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Plastic to metal wheelsets

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Plastic to metal wheelsets
Posted by legend on Monday, October 1, 2012 7:07 PM

Hi,

I've been an active DC modeler for almost thrity years.  Now swithcing to DCC, I've found my rolling stock's plastic wheelsets to be a nag. I want to upgrade to metal wheelsets but most of my rolling stock is Athearn Bluebox (pre 1990's).  I've been told that some manufacturer's wheels won't fit.  Is it true, if so do you know of a better brand...

Thanks

Louis-Georges Dionne

CEO MGMr

(Catching Everything on the Fly)

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Posted by jsoderq on Monday, October 1, 2012 8:07 PM

I have been using Proto wheels from Walthers without any issues.  I make use of the truck tuner to make sure they roll freely.

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Posted by CP5415 on Monday, October 1, 2012 8:56 PM

Proto wheels here as well! Have had little issue making them work.

Gordon

Brought to you by the letters C.P.R. as well as D&H!

 K1a - all the way

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Posted by pascaff* on Monday, October 1, 2012 9:16 PM

Most of my rolling stock is Athear B.B. pre1990, when I went the DCC route in the mid 90's I switched to NWSL wheels and did not have any problems.

Paul

Living in Fernley Nevada, about 30 miles east of Reno, also lived in Oregon and California, but born In Brooklyn NY and raised on Long Island NY

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Posted by jrbernier on Monday, October 1, 2012 10:09 PM

  I have used P2K wheels and currently I am using Intermountaim wheels.  Both will fit in the Athearn 'BB' trucks just fine.  As mentioned, get a Micro-Mark or ReBoxx 'truck tuner' - well worth the investment.

Jim

Modeling BNSF  and Milwaukee Road in SW Wisconsin

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Posted by modelmaker51 on Monday, October 1, 2012 10:23 PM

If you have any Athearn BB locos, it's more important to change them out for NWSL or JayBee wheels. The Athearn sintered iron wheels cause most of the dirt/black gunk found on the rails and wheels because they arc creating carbon (the black gunk). Once you've changed them you'll find a lot less dirt on the track for wheels to pick up. I still have over 300 Athearn cars on my layout with no dirt or rolling issues, (I have used the Micromark (truck) Tuner, to tune all the trucks, thus with their steel axles they are very free running. I use CRC 2-26 (avail from most hardware stores) to clean my track once or twice a year.

Jay 

C-415 Build: https://imageshack.com/a/tShC/1 

Other builds: https://imageshack.com/my/albums 

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Posted by rrinker on Monday, October 1, 2012 10:41 PM

 I have a large fleet of Athearn Blue Box hopper cars, and I've replaced all the wheels with Proto 2000 metal wheels, no problem. Another worthwhile investment is the truck tuner tool from Micro-Mark.

 Ditto Modelmaker's suggest on the locos - the nickle-silver wheels will reduce traction slightly, but they make a far greater improvement in electrical pickup than any harm in lost traction. They also stay clean longer.

              --Randy

 


Modeling the Reading Railroad in the 1950's

 

Visit my web site at www.readingeastpenn.com for construction updates, DCC Info, and more.

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Posted by willy6 on Monday, October 1, 2012 11:17 PM
I used Intermountain,Kadee and P2K, P2K worked the best and the truck tuner is recommended.
Being old is when you didn't loose it, it's that you just can't remember where you put it.
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Posted by cedarwoodron on Tuesday, October 2, 2012 1:12 AM
I am in the process of converting to Intermountain wheels on all my rolling stock. When you compare the old plastic ones to the look of the metal, you wonder why you have waited. Not only is the look better, but they tend to "sound" better rolling on the rails. They make any old Athearn BB car look and run so much better! Cedarwoodron
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Posted by mlehman on Tuesday, October 2, 2012 1:19 AM

I've used Jaybee metal wheelsets for years and they've always snapped right into Athearn trucks. The truck tuning tool is useful from time to time when a little excess molding flash occurs. Most of the time, it's out with the old, in with the new and get on down the track in the standard Athearn truck frames.

Mike Lehman

Urbana, IL

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Posted by don7 on Tuesday, October 2, 2012 1:51 AM

I was swapping the Athearn wheels for the Intermountain 33", the sprung Athearn metal trucks were the exception as the Intermountain wheels would not fit correctly, they are such a loose fit they literally fall out.

You will have to find replacement trucks if you want to use the Intermountain steel wheels, otherwise you will need to find steel wheels that fit the old Yellow box Atheran cars.

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Posted by EmpireStateJR on Tuesday, October 2, 2012 5:54 AM

I have a mostly Athearn BB fleet as well and use Proto 2000 and Intermountain replacement wheel sets. For the past year or so I have gone exclusively Intermountain for my replacement wheels. I think they are a bit heavier and I too like the sound they make. Either brand is a drop in replacement for the non sprung Athearn trucks.

