Passenger car advice needed

Discussion in 'HO Scale Model Trains' started by spitfire, Oct 19, 2004.

  1. spitfire

    spitfire Active Member

    I've decided to add passenger operations to my layout and I've been browsing online at the different options. Walthers new cars look amazing but they're also pricey, and they don't have either CNR or CPR heavyweights which is what I'm looking for.

    IHC have them, but I'm not sure about their quality. I'd like to find something in the $20 price range. Has anyone used IHC passenger cars, or do you have any suggestions as to make?

    Thanks in advance!! :thumb:

  2. RioGrande

    RioGrande Member

    I'll start off by saying I have been in the hobby for years, but haven't purchased from many/most of the plastic passenger car lines - only Concor and Walthers. Right now I own a brass California Zephyr made by Kumata and imported by Challenger/High Country Brass/Oriental Ltd (all the same cars, just different importers). I also own Walthers Superliners and Concor Material Handeling Cars. I once owned Concor budd streamlined cars and Concor superliners.

    Here is the deal with plastic passenger cars ... for years, the choices were limited to only a few kinds and brands, mainly because the tooling was too costly offer prototype correct versions of so many RR passenger cars. Railroads of the 40's and 50's and earlier had so many unique passenger cars all constructed to different plans and specs. Literally just about every RR company had a different type than the next, and there were many companies back in the early days. Most of the passenger cars offered in plastic were "bogus" because the plastic cars made usually only represented one correct prototype, but manufacturers had to paint them for others to sell enough to make money back from the tooling/molds. So for years there have been only a few railroad passenger trains which could be correctly modeled from plastic passenger cars.

    Lately, things have changed in the area of plastic passenger cars. Manufacturers have sensed that there has been enough demand to offer new passenger cars and make them with more detail and fidelity, but at a higher cost naturally. This is great because in the past, the only way to correctly and accurately model "most" passenger trains was by buying brass at prices ranging from $100 to $350 per car! Now we have more options of streamlined cars and now new heavy weight cars from Walthers and Broadway ltd etc.

    Frankly the choices haven't expanded as greatly as could be because a bunch of the newer improved plastic cars are Santa Fe, duplicating models already on the market for years from Athearn (shorty cars) and Concor (scale length cars), but they are greatly improved and much needed ATSF modelers. Walthers offers Budd cars, but mostly represent Amtrak "heritage" era cars with skirt removed etc. Walthers also offers Pullman Standard cars - one of which matches closely cars run on Rio Grande's Prospector.

    But Val, here is the dilemma. You may have only one choice in brand if you have found "correct" passenger cars that match your CNR or CPR heavyweights. If Walthers newer cars match those, you are lucky!

    As for brands, hopefully some folks can shed more light but I can comment that Concor passenger cars were "lousy" in my opinion - low detail and cheap running gear like trucks and couplers. They required allot of extra work to make them into good looking and running models. I have handled Riverossi cars, they look much better but the running gear is still old tooling and needs some improvment. I have no experience with IHC, but my impression is that they are "old tooling" and are really showing their age. I have never been impressed with other IHC products, for the same reasons. But if IHC is the only match for your needs, I'm sure they can be made to work for your. Just keep in mind they are old tooling and may need some attention if you want a little more detail etc.
  3. spitfire

    spitfire Active Member

    Thanks for the detailed info RioGrande. I guess what I'm really asking is about the runnability of the cars. I can work with replacing details for a more prototypical appearance.

    I am also curious about couplers. On freight cars it is well-known that couplers should be body-mounted. Is this feasible on passenger cars? Or does their length necessitate truck mounted couplers?

  4. RioGrande

    RioGrande Member

    I'm pretty sure the IHC cars have "talgo" truck mounted couplers, as is usually the case with plastic passenger cars, especially full-length cars (85' typically).

    As for your question about couplers via body mount: Part of the answer lies in what minimum curve radii you are using. Traditional body mounted couplers don't work well with long cars on sharp curves (18-24"R). When you get up to probably 30-inches or higher, body mount couplers can work much better. Also you need to take care to use #6 turnouts or higher also. #4 turnouts don't work well with long wheel based cars and standard body mount couplers - especially when S-curves are at play - which are present in a surprsing number of places like yards and sidings. Note that Walthers 89' flat cars and Autorack cars, and even the 72' Centerbeam cars have special body mounted coupler boxes which allow for greater lateral swing. I think this strategy has been employed on Walthers recent line of Budd and PS passenger cars too. The Walthers wide swing coupler boxes allow their longer cars to operate on relatively sharp curves (22-24-inch minimums).

