Freight Cars Question

Discussion in 'FAQs' started by Play-Doh, May 27, 2006.

  1. Play-Doh

    Play-Doh Member

    Im getting ready to buy freight cars for my railroad. I am seeing them both in plastic and metal and both metal and plastic wheels. What are the advantages? What are the dissadvantages of each?

    Thanks for your help folks.

  2. yellowlynn

    yellowlynn Member

    I haven't bought any new cars in years so a lot of stuff is new. I got a pile of cars, but I bit the bullet and changed them all to metal wheels. A tad bit noisier, but a lot cleaner running on the tracks. I got a bunch of different couplers in garage sales, but all were knuckle type. So I got rid of those old hook/horn ones. I'm trying now to get everthing body mount couplers instead of truck mounted.

    Not much info for you. Not much money so I can't get top of the line, but maybe this will help in knowing what to look for.

  3. 60103

    60103 Pooh Bah

    Good questions.
    Metal wheels are usually preferred because they stay a bit cleaner. They also make a nice noise going over rail joints. Plastic wheels can be replaced. Their only advantage is to the manufacturer -- they can be cast in one piece.
    I've noticed the ads for metal cars lately. They are probably sturdier than plastic, especially when children get them. They may weigh more (although they shouldn't if made to NMRA standards). Don't know if they have the same level of detail as plastic.
  4. jim currie

    jim currie Active Member

    my self i ran mostly plastic wheels till several years ago i still have a lot of cars with them and haven't had any problems with gunk build up , I also run some old all metal cars if you get them make shure that all your cars weigh the same them or you will get a string line affect on turns if the heaver cars are in back of train.
  5. TrainNut

    TrainNut Ditat Deus

    Most of us at the club used to run a lot of plastic wheels and here recently, we have made a major push to change everyone over to metal wheels. The results are significant in that the track seems to need cleaning a lot less.
  6. Play-Doh

    Play-Doh Member

    Well, I think my choice is clear, I am going to use metal wheels. I have been reading ALOT of stuff on axcel length and how important it is since they vary. I think im going to start right away and replace the plastic wheels on my lionell logging car. Could someone tell me what axcel length I should be buying for code 100 HO Flextrack? Many of the charts say nothing about what the axcel length of lionells...or is this more specific to the track?

    Thanks for all your help folks

  7. yellowlynn

    yellowlynn Member

    Sometime even us "know-littles" can help. I always thought all the axles were the same length, with different shaped ends. If the new wheels didn't turn freely, I'd use a small drill bit in a pin vise and drill the trucks out just a tad. Then a puff of graphite powder and they would really roll.

    In my dollars worth of knowledge that is a whole dimes worth. sign1

  8. Play-Doh

    Play-Doh Member

    Well, im puzzled. Here is a terrible picture of the underside of my first freight car, a logging car from Lionel HO scale.

    (again, my apologies for the fuzzy photo)


    and here is a pic of the car itself


    I know nothing about lionel.

    3. questions:

    1. This car and box shows NOTHING about info regarding axel length and I would like to replace it with metal wheels. I checked the reboxx website and found nothing about this model. Where can I find this info so I buy the right axel? (im using HO Flextrack)

    3. The truck is attached to the car with a piece of molded plastic, not screwed or anything...does the truck need to be replaced/removed before I can replace the wheels?

    2. Are lionel cars more of a modelers car, or more "Toy" quaility?

    As always, I apprecieate your help in getting started in this hobby. You folks are great!

  9. jim currie

    jim currie Active Member

    I tend to replace the trucks with somthing like P2K's or KaDee's or any higher quality truck the few wheel sets I have replaced i have used P2K wheel sets they so far have worked on the trucks I have just replaced the wheel sets.your log car is in reality a heavy duty flat used to haul objects much heaver than logs. as to lionel cars io think they are both but the toy like ones can be made to look better with a bit of weathering and detaling.
  10. abutt

    abutt Member

    About a year ago I changed all the trucks on my rolling stock to one mfg., E-B Products, Glenview, Ill. I use plastic wheels (they make metal also) and have non-magnetic brass axles. I also changed all to Kaydee couplers. I've had no trouble with dirt build up at all. best way to avoid that is to keep your track clean.

    I've had a lot of success with Accurail and Branchline freight cars. They have wonderful detail. A broad spectrum of road names and are reasonably priced. They supply weights that bring the cars up close to NMRA recommended weights.

    If the price of copper is a worry, there's always nickle-silver.

  11. Play-Doh

    Play-Doh Member

    Ok, dumb question, but how do I remove the plastic trucks from my freight car? Do I need to cut em off, or do they pop off? Also, how do I remove the wheels if I want to keep the trucks?

