Using a Gary S Tungsten Kit

Discussion in 'Tips & Tricks' started by jbaakko, May 30, 2008.

  1. jbaakko

    jbaakko Active Member

    Background info:
    For about 6 months now, I've been fascinated with Tungsten, its 1.7 times heavier then lead by volume! It's usually available in powder form, and has been known to golfers for years, to weight clubs, and replaces lead in that application.

    How Gary S. became involved:
    Gary is always looking for new tools, that are not yet available, or can be highly improved. I mentioned to him, my thoughts of using Tungsten to add, or replace, weights in Athearn's Maxi-III kits (those who have them, know they're too light to run "bare table").

    Gary decided to make a kit, for me, and anyone else who needs it! Included is a Mixing, pouring stick, a metal scooper, a mixing bowl, and the Tungsten powder. Kits are currently available in 1 1/2ox, 3oz, and 6oz.

    Click the following link to see if any are available for purchase.
    eBay Seller: gary60s: Model RR, Trains, Toys Hobbies items on

    (Disclaimer: I am NOT receiving compensation for this article, or posting the link to his items for sale!)

    First use:
    Today I used the kit for the first time. I chose to test it on a Railflyer fuel tank.

    Here's the tank bottom, as new, from Railflyer, the steel weight has been glued in with Walther's Goo. Notice the gaps between the weight, and the sides of the plastic tank shell.

    I mixed the Tungsten 50/50 with Elmer's Glue All. Gary's instructions suggest to use a 50/50 water/glue mix, but I was not crazy about putting the thinner, wet glue mix next to the steel weight.

    The included mixing bowl 3/4 full, makes about enough to fill one side. After filling both sides, I'm about 1/2 oz heavier. As the glue settles, there's small openings, so I'll get close to 3/4 oz heavier then the stock Railflyer weight.

    This mixture works out well! I'd HIGHLY recommend anyone building a Railflyer kit, buy a Tungsten kit, and add some more weight as I did.

    After Thoughts:
    A local company here in San Diego has an item they call a "Poly Kit". The kit includes a 2 part epoxy, and some Tungsten powder. They claim it can be poured into a mold, so there's a possibility the Railflyer weight can be completely replaced with Tungsten, either by making the molded weight outside of the tank, or just pouring a mixture into the shell.

    My next project involves buying the Poly Kit from Tungsten Heavy Powder, and testing the molding process, to possibly replace the cast weights on Athearn Maxi-III's. I'll also test out Gary's kit, for adding supplemental weight to the cars. More later...
  2. ScratchyAngel

    ScratchyAngel Member

    Cool, I have some Bowser ADM hoppers that rock like an amusement park ride. You've just given me another thing to add on the to-be-done-someday list. Thanks.

  3. nkp174

    nkp174 Active Member

    I wish Tungsten was cheaper...I'd love to use it for my 2-8-0 project...but at $20 for's too expensive. Still, it is an awesome material.

    Thanks for sharing...especially the link! Kudos to Gary S!
  4. steamhead

    steamhead Active Member

    Hi...Is "powdered" lead available..?? It shoud be cheaper than Tungsten (or spent uranium...), and would make a great material for weighing down locos that have very little space for conventional methods. You could fill every nook and cranny with the stuff..!!
  5. jbaakko

    jbaakko Active Member

    I'm going to say no for powdered lead.

    1. lead is posionious, lead dust can do some damage
    2. lead is not as heavy as the tungsten
    3. lead comes in solid 1/4oz sticky bars

    The kits are going to be more expensive then buying the powder in bulk. You can get 1/2 a pound for $20 at most places.
  6. 60103

    60103 Pooh Bah

    One of the members of RMWeb found that some kits he's weighted with lead shot in glue were splitting apart. He decided that it was the lead shot oxidizing and expanding because there was so much surface area.

    Edit: I think this was actually Model Railway Journal magazine.
  7. RonP

    RonP Member of the WMRC

    You know what comes to mind after reading this ?

    Whats scale weight of these things. Maybe we can pull out a digital scale and work it all out.
  8. nkp174

    nkp174 Active Member

    I weigh mine on my kitchen scale. I'll toss the incomplete car and its expected material into the weighing boat...and then add weight until it reaches my desired weight.

    For my 2-8-0 project, I won't be weighing it...I'll just be attempting to pack every oz possible into it.

