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Walthers 85' Amfleet II Passenger Cars derailing on 28" and larger radius curves

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Walthers 85' Amfleet II Passenger Cars derailing on 28" and larger radius curves
Posted by Coastie71 on Friday, February 12, 2021 6:01 PM

I purchased 8 HO WalthersProto 85' Amfleet II passenger cars for my newly layed track layout that has mainly 32 and 34 1/2" radius curves, but some are 28."  Regardless of the radius the cars still derail in various spots on several of the curves.  You can see the adjacent cars hitting each other as they go around the curve and not just the wheel truck binding.  I thought I would be safe since Walther's claims 24" minimum radius, but apparently that doesn't seem to be the case.  Tried removing the door diaphrams, but still have the problem.  Tried reading another forum, but really not sure what the fix is or should I just give up and stick with freight trains with much smaller cars.  Very disappointed with Walther's on this especially with the money spent and now past 30 day return period.

Appreciate any help

Gary (Coastie71)

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Posted by Overmod on Friday, February 12, 2021 6:58 PM

If the cars physically hit you need longer coupler shanks or drawbars than installed.  Likewise if the diaphragms hit or interfere, they need to be cut back or replaced with 'softer' material or more compliant construction.

It's easy to assess truck swing by turning the car over, setting the truck flanges against a suitable piece of curved track or a trammel-cut arc of, say, cardboard and seeing where the truck pivoting might be impeded. What you cut away or smooth to fix the impediment will depend on what you find.

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Posted by richhotrain on Friday, February 12, 2021 7:42 PM

Overmod

If the cars physically hit you need longer coupler shanks 

Yes

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Posted by nealknows on Friday, February 12, 2021 8:24 PM

I added Kadee #146 Long shank couplers. The bigger problem are the trucks don't roll freely like they should and will cause derailments and drag. They never fixed that issue despite upgrading the cars... 

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Posted by ndbprr on Saturday, February 13, 2021 7:37 AM

Continuous one direction curve or an S Curve?  S curves need a car length of straight track between the curves.

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Posted by Lastspikemike on Saturday, February 13, 2021 8:10 AM

Do these cars use the same goofy twin pivot couplers used on the 6 axle heavyweights?

Those are rated for 24" radius according to the Walthers box but nope.

Even cutting away the central underframe beam won't get you the truck pivot range you need. The rear of the truck contacts the beam but cutting it away doesn't help enough because the front of the truck also contacts the coupler box. 

Take a piece of 24" Atlas sectional track and apply it to the trucks with the car upside down. Longer couplers can't fix truck rotation limit problems. 

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Posted by Coastie71 on Saturday, February 13, 2021 7:45 PM

I want to thank everyone for there input and great advice.  I think most of you are telling me to go with longer shank couplers and one of you gave a specific type Kadee #146 Long shank couplers.  I know I still have one spot that I think its also the truck not able to pivot enough as it derails there with only a single car.

If I can get the rest of the layout to work OK with the longer couplers and only have the spot I might not be able to do anything about I'll be a little more satisfied and just will have to back the trains up when I get to that spot.

Someone asked me about whether I had any S curves.  All my curves are regular curves and I went through alot of planning before and during laying the roadbed and track to ensure the radius were supposedly sufficient for these longer cars.  Used the MicroMark track tools for determing distances between tracks (I have double main lines) and would constantly check everything to ensure proper track separation distances and to sure there were no kinks and curves looked like they flowed properly.  I used Atlas code 83 flextrack throughout and Atlas number 6 and 8 turnouts and number 8s for curved turnouts.  I know that reduces the radius somewhat from my 32 and 34 1/2" laid out curves, but I didn't think that should have been a problem and they are not playing into the areas where they derail.

Being new too model railroading having only done a 4x8 N scale layout in the 1980s I'm not sure the type of couplers that Walther's currently uses on these cars.  These were the newly released Amtrak cars.

Again, I want to thank everyone for there great help.

Gary (Coastie71)

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Posted by selector on Saturday, February 13, 2021 9:13 PM

Coastie71

...  I know I still have one spot that I think its also the truck not able to pivot enough as it derails there with only a single car.

