Work train with a lift kit

Discussion in 'N / Z Scale Model Trains' started by TrainNut, Jan 17, 2008.

  1. TrainNut

    TrainNut Ditat Deus

    Why is it that every n scale work train I've ever seen has a lift kit under the caboose/flat car? It looks as if it is almost 5' above the rails. Is that how the real ones are?


  2. MCL_RDG

    MCL_RDG Member

    I never noticed but,... that you mention it...

    An exacto or razor saw and a file...

  3. railohio

    railohio Active Member

    Because it's a toy train made by Bachmann?
  4. TrainNut

    TrainNut Ditat Deus

    Well, that could be a valid point. I've never particularly cared for the quality of Bachman but they have come a long way over the years. So let's say we generalize the problem as being because it is a Bachman toy train. I took a browsing tour through the rolling stock products of Bachman. While there are a few that seem to sit a little higher than they should (like this one)...


    ...the rest imitated a more realistic look (such as this one)....


    So, back to the original question - why is it that the platform of this one particular Bachman toy train product has been raised so high above the trucks? Looks like it's research time.
  5. eightyeightfan1

    eightyeightfan1 Now I'm AMP'd

    Might be because the couplers are body mounted in the gondola pic, and to keep the torsion bars underneath the tool car from dragging the track, as in your wreck train pic.
    Just two theories.........
  6. TrainNut

    TrainNut Ditat Deus

    Good thoughts... I did manage to find some proto pictures of this type of setup and the flat car part is no taller than an ordinary flat car. Therefore, it seems we must deduce it's just poorly designed.
  7. pgandw

    pgandw Active Member

    "Toy" trains are historically raised above prototype levels to allow free swiveling of truck and/or couplers around very tight radius curves.

    If you check the Layout Design Special Interest Group (LDSIG) rule of thumb for curve radius, you'll find that the minimum radius for reliable running with body mounted couplers, scale height bolsters, and underbody detail is 3 times the length of the car over the couplers (see Curve radius rule-of-thumb - LdsigWiki).

    Toy trains generally operate on a much smaller radius than 3X car length - Lionel O27 runs at about 1.3X or even smaller. To achieve operation on such tight curves, truck-mounted couplers with plenty of freedom to swing (often 360 degree freedom) are essential. That freedom for the trucks to pivot has to be paid for with raised bodies and/or lack of underbody detail. Overhangs on such tight curves are atrocious, and so another reason for raising car bodies is to avoid hitting switch machines and similar trackside objects.

    In the case of the shorter train set cars, they are probably all made with the same bolsters and trucks, regardless of car length.

    just my thoughts
  8. TrainNut

    TrainNut Ditat Deus

    Yep, the trucks on this particular car do swivel 360 degrees. With that in mind, I can see that if it were any lower, the trucks would hit the bottom of the ladders that hang down below the level of the platform. Wow, 3x the length of my longest car! If I went by that rule, I'd only have room for about half of my layout!
  9. rogerw

    rogerw Active Member

    I agree , I would like to know who came up with those numbers.
  10. pgandw

    pgandw Active Member

    As I said, the 3X is a conservative standard that allows for full underbody detail, prototype height of underframe, and body-mounted couplers. If you use the 3X standard, you won't see stringlining or other derailments caused by curve radius. In most cases, 2.5X is pretty reliable, but personally I would want to be at 3X on critical trackage - hidden or helix or similar.

    In narrow gauge because wheels often were located between underframe beams or other items, sometimes an accurate model will struggle at a 3X radius. In N where truck-mounted couplers are the norm, 2 to 2.5X is usually sufficient.

    Not that none of this addresses appearance on curves. The NMRA RP 11 (NMRA RP-11 Curvature & Rolling Stock) has similar recommendations broken down into class as well as length of locomotives and rolling stock.

    Can you get away with smaller radius? Absolutely! But the further you stray from the recommendations, the more likely a long piece of rolling stock is going to struggle on your curves and require modifications to run reliably.

    Personally, I will never have the room for more than about 22" radius curves in HO. But because my space is small, modern long rolling stock and locomotives look silly to me, anyway. So I'm quite content with the 1900-era, when railroading dreams were huge, the rolling stock and locomotives were small, and narrow gauge was still practical.

    yours in having fun
  11. I have that same car, plus I use Unitrack, which makes my track look like it's also five feet above the ground. So, the bottom of that car is pretty much above the heads of any of my little plastic guys. Oh well, mostly I just run trains in circles for the kids.

  12. nachoman

    nachoman Guest

    That is a pretty good rule of thumb. From my tinkerings as a child with HO scale and 18" radius curves, I learned anything longer than a sacle 50' car with body mounted couplers caused problems. I also learned that truck mounted couplers in HO are terrible for backing. Passenger cars are OK for truck mounts because 1) one rarely has the need to back passenger trains 2) generally the shape of passenger cars hides the fact the couplers are truck mounted. Plus, if you went by the 3x rule, you would need a 36" radius for a prototypical 85' passenger car!

    For your N-scale car, I would try shaving down the bolsters and then body mounting the couplers. That car looks to be about a scale 50 feet (3.75" long), and should do okay around 12-inch radius curves with body-mounted couplers. Now, if your curves are tighter...:(

  13. who_dat73

    who_dat73 Member

    Looking at the pics the BO gon has rapido couplers and the Rio Grand is knuckel so my surmise is they didnt really go for the looks as much as slap somthing together and see if we can get a buck for it
  14. markjf

    markjf New Member

    It seems to me that anything from Bachmann N scale is always bigger than other manufactures N scale. I have thoose same cars and just use a Bachmann engine to pull them because they are a little bigger also

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