    If you have semi-sharp curves and really want body mounted couplers, you might check to see if Walthers sells "conversion kits" to let you mount similar style couplers on older talgo style passenger cars like the Riverossi, IHC and Concor cars. Body mounting is preferable, but the talgo style were used in the past as a compromise to allow those longer cars to operate on sharp curves.
  5. interurban

    interurban Active Member

    Val it depends on you track radius. If possible,
    I would always mount them on the body when I modeled steam a while ago.
  6. Alan B

    Alan B Member

    IHC heavyweight passenger cars a a knock off of the Rivarossi cars. They run well when weighted. They are cheap. The factory is selling them for about $8.00 each. They do have talgo trucks, just as the Rivarossi cars do. But, in running them for a several years, they do work. Just bring them up to weight. KD makes a drop in replacement for the horn hook couplers. Or, you can body mount the couplers. I did that on a few cars and found that it does improve the appearance and they still run well. One drawback to body mounts is you are mostly restricted to 24 inch curves or greater. As my layout has a minimum of 36" that's no big problem for me. However, they will not work on the Christmas tree layout.
  7. Glen Haasdyk

    Glen Haasdyk Active Member

    There are two other options, MDC and Athearn. Athearn makes heavyweights in 85' (I think). I bought my set years ago before they came painted in CNR colors so I painted and decaled them myself. MDC offers their Harriman passenger cars in both CPR and CNR colors. The CPR are maroon with black roofs. The CN are the 60's and 70's black and white But it is fairly simple to repaint them in the green and black colors of the steam/early deisel years. Both MDC and athearn run with truck-mounted couplers.
    Here's a pic of my MDC observation coach:
    If you are looking for acuacy, look to Athabasca scale models, not cheap but very authentic.
  8. spitfire

    spitfire Active Member

    Thanks for the info Glen. I've checked out Athabasca and they are too pricey for me. But the CN Sig offers a decal sheet, so repainting would be a possibility.
    I like your observation car! :)

  9. Russ Bellinis

    Russ Bellinis Active Member

    The Athearn heavey weights are shortys like their streamliners (72' instead of 85'). The MDC Harrimans are also shortys, but I don't remember if they are 75' or 60' cars. These shorter passenger cars don't look bad if not mixed with scale length cars. They may also be an answer for you if you have a limiting curve radius. If you run 85' cars, and find ones that match your prototype but the trucks are substandard, Athearn trucks with p2k wheelsets work very well, and are cheap to boot. Also the Athearn cars have talgo trucks, but can be easily changed to body mount if your running enough radius.
  10. RioGrande

    RioGrande Member

    Rus is right about the Athearn heavey weights and MDC harrimans. They are "shorty" cars - IOW, they are not scale models of real cars, but short models made to approximate the "look" of real cars - shortened to work on sharp curves on small train sets. Russ's suggestions are very good about 85' cars and trucks etc.

    Again, I seem to remember that Walthers has offered body mount conversion kits based on the type used on their 89' flat cars, autoracks and 72' centerbeams. Maybe the same draft gear boxes used on their passenger cars. I tried to search their website but turned up nothing. My '99 Walthers catalog is probalby too old for the coupler conversion kits, if they truly exist.
  11. brakie

    brakie Active Member

    Val,Sadly most passenger cars in the $20.00 and below range will have truck mounted couplers.I do not recommend body mounting the couplers on long wheel base cars unless one has the large curves needed for body mounted couplers.

    Guys,First the prototype did have short passenger cars in the 72 foot length.These cars was use mostly on mix trains or low class passenger trains and passenger locals..Remember not all passenger trains are created equally and rate first class cars like your more popular and faster name trains..
  12. Russ Bellinis

    Russ Bellinis Active Member

    I think Kaadee makes a conversion kit as a compromise between talgo and body mount couplers for Rivarossi passenger cars, but they would work on any car. They have a long shank that mounts to the body near the truck mounting pin. It has the advantage of allowing the car to negotiate tighter radius curves, and can be backed around corners because the couplers are still body mounted.
  13. spitfire

    spitfire Active Member

    Thanks again for the info Russ, Rio and Brakie. My curves are 22" radius, which is obviously pretty tight. I could make them wider at one end of the loop, but not the other.
    I found a great deal on a 3-coach Branchline set. They list on their website for $130 US and I found it for $80 Cdn. I think they are proto 80 ft length.

