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Converting Tyco, Life-Like, etc to Kadee trucks and couplers

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Converting Tyco, Life-Like, etc to Kadee trucks and couplers
Posted by tcf511 on Wednesday, December 28, 2011 6:05 PM

Does anyone know of a tutorial or article on how to convert rolling stock with trucks that don't screw on and have hornhooks to other screw mounted trucks and Kadee couplers? I have someone offering to give me a couple hundred of these cars and I would like to try to salvage some of them if it is possible without pulling out what little hair I have left. Thanks.

Tim Fahey

Musconetcong Branch of the Lehigh Valley RR

 

 

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Posted by Texas Zepher on Wednesday, December 28, 2011 11:30 PM

No I do not.   All I know is that the Kadee web site recommends a #9 for older Tyco freight cars and either a #27 or #28 for newer ones.

The first question I would ask is if you intend to operate these with other Kadee equipped equipment such as Athearn, Roundhouse, Accurail, Atlas, Intermountain, or ...?   The reason being a straight conversion of the couplers will still leave them truck mounted rather than body mounted.   Truck mounted couplers center line follows the track where body mounted couplers swing toward the outside.   Trying to mix body and truck mounted couplers in a freight fleet is a recipe for problems.   I would think one would want to consider each car individually to determine if a body mounted coupler is possible.  Of course if you would not be mixing them that is a moot point. 

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Posted by mobilman44 on Thursday, December 29, 2011 6:18 AM

Hi!

 I agree with Texas Zepher, and would add that changing out couplers is certainly worthwhile for the better cars (your definition of what you like best of course).   But changing out trucks can add a significant amount of expense to a very inexpensive car.  Again, only you can determine if the time/effort/money is worth it.

You find yourself in a bit of a dilemna - getting a whole bunch of rr cars free, but having them be more of the toy like variety.   To upgrade or not, that is the question.

ENJOY  !

 

Mobilman44

 

Living in southeast Texas, modeling the "postwar" Santa Fe and Illinois Central 

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Posted by rogerhensley on Thursday, December 29, 2011 6:22 AM

Roger Hensley
=== Central Indiana Division, NMRA - http://cid.railfan.net/ ===
=== ECI Railroad - http://madisonrails.railfan.net/eci/eci_new.html ===
=== Railroads of Madison County - http://madisonrails.railfan.net/ ===

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Posted by tcf511 on Thursday, December 29, 2011 7:01 AM

Thanks for the quick replies. I was thinking that this might be more trouble and time than it is worth. I like building my own car kits better anyway. Sometimes the word "free" makes my eyes light up before I think it through.

Tim Fahey

Musconetcong Branch of the Lehigh Valley RR

 

 

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Posted by EmpireStateJR on Thursday, December 29, 2011 8:02 AM

Take the cars and practice on one you may not wish to keep with your fleet. This will help with the learning curve. I just added metal wheels and KDs to two Tyco cars, a 50' auto carrier and a piggyback flat car. After many years of doing this I have developed a streamlined process. If you cannot remove the trucks without damaging the pins holding them to the car body leave them alone. Remove the wheels and just break off / carefully cut off coupler arm from the truck. Next take a kadee coupler box lid (the one with the lip at the end and center it at the end of the car. You may have to move the coupler lid forward a bit to clear the car weight if you do not want to drill through it. Drill a hole for a 2-56 screw. Put your couplers together and screw to the car floor. Add metal wheels to the existing trucks, a truck tuner or an appropriate sized drill bit will help enlarge and lengthen the hole if needed. Test against the KD height gauge and you are good to go.

I went and check some of the cars I have done in the past and found that some took 36" wheels and under set couplers like #37 to achieve the right heights and good rolling characteristics. The car below was a bright yellow and red ATSF car carrier that I stripped painted and added couplers and wheels. This car needed the under set shank couplers and the 36" wheels.

 

 

John R.

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Posted by cf-7 on Thursday, December 29, 2011 9:21 AM

EmpireStateJR

The car below was a bright yellow and red ATSF car carrier that I stripped painted and added couplers and wheels. This car needed the under set shank couplers and the 36" wheels.

 

http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-HETz0NhrJ1E/TqAMRVHGq6I/AAAAAAAAAB4/EwGhlJoHqUs/s320/DSC02035.JPG
 

Nice looking car!



