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Upgrading IHC and Con Cor Passenger Cars

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Upgrading IHC and Con Cor Passenger Cars
Posted by richhotrain on Saturday, March 24, 2012 5:10 AM

In a few instances, I have had to purchase either IHC passenger cars or Con Cor passenger cars because that was the only source for a road name that I needed.

Out of the box, these cars are awful.  The color scheme is fine, and the detail (or lack thereof) is acceptable, but the positives stop there.

The cars are simply too lightweight, averaging about 3.5 ounces, with the Con Cor cars being a little heavier than the IHC cars since a pair of weighted plates are glued to the floor of each car.

The couplers are truck mounted which makes it impossible to back the cars up without derailments.  And, even in forward, the couplers are not very good and are difficult to uncouple.

The trucks are plastic and both the IHC cars and the Con Cor cars use plastic push pins to mount the trucks to the underside of the car frame.  The Con Cor push pin simply lodges into the frame under its own pressure.  The IHC car uses a split pin that extends up into the interior of the car.  The push pins are centered on the IHC cars, but the push pins are forward offset on the Con Cor cars.  These push pin arrangements cause the cars to lean severely into the turns on curved track.

Lastly, the wheels are plastic on the Con Cor cars and the older IHC cars.  In my experience, plastic wheels are poor performers and leave sticky black grime on the rails which metal wheeled locos pick up immediately.

So, I set about to upgrade these passenger cars for better performance.

The first thing that I did was to replace the truck mounted couplers with Kadee body mounted whisker couplers.  Kadee does sell coupler conversion kits for those who wish to retain the truck mounted arrangement, and i initially tried that on the Con Cor cars, but I quickly switched to body mounted couplers.  In both cases, I needed to add coupler mounting pads to the underside of the car body.  Jay Bee Enterprises makes coupler mounting pads for the IHC cars and the Con Cor cars, but they were out of stock everywhere that I looked, so I made my own out of sheet styrene.

Next, I replaced the plastic wheels with Intermountain metal wheels. The Con Cor cars are 4 axle arrangements.  I used 36" wheels to match the prototype.  The IHC cars are 6 axle arrangements.  Once again,  I used 36" wheels to match the prototype.   Some have said that they had problems with 36" wheels on the IHC cars, but I had no problem with this size wheel.  What did cause a problem on the IHC cars was the protrusion of the round head machine screw.  It interfered with the installation of the middle wheelset on each truck.  I solved that problem by simply using two wheelsets on each truck.  Once on the layout, you do not notice the missing wheelset.

Then, upon the good advice of the people on this forum, I replaced the push pins on both types of cars with 6-32 x 3/8 round head machine screws which easily and firmly screw into the existing holes used by the plastic push pins.  I used a #6 flat metal washer on both sides of the truck to ensure smooth movement.  I initially tightened the trucks by screwing the trucks all the way up against the frame and then backed off the screw until the trucks rode smoothly on the rails.  I found that, the tighter the trucks, the greater the tendency for one wheelset on each truck to lift off the rails.

Lastly, I added weight to the cars by inserting adhesive backed steel wheel weights on the floor of each car to bring them up to NMRA standards.  These weights come in strips of twelve 1/4 ounce pieces which can be easily divided up to meet your needs.  I found that the best configuration was right over the trucks and right over the ends of the cars.  Removing the roofs of the IHC cars was a breeze.  The roof and glass is one piece of plastic with six tabs that snap into the floor of the car.  By lightly squeezing the roof/glass assembly, the roof can be lifted off the car.  The roof and glass assembly on the Con Cor car is similar, but it was more firmly on place.  By carefully and persistently applying upward pressure, I eventually got the roofs off of the Con Cor cars without any damage.

It took some time to do six IHC cars and five Con Cor cars, but I am pleased with the results.  No derailments, no unintended uncouplings, no leaning.

