What to look for in Rolling Stock

Discussion in 'HO Scale Model Trains' started by Gary S., Oct 13, 2005.

  1. Gary S.

    Gary S. Senior Member

    Again, thanks for all the advice. I have been tinkering with the kits for the last couple of days.

    Here is a question concerning ouplers: I built a Walthers tank car and the cover that holds the coupler in place just snaps on. Is this good enough? Or does it need to be drilled and tapped for a screw?

    I feel I have the physical skills to build these things, but not sure of the exact techniques or the best way to go about doing things. I suppose some experimentation is the way to learn?

    I also found the NMRA site and it has some good info.

  2. doctorwayne

    doctorwayne Active Member

    The snap-on coupler lid will usually work okay. However, sometimes they do become loose or you may have to remove it to service the centering spring. In this case, a screw is definitely better. And yes, other than reading and asking questions, experimentation is an excellent teacher. Sometimes, you come up with a way of doing something that no one had yet thought of: not very likely that you'd have read of it in that case! And if that does happen, I hope you'll share your new-found knowledge with the rest of us.
  3. Gary S.

    Gary S. Senior Member

    As of now, I have built a Walthers kit, an Athearn kit, and a Proto2000 kit, all tank cars. The Proto2000 obviously is the most detailed, has nice metal wheels, and is high quality all around. The downside is that all the tiny little parts are tedious to get together.

    The Athearn kit went together easily, but the trucks seem really wobbly. The plastic studs that the trucks fit on seem to be too long which doesn't allow the screw to "snug up" against the truck. I read on the NMRA site that this is the case and the studs need to be filed shorter. I won't do this until I get one of those coupler height gauges to make sure the trucks don't need to be shimmed. I also read that the kit doesn't include enough weight and more needs to be added.

    The Walthers kit also went together very easily. I heard or read that Walthers is getting out of the "kit" business. Any truth to this?

    So how do you guys feel about the weight of cars? Do yall follow the NMRA guidelines religiously? Is it something I should worry about? Should I go buy a little scale to make sure everything is in specs?

    Back to the coupler covers... the Proto2000 has screwed on covers and these seem really solid and the way to go. The Walthers covers snap on and the Athearn cover is a part of the undercarriage bottom which runs from one end of the car to the other. I may at some point do some experimentation and convert these to screwed on covers... it just seems to be so much better. Are am I worrying about something that doesn't need to be worried about?
  4. 60103

    60103 Pooh Bah

    Gary: I've had problems with teh snap-ons -- if they come off or get taken off, you often lose the little bit that holds them on. But that is the time to change them (after you gather all the coupling bits from between the rails).
    NMRA weight is a way to be consistent, and consistent with everyone else that uses it. It has also been tested and we know it works.
    One truck on each car should be a bit loose -- usually we let the screw off a half or quarter turn. One should be snug. But you're right about testing for height first. Kadee make some useful washers -- used to have 2 sizes but I think there's more now.
  5. green_elite_cab

    green_elite_cab Keep It Moving!

    personaly i think if its not broke, don't fix it. NMRA standard mght work, but if something is running just fine, but doesn't quite make it to the standards, i wouldn't mess around with it. so run all these cars and stuff until something is wrong with the car ( and you know its not the track or adjacent car or locomotive) then fix it. i see it as a away to reduce risks of hurting the car more.
  6. Russ Bellinis

    Russ Bellinis Active Member

    Regarding weight, tank cars need to have the tank glued together after the weight is added, and then if you need more weight it is very difficult to add it. I have a coffee can full of lead shot, and I glue it into the tank to bring the weight up to nmra specs before I put tank cars together. Other cars I'll build stock first and then add extra weight if needed.
  7. Gary S.

    Gary S. Senior Member

    Reporting back that everything is going well in the kit building department. Went to the LHS and picked up some more kit building supplies. Had a productive night last night. I added weight to the cars that were not up to NMRA specs. Some, I used the stick-on weights from the LHS, when I ran out of that, I used some old solder wire I had laying around, some of the big stuff. I used caulk to hold the solder wire in place.

    Tonight, I will try my hand at weathering. I'm familiar with the process from weathering planes and army tank models when I was a kid.

    Any advice on weathering tank cars? Colors to use?
  8. green_elite_cab

    green_elite_cab Keep It Moving!

    what if the tank car was already built? i have a walthers 23,000 gallon tank car?
  9. brakie

    brakie Active Member

    Gary asks:Trucks...
    metal or plastic?
    I recommend plastic trucks..This eliminates electrical shorts that can happen with metal trucks and wheels.

    What type of couplers?
    Again I recommend KD #5 or the scale 78 coupler.

    Wheels... metal or plastic?
    While plastic wheels will work flawlessly I recommend metal wheels..I use both.

    Kits vs Ready-to-Roll?

    This is a personal preference type question.. While I have built many Athearn and Model Die Casting(now part of Athearn) car kits in the past..I now prefer Athearn and Atlas RTR cars.

    What distinguishes a "nice" car from a "shabby" car? In other words, what should I be looking for?

    That again is a personal preference.I prefer Athearn freight cars over any other brand Follow by Atlas and Accu-Rail cars.These are great looking cars.

    Any recommendations on brands and marketing lines?
    Again this is a personal perferance..I prefer Athearn,Atlas,Accu-Rail and some Walthers cars-mostly the tank cars.

    There are may other brands of cars out there but,IMHO these are the better brands that are reasonably price.
  10. Pitchwife

    Pitchwife Dreamer

    That or RTR? :confused:
  11. 60103

    60103 Pooh Bah

    If the tank is already built, you pick an inconspicuous spot and drill a hole, then pour in some lead shot or equivalent, then a dose of white glue, plug the hole and set the car down till the glue dries.
    Best bet is to weigh all the kit parts before starting and then set out enough weight.
  12. Gary S.

    Gary S. Senior Member


    Have several of the tank cars finished. Also found 11 small covered ATSF hopper kits, all with different numbers, at the LHS. Only $4.50 each! These were made by Roundhouse. They have cast metal underframes. I assume they are fairly old. The quality seems acceptable. Have built one and am working on the others. Also trying my hand at a little weathering.

    For me, the ease of building the Athearn kits is a definite plus. No doubt the Proto2000 tank cars look really really nice, but to me it isn't worth the tedious work involved, at least not for now.
  13. Russ Bellinis

    Russ Bellinis Active Member

    Roundhouse made most of their rolling stock with die cast underframes. They used the die cast underframes for weight instead of using a steel weight like Athearn. The cars you bought are probably not very old.
  14. Gary S.

    Gary S. Senior Member

    Is Roundhouse still in business? The boxes looked old, but I have no idea just how old they are. When did they last make kits? I like the metal undercarriage.
  15. Russ Bellinis

    Russ Bellinis Active Member

    Roundhouse was bought out by Horizon. I believe that Horizon has lumped Athearn and Roundhouse into the same division, but the product lines are being kept separate. As new product are brought out they will be put in the Athearn, Roundhouse, or the Genesis line.

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