                                                                                                

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Posted by steamage on Thursday, December 29, 2011 9:22 AM

I have a lot of older Tyco and AHM cars that needed the truck and its mounted coupler replaced.  The bodies of these HO cars look very close to prototype, but with a few simple upgrades, they can look like todays produced models. 

http://lariverrailroads.com/ftcarupgrade.html

http://lariverrailroads.com/flatcar.html

 

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Posted by wp8thsub on Thursday, December 29, 2011 9:48 AM

You may not have to replace the trucks.  Good quality metal wheelsets like ExactRail or Intermountain can be used in a lot of train set cars, especially if you have a reaming tool like the one sold by MicroMark.  Cut off the truck-mounted coupler box while you have the car disassembled to add body-mounted Kadee couplers.  Once you decide to retire the train set cars, re-use the wheelsets and couplers on better cars and you won't be out any extra expense.

Rob Spangler

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Posted by G Paine on Thursday, December 29, 2011 10:13 AM

Last July, I posted two how to's on replacing trucks and couplers on Tyco and similer cars:

Replacing Trucks w/ Truck Mounted Couplers on Freight Cars
http://cs.trains.com/TRCCS/forums/t/194011.aspx
Installing a Kadee #5 Coupler Box and Coupler
http://cs.trains.com/TRCCS/forums/p/194274/2121353.aspx#2121353
I hope this helps

George In Midcoast Maine, 'bout halfway up the Rockland branch

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Posted by MisterBeasley on Thursday, December 29, 2011 11:02 AM

I've done a bunch of these.  Mostly, they were conversions of Tyco/Mantua cars with metal frames.

I removed the trucks and cut off the extensions for the couplers.  Generally, that left me with serviceable trucks, although the all-metal truck frame made it impossible to swap the wheels, so I just live with the plastic ones.

I buy my Kadee couplers in bulk packs.  These don't come with the boxes, so I also get the Kadee "Draft Gear" packs.  With metal-frame cars, I drill and tap for a 2-56 screw and mount the coupler boxes with that.  I've had good success using screws on plastic-frame cars, too, but occasionally I have to glue on the boxes.

It takes an iron man to play with a toy iron horse. 

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Posted by doctorwayne on Thursday, December 29, 2011 2:24 PM

As Mister B notes, many of these cars' trucks can be re-used by simply cutting off the coupler boxes.  It's then often very simple to add Kadee couplers mounted in their own draft gear boxes - #5s work well on most freight cars, although they may need to be shimmed down (use sheet styrene of suitable thickness).  You should get a Kadee height gauge, and probably some Kadee fibre washers, too.  The latter are for cars that sit too low, and are placed between the truck and the car's mounting bolster.  You can glue the coupler boxes in place, but it's advisable to screw mount them if possible, so you'll need a pin vise, a #50 drill bit, and a 2-56 tap.
If you want to change the trucks to screw-mounted ones, usually the hole in the car's floor first needs to be plugged.  Use a suitably-sized piece of plastic sprue or styrene rod from Evergreen.  The material for the plug should be .004"-.006" larger in diameter than the hole being plugged.  Coat the inside of the hole and the outside of the plug with solvent-type cement - I use lacquer thinner - wait a few seconds, then force the plug into place.  After the cement has hardened, shave-off any protruding part of the plug, then drill and tap as you did with the couplers. 
If you want to replace the trucks themselves, there are many after-market ones available.  You can also buy plastic sideframes in several styles (with or without the plastic wheelsets) from Accurail.

Here are a couple of upgraded cheaper freight cars.

This one is from Varney, but the same car was also offered by LifeLike, in both open and covered configurations:

 

A Tyco four bay hopper (available from several manufacturers, I think)  I shortened mine to three bays, but the truck and coupler conversion work is the same as outlined:

 

I'm not sure who made this one - I picked up a couple of these, bodies only, for a buck each.  This one has a Train Miniature floor, but a simple floor can be made from styrene:

 

This gondola is from Con-Cor, but was also offered by Revell.  I lowered the ride height by removing the car's underframe, then added bolsters built-up from sheet styrene.

 

It can also be modified into a fairly accurate rendition of a Pennsy G-31:

 

Here's the modified underside (due to the thin floor, the couplers are cemented in place):

 

This flat car is from LIfeLike, I think, but others may have offered it as well.  I removed the original plastic deck and floor, making a new, flush-top floor from .060" styrene, then added a new deck built-up from 3"x8" scale stripwood.  The bulkhead ends are from a Walthers GSC flatcar.

 

I did retain the original underframe, but filed-down the bolsters in order to allow the car to ride lower. This necessitated removing part of the underfloor, to allow clearance for the wheel flanges:

 

I made an identical car from an almost identical Athearn flatcar, using mostly the same methods, but discarded the separate underframe completely.  Truck-mounting bolsters were built-up using .060" sheet styrene:

 

Here's a look at one of the wood decks, an easy-to-add detail for many open cars.  The boards are secured to the plastic sub-floor with contact cement:

 

This is a LIfeLike (Proto-no-thousand) 36' reefer.  I change the trucks and added Kadees, as outline above, then added a few details and some paint and lettering.  One of these days, I'll get around to making a new roof (the roof is a separate piece) as ice service reefers often had their bunkers and hatches removed.

