Novice Tutorial - Accurail Boxcars

Discussion in 'HO Scale Model Trains' started by Gary S., Dec 24, 2006.

  1. CAS

    CAS Member

    Very nice tutorial Gary.

    I have a few cars i have to convert to Kadee couplers. I will diffently be coming back here to reread your post.

  2. oldtanker

    oldtanker Member

    Cool, I've never tried to do mods like that. This is the first tutorial that has shown in detail what to do! I can do that!

  3. 65GASSER

    65GASSER Member

    Awesome!!! Maybe I will keep my older cars with the truck mounted couplers now. New trucks and some slight variances from this tuturial and it should work out! Thanks Gary!!!
  4. Gary S.

    Gary S. Senior Member

    Glad that some of you could use the info.:)

    Here's a couple of pics of a modified Roundhouse boxcar undercarriage. The original coupler boxes are cut off and then filed down enough so that a Kadee #5 works out just right for the height. Styrene strip is glued across the top for reinforcement for the coupler screw hole. For the trucks, the hole is the proper size to be tapped to a 2-56 screw. The Roundhouse trucks are sized for a 2-56 screw, so no need for modifications on that.

    Oh... as for the "filing down" of the original coupler box, I used a Dremel tool.

    Attached Files:

  5. Gary S.

    Gary S. Senior Member

    Here is the modification of a Life-Like boxcar. Pull off the old trucks and toss them. Find some round plastic sprue out of a kit, some that is a tight fit in the hole left by the trucks. You may have to file the sprue to a smaller diameter or enlarge the hole a bit, but it should be a real tight fit. The glue will help it slide in. Once it is dry, drill a 2-56 tap hole in the center, and tap it. You will need to buy some Atlas trucks for this mod, since they fit a 2-56 screw and don't need the little extra plastic sticking into the truck like what is on an Athearn Blue Box kit. For example of what I mean, an Athearn blue box truck has a big hole in it, a hole so big that a 2-56 screw is very loose in it. The Atlas truck has a smaller hole that is perfect fro a 2-56.

    For the coupler, a #5 Kadee will work, but the draft box will need to be shimmed down lower. Kadee makes shims, or you can use some plastic strip cut to size. You may also need to do some shimming with a wedge shaped shim to change the angle of the coupler if it is hanging down at an angle. On this car, I mixed up some JB Kwik Weld epoxy and used it to reinforce above the coupler, after it dried, I drilled and tapped it, right through the JB Kwik epoxy. I don't really like this method, in the future I will glue some plastic strip on there.

    Attached Files:

  6. Gary S.

    Gary S. Senior Member

    And one more, this is my modification of an Athearn Blue Box kit. Although the metal clips and draft boxes work okay, I prefer the Kadee draft boxes. Instead of building the car as per instructions, I put the underframe upside down in the car. Since I don't open the doors of my boxcars, having the "wood" floor inside doesn't matter. I prefer the "wood" side down.

    First, cut off the tabs that hold the underframe to the car body, these are the approx 1" long tabs on each side where the doors will be. Next, cut the draft boxes off the undercarriage. Drill and tap the holes for the truck screws, then glue the undercarriage onto the upside down floor, using the truck screws for alignment. Use clothes pins to hold it together while the glue dries. Glue some plastic strip above where the couplers will go.

    After the glue is dried, use a Kaddee draft box lid to determine where the holes should be, and drill and tap them. Remember that the draft box needs to stick out a ways past the undercarriage so they will clear the body. Play around with the body/coupler/undercarriage to get it right before drilling. Also, you may need to file the car body just above the draft boxes, you don't want the body forcing the draft box down. This is true of any of the above types of cars.

    My experience is that this modification of the Athearn doesn't require any shimming for a #5. You may need to file the floor under the draft box at an angle to correct any "hanging down at an angle" of the coupler. In other words, sometimes the coupler hangs down and is not parallel to horizontal. This can be corrected by shimming under the back of the coupler box or by some filing. This also holds true of any type of car.