I....  I used Atlas code 83 flextrack throughout and Atlas number 6 and 8 turnouts and number 8s for curved turnouts.  I know that reduces the radius somewhat from my 32 and 34 1/2" laid out curves, but I didn't think that should have been a problem and they are not playing into the areas where they derail.

....

Gary (Coastie71)

 

Those turnouts should not be the problem unless something like snagging coupler pins is causing this.  Curved #8 turnouts will have generous radii in them, well above 26" even on the inner route (if they have the geometry advertised and are NMRA compliant).

I think it might be a combination of things.  Often fixing one suffices, but sometimes it takes some doing to get cars to couple reliably, to trail reliably, and to be shoved without derailing.  I'm talking about long passenger cars.  It could be that they're too light for the rolling resistance they offer to the locomotive, and if going around tight curves, that could be a problem.

Guard rails at frogs, or high frogs, can also be a problem.  Wheel gauge can be a problem.  And you have been advised that at least one truck may not pivot well enough to keep things moving, but atop the rails.

When I had trouble with my Walthers heavyweights 14 years ago, I found that they needed a wider radius than the 24" that Walthers claimed on their advertising that the cars could handle.  In fact, they would not back properly on my layout where I had 28" minimum curves, probably due to my removing some of the floor weights to lighten them (I had steep grades) and due to the diaphragms impacting each other during coupler bunch when backing.

You are finding that trailing the cars is the problem, so I would bet on diaphragms, as had been mentioned.  The longer shank couplers will help a lot.  You'll get used the looks.  Later, if/when you build a layout with curves in the 32+" range, you can revert to the shorter couplers.

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Posted by richhotrain on Sunday, February 14, 2021 5:24 AM

selector

Those turnouts should not be the problem unless something like snagging coupler pins is causing this.  Curved #8 turnouts will have generous radii in them, well above 26" even on the inner route (if they have the geometry advertised and are NMRA compliant).

I think it might be a combination of things.  Often fixing one suffices, but sometimes it takes some doing to get cars to couple reliably, to trail reliably, and to be shoved without derailing.  I'm talking about long passenger cars.  It could be that they're too light for the rolling resistance they offer to the locomotive, and if going around tight curves, that could be a problem.

Guard rails at frogs, or high frogs, can also be a problem.  Wheel gauge can be a problem.  And you have been advised that at least one truck may not pivot well enough to keep things moving, but atop the rails.

When I had trouble with my Walthers heavyweights 14 years ago, I found that they needed a wider radius than the 24" that Walthers claimed on their advertising that the cars could handle.  In fact, they would not back properly on my layout where I had 28" minimum curves, probably due to my removing some of the floor weights to lighten them (I had steep grades) and due to the diaphragms impacting each other during coupler bunch when backing.

You are finding that trailing the cars is the problem, so I would bet on diaphragms, as had been mentioned.  The longer shank couplers will help a lot.  You'll get used the looks.  Later, if/when you build a layout with curves in the 32+" range, you can revert to the shorter couplers.

Rest assured, these problems can be fixed. It's just that it takes a fair amount of time and effort to find and resolve the problems. I agree with Selector on the list of possible causes.

Snagging coupler pins can definitely be a problem, particularly on curves and when backing up cars. I clip off a portion of those metal pins to eliminate the snagging problem.

Curve radius is another issue. I have 32" radius curves on my layout, and that still is not broad enough to prevent some derailments before the problems are resolved. I believe from experience that a 36" minimum radius is required to absolutely eliminate derailments.

Snagging diaphragms are another likely cause. I have found that if the diaphragms touch each other on curves, derailments are likely to occur. My solution is to add longer couplers.

The suggestion to add Kadee #146 long centerset shank couplers is a good one except for the fact that the spacing between cars is noticeably and unrealistically far apart.

My solution was to add the #146 couplers only on one end of each car and mate them with #148 medium centerset shank couplers on the matching ends of each car. That is sufficient to create the necessary spacing without creating unrealistic spacing.

