tran that weighs many tons.  Adjusting the screws holding the trucks, combined with bringing the car up to the recommended weight (or slightly exceeding it) often solves the issue.

"I like my Pullman Standards & Budds in Stainless Steel flavors, thank you!"

 


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Posted by tstage on Saturday, June 6, 2020 5:59 PM

AntonioFP45
OTOH.......one eyeball "glitch" that, imho, is annoying is seeing rolling stock wobbling whenever they roll over turnout frogs and rail joints. You can see this on some YouTube vids. To me, it spoils the illusion of watching a realistic looking "heavy" tran that weighs many tons.

Actually, that wobbling happens on the prototype - especially at lower speeds in yards where the track undulates.  Unfortunately, like sound - the wobbling doesn't transfer down to scale well and it appears more like a jitter than a wobble.

Tom

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Posted by AntonioFP45 on Saturday, June 6, 2020 6:28 PM

Hi Tom,

You're right! YesCool

I have a lot of fond memories of riding the NYC subway trains and those classic Red Birds always wobbled when rolling over switches and diamonds!  I  should have used the word "Jitter" instead of wobbling as it is a more accurate description of a much faster yawing motion.  

"I like my Pullman Standards & Budds in Stainless Steel flavors, thank you!"

 


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Posted by thomas81z on Saturday, June 6, 2020 7:39 PM

me i have a ton of big boys & the rivarossi ones i pop open the tenders & stuff tire weights in them waaay over NMRA  standards but those centerpiede tenders are light from the factory

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Posted by ricktrains4824 on Saturday, June 6, 2020 9:34 PM

Manufacturers should leave the weight alone.

A "Recommended Practice" (like RP20.1) is just that.

A recommendation. Someone could recommend we all try skydiving, but it don't mean I'm going to jump from a perfectly fine airplane by choice.

If you, or the club, or John Doe has an problem with a models weight simply because it does not meet a recommendation, that is your, the clubs, or John Doe's problem.

I do not mess with weight unless there is an issue. Some cars will get added weight, some cars are already heavy enough. But it is much easier to add weight than to remove it.

So my opinion, is that most of the modern offerings are weighted enough. If there is an issue, it's usually due to bad track work, bad wheelsets, operator error, or an issue with truck rotation snagging a detail, etc... Very rarely is it truly a weight issue.

Ricky W.

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1: It's my railroad, my rules.

2: It's for having fun and enjoyment.

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Posted by AntonioFP45 on Sunday, June 7, 2020 12:32 PM

Over the years, I've saved the weights from cars that I've scrapped and have also accummulated flat mild and stainless steel metal strips and plates, which can easily be cut to fit with a dremmel cut-off tool. To avoid galvanic action, I keep steel and aluminum metals separated.

Overall, they've come in handy for the older "featherweight" Rivarossi and AHM passenger cars that I've gotten over the years. Yes, old tooling but so much fun to experiment with and spruce up. Just fill in the floor pockets with birdshot (smother with light glue), and add flat steel weights. With metal wheels, they roll nicely!

1980's Rivarossi Budd

1970's AHM Pullman Standard unit.

"I like my Pullman Standards & Budds in Stainless Steel flavors, thank you!"

 


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Posted by SeeYou190 on Monday, June 8, 2020 10:14 AM

I have two Blue Boxes full of steel weights from kits.

I never use them because I employ magnetic uncoupling. They have all kinds of other uses. Nery handy to have around.

-Kevin

Wink Happily modeling my STRATTON & GILLETTE RAILROAD. A Class A line located in a personal fantasy world of semi-plausible nonsense on Tuesday, August 3rd, 1954.

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Posted by RR_Mel on Monday, June 8, 2020 11:19 AM

I do add weight to my locomotives after I remotor them with more powerful Neodymium magnet can motors.

I use #8 birdshot in my steam and .03125”-1/32” sheet lead in my diesels.



This Rivarossi Cab Forward shell has 10 ounces of #8 birdshot.

 

https://www.ebay.com/sch/i.html?_from=R40&_nkw=KRT+Lead+Sheeting%2C+Sheet+Lead+Rolls+&_sacat=0&_sop=15


I also use birdshot in my passenger cars but I have found the Harbor Freight weights easy for freight, rarely have I added any weight to a freight car.

https://www.harborfreight.com/1-4-quarter-oz-wheel-weights-67225.html?_br_psugg_q=wheel+weights


https://www.harborfreight.com/1-2-half-oz-wheel-weights-67226.html?_br_psugg_q=wheel+weights



Mel



 
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Posted by jjdamnit on Tuesday, June 9, 2020 1:34 PM

Hello All,

I fall into the "if it ain't broke, don't fix it" camp.

That being said, if I do choose to bring a piece of rolling stock up to RP 20.1 I made a chart for HO length and weights.

It begins with the weight for an 8' car all the way up to 68' in 2-foot increments. It also lists the weights in both standard and metric.

Personally I prefer the accuracy of metric over standard.

Hope this helps.

"Uhh...I didn’t know it was 'impossible' I just made it work...sorry"

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