  14. shaygetz

    shaygetz Active Member

    I'm setting up a model of the ACL's "East Coast Champion", 14 cars and 2 E8As long, using Con-cor and IHC cars. While not highly detailed like the latest releases, they fit the budget, run and look well enough on the club layouts. They do have body mount couplers but I've had not problem with that on either the modular or fixed layouts. Hope that helps :thumb:
  15. mhdishere

    mhdishere Member

    My planned passenger service is mostly commuter/local, but I'll give you what I've found. I'm planning a small layout with tight curves (22-24"), so short cars are the rule.

    I looked at one of the Branchline kits in a shop, those are BEAUTIFUL cars. They also have about a gazillion parts. The 80' length worries me though, and they're too nice to shorten.

    I got a bunch of the MDC Harriman cars from direct MDC on clearance sale, I didn't get around to building them yet. IIRC they're scale a 60 feet long. They have talgo trucks, but since they're short it wouldn't be a problem to body-mount couplers.

    I keep my eyes open at train shows for the old Athearn blue-box heavyweight kits. The RTR's seem WAY overpriced.

    I considered getting a few IHC cars and chopping them down, at eight bucks a pop that seems reasonable.

    Walters is coming out with some shorty passenger cars in their Trainline series, next month I think. They look a lot like the ones Rivarossi released a while back. $30 each seems a bit steep, but I'll see what Trainworld sells them for.

    I also bought the Carsten's book on heavyweight passenger cars with an eye toward possibly scratch-building cars. So far all I've done is look.
  16. RioGrande

    RioGrande Member

    Typically, modular layout curves are minimum 24-inches and often much larger (for the more recently built mod layouts). I designed and helped build the corner modules for the Syracuse CNYMOD layout displayed in Springfield and Syracuse shows. Those have 36-inch minimum radius curves. I was at the GATS show in Louisville KY years ago and a modular layout there had curves over 50-inches in radius - I recall asking the the guy running a long train of 89' autoracks and asking him since they looked so nice on those broad curves. So anyway, longer passenter cars typically WILL run well on modular layouts because they are rarely built using the tight sectional curved track that many use at home on 4x8 layouts.

    As for the 80' passenger cars, MDH, if you run them on the 24-inch curves, you should be ok.
  17. wjstix

    wjstix Member

    I find the IHC cars are similar to Rivarossi - a plus is they have more separate details (like railings/grab irons) but a negative is they tend to be a little wobbly sometimes. One or two IHC cars took a little work to get to sit perfectly upright. Both Rivarossii and IHC have nice interiors you can paint and add figures (I'd say the IHC ones are more detailed) both are very nice for the price.

    KIM you can kinda mix-and-match, I use Athearn's baggage and RPO heavyweight cars (which are prototypical length) along with Rivarossi and/or IHC coaches (or diners or observation cars). BTW the Athearn heavyweights are based on Santa Fe prototype cars, pretty accurate except that the observation, sleeper and dining cars are all 8' shorter than the real ones.


    JOE ALOIA New Member

    Ihc Passenger Cars

    I recently purchased 5 pa. passeger cars, and the look great. For added detail
    they provide handrails,foot steps, and air vents. Some cars these details are molded in.What is required is a little weight,being all plastic they wobble a bit.
    But! for $7.98 each ,i personnaly think they are a good buy

  19. spitfire

    spitfire Active Member

    I picked up a couple IHC pass. cars at a train show last year and they wobble a lot! However in the meantime I got some Walthers Budd cars, which are great and some Branchline heavyweight kits which are also great. Neither are perfect, but unless you go brass, which is a huge step up in price, they seem to be the best on the market.

  20. richhotrain

    richhotrain New Member

    The Walthers Trainline series are the Rivarossi cars - - - -Walthers picked up the inventory when Rivarossi went belly up according to my LHS dealer. There are 4 cars in the series, but some of the road names only have one or two of the different car types because that's what was out there already produced when Rivarossi fell on hard times. All four of the cars can be purchased in the Undecorated mode so if you have an airbrush you can proto whatever road name and color you like. Incidentally, I have a couple of sets of these cars from Rivarossi and they run well without modification - - - couplers and wheels are fine as is. These are 60' cars that can pretty much handle any radius regardless of how short.

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