Rich

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Posted by Coastie71 on Wednesday, February 24, 2021 5:16 PM

Selector thanks for the input.  I'm not experiencing problems with the turnouts its other places on the curves some of which do not have turnouts at all.  Going to go with the longer shank couplers and probably what Rich said as far as using 146 and 148 Kadee couplers.  I know I'm going to have to modify the area that stops the wheel truck from turning more as one or more curves a single car moved by hand (My track is not completely wired yet, but alot is) slowly or quickly will derail, so its not a problem in those areas with distance between cars or diaphrams.  What you mention about car weight I'm not sure if that is a problem, especially since the areas with the problems is with hand pulled cars (no engine pulling them).

I've laid all my track already and really thought I would have been OK with my 32 and 34 1/2 radius curves, but had I gone any bigger on my double mainline layout the curves would approaching the other adjacent track and would leave no room for scenery (river, some small hills, etc.).  I've run my long diesel engines and coal cars through some of the areas with passengar car derailment and I experienced no problems.

Again, thanks again for your help.  I appreciate it.

Gary (Coastie71)

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Posted by GN EB fan on Friday, March 19, 2021 8:19 AM

Hello all, interesting for me to hear about reasons and remedy for p.car derailment. 10 years ago I changed my complete roster from german/austrian into US trains keeping the Roco track. The layout is along the room walls with only one reverse loop, made of R3 means radius 420 mm or 16 1/2 inch. A few problems with freight cars occured, but heavy problems to bring my first passenger train the Walthers Empire Builder 10 car train to work. This for me required to elevate every car by 1,2 mm using wire formed to a ring as a shim. This has big influence on the pivot range of the trucks, nearly no cutting was necessary. Every car got one long shank coupler on one end. And the end cars needed one low shank coupler to match with the F7 locomotives. Additionally I closed the diaphragms with transparent TESA tape a little wider than the diaphragm to prevent from hooking up with the neighbour. Recently I purchased Walthers Amfleet cars, some are critical because of more friction than normal, and drive a 5 car train with no derailment. Looks a little strange in the reverse loop, but works. Even a brass 4-8-4 goes through this loop. Big Smile  

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Posted by riogrande5761 on Friday, March 19, 2021 1:57 PM

My minimum radius is 32" also.  I don't have any Walthers Amfleet II passenger cars but I do have a bunch of heritage Walthers passenger cars.  Have had them on 34 inch curves in staging but the 32" curves aren't laid yet.  Here is hoping.

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Posted by Overmod on Friday, March 19, 2021 4:58 PM

GN EB fan
Additionally I closed the diaphragms with transparent TESA tape a little wider than the diaphragm to prevent from hooking up with the neighbour.

Has this expedient been tried in the past, or discussed here?

It occurs to me that some means of removing part of the backing adhesive from the 'visible' edge might be necessary to prevent dust buildup.  I wonder if templates could be made up to cut transparent 'guards' to size from tape and then facilitate removing or 'passivating' adhesive without impairing adhesion to the diaphragm face.  Or alternatively making the guard out of a price rod* properly chosen clear film or sheet and applying adhesive that wouldn't show...

*This was thoughtfully 'corrected' by crApple and I have no recollection what it originally was intended to be.  At least the idea is there...

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Posted by zstripe on Saturday, March 20, 2021 2:25 PM

riogrande5761

My minimum radius is 32" also.  I don't have any Walthers Amfleet II passenger cars but I do have a bunch of heritage Walthers passenger cars.  Have had them on 34 inch curves in staging but the 32" curves aren't laid yet.  Here is hoping.

 

If Your cars have swing arm coupler pockets like the ones in the photo, You should not have any problems with Your radius size.....Mine will run flawlessly on a small stretch of 28'' that I have incorporated into all over 36'' radius on the rest of layout:

Take Care! Big Smile

Frank

BTW: I should mention that all the engines(which are close coupled) and cars have working diapharms.