Rich

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Posted by ChadLRyan on Saturday, March 24, 2012 5:28 AM

Rich,

That is an excellent write-up & how to!
I am saving it in my train/data directory for future reference! 
Thank you!!!

I am really glad that you were able to make them work & improve them for your environment.
It sounds like you are very satisfied with the results, & they are now real working cars on your layout.
Great work!!

Thanks Again!!!

Chad L Ryan
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Posted by mobilman44 on Saturday, March 24, 2012 6:35 AM

Hi!

It's a shame one has to go thru so much work just to get a car to operate as it should.  Even the high priced Walthers and Rapido cars need fine tuning / adjustments before they are good to go.  

Kind of ironic that the ol cheapie Athearn BB passenger cars were typically easy to put together and ran really well thereafter.  

But, we all want more detail and realism and that calls for more work on our parts - no matter what we pay for the cars.

No complaints here, just stating my view of the situation..................

ENJOY  !

 

Mobilman44

 

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

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Posted by richhotrain on Saturday, March 24, 2012 6:58 AM

mobilman44

It's a shame one has to go thru so much work just to get a car to operate as it should.  Even the high priced Walthers and Rapido cars need fine tuning / adjustments before they are good to go.  

I do have some Walthers and Rapido cars.  Of course, they are properly weighted, and they come with body mounted couplers and metal wheels. 

The main issue with the Walthers and Rapido cars is the realistic diaphragm at the end of each car and the close coupling to join the diaphragms.  This can cause the cars to derail on tight curves.  My layout has 32" radius curves which I find are too tight for the factory installed couplers, so I alternate Kadee whisker couplers, medium and long, on each car.  My guess is that you need at least 40" radius curves to be able to stick with the factory installed medium couplers.

One other issue that I found with the Rapido cars, but not the Walthers cars, is that the trucks are too tight, such that the wheels don't spin freely.  I had to use the Micro Mark truck tuner to free up the wheels, and it was a real challenge to fit the tuner into the truck due to its tightness.

Rich

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Posted by simon1966 on Saturday, March 24, 2012 7:46 AM

Nice write up Rich.  If you can still find them, adding the hideously colored plastic interiors that the old IHC marketed adds quite a bit of weight.   The other redeeming factor for the IHC passenger cars is cost, at least when I purchased them, they were being sold off in sets a significant discounts.   I still see piles of them at the train-shows but have not paid attention to the price. 

Simon Modelling CB&Q and Wabash See my slowly evolving layout on my picturetrail site http://www.picturetrail.com/simontrains and our videos at http://www.youtube.com/user/MrCrispybake?feature=mhum

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Posted by richhotrain on Saturday, March 24, 2012 8:35 AM

simon1966

Nice write up Rich.  If you can still find them, adding the hideously colored plastic interiors that the old IHC marketed adds quite a bit of weight.   The other redeeming factor for the IHC passenger cars is cost, at least when I purchased them, they were being sold off in sets a significant discounts.   I still see piles of them at the train-shows but have not paid attention to the price. 

Thanks, Simon.

The IHC cars originally retailed for $15 each.  I bought five on eBay for just under $25 each.

Rich

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Posted by EmpireStateJR on Saturday, March 24, 2012 9:13 AM

Hey Rich,

 Well written and a keeper for all who want to upgrade these cars to be reliable runners. I started the upgrade on these cars over ten years ago. As we communicated in your prior posts they can be good runners BUT they require some work. I like your solution for omitting the middle axle on the three axle heavyweight  truck. I scrounged around for quite awhile trying to find a suitable #6 screw that would fit without interfering with the axle. In the end I got out the old file and spent quite a bit of time filing  the screw heads down.

