Metal Wheel Conversion

Discussion in 'N / Z Scale Model Trains' started by Ebournerails, Jul 7, 2005.

  1. Ebournerails

    Ebournerails New Member

    i am planning on putting metal wheels on my cars in place oif the plastic ones MT uses, who makes a good wheel replacement
  2. seanm

    seanm Member

    Atlas... I have replaced all of my MT wheels with lo pro atlas for MT trucks. I buy a couple or four packs every time I am at the hobby store... I think I have all of mine replaced now. Wheels stay a lot cleaner, but the trains make more noise.
  3. Bob Morris

    Bob Morris Member

    I have also converted all of my trucks to Atlas metal wheels. HOWEVER, be aware that the Intermountain and M-T cars take a different wheel set than the Atlas cars. There is a difference in the axle ends and the axles are not interchangable as I learned the hard way.

  4. tillsbury

    tillsbury Member

    Peco are different too, tho you might not have those. Doesn't NWSL make metal wheelsets too?

    Be aware that swapping to metal wheels means giving up magnetic uncoupling (if you didn't already know...)
  5. Bob Morris

    Bob Morris Member

    Um, (clearing throat while fighting down the panic), tilsbury, you're message gave me chills. As a newbie, I converted all my cars to low profile metal wheels so that (as I read here) I could keep my track cleaner and run on the recommended Code 55 track that I bought but my cars wouldn't run on with their oversized flanges.

    I also replaced all Rapido couplers with M-T's with the trip pin, for a more prototypical look and so I could do magnetic uncoupling.

    Now that I'm finally ready to lay track, have I made mutually exclusive (and expensive) decisions? If so, I'm really ticked that something this basic wasn't mentioned in the many Model RR magazines I've read :-(

    I'm NOT a big fan of 0-5-0 switching for this smaller gauge.

  6. tillsbury

    tillsbury Member

    Eeeek. I hope you can get it to work. I found that any of my cars with metal wheels (when stopped near an uncoupling magnet) get dragged towards the magnet. Which completely mucks up the uncoupling action, even if it's a tiny movement. If you have a long string of cars (and you're uncoupling in the middle) this isn't a problem, but I've not managed reliable uncoupling until I switched all the metal ones to MT Lo-pros. Although it's quite fun to watch tank cars accelerate along the track after you've dropped them off, it makes a mess of operations. A possible solution might be to install those little MT-wheel-springs that increase rolling friction, but I haven't tried that, and it increases drag for your long trains...

    I think you should give the coupling/uncoupling a try before spending too much of a fortune. I haven't found any difference in track cleanliness with plastic wheels, although I too originally thought I'd want metal wheels.

    Although you'll find you haven't made any seriously expensive decisions, I suspect. If you've done all the MT couplers, the most you would need to do would be buy 100-pack(s) of MT lo-pros and swap the wheels over. There are plenty enough N-scalers who do manual uncoupling and like metal wheelsets that you'll probably be able to get your money back for them anyway...

    Sadly, very few of the answers to the questions that matter are answered in the MRR press. They're mostly written by guys with so much experience of the hobby they've forgotten what the questions are...

  7. Bob Morris

    Bob Morris Member

    Thanks for the insight. I'm going to take some cars to someone who has their layout built with magnetic uncouplers and see what happens.

  8. inkaneer

    inkaneer Member

    Mt makes wheelsets with low profile flanges that are finer than Atlas. They are plastic but are cheaper than Atlas or IM metal wheels. I switched to them because sometime in the future I envision that code 55 will be out of favor and code 40 will be in.
  9. Stephenr216

    Stephenr216 New Member

    Conductive, Non-Magnetic wheels?

    Hey everyone!

    Does anyone make any brass, nickel, silver, copper, or solid gold:D conductive , non-magnetic wheels for an MDC 2-6-0 tender?