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Posted by riogrande5761 on Saturday, March 20, 2021 4:05 PM

Frank, that is re-assuring.  I've always heard negative things about the Amtrak Amfeet cars.  The heritage cars based on older ATSF, UP, GN/NP etc. have also been mentioned as not playing well on the stated minimum radius, which I think is 24 inches, so I have always hoped 32 inches was enough to allow them to operate well without modifications.  I've tested them on 34" that I have laid, and no issue there so far.

Rio Grande.  The Action Road  - Focus 1977-1983

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Posted by Lastspikemike on Sunday, March 21, 2021 8:07 AM

Notice the cast in cut outs in the centerbeam. Those are to allow the rear of the trucks to rotate further than they otherwise would. I made these modifications to the centerbeam under a Walthers heavyweight car. However, the front rotation of the truck is also restricted by the coupler pocket. No doubt that is why the coupler is a swinging type. 

I have two of these: a service diner and a service sleeper, different step locations, different trucks and different coupler designs. Using the centerbeam cut out technique wouldn't work on the diner car.

I'd check to see if the front of these trucks actually can rotate far enough. 

Alyth Yard

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Posted by Lastspikemike on Tuesday, April 20, 2021 9:04 AM

Looking again at this problem would fitting a short axle wheelset into the center position of the Heritage  three axle trucks work? Like flange less drivers? 

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Posted by nealknows on Tuesday, April 20, 2021 5:27 PM

The problem still exists with the Amfleet cars. Adding the Kadee #146 couplers help, but the drag on the wheels and trucks are the main issue. I've tried adding graphite to no avail. I haven't seen anyone post a fix for the Amfleet cars. 

Still waiting for one....

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Posted by Overmod on Wednesday, April 21, 2021 2:05 PM

nealknows
The problem still exists with the Amfleet cars. Adding the Kadee #146 couplers help, but the drag on the wheels and trucks are the main issue.

I thought you said that the cars 'hitting each other' was the main problem.  If you don't have pivoting coupler pockets with enough swing (a la Frank) the cars may still be pulling sideways in curves putting load on the trucks or wheels.  That will be a difficult thing to address.

You might start by ensuring that the truck wheels do not bind when horizontally loaded -- polish the backs of the wheels and make 'hub liners' of thin Teflon or acetal sheet, or some other antifriction approach.

Second, make sure the truck swiveling is likewise free under side pressure, without rocking.  I'd at least think about a short brass or plastic bushing cut from tube, with the hole in the truck frame reamed to fit smoothly.

My practice was to arrange cars like this for 'three-point' support, i.e. the truck at one end fixed only to swivel, the other end purposely allowed to wobble a tiny bit to simulate equalization and keep all 8 wheels tracking.  Ideally the tight curve will not result in the car trying to 'cock' over the slight wobble to bind its rotation in curve following... or twist the truck into binding or derailing.

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Posted by nealknows on Wednesday, April 21, 2021 4:04 PM

Overmod,

The OP has the same issue as I do, and I'm sure others...

These are not the traditional trucks and wheels as you would find on other passenger cars. I've added graphite, bent the contacts that hold the wheels to the trucks to no avail. The couplers / coupler pockets are not the issue, at least with me. Running them on a straight section of track, the cars still drag. They're an issue and despite reaching out to Walthers for a fix, they try to sell you new trucks and wheels. However, they don't fit the older models! 

I just may change the trucks entirely to something that runs better than what they supply. Maybe Superliner trucks? Will it be prototypical? No. Do I care? Not really if my passenger cars will run better (I have over 20 of these). If a rivet counter complains, well, I give them the directions to the door!!

Neal

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Posted by NittanyLion on Wednesday, April 21, 2021 4:49 PM

The rolling quality traces to the design of the bearings. It works well for real machines, but not so much for models.

There's a way to modify the trucks to install metal bearings in the trucks to reduce the friction. It is a bit of straightforward surgery. 

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Posted by Overmod on Wednesday, April 21, 2021 4:56 PM

Thanks for the pictures.

First, those are not prototypical wheels for Amfleet, which may make some of the 'rework' easier in principle.  Does anyone have a source for 'correct' ones (made with the correct light-rusty finish?)