On my specific cars I found the36" wheel sets worked well in the heavyweight trucks but the brake shoes interfered with the 36" wheels on the four axles trucks. For these trucks I used 33' wheels. I also used the McHenry couplers on my IHC fleet after finding the Kadee truck mounting kits to be a lot of work due to a tighter radius on my old layout. Body mounting if possible is the way to go as the McHenry's remain troublesome and I need to check the coupler heights every time I take the cars out of the box. For those still using McHenry's with their IHC cars a good improvement is to use a Kadee coupler spring in place of the McHenry spring. Lastly for weight I have used flat steel purchased at either the blue or orange big box stores. There are some notches in the bottom of the car, measure the width and cut to the length between the trucks. Paint it black and use double sided foam tape to attach it. On the down side this method takes up some room at the bottom of the car and the IHC interiors will not fit properly. In later cars I used black silicone sealant to affix the steel weight. This gave me a little more interior room.

Thanks for posting your easy to follow tutorial on improving these cars.

John R

 

 

John R.

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Posted by Heartland Division CB&Q on Saturday, March 24, 2012 9:53 AM

Rich .... That's an outstanding write-up about upgrading ConCor and IHC cars. Rivarossi cars also need to be upgraded in this fashion.

I have upgraded cars for all three of these. Here is how I do it. Much is the same as you do.

Painting .... I repaint the stainless steel cars in an effort. to match the plated cars made by BLI for the California Zephry. I have yet to try Alclad, but the results I see in this forum tell me I should do so.

Couplers. ... I use Kadee long shank couplers. I make my own mounting pads and glue them in.  I hold the coupler where I want it to find the location of the hole for coupler screw. The coupling distance should be as short as possible without having the ends of the cars (diaphrams) rubbing each other causing derailemnts on curves.

Trucks ..... Ideally, I replace the trucks with better quality. I can find out-of-production trucks made by IHC (high quality type), Central Valley, or Tenshodo. New bolsters must be fabricated with correct pivot location. I use self tapping screws after drilling holes. .... Alternatively, I use existing trucks with couplers removed. If they have plastic wheels, I replace with metal wheelsets. Rivarossi cars need 33" wheels instead of 36" wheels. Also, Rivarossie trucks have brake shoes that may be too close to the wheels, and they can be bent back so they are not working brakes. .... After mounting trucks, I make sure the roof height is the correct 13' 6" above the rail. I adjust if needed. Then I check coupler height and adjust if needed.

Weight ...... I add enough weight to make the cars weigh 7 ounces.  I use either the "stick-on" type or I make my own from steel bars. The steel bars are held inside the car on the floor with a good adhesive.

Interiors. ... I sometimes add seats and other interior details. Also, sometimes I install window shades, blinds, or curtains. Usually, I do not bother, however. Instead of interiors, I place black construction paper inside to block the view.  

I can run a train of these cars after the upgrades in forward and in reverse at top speed without derailing on 30" curves.

 Edit: ..... For dome cars, I place green cellophane inside the dome "glass" to make it look like tinted glass.

GARRY

HEARTLAND DIVISION, CB&Q RR

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Posted by CP5415 on Saturday, March 24, 2012 10:07 AM

richhotrain

 

The main issue with the Walthers and Rapido cars is the realistic diaphragm at the end of each car and the close coupling to join the diaphragms.  This can cause the cars to derail on tight curves.  My layout has 32" radius curves which I find are too tight for the factory installed couplers, so I alternate Kadee whisker couplers, medium and long, on each car.  My guess is that you need at least 40" radius curves to be able to stick with the factory installed medium couplers.

 

 

I've had the Walthers Budds & Athearn Bombardier cars go around a 22" curve right out of the box with no issues on my last layout. That was good as the curve was situated in a tunnel. So a 32" curve shouldn't be a problem. All the cars have been updated using KD #5's so I no longer have a problem when I'm trying to get the cars to couple to each other

My current layout has a couple of curves that are still less than 30" , still no issues & I'm not the  worlds best track layer.