    As for powered lead...I don't know...but I'd look into taking thin sheets and rolling them to fit...or using the really expensive moldable lead from A-line.

  9. jbaakko

    jbaakko Active Member

    Skip that crud, and stick to NMRA specs. N, maybe a little more...
  10. nkp174

    nkp174 Active Member've helped me to re-read what Ron said...and this time I get it :p

    The problem with weight/physics is that they don't scale the way we'd the physics of a scale car is very different from the physics of a real car.

    A 1/2th scale car requires 1/4th of the paint per surface as the real thing. It also has 1/8th of the volume....1/2*1/2*1/, it will have 1/8th of the weight if it is made from the same materials. So is scale weight 1/8th or 1/2? Physics wise, the equation for kinetic energy is 1/2*M*V^2...or: 0.5*weight*speed*speed. If the speed is 1/2...and the weight is 1/8th...1/64th of the energy of the real thing for a given "scale" speed. If the weight is 1/ has 1/16th the energy. The friction is going to be only 1/2 as bad...
    So what does this mean? Scale weighted models will not perform like the real thing...physics does not scale as we'd like.
  11. doctorwayne

    doctorwayne Active Member

    I'm not aware of any powdered lead being available - if you file lead, you'll get shavings that tend to stick to the file. Same when you drill it - the residue is more chip-like than it is dusty. You can get sheet lead in varying thicknesses at low cost (mine was free for about 5 lbs.), or for free from tire shops (the old, used wheel balancing weights). While lead is poisonous if ingested, lead "dust" does not float in the air, and you're not likely to eat a slice of it. The main route for lead contamination in our hobby is due to poor hygiene - wash your hands after handling lead, and don't eat, smoke, or pick your nose :razz: while handling it and you'll be fine. I've been using it for over 30 years, with no ill affects. No ill affects. No ill affects. Huh? :p;):-D
    I use sheet aluminum to make simple moulds for casting weights - either "stock" weights for general use, or custom ones to fit specific cars. It is simple to melt the wheel weights in a metal container (I use the metal cap from a large can of spray paint, with a homemade wooden handle) using a propane torch. I use an old screwdriver and some cheap pliers to fish the steel clips out of the molten lead (they float atop the denser lead), along with any dirt and impurities, which will congeal on the tip of the screwdriver. Pour it into the one-piece moulds, let cool, then strip it out of the (usually) re-usable moulds. I work in the garage, and wear a two-stage respirator while doing this work, although workers in the small factory where I obtained the free sheet lead assured me that there are no harmful vapours release at the melting temperature of lead, and the Ministry of Labour does not require them to wear breathing apparatus.
    While lead is less dense than tungsten, it is about 1 1/2 times denser than steel - simply replace the steel weight with one of lead and a 3 oz. car becomes a 4 1/2 oz. car. I have a bunch of Walthers GSC flat cars that have had custom cast lead weights added to the underframe - at 6 oz. each, I've run them as the first car in a 70 car train with no derailment problems. ;)
    You can certainly use the tungsten powder if it suits your situation, but it seems to me to be a complicated and expensive choice compared to the lead option.

  12. steamhead

    steamhead Active Member

    Just a note....The physics of a "real" car are EXACTLY the same for a scale car. Physics doesn't vary - the effects of physics on these cars are different because of the size/mass ratio. The only instances where "clasical" physics do break down are at the atomic level, and the mega-humongous level, such as in or near black holes....
    Now...for tomorrow's homework.....:mrgreen:
  13. ScratchyAngel

    ScratchyAngel Member

    Only if you scale real friction and real air density and the like ;)
  14. Triplex

    Triplex Active Member

    And - as becomes obvious in trying to model a hump yard - real gravity.
  15. ScratchyAngel

    ScratchyAngel Member

    Well, if you have the space you can put your layout in a centrifuge.
  16. jbaakko

    jbaakko Active Member

    Back on topic. I managed to scrape in almost 3/4 an ounce in the left over space.
  17. KentBy

    KentBy GN, NP, SP&S

    Lead shot.

    You can buy 50lb lead shot (for reloading shotgun shells) at GI Joe's.
    I have used it in odd places (not on my railroad) buy mixing it with glass resin, enough to cover all the shot. I think that this could be used in some tight places in increase the weight that you can't make a mold for.

    I would rather use tungsten, but it is spendie.:v8:



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