Second, the problem is largely in that cockamamie cheap method of 'controlling lateral' on the axles in those trucks, with those little necked-down journal areas.  But in this lie the seeds of approaches to fix things.

As I see them pictured, these trucks have virtually no protection at all against binding when laterally loaded.  Approaches to fix things must address that first; fortunately almost anything that does that will give you smooth (if not pointed-axle-easy) rolling resistance as well.

Easiest thing I can think of would be to make or adapt plastic bearings that would fit over and within the necked part of the axles and bear on the shoulders.  Open up the sideframes enough to mount these in the slots.

An alternative would be to mount wider bearings in the sideframes to run on the larger radius of the axle, with the outer ends carefully polished to act as thrust faces or given some effective 'hub liner' functionality against the wheels.  

An absolute outside solution -- much as I hate to invoke it -- is the old Olympia Models tender-truck-from-hell solution: sleeve the whole axle up to a larger diameter and cut the sideframes out for bearings that the axles can 'snap into'.

Once you have good bearing and thrust contacts, and more importantly separated the two functions, you can look into truck swivel and three-point issues -- but I bet better bearings and careful lateral will solve things.

There is probably a market for snap-in bearings, comparable to those inserts for stub-axle trucks, that could be sold combined with a fixture/jig for drilling the sideframes.

So far I've never seen an accurate truck for one of these cars, which is strange because they constitute so much of the appearance to me.  I wonder how much of a market there would be to make them; it wouldn't require much to do it right, including lateral compliance for tight curves  Wink

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Posted by gmpullman on Thursday, April 22, 2021 12:14 AM

We seem to have an apples/oranges/kumquat thing going on here.

I believe the OP is in search of information for the Walthers Proto Amfleet cars.

 AMfleet_Coach by Edmund, on Flickr

I believe the trucks look just fine. Mine only have a rudimentary "weathering" going on waiting for the day when I'm in the right frame of mind to do final weathering.

 AMfleet_Coach2 by Edmund, on Flickr

I gave the wheel faces a Q&D coat of ModelMaster Rust just to get away from the factory finish. First runs were bright chrome and later they were slightly "blackened" but not by much.

The inboard bearings are just like the locomotive axle bearings and they DO have a lot of surface area compared to a traditional needlepoint bearing. MY solution was to give them one drop each of CRC 2-26, then run them. And I do mean run them. After about ten or fifteen hours of running time, alternating directions now-and-then, recheck them. Some are a little snug in the lateral movement. Remove the axle and lightly pass a good, fine mill file on the inside face of the "saddle" that surrounds the bearing. It also helps to slightly loosen the four screws and place the trucks on a good, known flat surface. Be sure both inboard frames are parallel then carefully and alternately snug the screws.

 Amfleet_Proto-truck by Edmund, on Flickr

I have found several deformed axle tubes. I had spare trucks on hand so I didn't bother to fabricate replacement axles but it would be a fairly simple task.

 Amfleet_Proto-truck2 by Edmund, on Flickr

I don't believe you will ever reduce the drag completely, as compared to a needlepoint axle end, but after a good run-in and proper lubing they run just fine. I can pull six using one F40-PH and the Kato AMD-103 will pull 8 no sweat.

IF you believe you are having a coupler issue, Walthers offeres an extended draft gear insert that may help you.

https://www.modeltrainstuff.com/walthers-proto-ho-920-6020-long-shank-extended-drawbar-20-pack/

They only add about .017" in length as I recall, but it mighht be just enough.

Good Luck, Ed

 

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Posted by nealknows on Thursday, April 22, 2021 7:39 AM

Ed,

You are correct. I showed the original Walthers Amfleet Cars. The OP has the new (?) Proto Amfleet Cars. However, the newer cars still have a rolling issue. In addition, the new trucks they put on the the Proto cars will not fit on the older cars without major surgey. I have plenty of these so I may have to sacrifice one in the name of train science. 

Unfortunately, we shouldn't have to perform such work on these right out of the box. 