Gordon

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Posted by richhotrain on Saturday, March 24, 2012 10:44 AM

EmpireStateJR

Hey Rich,

 Well written and a keeper for all who want to upgrade these cars to be reliable runners. I started the upgrade on these cars over ten years ago. As we communicated in your prior posts they can be good runners BUT they require some work. I like your solution for omitting the middle axle on the three axle heavyweight  truck. I scrounged around for quite awhile trying to find a suitable #6 screw that would fit without interfering with the axle. In the end I got out the old file and spent quite a bit of time filing  the screw heads down.

On my specific cars I found the36" wheel sets worked well in the heavyweight trucks but the brake shoes interfered with the 36" wheels on the four axles trucks. For these trucks I used 33' wheels. I also used the McHenry couplers on my IHC fleet after finding the Kadee truck mounting kits to be a lot of work due to a tighter radius on my old layout. Body mounting if possible is the way to go as the McHenry's remain troublesome and I need to check the coupler heights every time I take the cars out of the box. For those still using McHenry's with their IHC cars a good improvement is to use a Kadee coupler spring in place of the McHenry spring. Lastly for weight I have used flat steel purchased at either the blue or orange big box stores. There are some notches in the bottom of the car, measure the width and cut to the length between the trucks. Paint it black and use double sided foam tape to attach it. On the down side this method takes up some room at the bottom of the car and the IHC interiors will not fit properly. In later cars I used black silicone sealant to affix the steel weight. This gave me a little more interior room.

Thanks for posting your easy to follow tutorial on improving these cars.

John R 

Hi John,

Glad you saw this thread and replied.

I confess that I was too lazy to check back to see who wrote about the different size wheels, but it was you who mentioned on a previous thread that 33" wheels had to be used.  I even recall someone saying that 31" wheels had to be used, at least I think that I recall that.  I will say this.  Eliminating that middle wheelset on the trucks is not even noticeable, and there is no adverse performance issue without that third wheelset.

Initially, on the Con Cor cars, I replaced the truck mounted couplers with Kadee conversion kits, either #505 or #508 (cannot recall which), and these coupler conversion kits were still truck mounted.  But, there were still performance issues, so I switched to body mounted couplers.  The Kadee whisker couplers were ideal.

I built my own coupler mounting pads and made sure that they were the proper height so that the coupler heights conformed to the Kadee Coupler Height Gauge.  Picking the exact spot on the coupler mounting pad to mount the coupler box was crucial for proper clearance between the cars.

As far as weights go, since I am not using car interiors, I just placed the adhesive wheel weights on the floor of each car.  Placement of the weights, by trial and error, was also critical to get the wheels to sit right on the rails.

Rich

Alton Junction

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Posted by richhotrain on Saturday, March 24, 2012 11:01 AM

Heartland Division CB&Q

Rich .... That's an outstanding write-up about upgrading ConCor and IHC cars. Rivarossi cars also need to be upgraded in this fashion.

I have upgraded cars for all three of these. Here is how I do it. Much is the same as you do.

Painting .... I repaint the stainless steel cars in an effort. to match the plated cars made by BLI for the California Zephry. I have yet to try Alclad, but the results I see in this forum tell me I should do so.

Couplers. ... I use Kadee long shank couplers. I make my own mounting pads and glue them in.  I hold the coupler where I want it to find the location of the hole for coupler screw. The coupling distance should be as short as possible without having the ends of the cars (diaphrams) rubbing each other causing derailemnts on curves.

Trucks ..... Ideally, I replace the trucks with better quality. I can find out-of-production trucks made by IHC (high quality type), Central Valley, or Tenshodo. New bolsters must be fabricated with correct pivot location. I use self tapping screws after drilling holes. .... Alternatively, I use existing trucks with couplers removed. If they have plastic wheels, I replace with metal wheelsets. Rivarossi cars need 33" wheels instead of 36" wheels. Also, Rivarossie trucks have brake shoes that may be too close to the wheels, and they can be bent back so they are not working brakes. .... After mounting trucks, I make sure the roof height is the correct 13' 6" above the rail. I adjust if needed. Then I check coupler height and adjust if needed.

