I have purchased, obtained, inherited and other ways accumulated a
collection of HO "stuff". Now retired, my wife and I are ready to
play, - - - with the trains also!
I've run into a brick wall looking for replacement parts, i.e.;
Truck assemblies (the push in locking type) or do others adapt?
Low profile side and under mounted switch machines for old brass
I am not ready for the "prototypical" approach yet, just trying to get
everything in working order. I am learning as I go. I have an extensive
electrical background, no problem there.
The Atlas site is, well , Bachman and most of all the rest have a
nice collection of RTR stuff, wheel sets and couplers. How about a bag of 10
replacement trucks. Nada!
Any help with parts would be appreciated.
"S> Hi all,
"S> I have purchased, obtained, inherited and other ways accumulated a
"S> collection of HO "stuff". Now retired, my wife and I are ready to
"S> play, - - - with the trains also!
"S> I've run into a brick wall looking for replacement parts, i.e.;
"S> Truck assemblies (the push in locking type) or do others adapt?
Others can be adapted (see below).
"S> Low profile side and under mounted switch machines for old brass
Peco makes some nice twin-coil switch machines, which should work for
any type of switches. Standard is under track mounted ('hangs' off the
ties), but there is a side mount adapter available.
"S> I am not ready for the "prototypical" approach yet, just trying to get
"S> everything in working order. I am learning as I go. I have an extensive
"S> electrical background, no problem there.
"S> The Atlas site is, well , Bachman and most of all the rest have a
"S> nice collection of RTR stuff, wheel sets and couplers. How about a bag of 10
"S> replacement trucks. Nada!
-- you can get 'replacement' detail
parts, including wheel-sets and trucks. You are not likely to get the
original type parts (eg snap-in trucks) -- mostly these are not made
much anymore and were never available as 'replacement parts', but all
of the 'replacement parts' that are available are meant to be adapted,
but it will require some work, such as drilling out holes for mounting
screws (also available from Walthers) and gluing on coupler pockets.
Walthers sells some of the tools you might needs (itty bitty drill
has a more extensive collection of
just tools meant for working on small stuff (like H0 scale model
"S> Any help with parts would be appreciated.
Robert Heller ||InterNet: email@example.com
Welcome to the wonderful world of timewasting called model railroading!
You also learn how to do minor machinework as well as woodworking with this
As to the trucks, many manufacturers have adopted a fairly consistent
mounting system for trucks but the European makers do their own thing in
this regard but that hasn't been too much of a problem for the most part
becuase a lot of their stuff is more toylike than good models although that
If the car has truck mounted couplers, it's time to fix the problem as truck
mounted couplers tend to make for nasty derailing problems when pushing the
cars with the loco. Usually it is a matter of cleaning the old truck
mounting system off of the car and applying a platform for the truck to set
on and screwing the truck to the car. The same is done for the body mounted
couplers. I use sheet styrene (in 2'x3' sheets in thicknesses from .010"
and up) from the plastics retail store (there's one in every decent city
that provides plastic of all kinds for the industry and others) cut to size
and shape that is needed.
There are a fair number of switchmachine makers out there now from the old
twin coil to the slow motion motors and any of them will do a fine job of
moving commercial turnout points.
You may want to get a Walther's mail order catalog just for an idea of most
of what is out there. They also have a website with much of their stuff on
it. Walther's does both retail selling (through their Terminal Hobby shop)
and wholesale business for the local hobby shops and also is a manufacturer
in their own right. They'be been going for so long that they are basically
an institution in the hobby now.
Why isn't there an Ozone Hole at the NORTH Pole?
Ah, yes, replacment parts for cheap trains. I run into this problem all
the time - [people constantly bring me their broken train sets and ask
me to fix them. Sigh. There aren't any parts for cheap train sets.
It's not worth the expense of packaging, shipping, warehousinsg, and
above all of handling. Really. Example: I have some IHC cars at $3 on my
shelves. I also have Model Power trucks w. couplers at $3.85. These will
fit some IHC cars, but not all, on account of IHC buys from different
manufacturers (they aren't a manufacturer, they are a packager). See?
About the only way to get replacements is to cannibalise other cars of
the same brand, which is a good route to go if you can find them at yard
sales, etc. You just have to decide which cars you like least... :-)
However, you can adapt trucks by plugging the hole in the bolster with a
piece of plastic sprue, waiting a few days for the cement to evaporate,
then drilling for a 1/4" #2 screw. NMRA compliant trucks, such as those
made by Kadee, Atlas, LifeLike-Proto2000, Walthers, etc, have a mounting
hole for a #2 screw. The only problem is that those cars that use those
push-n-click truck have non-standard bolster heights, so you also have
to cut down the or build up the bolster to get the correct coupler
height. Many of these cars are not worth salvaging IMO, but there are a
few have very nice body moldings, and are worth the effort. You'll have
to decide which is which. So go for it. Besides, repairing and
improviung is fun, right? :-)
Since you are at an early stage of resuscitating the nearly dead :-),
you may as well go the body-mounted knuckle-coupler route. Original
maker of these is Kadee, and theirs are still the best. But their
emulators, such as McHenry, Proto 200, etc are almost as good, and on a
small layout with short trains there is no difference at all.