Good luck and I think you will be pleasantly surprised how your rolling stock reacts to these improvements.

  John

John R.

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Posted by MisterBeasley on Tuesday, October 2, 2012 6:31 AM

don7

I was swapping the Athearn wheels for the Intermountain 33", the sprung Athearn metal trucks were the exception as the Intermountain wheels would not fit correctly, they are such a loose fit they literally fall out.

This has also been my experience.  I've got old rolling stock from the 1950s and 60s, with the same Athearn sprung trucks.  The Intermountain wheelsets are a loose fit, at best, and they do actually fall out in service.  Talk about the wheels coming off the bus.

I've had some success with simply gluing the truck frame together with CA, rather than relying on the springs to hold things stable.  Mostly, though, when these cars get put in the repair box, they return to the layout with new trucks.

And yes, get the truck tuner.  Make a special place on your workbench for it.  I keep mine in the plastic segmented parts box I use for my assortment of Kadee parts.  It's a small tool and easily misplaced.  It also rolls easily, so it can easily end up on the floor if you're not careful.

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

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Posted by maxman on Tuesday, October 2, 2012 9:36 AM

A company called Reboxx makes wheel sets of varying axle lengths for different truck side frames.  Looking at their application chart, they appear to offer axles with a longer length for Athearn metal sideframes: http://www.reboxx.com/Documents/Wheelsets/33%20Application%20Chart.pdf

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Posted by BRAKIE on Tuesday, October 2, 2012 9:49 AM

jrbernier

  I have used P2K wheels and currently I am using Intermountaim wheels.  Both will fit in the Athearn 'BB' trucks just fine.  As mentioned, get a Micro-Mark or ReBoxx 'truck tuner' - well worth the investment.

Jim

Jim,That's great news to hear since I'm about ready to restart changing out plastic wheels for metal and I like the street price of  IM wheels in the bulk pack..In the past I was using P2K wheels but,it was costly and I stopped half way though the change over.

Larry

Conductor.

Summerset Ry.


"Stay Alert, Don't get hurt  Safety First!"

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Posted by nssd70m on Tuesday, October 2, 2012 10:05 AM

Most of my rolling stock roster is Athearn Blue Box, Roundhouse and Bowser. All of them have Intermountain wheelsets on them. Switching over to the metal wheelsets is one of the best decisions I made in model railroading. Earl...

Modeling the Southern, Norfolk & Western and Norfolk Southern in HO scale.
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Posted by rrinker on Tuesday, October 2, 2012 10:47 AM

 I'm the 'maverick' at the club, using P2K wheels, everyone else uses Intermountain. P2K USED to be insanely cheap, before the Walthers buyout,. if you got them from MB Klein. Klein still has them for a lower price than anywhere else I've ever seen.

 I amy give some Intermountain a try, but I've already converted nearly every running car, plus many have had resistors added for signal detection and unless ones should fail I don't plan on trying to do that all over again. On my last round of making resistor wheels I even got ahead of myself and my wheel box now has a small supply of P2K wheels ready to go with resistors installed and tested, and all painted.

         --Randy

 


Modeling the Reading Railroad in the 1950's

 

Visit my web site at www.readingeastpenn.com for construction updates, DCC Info, and more.

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Posted by jrbernier on Tuesday, October 2, 2012 11:02 AM

  I too have noticed the problem with some metal side frames not holding the I-M or P2K wheels.  Even getting exact-match ReBoxx wheels may not be the fix.  Many of the metal side frames do not have a conical journal to accept the needle point axles that are so popular now.  The Kadee wheels have rounded plastic axle end and may provide a better 'fit'.  They will not roll as good, but that may be the best solution.  The 'Truck Tuner' normally will not cut out metal, and the journal cavity is too large to start with.

  I have found that most of the 'sprung' trucks have springs that are too thin to look good, and anything with more bulk defeats the springing.  My standard is Delrin plastic trucks with metal needle point wheels - the best free rolling truck is the result.

Jim

Modeling BNSF  and Milwaukee Road in SW Wisconsin

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Posted by gmcrail on Tuesday, October 2, 2012 3:19 PM

legend

Hi,

I've been an active DC modeler for almost thrity years.  Now swithcing to DCC, I've found my rolling stock's plastic wheelsets to be a nag. I want to upgrade to metal wheelsets but most of my rolling stock is Athearn Bluebox (pre 1990's).  I've been told that some manufacturer's wheels won't fit.  Is it true, if so do you know of a better brand...

Thanks

Louis-Georges Dionne

CEO MGMr

(Catching Everything on the Fly)

I have recently changed all of my freight rolling stock to metal wheelsets.  I began by trying the Kadee wheeelsets, but because they were made of sintered metal (like the much-maligned Athearn BB Diesels), they picked up an incredible amount of gunk.  Next, I tried P2K wheelsets.  OK, but not always the right length.  One package of IM sets cured me of those, as well - axles too short. 