Weight ...... I add enough weight to make the cars weigh 7 ounces.  I use either the "stick-on" type or I make my own from steel bars. The steel bars are held inside the car on the floor with a good adhesive.

Interiors. ... I sometimes add seats and other interior details. Also, sometimes I install window shades, blinds, or curtains. Usually, I do not bother, however. Instead of interiors, I place black construction paper inside to block the view.  

I can run a train of these cars after the upgrades in forward and in reverse at top speed without derailing on 30" curves.

 Edit: ..... For dome cars, I place green cellophane inside the dome "glass" to make it look like tinted glass.

Thanks, Garry.

I agree entirely with you post, so just a few comments as a follow-up.

One of our fellow forum members advised me to alternate medium and long centerset shank couplers, using the medium coupler on the front of the car and the long coupler on the rear of the car for the best separation between cars.  The only exception was the last car in the consist, typically an observation car, on which the rear end coupler was also medium instead of long.  That worked great, and it resulted in a medium length coupler connection with the loco at the head end or the tail end of the passenger car consist since the trailing car had medium length couplers on both ends.  I found that a long coupler connection to the loco was tough to keep from derailing when the cars were pushed by the loco instead of being pulled.  Since I use switchers between the passenger station and coach yard, that was a critical consideration.

As for the truck mounts, the 6-32 x 3/8 machine screws fit perfectly in both the Con Cor and IHC holes so I didn't need self tapping screws.

On the coupler mounting pads, since Kadee typically uses 2-56 screws, I used a 2-56 drill and tap to cut the holes for the coupler boxes.

Lastly, I used a #6 flat washer on both sides of the truck, top and bottom, but I am not sure that the top washer was necessary.  Just the screw head needs to rest against a washer on the bottom (underside) of the truck.

Rich 

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Posted by richhotrain on Saturday, March 24, 2012 11:10 AM

CP5415

 

I've had the Walthers Budds & Athearn Bombardier cars go around a 22" curve right out of the box with no issues on my last layout. That was good as the curve was situated in a tunnel. So a 32" curve shouldn't be a problem. All the cars have been updated using KD #5's so I no longer have a problem when I'm trying to get the cars to couple to each other

My current layout has a couple of curves that are still less than 30" , still no issues & I'm not the  worlds best track layer.

Gordon

Gordon,

After years of struggle, I have finally got my track work to the point where it is pretty good, and that was no small task.  My measured curves, using a Ribbon Rail Metal Track Alignment Gauge for verification, are all 32" radius (or slightly broader in a few instances).

While my Athearn 72' streamlined passenger cars and my Walthers 80'  passenger cars could easily negotiate the curves, my Rapido cars could not.  The problem was the diaphragms touching each other, causing derailments.   A combination of of long and medium couplers solved the derailment problems, and the diaphragms nearly touch.

I used a similar combination of couplers on the IHC cars, although that was not necessary on the Con Cor cars.

Rich

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Posted by miniwyo on Sunday, March 25, 2012 10:42 AM

Great information Rich!

I have re worked all my TTG Rivarossi passenger cars in this manner, although I'd like to replace the trucks on them at some point. Instead of omitting the center axle on the 6 wheel trucks, I drilled out the hole in the bottom of the car that the pin snaps in, and glued in a piece of tube styrene, and then another piece inside it. the smaller piece is the perfect size to tap and use a 2-56 screw.

 

RJ

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Posted by BumpyJack68 on Tuesday, December 15, 2015 11:29 AM

 

As far as weighting HO cars of any size, well maybe not ore hoppers, I use nickels (USA $.05 piece) and the adhesive of your choice. The cheapest way I have found and they can be placed quite strategically. Unless very very old and worn, they all weigh 5 grams. The price is right and availability is excellent in the USA :D Happy Holidays!

 

 

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Posted by fieryturbo on Tuesday, December 15, 2015 12:47 PM

I've got 4 of these cars. I'm not thrilled with them, but at least they are the right length.  They cost me $40 total at a train show.  I have the UP variant.