Again, the only route is to haunt yard sales and such and look for
collections of old toy train stuff. You will find the odd switchmachine
that will fit the old brass switches. Unfortunately, there never was a
standard arrangement for switchmachine - each maker did their own thing.
So you really have to know what brand(s) you have, etc.
For a variety of additional reasons, I would advise you to ditch all the
brass track ASAP, and use only nickel silver track.
If you are mechanically at least average, you'll be able to adapt any
switch machine to the any turnout. Other posters have listed a few.
Well, that should tell you something. :-)
Well, Dave, I suggest you buy a current Walthers catalog, and stiudy the
sections on track, and trucks & couplers. It will cost around $25, but
it's money well spent, and most of its information is good for two or
more years (apart from prices.) Warning: it will cause you to start
dreaming impossible dreams... :-)
You;'re welocme, and come back here anytime, even just to brag about how
you fixed that car that couldn't be fixed. :-)
The Atlas site have a good parts section. I recently bought all the
necessary parts for one truck of a FP7 that I dropped the chassis onto the
floor and smashed the gearbox and side frame. The trucks are the clip in
type you have mentioned. The online store is offline tonight but I just
ordered mine online and they arrived in New Zealand a week or so later.
Nigel, I must say I am impressed with your web site. I grew up near the WP
and as a late teenager me and a friend would ride my motorcycle up to Niles
canyon. We would swim in the niles river during the summer and get out to
watch or photograph the Cal Zepher as she slid in towards the Oakland area.
Years later I enjoyed going up to Keddie to see the Wye and the unique
bridges. The Feather River canyon is a gorgeous drive or train ride.
I am looking for freight car trucks. Their parts lists are fine if you have
part numbers, but no pictures to compare against needed parts. I have since
found the NMRA site and they have a nice section on truck conversions and I
think I'll go that route so I can move the coupler to the frame.
Speaking of Niles Canyon, I grew up in Lafayette (class of 59) and used to
take the shortcut through Crow Canyon to Castro Valley in my 49 Hudson.
Thanks for the info and I like your kit bashing articles.
Hello again Bob,
I'm the one that posted a bunch of Garratt scans in the binaries group a few
years ago along with some photos from the plant where we manufacture
"Electric Trains". Yes I have an excellent electro-mechanical background
including instrumentation. Just now getting into the hobby now that I'm
My wife is a Marklin (old 3 rail steam) collector and I'm HO. I think we
have decided to use the garage and the 3rd bedroom for the layout with
portals through the wall, the garage first!
Getting the couplers off the trucks is my first project along with weighting
the cars, while I have them in hand. And yes, right after posting the start
of this thread, I discovered that the consist doesn't like to go backwards
with truck mounted couplers, cars everywhere! I figured out the applied
forces, right down the tapered side of the flanges forcing the truck to turn
and derail. Couplers have to go to the frame, as prototypical.
Anyway, thanks for the input. I just received my NWSL catalog. Talk about
parts!!! well worth the $9.00. I may build an HO Shay yet.
From the foggy, dewy, rainy and sunny central valley of CA, have a good day.
Off to Bruce's trains!
You actually CAN get the snap-in trucks - Life-Like sells them in
packs of 2 for 4.75 each (their part no. 1413, I think). You can
pick up a shoebox of them for that much at a train show, anyway.
Athearn lists their trucks here:
They are actually cheaper ($3 a pair), but do not have couplers
It is pretty easy to file a flat spot on the plastic underframe and
cobble up a coupler mounting.
To attach screw-on trucks like the Athearns, take some plastic sprue
glue it into the big snap-in mounting hole. Carefully drill a 1/16" or
3/32" hole in the center for the screw. It helps to prick a small
mark first with an awl or nail.
All very well if you just HAVE to (sentiment, whatever) salvage an old
Tyco or Life Like, etc. train set car.
On the other hand, looking at it from just the standpoint of getting a
decent but inexpensive 'train set' up and running, you can get a far
better used Athearn or similar car, with decent trucks, and perhaps
Kadee couplers already installed, for about $4 at a train flea market.
So, WHY bother to repair the junker? Aside from personal reasons, why
spend $3-$5 to improve a $2 car, that'll not be worth more than $3 when
you're finished? You are further ahead to just toss the old car, and
upgrade the whole thing with a better used car.
Of course, if you get lucky an buy a whole bag of assorted suitable
trucks at a flea for maybe $5, the cost of repair goes way down, but the
quality also stays abysmal.
And, yes, I know that a few of the cheap cars are closer to certain
prototypes than other better quality cars, and from THAT standpoint may
be worth the effort and expense to upgrade. That level of
sophistication, however, is the furthest thing from the mind of most
Well, those snap-in trucks don't actually work that badly if you
body-mount the couplers -- I used to cut the holder from the truck and
glue it to the car body. I suppose if buying new trucks it would't be
worthwhile, but if you could get a box of junkers at a train show
it sure is. I used to have a small fleet of Tyco hopper cars that I
got that way, and I had a lot of fun running them. Once you paint
them all a decent black, they look fine. Real hopper cars are mainly
a collection of rust and dirt, held together by dents, anyway.