Problems with Athearn CN Coaches

Discussion in 'Getting Started' started by RobertInOntario, Aug 18, 2006.

  1. RobertInOntario

    RobertInOntario Active Member

    I have two green CN coaches made by Athearn. I bought these new last year. Of all my rolling stock, these are the most prone to derail. They are very sensitive to any track imperfections -- if anything is likely to derail at a problem area, it's these coaches!

    I recently adjusted my track and my rolling stock runs fine on my layout except for these two coaches, which is often the case. One of these CN coaches -- a shorter baggage car -- is worse than the other (which is a passenger car). The gauge of their wheels appears to be accurate. I also recently added some weights to the baggage car. But the baggage car is still giving me some problems at one area, while the passenger car runs OK.

    I was wondering if anyone else has had these problems, either with Athearn products or similar CN coaches (i.e. similar green 1950s CN coaches, but made by another company)? I suspect that these coaches are quirky because they're relatively short and each have two 6-wheel trucks. Are the problems due to the manufacturer or are these simply difficult coaches to model and run on a model railway? Does anyone have any other suggestions? Thanks in advance!

    Otherwise, these are fine-looking coaches and look great hauled behind my CN C-liner.
  2. Russ Bellinis

    Russ Bellinis Active Member

    Take you trucks off the coaches and put them on a flat piece of glass. Do they sit evenly? sometimes due to whatever reason, the plastic trucks can warp. If all six wheels are not touching the glass at the same time, they won't touch the rail at the same time and will be prone to derailing. Also make sure your mounting screws are not binding the trucks in any way.
  3. lester perry

    lester perry Active Member

    Also make sure they are all in line. If they are in correct gauge but not in the same position on the axle they will fight against each other and derail.
  4. jim currie

    jim currie Active Member

    also make shure you don't have one axle that might be in gauge but is off set from the rest also i have had one athrean coach that the coupler pocket was not centered with the truck, assuming that there still tanglo trucks.
  5. RobertInOntario

    RobertInOntario Active Member

    Thanks! These all make sense and sound like good suggestions. I'll try checking to see if they're in line and also check them on the piece of glass. Rob
  6. Russ Bellinis

    Russ Bellinis Active Member

    Let us know what you find.
  7. spitfire

    spitfire Active Member

    Good luck Robert. I hope you can fix your problem. I'm a huge fan of those green and black CN coaches.

  8. RobertInOntario

    RobertInOntario Active Member

    Thanks, Russ and Spitfire. I won't be able to get to this for a day or two but I'll let you know how it goes. Rob
  9. RobertInOntario

    RobertInOntario Active Member

    These coaches only cost about $25 each, so I'm wondering if their quality isn't up to snuff? To my eye, they look great but I realize that there are a few other companies that make this type of (green CN) coaches. Maybe I simply need to buy some better quality ones?

    I just visited your website -- it looks really interesting, great pics & info!

    Thanks, Rob
  10. 60103

    60103 Pooh Bah

    Robert: for testing: do the coaches come off when you run them alone? with each other?
    Is it the same place(s) each time? same end of the car? I was reading about a problem someone had with a 6-wheel car and the middle axle wasn't rising enough and the car would rock on it.
    If they're the cars I'm thinking of, they came out about 1962 for $1.29 each.
  11. RobertInOntario

    RobertInOntario Active Member

    Thanks, David. Good questions. Sometimes the coaches will derail when they're being hauled but not when I push them around, which makes me wonder if their couplers are acting up. (I recently changed their couplers to Kadees but this problem still occurred before that.)

    Also, the problems usually occur at the same spots. One is where a piece of flexitrack joins onto an 18" curve (settrack), and the other is at a Hornby curved switch. I recently heard that Hornby curved switches aren't the greatest and their gauge can be off. I used to have two Hornby curved switches but replaced one with a Peco. I've been reluctant to replace the other one because I've ballasted it in!

    I'll check the middle axel, as you suggest. And I might have to get rid of that other Hornby curved switch, even though my other stock is running fine through it.

    Thanks again.

  12. MasonJar

    MasonJar It's not rocket surgery

    I had problems with this same car (I have two) and it turned out that the wheels were out of gauge. Because they have metal axels with one plastic and one metal wheel (for lighting pick-up) it is difficult to gauge the wheel sets properly - the plastic wheel will slide on the axel, but not the metal, leaving the wheel set in gauge but off centre. This is as much of a problem as out of gauge, since it causes the car to "crab" (move sideways) down the track.

    Ultimately the solution was new P2K wheel sets. If I want to light them later, I will do it with a battery.

  13. yellowlynn

    yellowlynn Member

    I'm sure you've tried it, but when this happens to me, the first thing I do is reverse the car, which changes both wheels AND coupler in the lead.

  14. RobertInOntario

    RobertInOntario Active Member

    Thanks, Andrew. Interesting!! especially since you have the same cars. I'll look into this. Are P2K wheel sets readily available from hobby shops and, if so, are they expensive? Thanks again, Rob
  15. RobertInOntario

    RobertInOntario Active Member

    Thanks, Lynn. I have occasionally tried this and the most "troublesome" of the 2 coaches, the baggage car, often does run better in one direction. This might suggest that the wheels could be out of alignment.

    I'm going to check their gauge again as well as their alignment. I also might look into replacing them with P2K wheels as Andrew suggests. Thanks again, Rob
  16. MasonJar

    MasonJar It's not rocket surgery


    The Proto2000 (P2K) wheels are not that expensive, and should be available at your favourite train shop. If not, contact Dave Cool at Canadian Express Line ( His web site is out of date, but his mail order business is great. He has good prices, as long as you don't order one package of wheels at a time... ;) :D

    He also attends various shows across Quebec, New York, and Ontario (based in Montreal). So you may see him here or there...

  17. RobertInOntario

    RobertInOntario Active Member

    Thanks, Andrew! I'll first check 1-2 hobby shops here ... I may contact Dave as well.
  18. lester perry

    lester perry Active Member

    As far as the center wheel set not moving enough that is easy to check. Just take it out of the truck and run it. If you problem goes away the central axle is the problem.
  19. 60103

    60103 Pooh Bah

    You will probably find that the Hornby switch is incompatible with NMRA wheels. I think they've improved them over the last 40 years, but they were designed for wheels to a bit narrower gauge than NMRA. If you're running older Hornby, this may be necessary (but there are compatibility problems). I've had to glue plastic strips onto the flangeways to make them narrower. (but I find they can detach themselves)
  20. jim currie

    jim currie Active Member

    one other thought I have had is are the truck mounting screws too tight one truck should be free to rock a bit.

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