    Finally, replace the wheelsets with Intermountain or Proto2K, attach the coupler box and the trucks and add weight and you are done.

    One last thing, as I mentioned, I don't like the steel weights because of possible reactions with the uncoupling magnets. Flattened fishing weights could work, maybe lead can be gotten at a plumbing supply, or you can buy lead roof jacks at the hardware store. These are pretty expensive, but they are made out of sheet lead and you can use these to weight gondolas and flat cars. This stuff is real easy to cut and work with, it can be cut with a hobby knife. Don't forget to wash your hands well after handling the lead.

    Oops, one very last thing... since we had to cut the tabs off the sides of the floor (because they don't fit right since the floor is upside down), we need to use some white glue in several places to hold the floor to the car body. You could use plastic cement, but then it would be difficult to take it apart if you ever needed to.


    Attached Files:

  7. 65GASSER

    65GASSER Member

    :thumb: Good stuff Gary!
  8. RioGrande

    RioGrande Member

    Thats a nice modification, but one could probably get screw on coupler lid and trucks without quite as much work. The easy way would be to simply drill a hole in the lid and scew it on after mounting KD#5 or KD#58 couplers.

    The bolster would work fine without adding in the piece - just a screw and your done.
  9. Gary S.

    Gary S. Senior Member

    I like the Kadee draft boxes better than the molded on items. Depending on the car, some of the draft boxes are too shallow to allow free movement of the coupler. I would take a hobby knife and scrape out the plastic to provide more room, but that was a lot of work. On other brands, if you tighten the screw too tight, it binds up the coupler. Since the Kadee couplers were designed for Kadee draft boxes, it is worth the trouble of adding them to my cars.

    That depends. If you want to use the Accurail trucks, you need to do something to fill up the large hole in the truck, which is what the plastic rod does. On the other hand, if you switched out to Atlas trucks, just tap the existing hole and put a screw in.
  10. Glen Haasdyk

    Glen Haasdyk Active Member

    Excellent work, pictures are great and really are worth 1000 words.
  11. RioGrande

    RioGrande Member


    The draft gear boxes are nicer I agree. All the modifications you did make for a much better box car. The only thing I was thinking is that a beginner might find the modifications a bit much for them. There are some methods to making an Accurail box car layout ready for novices without quite as much work.
  12. Gary S.

    Gary S. Senior Member

    RG, I understand your point and agree. When I first started a year ago, I didn't do any of these mods, I just built the cars as the instructions showed.

    When I decided to try the Kadee uncoupling magnets, the factory draft boxes just were not very consistent, and were a major hassle, enough so that I considered abandoning the magnets. But then I made the attempt at adding the Kadee boxes, and found it wasn't that hard.

    I guess one of the purposes of the tutorial was to show beginners that doing some modifications is certainly within their abilities, and it is a great way to learn some skills that can be transferred to kitbashing and scratchbuilding. Plus, I have really enjoyed doing the work on the cars, and it is satisfying to see them work perfectly with the magnets. I still have quite a few cars that I built previously that need the modifications.

    I enjoy picking up older Life-Like and Tyco stuff for cheap at Train shows and doing the mods. Because they have truck mounted couplers, the modifications are absolutely necessary. After that, Roundhouse and Accurail may or may not need the mods. And the Athearn Blue Box kits would be the ones that least require the mods.

  13. Catt

    Catt Guest

    Excellent how to Gary and pretty much just the way I do it except for one thing.

    Once I have the coupler box mounted and ajusted I cut a piece of at least .040" thick flat stock to fit between the bolster and the back of the coupler box.This does two things first it continues the center frame rail and second makes a positive stop so that the coupler box can not swivel from side to side.

    I also do this when body mounting N scale couplers. :D
  14. Gary S.

    Gary S. Senior Member

    Excellent idea. I'll have to do that. Thanks for the comments. :)

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