I've put the older cars away and I'm running some of the new ones for now. The coupler issues aren't a problem right now since I added the Kadee #146 couplers. It may not look the greatest, but they run. 

Thanks for the suggestion to make the new cars roll a little smoother. I do run mine with the P42 and F40 engines as well...

Neal 

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Posted by wjstix on Thursday, April 22, 2021 10:28 AM

On my Walthers cars (not Amfleet) I added long shank couplers to one side of each car, so each car has a 'front' with a long shank coupler and a 'rear' with a regular coupler. That seems to be enough to keep the diaphragms from hitting, but still the cars aren't too far apart.

Note that in general with any cars it's not unusual for the trucks to be screwed on too tight. Sometimes just loosening it a turn or two so the trucks can freely swivel with a little up-and-down movement makes a big difference.

Stix
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Posted by riogrande5761 on Monday, April 26, 2021 6:55 AM

wjstix

On my Walthers cars (not Amfleet) I added long shank couplers to one side of each car, so each car has a 'front' with a long shank coupler and a 'rear' with a regular coupler. That seems to be enough to keep the diaphragms from hitting, but still the cars aren't too far apart.

Note that in general with any cars it's not unusual for the trucks to be screwed on too tight. Sometimes just loosening it a turn or two so the trucks can freely swivel with a little up-and-down movement makes a big difference.

What is your minimum radius.  At what minium radius does it become necessary to make any modifications to Walthers Heritage non-Amflet passenger cars operate well.

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Posted by Lastspikemike on Monday, April 26, 2021 8:21 AM

The box says 24" minimum radius. But that's not correct in many cases.

Two problems not addressed by fitting longer couplers: firstly, the three axle trucks are "too long", or, put another way, the axles are too tight laterally in the trucks which are metal and have zero compliance. Secondly, the massive coupler boxes used by Walthers to enclose their dual action couplers prevent enough rotation of the trucks. The leading edge of the truck touches the coupler box before sufficient rotation of the truck can occur. This second problem appears to me to be intermittent when I turn the car over and swing the truck left to right and back.

Cutting indents into the center beam is not effective because of the coupler box problem.

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Posted by Overmod on Monday, April 26, 2021 11:11 AM

Why in Hades is this discussion wandering into anything other than Walthers Amfleet cars?

Now we're getting into the physics of three-axle trucks, completely irrelevant to the thread's issues.

All this would have a place in a general thread about getting longer cars... even Walthers cars in general... around sharp curves.  But this isn't that thread, and shouldn't be drifted into becoming that thread.

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Posted by wjstix on Monday, April 26, 2021 12:57 PM

My assumption is/was that it's possible all Walthers passenger cars with four-wheel trucks could all have similar "issues", since their general set-up is the same. Plus all cars - passenger, freight, etc. can suffer from having the trucks screwed on too tight.

My minimum radius is 28", but I have places where trains need to back into a station so not having the diaphragms touching makes a difference.

Stix
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Posted by Overmod on Monday, April 26, 2021 1:21 PM

wjstix
My assumption is/was that it's possible all Walthers passenger cars with four-wheel trucks could all have similar "issues", since their general set-up is the same. Plus all cars - passenger, freight, etc. can suffer from having the trucks screwed on too tight.

Neither of those is a bad assumption.  It's just that the specific detail design of the Walthers Pioneer Amfleet trucks is directly concerned in the context of the thread -- both with respect to the axle bearing issues and to the centerpin and truck-swing concerns.  We have established that much of the potential truck issue wouldn't be present for trucks with needle-point journals -- how many other designs of Walthers passenger car have inside-bearing trucks?  Likewise I believe the needle-point axles contribute somewhat to progressive truck-frame steering in curves, more so than any little chamfers at the necked-down edges of the axles as provided in the Amfleet trucks.   These are valuable points to make, but they don't help, except as illustrations of other solutions to the issues, an OP who can't get his Amfleet cars to track as specified by Walthers.

Not having the diaphragms touch or otherwise interfere at any time is an important part of the specific Amfleet solution, regardless of any truck lateral or rotation issues.

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