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Body mount versus truck mount couplers

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Body mount versus truck mount couplers
Posted by RealGomer on Saturday, August 21, 2021 12:51 PM

My rolling stock is primarily Tyco with a smattering of Athearn, Revell (yes, Revell, from the 1950s) and Atlas. The types are based on rolling stock from the late 1950s to the mid 1980s. It includes box cars, reefers, gongola, flats, and cabooses. Since that complement was all desiged before Code 83 was common, it probably means all of the flanges are too big for my current Code 83 layout. It also probably means I need to swap out the trucks/wheels sets. Some of the cars have truck mounted coupler and other body mounted. Which is better as a replacement - body mount or truck mount. Using all truck mounts would be an easier swap for me. The big downside is the cost. Suggestions?

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Posted by PC101 on Saturday, August 21, 2021 1:58 PM

Do you want "easy" or ''long term'' reliabilty? 

Your rolling stock total is what in numbers? 25, 50, 100, 200+?

Body mount couplers for your 40' and 50' rolling stock is the way I would go. Since you mentioned no passenger cars in this post.

It may be a "see what fits and not fits" in keeping the trucks and change out the wheels and axles.

I say not all of your rolling stock is Large flange aka Pizza cutters. Atlas and Athearn should have good flanges for C83 track.

I believe those Tyco's will have the trucks that are held in place with "snap ears". (so the hole in the body that accepts those two ears is larger then a 2-56 screw) but that hole can be fixed to accept a 2-56 screw if you want to replace the truck. 

 

 

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Posted by mobilman44 on Saturday, August 21, 2021 2:05 PM

There is no hard set rule, but body mounts are the way to go for freight cars.  Some might disagree, using truck mounted couplers on extra long cars to help them negotiate tight curves.

Passenger cars can go either way, but again, truck mounted couplers are used mainly to negotiate tighter curves.

 

ENJOY  !

 

Mobilman44

 

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

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Posted by 7j43k on Saturday, August 21, 2021 2:36 PM

Back when your stuff was made, most manufacturers of HO wheels followed NMRA Standard S-4 for maximum flange depth:  .035".  Currently, Standard S-4.2 has a max of .028".

So for the rolling stock that was built to NMRA standards, you're talking about a .007" difference from then to now.

You won't have a problem with Code 83 track with these.

 

The two "manufacturers" that I recall NOT following NMRA Standards back then were Mantua/Tyco and AHM.

Mantua/Tyco exceeded the standard by "not much".  My GUESS would be that they would be OK on Code 83, but not Code 70.

AHM had huge flanges.  And probably wouldn't work on Code 83.

 

Here's what you should do if you want an answer to whether you HAVE to replace your wheels.  Get a bit of the track you want to use.  Run various of your cars back and forth on it, like when you were 4 (but with a bit more care).  If you don't hear a "zipper" sound, you're clear.

It wouldn't hurt to try it on a track switch, either.  Trouble there is you're starting to explore other possibilities beyond flange depth.

 

If your goal is to watch your trains go round and round, the X2F's will do fine.  If you hanker after switching cars and going backwards sometimes, you should change over to body mount Kadees.  I suspect it'll be a LOT of work on the metal underframe cars, though.

 

Ed

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Posted by Lastspikemike on Saturday, August 21, 2021 3:00 PM

It should be feasible to fit Kadee whisker couplers into the existing coupler pockets on the trucks. In my experience the whisker couplers will tolerate a fairly narrow coupler box. Not ideal but should work. 

New trucks involve the awkward process of fitting the truck mounting hole around the existing boss on the car underside. Often you have to just cut off the mounting boss and fit a Kadee flat top truck. Expensive option. Bachmann sells trucks but they are moulded to fit Bachmann's unique sized boss.

Kadee trucks are beautifully made and their self centering design is very handy. But you will be investing more money in the trucks and couplers than the rolling stock can possibly be worth. Sentimental value is important but really the newer ready to run stuff and even the available kits are far superior to almost everything vintage.

Were it my vintage stuff I'd fit Kadees into the truck coupler boxes. I'd only change the trucks if I had decent trucks from kits or better rolling stock that I'd upgraded with still better trucks, which is what I've done. Fitted better trucks (usually Kadee) to newer cars and used the removed inferior to upgrade even older cars.