I replaced one car's X2F coupler with a McHenry type, changed out the plastic wheelsets.  They're alright I guess.

Julian

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Posted by dstarr on Tuesday, December 15, 2015 4:07 PM

 

 

 

 IHC corrugated side streamliners.  I had to stay with truck mounted couplers to make it around my 22 inch curves.  I painted the red stripe thru the windows with a rattle can and some masking tape.  Cars are lit with the Walthers lighting ket, and home made pickup wipers and metal wheels I got from IHC back when they were still in business.  Most of them have the IHC molded plastic interior kit, painted an unobtrusive color.  All of them have enough sheet lead to bring them up to NMRA weight recommendations.  All the plastic snap in truck retaining pins replaced with 6-32 pan head machine screws.  

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Posted by Rooster125 on Tuesday, June 5, 2018 2:21 PM

Thanks for this great information Rich. 

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Posted by hobo9941 on Monday, October 22, 2018 12:52 AM

Glad I found this article.

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Posted by richhotrain on Monday, October 22, 2018 4:16 AM

It pleases me to see that this 6 1/2 year old thread is still alive and well and helpful to others trying to upgrade IHC and Con-Cor passenger cars.

All these years later, I still have my IHC cars (Monon) on the layout, but I sold off my Con-Cor cars (NYC) a few years back as I no longer modeled that road name.

Rich

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Posted by hobo9941 on Monday, October 22, 2018 9:04 PM

Thank you for the article. I had seen it when you originally posted it, and went looking for it. Felt it was worth bumping up.

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Posted by hdtvnut on Tuesday, October 23, 2018 6:03 AM

On IHC Frisco, FEC and C&O sets (24 cars total), I did pretty much the same mods as you, Rich, back about 8-9 years ago.  I could only find IHC metal wheels for one set, and measured them as 32 inch, so I used 33 inch for the others.  Changed the couplers to KD body-mounted, and added weights to get them to 6.5 oz.  Got all the interior kits, painted them believable colors, and added passengers.

I remember paying only $35-40 per new set of eight at local shows.

I had been looking for years for a Rivarossi-Walthers UP Greyhound tailcar to go with a set of eight.  I recently found an early-version Rivarossi tailcar for $8, and converted it to the improved version by stealing the trucks, bolsters, swing-coupler pocket and diaphragm car-end from another Walthers.

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Posted by FRRYKid on Monday, October 29, 2018 7:43 PM

May not be considered an upgrade but I found the shell of a Con-Cor dome-observation via the Internet and did a bit of surgery to improve it.

What I ended up doing was using a set of Athearn four wheel trucks to replace the trucks. (All but one other car of my passenger fleet is Athearn BB so it made sense to do it that way. The other car is an older car with metal trucks.) Where the surgery comes in is that I ended up carefully cutting the rear mount plate out and moved it about a 1/4" forward and rebuilt the underframe detail with some styrene strip that I had onhand. I also repainted it into my protolanced road's MEC Pine Green and Engine Black paints. It will then be decaled with metallic silver striping and lettering.

"The only stupid question is the unasked question."
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Posted by ATLANTIC CENTRAL on Monday, October 29, 2018 8:00 PM

Here is one of my improved ConCor cars:

http://i1002.photobucket.com/albums/af147/carrollhome/DSC00008.jpg

These cars have been modified by shaving off the molded on "diaphragm" on the end of the car so the American limited diaphragms can be prototypically mounted and the cars close coupled with body mounted long shak Kadee couplers.

The trucks have been replaced with the no longer available Commonwealth passenger trucks offered years ago by Roundhouse.

Sheldon

 

    

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Posted by NWP SWP on Monday, October 29, 2018 9:51 PM

I have a batch of 14 of the streamlined cars, I'm going to hopefully soon start converting them to body mount KDs and metal wheels. Your thread will be most helpful when I go to to it.

Steve

If everything seems under control, you're not going fast enough!

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