Subscriber & Member Login

Login, or register today to interact in our online community, comment on articles, receive our newsletter, manage your account online and more!

How much should my HO freight cars weigh?

9333 views
18 replies
1 rating 2 rating 3 rating 4 rating 5 rating
  • Member since
    April, 2003
  • 302,230 posts
How much should my HO freight cars weigh?
Posted by Anonymous on Monday, August 28, 2006 11:20 AM

Seems to me that I've read something about a two ounce average but I can't remember. I use Kadee and McHenry couplers and would like to know what the correct weight figure is to make these couplers work correctly. Most of my older cars seem heavy enough and some are possibly too heavy such as some old cast metal cars from Roundhouse. I have seen some cars for sale on ebay that have been weighted to 4 and 5 ounces. Is that too much? I have not weighed any of my own so I can't say where mine fit in but I know when one feels too light and it's pretty obvious that the builder did not use any weights. What do you guys recommend for average weight? Thanks for your help.

Bill

  • Member since
    July, 2003
  • From: Sierra Vista, Arizona
  • 13,757 posts
Posted by cacole on Monday, August 28, 2006 11:27 AM

The National Model Railroad Association (NMRA) recommended weight is 1 oz plus an additional 1/2 oz per inch of actual car length, for HO scale rolling stock.  There has been a lot of discussion (and controversy) over this recommended weight in these forums in the past due to the fact that the NMRA's RP was established many years ago and should perhaps be revised.

 

  • Member since
    April, 2003
  • 302,230 posts
Posted by Anonymous on Monday, August 28, 2006 11:59 AM

I usually leave the Atlas cars alone, especially the 36' and 40 footers.

I like my rolling stock to be between 3-4 ounces for 40 footers or less and just enough extra on the larger ones to hold them to the track.

Some cars behave well enough that they dont need weighting. Others are light as a feather and need an anvil inside to stay on the rail.

  • Member since
    January, 2002
  • From: Portland, OR
  • 3,118 posts
Posted by jfugate on Monday, August 28, 2006 12:12 PM
I use a simplification of the NMRA system on my HO Siskiyou Line -- 1 oz per 10 scale feet. This gives you a slightly heavier car than the NMRA standard, but it's easy to remember and the cars track well.

So a 40 foot car will be 4 oz, 50 foot car 5 oz. and so on. I weight closed-top cars with pennies -- roughly 10 pennies to an ounce (where else will you find small weights for 10 cents an ounce?) ... and I fasten them down with double-sided foam tape. I got a 300 foot roll of the foam tape at Office Depot for about $20. Smile,Wink, & Grin [swg]

For open top cars I replace the car weight with sheet lead. A-Line/PPW sells sheet lead in all different thicknesses.

Joe Fugate Modeling the 1980s SP Siskiyou Line in southern Oregon

  • Member since
    April, 2003
  • 302,230 posts
Posted by Anonymous on Monday, August 28, 2006 12:42 PM

I use #9 chilled lead shot out of a 25 pound bag secured with Elmer's gel school glue underneath flatcars to give them a little heft.

  • Member since
    April, 2003
  • 302,230 posts
Thanks to all, I knew you'd have the answers.
Posted by Anonymous on Monday, August 28, 2006 12:55 PM

Now I have something to go by, time to start weighing my rolling stock. Thanks again,

Bill

  • Member since
    July, 2006
  • From: Jones County, Georgia
  • 1,293 posts
Posted by GearDrivenSteam on Monday, August 28, 2006 2:18 PM
Heavy enough to stay on the track.
It is enough that Jesus died and that he died for me.
  • Member since
    February, 2004
  • From: Elyria, OH
  • 2,036 posts
Posted by BRVRR on Monday, August 28, 2006 8:23 PM

Thanks Joe for the idea. Beats calculating the weights all the time. You have won a convert.

Remember its your railroad

Allan

  Track to the BRVRR Website:  http://www.brvrr.com/

  • Member since
    April, 2004
  • From: North Idaho
  • 1,311 posts
Posted by jimrice4449 on Monday, August 28, 2006 10:01 PM
At one time (I think) NMRA recomended 3 1/2 oz for a 40 ft car and 1/2 oz more for every added inch over 6.   I started w/ that and it works for me so I kept  it w/ one exception.   I have a hump yard w/ 3 facing point switches at the base of the hump and. contrary to what one would expect (the longer the car the more likely derailment) I have most of my trouble w/ 34' covered hoppers.   I have to slug them to about 4 oz.   Other than than that the above works well (and I shove 25-30 car cuts up the hump through those 3 facing point switches)
  • Member since
    July, 2001
  • From: Shelbyville, Kentucky
  • 1,803 posts
Posted by SSW9389 on Tuesday, August 29, 2006 6:58 AM
I took the 30 ton empty weight of an average freight car and divided it  by the scale of 87 and an HO scale car should weigh something like 689 pounds. I would love to see the bench work that can hold up a train of those babies!
COTTON BELT: Runs like a Blue Streak!
  • Member since
    April, 2003
  • 302,230 posts
Posted by Anonymous on Tuesday, August 29, 2006 2:57 PM

The biggest electric train I saw was a #1 gauge Hudson and was told the front was 50+ pounds.