Alyth Yard

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Posted by MisterBeasley on Saturday, August 21, 2021 3:09 PM

Body mount  couplers have a big advantage over truck mounts when backing a string of cars over a curve.  Pushing, rather than the normal pulling, of a truck mount will push the coupler and truck sideways, frequently resulting in a derailment.

I still have a few long passenger cars that simply won't make it around many of my curves with body mounted couplers.  All my shorter freight cars are body mounts.

All you really need is an electric drill, a punch to locate a pilot hole and a tap for the screw to hold the coupler box on.

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

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Posted by dstarr on Saturday, August 21, 2021 3:55 PM

I am still using Kadee #5 couplers, with the bronze centering spring, on all my freight cars.  Being only 40 and 50 foot long, they track beautifully, and back up pleasantly.  I read here and other places that the newer whisker spring couplers work just fine, but I have not tried them, yet.  The shorter Athearn passenger cars come with truck mount couplers that let the cars track around 18" curves.  The heavy weight Athearn shortees look good to my eye, just so long as you don't mix them with full length 80 footers, which will make all the Athearns look short.  I don't back up passenger trains all that often so the truck mount works OK for me.  

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Posted by jjdamnit on Saturday, August 21, 2021 8:51 PM

Hello All,

As I read your post you have several options.

My entire pike is based on the 1970s Tyco 34-foot operating hoppers. Currently, there are almost 30 cars in service.

These originally came with truck-mounted couplers (Talgo style); XF2 "Hook & Horn" type, and plastic wheels. 

Yes, Kadee offers a Talgo conversion.

I tried the Kadee conversion on a few of the cars.

Because these cars need to be backed over the unloading track; locomotives won't clear the unloading mechanism on the track, anything over a single car backing up was a comedy of errors.

With live loads, it was a mess.

I retrofitted body-mounted couplers to all the cars.

This involved drilling and tapping the metal frame and screw mounting the Kadee coupler boxes. I have found that the venerable Kadee #5s are the most reliable.

For this initial conversion, I just cut the coupler boxes off the trucks, keeping the OEM plastic wheels and trucks.

I liked the look of the Kadee sprung trucks.

My first attempt at upgrading the trucks and wheels was not the success I had hoped for. I tried both the traditional Kadee sprung trucks and the HGC type.

Check out this thread on the subject...

Sprug vs. un-sprung trucks...performance gains or losses over looks? Your Thoughts???

Then I switched to Accurail plastic trucks- -Black Roller Bearing types, with InterMountain metal wheels.

I run code 100 track with a mix of Atlas and PECO turnouts.

The first InterMountain wheels I tried were the 0.100" tread width. The flanges cleared the depth of the track but would short out on a curved turnout across the entire string of cars.

I changed to the InterMountain "Semi Scale" (0.088") wheels.

Finally!

The solution!!

Please realize at each step, it took time, patients, problem-solving, failures, an outlay of monies for specialized tools, and successfully developing new skills.

You have to decide for yourself if the outcome is worth the effort.

Hope this helps.

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

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Posted by MisterBeasley on Saturday, August 21, 2021 9:50 PM

I also have a bunch of those Tyco "clamshell" hoppers, 11 of them at last count.  I've got the unloader track to dump them, too.  I body mounted couplers on all of them first, but later decided the old trucks with plastic wheels were slowing the trains down too much.  I did the whole bunch at once and got much better rolling performance.  

These are "old friends" from the 50s and 60s.  I have a few Tyco gons and boxcars, but the hoppers are a relic I'm happy to preserve.  I restored an old Vollmer flood loader as well, so I can actually do point-to-point coal operations.

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

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Posted by Lastspikemike on Sunday, August 22, 2021 8:34 AM

I have also found Accurail trucks to be superior to most. I'm only familiar with the ones supplied in the kits. 

When I upgrade the kits to Kadee trucks I save the Accurail trucks to upgrade older used stuff. 

I also confirm the superiority of Intermountain wheelsets. Tangent makes equally good wheelsets. Rapido makes cheaper wheelsets that are also very good but don't have the turned down axle ends which seem to make Intermountain and Tangent the superior product they are in actual running quality.

Alyth Yard

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Posted by KitbashOn30 on Sunday, August 22, 2021 1:18 PM

RealGomer
Which is better as a replacement - body mount or truck mount. Using all truck mounts would be an easier swap for me. The big downside is the cost. Suggestions?

