Cutting cars down to size

Discussion in 'Scratchin' & Bashin'' started by capt_turk, Feb 2, 2005.

  1. capt_turk

    capt_turk Member

    I've read about people narrowing and shortening cars to make them smaller. My question is, how do you cut them to shorten them? I have the Spectrum On30 passenger cars. They are longer and heavier than I would like for my layout. I have a 6.5% grade that I would like to be able to get up with more than one passenger car. I can pull 4 to 5 boxcars or gondolas with no problem, but more than 1 passenger car is no dice. Even the Shay won't pull more than two and then even it has problems. Those cars are Heavy!
  2. CalFlash

    CalFlash Member

    Your solution would be not to shorten them but find a way to "add lightness". I'm not familiar with the cars but substitution of lighter components and improving the rolling qualities of the trucks should serve your purposes better.
  3. sumpter250

    sumpter250 multiscale modelbuilder

    The axles on those cars are blunt end, and ride in a cast metal side frame. Improving rolling quality here would help. If you can accept undetailed interiors, you could lighten the load a bit there. Shortening the car won't appreciably reduce the weight. 6.5% grade........

    Hmmmmmm, Working sanders on the loco??? :D :D
  4. capt_turk

    capt_turk Member

    Hadn't thought of removing the interiors. Daaaah! Those cars have to wiegh more than 3 or 4 regular cars.
    I would prefer not to have that steep of grade, but don't have any choice. I'm having to climb alot in 6' to get high enough to get over my computer desk. Not a lot of room to play with in a 31' RV.
  5. Will_annand

    Will_annand Active Member

    Capt, why not put the entire layout at the height above your computer desk. Then you could sit on a bar stool and be at eye level, or stand to enjoy an overall view?
  6. jetrock

    jetrock Member

    Do these cars have weights in the interiors? Taking out weights (to NMRA spec) might help--but improving the trucks/wheelsets is probably your best bet.

    Narrowing and shortening cars is done to modify a standard-gauge car into a narrow-gauge car--not to reduce car weight.
  7. SAL Comet

    SAL Comet Member

    Ha Cap. have you taken one apart to see why there so heavy? sound like you could remove some of the weight.
  8. capt_turk

    capt_turk Member

    To change the hieght would mean ripping out most of the scenery and starting again. Raising the layout would also require much more massive supports under the layout. It has to be strong enough to withstand the forces generated when driving. As it is now, it is cradled just inside the top of the seats of the dinette.
    Jetrock and Sal
    I haven't taken them apart to see if there are wieghts inside. I'm out a sea for probably another two weeks. I'll have to check that when I get home.
    My idea was that shortening the cars would remove a fair amount of wieght.
  9. jetrock

    jetrock Member

    If all you're removing is the plastic sides of the car, then no, you won't be removing much weight at all. Normally most of the "weight" in a commercial railroad car is the metal weight put inside the car itself to add stability and smoother running. The problem is, if you take out too much weight, your passenger cars will become less stable and will derail more--more of a problem with relatively top-heavy narrow gauge cars, too.

    About the grade--6.5% may be pushing it, but you could turn a potential liability into an item of operating interest--on real railroads with steep grades, either the engine would "double the train" (carry half the cars up, then go back for the rest) or a helper engine would be stationed at the bottom of the grade to help move trains up. While you may not go for operations that much, it would add a little interest and challenge to your operating scheme.
  10. capt_turk

    capt_turk Member

    Using a helper is what I'm doing now. I need to get another 2-6-0 mogul for doing that. I'm using one of the Shays right now. Tried using the Porter, but it will barely pull itself up the grade.
    I would still like to know about cutting the cars down. I think they would look better on my layout if they were somewhat shorter. As far as not being proto, they could be cars custom built for the line. It's freelance anyway.
  11. Fred_M

    Fred_M Guest

    I would cut them at the sides of a window opening in about the middle and then glue them back together. Cut them a tad long with a razor saw and then use a file to fit. Working slowly while the RV is parked is a good idea too. :) Brace the cut on the backside with plastic plates, scabs, whatever you wish to call them Use plastic filler putty and sanding to hide the cuts. Same with the roof, interior, windows, and floor. Try to stagger the joints in the variuos pieces so the joints don't overlap. A fellow gauger, Philip, sells nice resin combine sides and ends that can be the basis of some nice smaller passanger units in On30. I agree the Bachman passanger coaches are too big for backwoods narrow gauge operations. Fred
  12. SAL Comet

    SAL Comet Member

    I thought the same thing about some old box cars, so I removed the steel weight, put the car back together and sawed the middle two roof sections out with a 15" Hitachi mitersaw. The high speed of the blade leaves a super smooth/flat cut. The roof seams and door frame hide the cut when reassembled. you don't have those on pass. cars so you'll have to putty and sand and paint like Fred was saying. Then there's the windows and interior to shorten. Oh ya, you have to cut down the weight too. Bashing is fun.
  13. Mike P

    Mike P New Member

    Weight Problem

    I do not know if you have solved the weight problem yet on the cars. i realize that taking the interior out kind of makes the cars look,. well un realistic. Have you thought about some way of placing photographs of the interior inside the car once you remove the interior, so when you look through the windows you still se a resembelence of an interior, but the weight factor is gone. Just a thought?
  14. capt_turk

    capt_turk Member

    I'm still out to sea. Will be home tonight. I'm thinking of cutting the interiors too. Will see how that works.
  15. capt_turk

    capt_turk Member

    Well, got home tonight and the first thing I did was take one of the cars apart. There is one big whoping chunck of iron under the interior. Took it out of a couple of cars. I can pull two cars up the 6.5% grade now with very little problem, with the 2-6-0 mogul. That's a definite improvement. The cars don't seem quite as stable but at least they will go up the grade.

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