Then I went whole hog:  Sprung trucks (I essentially cornered the market for used ones) with Reboxx wheelsets, and never looked back.  The Reboxx sets are code 88, with a narrower tread than the more common 110, so they look better, especially on cars like hoppers and tanks, with open ends.  They come in varied axle lengths to fit almost any manufacturer's trucks, which is an important factor to consider:  Short, and the car will not be able to properly center itself between the rails, with accompanying coupling problems.  Too short, and they fall out. 

And lest some tell you that you will have derailment problems with these wheels, you should know that any track that is up to NMRA standards will give no problems with them.  (Atlas Snap Track turnouts will be a problem, but they should be replaced anyway.)  If you have code 100 rail, there will be some wheel drop in the frogs of turnouts.  If that is a bother, a small triangle of .020" styrene in the frog throat will eliminate it.  Code 83 rail should have no problems.

---

Gary M. Collins gmcrailgNOSPAM@gmail.com

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"Common Sense, Ain't!" -- G. M. Collins

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Posted by cedarwoodron on Tuesday, October 2, 2012 3:39 PM
As I am working off a large backlog of Athearn BB kits, I find that there is a bit of play in the delrin OEM trucks, but not sufficient to cause the IM wheel axle to fall out. The play may cause the axle to ride against the top of the hollow of the truck cavity, but they free roll quite well. Just spinning the IM metal wheels in the truck results in about a 15+ second turn, and when placed on a straight track length, mounted under a boxcar properly weighted (NMRA), they roll well past 10 feet easily. There may be particular issues with some cars, but I built the old Athearn 200 ton crane car recently with metal wheels and it rolls as easily as the rest. Cedarwoodron
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Posted by peahrens on Wednesday, October 3, 2012 7:58 PM

I'm getting back into HO and building some freight cars (some old Athearn, mostly newer Bowser, Accurail, etc).  My take, somewhat inexperienced but based on others comments and experience so far:

- ditto to the metal wheels for DCC

- also, consider what best will keep the track clean besides not having plastic wheels; e.g., initially "gleaming" track as some forum threads tend to recommend, cleaning cars such as CMX, etc.  The combination of stragegies may matter.

- I second the "Truck Tuner" option and also find that a micrometer is a good, relatively inexpensive (<$25) insight to what's going on (i.e., to-be-replaced axle length vs replacement metal wheelset axle length...don't add lenght as a rule).  For instance, when upgrading my grandson's Bachmann set, some P2K wheelsets didn't necessarily help much whereas the Intermountain 33" did; I suspect the shorter IM (than P2K) were the key help in that case, moreso than a better shaped axle point.  My key point is, the more data, the better.  The Reboxx online charts are a frame of reference...they tell you the stock axle length plus their recommended axle length, but I go shorter if the IM (or P2K) work well.

- Given this (with the kits I'm using so far) IM has been my freight car default, though I will try the P2K 33" ribbed back wheels on older wood-side cars and use them unless the IM wheelsets are markedly better on the specific kit.

- My highly scientific test (ha!) is to roll the original truck down a long 2-3% grade I've got.  In the worst case (Bachmann set freight cars) they didn't roll downhill! Then I truck tune it, substitute the metal wheelset I want to try, and see if the new version goes well (i.e., how far down the grade and following level track).  I tried truck tuning alone and, in the case of the worst Bachmann set items, the roll was still awful.  It took a shorter axle to solve that.

- Again, consider the truck optimization, track prep if any ("gleaming") and regular cleaning method (e.g., rough cleaner vs. solvent cleaning (if gleamed, tend to avoid rough eraser cleaning) as part of a system that affect both track cleanliness as well as pull requirement.  For me, the worst case would be a DCC system, significant grade (pull requirement), and many stock Bachmann set freight cars.

I'm happy so far with metal wheelset that fits the truck, with Truck tuning, gleamed track, plus occasional vacuuming and CMX car solvent (denatured alcohol) cleaning (expensive car) every couple of months.  When I built a DC layout in the 1980's I had derailment problems (poor track laying) and track cleanliness problems (in a garage...not the best choice).  If you have a reasonably clean environment, the reliability, even with DCC sensitivity, can be pretty good.  

Paul

Modeling HO with a transition era UP bent

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Posted by HaroldA on Thursday, October 4, 2012 6:44 PM

Probably a third of my cars are Athearn BB and I am converting them to Proto wheelsets without any issues at all.  What I was seeing were that some of the plastic wheels showed a lot of wear so the conversion became a matter of necessity. 

While I am thinking about this, I am also of the opinion that every car should be inspected at least once a year.  I have about 20 set aside right now for cleaning, gauge checking and coupler repair.  Also, if any car derails for any reason, I pull it off and go over it again to be sure that everything is right.  However, the new wheelsets have never caused an issue.

There's never time to do it right, but always time to do it over.....

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