First, a comment even though there is no indication of it being an issue for you: at some point coupling truck-mounted couplers to body-mounted couplers becomes a problem for certain mixtures of car lengths and curve radiuses because the two types of mountings have different offsets from track centerline when rounding sharper curves & that generates sideways forces which can derail cars, therefore it is advisable to have all couplers mounted same way.

Have a, somewhat slow, project going of making a pulpwood train with mostly secondhand Tyco pulpwood cars plus a few cars by other makers through the decades, including one car by Revell.

They Tyco cars are all getting new trucks and body mounted couplers.

Trucks are by Tichy Train Group and were bought in a box of several trucks. Fitting them to Tyco cars required reducing size of Tyco's snap-in attachment hole via length of small plastic tubing glued in then tapped 2-56 with a tap from a packet sold by Kadee. New trucks are then held by screw compared to original snap-on trucks.

Screw-mounting Kadee coupler boxes to the Tyco pulpwood car body requires either grinding a nothch in the metal weight or drilling a clearance hole. 
My kitchen table isn't the place to do that so I glued the Kadee plastic coupler boxes to the Tyco plastic underframe with either Plastruct or Tamiya liquid cement.
That holds just fine in layout usage in 20 car train.

Coupler box covers are the snap-on ones in the new style box used with the whisker couplers but it needs additional security via a tiny drop of plastic glue or a larger drop of white glue: I don't want to have non-removable coupler box covers because of the odd chance a car could need replacement of coupler.

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Posted by doctorwayne on Sunday, August 22, 2021 5:36 PM

RealGomer
...Some of the cars have truck mounted coupler and other body mounted. Which is better as a replacement - body mount or truck mount. Using all truck mounts would be an easier swap for me. The big downside is the cost. Suggestions?

It's not all that difficult to replace or re-use the older types of trucks on Tyco and Mantua rolling stock, and easily add body-mounted couplers, too.

I picked-up a bunch of Tyco and Mantua gondolas at a train show a couple of years ago in Ohio, and payed only a buck or two for each them, from various sellers.
While I was originally planning to kitbash them into CNR prototypes, I didn't realise, until I returned home, that I had bought the wrong cars, which should have been from a different manufacturer, the name of which still escapes me.

Anyways, gondolas are always useful when you want to run cars with loads, so I decided to work with what I had to make them perform better and look better, too.

One of the cars was Mantua, with a cast metal underframe and metal trucks with metal wheels and largish flanges like these, and all of the cars had truck mounted NMRA couplers.

I scrapped the metal trucks and replaced them with a pair of plastic ones from my "parts department", with plastic wheels.

Partially visible is some added underbody detail, but because of the metal underframe, I skipped trying to drill small holes for mounting the brake gear, and instead used ca to cement some styrene blocks into the space in the centresill.
It was then easy to use a pin vise to drill holes for adding the brake rigging...

As you can see, there's a body-mounted couple in view...for that, I would have used a motorised drill to make the holes, and then cut threads using a tap.  I apparently didn't have flat-head screws available at that time, but I did use a largish hand-held drill bit to create a partial countersink in the plastic Kadee draught gear boxes for the pan-head screws used on that car's couplers.

Here's that car in service, with a removeable load of pipe made from the ink reservoirs of Bic pens...

The other cars, mostly TYCO, but a couple Mantuas, too, all had plastic underbodies, with clip-in style plastic trucks.
That made adding underbody detail easy, along with adding Kadee couplers, as holes for both were easily done with small drill bits in a pin vise, and likewise for adding the draught gear boxes.

I could have easily replaced the clip-in plastic trucks, but they actually had pretty-decent detail...

...so I opted to keep them.

The first step was to plug the large truck-mounting holes in the underbody, and for that I used Evergreen 3/16" styrene tubing, with an addition of a length of 1/8" tubing cemented into the larger material, as shown here...

...which allowed me to use the 3-48 screws that I had on-hand, as they neatly cut their own threads in the tubing.

However, the trucks needed a couple of modifications to be ready for screw-mounting.  The first step was to slice-off the draught gear for the truck-mounted couplers, then remove the extensions atop the trucks that were used as clip-in mounts for the trucks. 

That left a fairly large opening in the trucks' bolsters, so I used some slightly oversized styrene rod to plug the gaps, coating the rod with MEK to soften the exterior of the plastic so that it could be forced into the slightly smaller holes.