Anything bigger rates live steam in my humble opinion.

  • Member since
    January, 2002
  • From: Portland, OR
  • 3,118 posts
Posted by jfugate on Tuesday, August 29, 2006 3:38 PM
 SSW9389 wrote:
I took the 30 ton empty weight of an average freight car and divided it  by the scale of 87 and an HO scale car should weigh something like 689 pounds. I would love to see the bench work that can hold up a train of those babies!


Actually, weight is a measurement related to volume, which is 3-dimensional. So you need to divide by 87 three times to account for downscaling all three dimensions -- if you do that you will find the railcar should weigh a couple ounces empty, or four to five ounces loaded. Right where it should be!

Joe Fugate Modeling the 1980s SP Siskiyou Line in southern Oregon

  • Member since
    December, 2014
  • 49 posts
Posted by BumpyJack68 on Wednesday, August 14, 2019 8:41 AM

 I use pennies (2.7 grams a piece) and nickels (5 grams a piece)

 

 

 

 

  • Member since
    August, 2006
  • From: Franconia, NH
  • 2,811 posts
Posted by dstarr on Wednesday, August 14, 2019 9:08 AM

You want all your rolling stock to weigh about the same.  If you have light cars and heavy cars in the same train the heavy cars tend to pull the light cars off the track going around curves.  And long cars want to be heavier than short cars cause the couplers tug the car sideways on curves.  The sidewise tug gets stronger as the car gets longer.  The NMRA recommended practice  was written back in the days before plastic injection molding when rolling stock had a lot of heavy Zamac casting in it.  Like complete cast Zamac undercarriages.  Since it is very difficult to lighten a car,   the NMRA standard was set a little heavy to accomodate the substantial numbers of heavy cars in service in those days.  And once a standard is established, nobody wants to change it.  I mean who wants to reweight every car in their fleet? 

  I use the NMRA recommended practice on my layout.  In several cases derailing cars straightened out and stayed on the track after I weighted them up to the NMRA recommendation.  And if you interchange your rolling stock on friend's layouts or down at the club,  you will find that most folk follow the NMRA recommendations and your rolling stock will work better if you do too.  On the other hand there are folk who weight to a much lighter standard, claiming it is enough to stay on the track and it lets their locomotives handle longer trains up the grades.  Your mileage may vary.

  • Member since
    January, 2017
  • From: Southern Florida Gulf Coast
  • 4,925 posts
Posted by SeeYou190 on Wednesday, August 14, 2019 9:10 AM

The NMRA system is too complicated for me, I need quick and simple, so this is what I use:

.

40 feet and shorter: 4 ounces

41 feet to 59 feet: 5 ounces

60 feet and longer: 6 ounces

.

This has proven easy and 100% effective for me.

.

-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.

  • Member since
    December, 2015
  • 5,446 posts
Posted by BigDaddy on Wednesday, August 14, 2019 10:47 AM

Necro thread. 

Henry

COB Potomac & Northern

By the Chesapeake Bay

  • Member since
    June, 2007
  • From: Grew up in Calif, left in 84, now in Virginia
  • 6,879 posts
Posted by riogrande5761 on Wednesday, August 14, 2019 11:17 AM

BigDaddy

Necro thread.

Modus operandi!  Dunce

Rio Grande.  The Action Road  - Focus 1977-1983

  • Member since
    April, 2009
  • From: Staten Island NY
  • 1,546 posts
Posted by joe323 on Thursday, August 15, 2019 6:40 AM

I use an old diet scale I picked up at a rummage sale to weight my cars.  Because I am running a switching layout I am not concerned if the cars come out slightly heavier than NMRA standards since the longest train I run is about 6 cars.

Joe Staten Island West 

  • Member since
    December, 2004
  • From: Louisville
  • 395 posts
Posted by dbduck on Friday, August 16, 2019 8:54 AM

I made a ruler (marked off in ounces) based on the recommended practice, it is part of my bench test track

no calculating ..put the car on the track & know immediately what the suggested weight should be

Subscriber & Member Login

Login, or register today to interact in our online community, comment on articles, receive our newsletter, manage your account online and more!

Search the Community

ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
Model Railroader Newsletter See all
Sign up for our FREE e-newsletter and get model railroad news in your inbox!