 

Another reefer, this one from Tyco.  Trucks and couplers, plus a few details.  Lettering is from C-D-S:

 

These doubledeck stock cars are from Rivarossi.  I removed the moulded-on floor moving mechanisms, then narrowed the cars by sawing them in half lengthwise using a carpenter's handsaw.  After cementing them back together with lacquer thinner, I added a few details, plus paint and lettering:

 

I also re-used most of the original underframes and the trucks, but cut-away most of the floor and replaced it with .060" sheet styrene.  This got rid of the unprototypical moulded-in-place brake gear, so I added "K" brakes from Tichy, along with some wire rigging:

 

What you wish to get from your "free" cars will depend mostly on how much you're willing to invest in them in time, although there'll likely be some money required, too.  If you enjoy modelling, they can keep you busy for a long time.

 

Wayne

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Posted by Train Master on Thursday, December 29, 2011 3:50 PM

tcf511

Does anyone know of a tutorial or article on how to convert rolling stock with trucks that don't screw on and have hornhooks to other screw mounted trucks and Kadee couplers? I have someone offering to give me a couple hundred of these cars and I would like to try to salvage some of them if it is possible without pulling out what little hair I have left. Thanks.

If any do not meet your satisfaction I know an old Indian - is early 50's old? - who will take them in a minute - sight unseen. He may have already contacted you.

David Parks
I am the terror that flaps in the night!

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Posted by Catt on Saturday, December 31, 2011 3:34 PM

Unless the trucks are broken I would not bother to rep[lace them.One tool you should have is a atruck reamer,it is used to clen out the pockets in the truck where the pointed ends of the axles set.Micro-Mark has one for under $15.00 I believe.

My plan of attack is as follows.

1 Remove truck from car ,nip off the talco coupler mount,remove the wheel sets and ream the pockets with the tool .Do not over do it maybe 5 turns of the reamer flip the reamer around and do the same to the other pocket,then do the other end of the truck.Re install the axles and give the truck a roll test.If you are happy with the way the truck rolls do the second truck,if not happy repeat the process.

2 coupler mounting,most though not all cars will have a spot at the ends of the frame where you can bodymount the coupler.If not either flatten the frame end or make a mounting pad.Mark the car center line ,then drill the hole and tap it mount the coupler and check it for correct height.You can do this using another car that already has bodymounts or you can buy the Kadee height gauge.On some hopper cars there is no place to mount the coupler,for these you need to extend the center beam to the end of the car,then as before find the centerline drill /tap/mount the coupler.

Nuther tip ,if your working on hopper cars the trainset stuff will usually have thick ladders and stirrups.Some carful scraping with a sharp #11 blde to take the draft off (loohing at the ladders and sturrups will be thicker on the backside.Some cars with roofwalks can have them replaced with etched items or Kadee has some very nice 40 and 50' roof walks at a fair price.

Did not mean to make a book out of this and this is just the way I do it .But above all else it is simply advice from one whos been there.

Johnathan(Catt) Edwards  (My railroad's logo) Co-founder of The North American Rail Alliance A purrveyer of Possible Actualities
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Posted by cudaken on Saturday, December 31, 2011 3:56 PM

 Boy I saw this one to late. I have done a bunch of Tyco cars and some Bachmann as well.

 You can ream out the factory trucks and use metal wheel sets. I used PK 33" wheels sets and some times it took a lot of reaming to get them in. I would try some intermountian next time I do a conversion.

 On coupler height, if you make a slit on a Kadee Washer, you can slip it on the Tyco Truck neck.

 I learned a lot from working on the cars. I have have the largest collection of Tyco Old Dutch Hoppers around.

 Monon's F3's pulling a sting at K-10 Model Trains

I hate Rust

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Posted by tcf511 on Saturday, December 31, 2011 4:58 PM

Thanks for all of the additional replies. I had no idea that some of this could be done. The donation of these cars has been made to our local train club. We ended up with a couple hundred cars. I have a couple of the reamers and plenty of the metal wheels so I may monkey around with a few. I have some Kadee body mount couplers that I can try. I bookmarked a couple of the sites and tutorials referenced in the replies and forwarded a link to this thread to a couple other club members. Thanks again.

Tim Fahey

Musconetcong Branch of the Lehigh Valley RR

 

 

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Posted by cudaken on Saturday, December 31, 2011 6:23 PM

 Tim, if you need more help send me a PM. I have done a bunch (that was not all the Old Dutch Hoppers I have, have around 35 or so) of the Tyco cars.

 Cuda Ken

I hate Rust

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