Because the truck is made of engineering plastic, the MEK-coated rod will not bond to the truck, but it is held quite securely in place.  To ensure that the rod will not, at a later time, decide to go for a stroll, I added a plate of . 040" black styrene to the bottom of each truck bolster, cementing it to the styrene rod. 
The plate was then drilled so that the truck could be simply screwed in place...

That little exercise gets the car in service, but there are a few more things that you can do to make the car fit-in a little better with more recently-made rolling stock.

An easy improvement is to use an X-Acto chisel-type blade to remove the angled braces inside the carbody - they're not really necessary, as the car's sides are thick and robust. This will allow the car to accept built-up loads like those which fit into the Accurail gondolas of a similar size.

Another reasonably easy upgrade is to remove the cast-on grabirons and replace them with wire ones - Tichy offers straight- and drop-type ones which stand up well, and A-Line has a variety of nicely rendered drop steps, also metal.

Wayne

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Posted by Lastspikemike on Sunday, August 22, 2021 9:13 PM

Mehano maybe? They made nice stuff.

Alyth Yard

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Posted by SeeYou190 on Friday, September 17, 2021 7:24 PM

RealGomer
My rolling stock is primarily Tyco with a smattering of Athearn, Revell

Gomer:

I have a few Tyco train cars that remind me of my childhood. I am in the process of assembling a couple of operable Tyco "train set" trains.

You should body mount the couplers. When the couplers are on the body, the trucks are free to track without any outside forces. I use Kadee couplers in Kadee's coupler boxes. I also install nothing but genuine Kadee trucks with code 110 wheels on these cars.

If you do this, you will need to open up the car and glue some plastic material to the inside so that the coupler mounting screw will have something to thread into. I also install a plug in the original truck mounting holes and drill it out for a 2-56 truck mounting screw.

It is worth the effort to bring these colorful old train cars up to A+ operating characteristics.

-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 Lastspikemike on Saturday, September 18, 2021 9:35 AM

Body mount couplers seem to work better than truck mounted when reversing.

In a forwards direction the sideways (stringlining) forces are actually higher when using body mount couplers which is why tight radius toy trains use truck mounted couplers in the first place.

For model railroads using 22" or broader radius curves and #5 or higher turnouts body mount is the way to go if you can. However, truck mount couplers work fine also on the broader radius curves, just go slower when reversing, same as for the prototype.

Alyth Yard

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Posted by Heartland Division CB&Q on Saturday, September 18, 2021 9:52 AM

All of my older cars that had truck mounted couplers have been changed to body mounted couplers. My method is similar to what Wayne described and illustrated with his excellent post in this thread.

I prefer Kadee couplers and metal wheels.  

GARRY

HEARTLAND DIVISION, CB&Q RR

EVERYWHERE LOST; WE HUSTLE OUR CABOOSE FOR YOU

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Posted by RealGomer on Saturday, September 18, 2021 3:59 PM

SeeYou190 - I have that Ralston Purina boxcar and the Santa Fe locomotive. I also took an old Tyco Santa Fe boxcar and repainted it and threw some home printed decals on to make it a GE car. Why? My wife used to work at a Purina Feed Store and at GE.

 

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Posted by SeeYou190 on Sunday, September 19, 2021 9:34 AM

RealGomer
I have that Ralston Purina boxcar and the Santa Fe locomotive. I also took an old Tyco Santa Fe boxcar and repainted it and threw some home printed decals on to make it a GE car. Why? My wife used to work at a Purina Feed Store and at GE.

Great story. I will probably someday make boxcars of the places I have worked... all three of them!

My Santa Fe F unit has a Proto-Power West chassis under the hood with a Sagami can motor. It runs smooth as soft butter!

I hope to add a Chattanooga 2-8-0 and Midnight Express Baldwin diesel to the roster. These are the only two other models I remember from my childhood. I have a mechanism from an Oriental Powerhouse 2-8-2 I hope can be worked into the Chattanooga-Choo-Choo.

For Tyco freight cars, I think I currently only have three. The two shown above, and an Old Dutch Cleanser boxcar. There are several more that I want to add, but I am in no hurry.

With the properly installed body mounted couplers, Kadee trucks, and increased weight, I can drop these into any train and the operate perfectly. People are usually impressed with my "train set" junk that runs so good.

-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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