    I did a bunch of searches for my question and this thread was the closest I came to an answer. I have a 100% MT coupler'd layout. I found the MT track installed uncoupler magnets entirely too unreliable for my tastes, so after much experimentation I found a group of six neodymium magnets STRONG enough to uncouple the cars and hold them in place over the magnet so I could back up and push them in the delayed position everytime. But the magnets are still weak enough that they don't uncouple the cars unless I stop the cars directly on top of them. Everything's perfect so far, right? Well I've learned that that's when you're biggest problem is just around the corner: The ONLY vehicle that has a problem with the magnets is my biggest and best locomotive. It's an MDC 2-6-0, and the tender comes to a screeching halt over the magnets everytime. I do remember this problem during my experiments, but only to a small degree and I thought I would easily take care of it later. Well after further investigation I've found that the tender in the train actually houses the motor (OUCH!), no hope demagnetizing that! But, I've also found that by far the most attracted parts are the wheels. I had this same problem with my Bachmann 0-6-0 and easily solved it by replacing the 4 wheels that weren't in the circuit anyways with plastic ones. On the MDC 2-6-0 all of the wheels are in the loop, so plastic is a compromise I'd rather avoid. Whew, that was a long post...anyone have any ideas? Maybe nickel coating the wheels would partially magnetically shield them? After as much as I've spent on this layout, I'm willing to consider drastic measures to make it finally work :p .

  10. tillsbury

    tillsbury Member

    You can't 'shield' a magnetic field, at least not this side of Flash Gordon magazines. Most other metals would corrode too much to be of use (or be too soft, in the case of brass). But I wonder whether it'd be worth trying one of those conductive pens on plastic wheelsets? I suspect it might wear off too quickly though. An alternative might be a phosphor-bronze strip pressing down on the rail between the wheels?

    Tricky one, that...
  11. Stephenr216

    Stephenr216 New Member

    I did manage to find these: when I thought it might be the tender body that was most attracted. I see what you're saying with the phosphor-bronze strip. That might just work! I'd probably lose some of my hold ability that keeps the cars from wondering off after I've decoupled them, but it's worth a shot. I'll try and find something comparable locally at a radio shack or something before I make an order online; I think they have large minimum shipment sizes. Also I'll try to replace half of the wheels with plastic ones and see how well it runs (fingers crossed). I'll keep you posted on what I eventually do.

  12. pgandw

    pgandw Active Member

    Generally speaking, model wheels are seldom made of steel. Usually, it's the axles that are steel, and that are attracted to the uncoupling ramps. This problem has been encountered in HO, but to a lesser extent because the axles are higher off the rails. However, in HOn3 it becomes more serious and similar. Most folks looking for magnetic uncoupling in HOn3 end up hinging under-the-track magnets or using electro-magnets to avoid the unwanted uncouplings. But that doesn't solve the steel axle problem during uncoupling operations.

    As I hinted at earlier, I'm not in N, but Kadee and NWSL make brass wheels and axles in HO/HOn3 for exactly the reason you talk about. Brass axle with nickel-plated brass wheels are plenty strong and durable enough, especially for N. If Roundhouse/Athearn was chincy enough to use steel axles on the tender wheel sets, chances are they are a fairly standard size, and a suitable replacement ought to be out there. I've heard great things about the NWSL folks - they just might be able to fix you up, and it might be a worthwhile product idea for them. Also, contacting MicroTrains might be of use - they should at least know of the problem, and might even have a solution.

    Using phosphor bronze strips or tabs for electrical pickup, either against the back of a hub insulated metal wheel, or as a slider directly on the track is a great idea for small engines anyway - another fairly common practice in HO on small engines.
  13. Stephenr216

    Stephenr216 New Member

    Thanks again Fred,

    I tried just replacing the front two pairs of tender wheels with plastic ones. This let me actually move my loco over magnets without uncoupling if I moved at a relatively brisk pace. But there are still parts of the track where, if I get grabbed by a magnet, my train can't pull itself out. So I am going to try to match some brass wheels. Unfortunately, the cheap MDC steel wheels are an unusual shape with very short cones on the ends. But I think I can decipher the brass wheels website to find a suitable replacement. If I do find a good match I'll post it on here so anyone else with the popular MDS 2-6-0 can replace theirs.


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