  12. Play-Doh

    Play-Doh Member em off. That was easier than I thought. Im realizing that this hobby is only as difficult as you make it.
  13. cidchase

    cidchase Active Member

    "I'm realizing that this hobby is only as difficult as you make it."
    That's a wise observation, TJ; but we sure do tend to make it
    more difficult with all our "wants and druthers." :D :D :D
    We have to watch out for makin' it so hard that it ain't fun!! :thumb:
  14. isboris4449

    isboris4449 Member

    Like life in general, the answer to your question depends on certain factors. If I was running my cars any kind of distances, I would equip them with metal wheelsets.On a smaller moodel railroads, I would use my modeling funds elsewhere. I model in HO, and have a small 10 by 12 swithing layout, where the distances are short and the speeds low, so plastic wheelsets are fine. One very unhearlded tool I use that makes a world of difference is a Micro Mark HO Truck Tuner. You insert it between the journals, give it a couple of twists back and forth and your done. It dresses the journals, and you will not believe how much better your cars will roll. It's there part number 82838 and costs about $12. By the way, I have no financial interes in Micro Mark, lol.

  15. Mike Hamer

    Mike Hamer New Member

    TJ...The delron (plastic) wheels do pick up minute particles of dust and dirt and over time it accumulates and is readily visible. The wheels then deposit the "gunk" all along your track. Sure, you can clean the track with a multitude of products, but gunk deposited in hidden areas can be a great nuisance.

    I only run cars with metal wheels on my layout. I rarely have to clean track, because I run my trains a lot...and isn't that the most fun solution to the age-old problem of keeping your track clean! :D

    Oh yes...two other benefits of metal wheels...they tend to track better and the sound they make is more realistic than the quieter delron wheels. :thumb:
  16. 60103

    60103 Pooh Bah

    for PlayDoh's question that he found the answer to: if the truck is plastic, usually you just spread the ends enought to get the axle out.
    Taking trucks off the car varies with the truck. The common mountings are screw, plastic pin, plastic pin that splits with hooks. There's an old method using a brass pin that fits into a dress snap.
    Lionel is regarded as a bit on the toy end. You can usually tell by the fact the coupling is mounted on the truck.
    Nobody was really aware of axle length until a few years ago. The truck manufacturers don't tell us, and they seem to make the axles a liitle short. You'll have to measure the axles that came with the trucks -- a vernier caliper or micrometer should do. There is a standard, but it's often ignored. (You could look at the MicroMart/RailBoxx tool as a standard.) RailBoxx is one of the few companies making wheelsets with the length noted. (Watch out; they also make narrow "scale width" wheel treads.)
    Are those Lionel wheels split in the middle? Probably should be replaced.
  17. TerrapinStation

    TerrapinStation New Member

    Tom thanks for the tip, I used this tool last night and the replacement metal wheels spin like they are on bearings. Our little train pulls 8 cars with no problem now and, unfortunately, the cars move so well they roll downhill on my slightly unlevel table.
  18. KCS

    KCS Member

    Well, I am fixing to under go another big change before to long when the cash comes around. I'm swapping all my trucks and wheels (kato roller bearing, P2k) to Proto 87 scale wheels and sprung trucks. Then all my locomotive wheels are also going to be converted over to Proto 87 scale wheels. Someone help me. I'm becoming someone I didn't want but the more I dig and the more I find I just can't help myself. I'm becoming a rivet counter more and more every day.:cry: What's happening to me?
  19. doctorwayne

    doctorwayne Active Member

    I have a fairly extensive roster of freight cars, some with metal wheels, but most with plastic. The only wheels that have given me a problem with gunk build-up are Kadee metal wheels. It's not causing enough of a problem to bother changing them, though, and the only time that I have to clean track is if I've been doing scenery work in the vicinity. That's in the 12 or 15 years since the layout was first started.
    A too-common problem with plastic wheels is that some are out-of-round. I have a good supply of spares on hand, left over from doing wheel conversions for others, and can usually find a suitable replacement, but if not, I'll spring for metal wheels.
    The truck tuner tool is a good investment: even old trucks can be rejuvenated with this handy gadget. As mentioned, a puff of graphite afterwards, into the journal area, will also help. The truck tuner only works when being turned in a clockwise direction, and you have to do each journal separately: that is, after doing one, remove the tool and turn it end-for-end, then do the journal on the opposite side of the truck from the first. An eight-wheel car requires eight separate operations with the truck tuner.

  20. hobokid

    hobokid thebull

    right now my rolling stock is somewhere around 65, mostly boxcars but some hoppers and grainers, but only 3 of my cars have metal wheels and i wish they all had them. i find that the metal wheels roll alot smoother over switches and my cross section, while the plastic ones will jam up and mess up everything.

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