HO Equivalent of Gargraves Track



I have the gray EZ Track now. The problem I have found with such tracks is that there are always manufacturing variations in the plastic ballast that cause the track sections not to line up well. I've never had a Lionel train car derail on FasTrack. But I have had plenty of derailments on the Bachmann EZ Track (and random uncouplings, damnit...)
Luckily the last two cars are Army troop carriers filled with guys ready to help. The last car is a troop carrier/hospital car (Model Power). It was tragic when a random uncoupling caused it to fall off the back only to be rear-ended and knocked off the track by the loco on the next pass.
Unfortunately the hospital car had been carrying the only medical personnel and they were all killed.
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Are you sure that the uncoupling was a random act? Maybe terrorists have populated your railroad! Shudder...
Bill
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And here I had them looking in the wrong place. My explanation to visitors as to my somewhat eclectic choice of cars (including a searchlight car and two Army troop carriers, along with a Coca-Cola tank car - because Army guys get thirsty...) was that the train was searching for Osama bin Laden in the Christmas tree. (Well, they haven't found him yet, so he could be there. Just think of the layout I could create with the 25 million dollar reward.)
It hadn't occurred to me that Al-Qaeda may have had an agent on the train.
Am I the only one who invents stories to go with the trains?
But realistically, the Model Power cars came with the hook couplers. I installed the Bachmann style couplers on them. But I have run into trouble based on the order in which the trains are coupled. All other cars (Bachmann and Athearn) had Bachmann style couplers, but the couplers don't always line up correctly due to variations in the height of the cars. One little bump, and the cars can become uncoupled.
I like the Bachmann style couplers. They look more realistic (like the real ones that guaranteed that most yard men eventually lost a thumb.)
Of course the layout is still on carpeting. About the lowest pile carpeting there is, but that is the most likely culprit for the bumps.
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Spender wrote:

No. One club railroad had an elaborate history of the railroad, including mergers and acquisitions, old paint schemes and new paint schemes. During operations each train had a schedule, a name or number, and a purpose (express passenger, way freight, coal drag, etc) For that matter John Armstrong always had a lot of back story for his Canadeiga Southern railroad.

The knuckle couplers MUST all be at the same height, otherwise you get random uncoupling. You can see couple height mismatches by eye, either by placing the eye way down on the carpet, or placing a bit of test track up on the table. A small washer under the trucks will raise the low couplers. Athearn cars are often low. Just remove the truck screw, slip a washer under the truck, and replace the screw. Washers can be obtained from your local hardware store. Ask for number 6 flat washers. Coupler height gages are available, but in a burst of economy and do-it-yourself I made one from a block of pine, with a coupler secured to the top with a wood screw. The NMRA gage also has a coupler height hole in it.

The Janney automatic coupler was considered a great safety improvement over the link and pin couplers it replaced in the 1880's. Link and pin couplers required the brakeman to step inbetween the cars to couple and uncouple. One mistake on the engineer's part would ram the cars together and crush the unlucky brakeman to death. At least the Janney could be uncoupled from the side, and usually would couple by just pushing the cars together.

The benefit to carpet running is you get to change the track layout as often as you like with out doing carpentry or even pulling up track nails.
David Starr
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Spender wrote:

Bachman makes 9 different versions of the couplers with variations on the shank length & height position... short over, short center, short under - med over, med center, med under - long over, long center, and long under.
Changing to a different couple height may help those cars that are causing problems.
Also switching wheel size could help lower or raise the coupler height.
Doug
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On 12 Jan 2007 21:17:33 -0800, " snipped-for-privacy@aol.com"

Come to think of it, I believe I have Bachmann couplers on one car and Bachmann knock-offs on the other. Correct size, and same type, but possibly not the same quality.
I'm going to switch all the plastic wheeled cars to metal wheels. Adds a little weight along with possibly aligning the couplers better. But Google searches left me with a mass of various wheel sizes of which I am not familiar.
Perhaps I should just take off the wheels and take them to the hobby store and ask one of the guys to direct me to the right part. I'll pick up an extra pair of Bachmann brand couplers while I'm at it.
Trouble is that the hobby store has some sort of subliminal messages playing that encourage me to stay for hours on end rummaging through stuff.
The 1/32 scale slot car track has a powerful magnetic field that invariably pulls me towards it also.
Any other plausible theories would be appreciated. I think my wife is starting to catch on.
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Spender wrote:

Perhaps I'm misinterpreting the turn this thread is taking. If so I'm sorry, but, changing wheel type is not really key to coupler reliability. Are you operating with truck mounted couplers? If so, I suggest you consider body mounted couplers. They are less prone to cause derailments when operating in reverse and they readily allow for coupler height adjustment by the insertion of washers between trucks and bolsters. HTH. Thank you.
Jerry
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On 14 Jan 2007 08:46:20 -0800, " snipped-for-privacy@hotmail.com"

I think the point abut the wheels was about attempting to lower or raise the car to make the couplers line up better.
These are truck mounted couplers, on relatively cheap (Model Power) cars. I'm not prepared to do any serious modifications.
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Spender wrote:

Perhaps I'm misinterpreting the turn this thread is taking. If so I'm sorry, but, changing wheel type is not really key to coupler reliability. Are you operating with truck mounted couplers? If so, I suggest you consider body mounted couplers. They are less prone to cause derailments when operating in reverse and they readily allow for coupler height adjustment by the insertion of washers between trucks and bolsters. HTH. Thank you.
Jerry
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Spender wrote:

Of the two sources of trouble, the rolling stock is the more likely.
a) Track: did you make sure that the rail joiners are properly connected? Are all the joints smooth to the touch? That's my beef with these plastic-ballast-base systems: you have to line _two_ connectors, the ones for the base and the ones for the track. Tricky, especially if your eye are getting older...
I've found that on EZ track the rail end sometimes do not align just right. Since they have sharp corners, it's easy for a wheel to pick the rail and climb at a joint. Cure: break the inside and top edges of the rail with a couple of swipes of a small file. Don't overdo it.
b) Rolling stock: if the answer to a) is yes, then it's the cars. Model Power cars are not the best when it comes to trouble free running.
Couplers must not droop. They should easily swing from side to side and centre themselves without persuasion. Wheels should be metal with RP-25b profile, and in gauge. Even some of the better brands of train sets may have cars with poorly aligned couplers, and wheels that are out of gauge. Also, many cars are too light. They should weigh 1 oz + 1/2 per inch of length, which works out to 3.5 to 4.5 oz for most freight cars. BTW, horn-hook couplers are a bad idea. they should be replaced with knuckle couplers.
And a car with truck mounted couplers coupled to a car with body-mounted couplers is asking for trouble, especially if they cars are of different lengths.
HTH
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[snip]
That is by beef also. Some of the joints just don't line up properly at all. The ballast can be aligned perfectly, yet the track will have a gap.
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Spender wrote:
[...]

Well, LifeLike track is a little different. You click the sections together sideways, no need to connect up the rails, which line up very nicely. I used it under our Christmas tree this year, and the only problem was that one of the li'l metal tabs that touch to make the electrical connection slipped out. Fortunately I noticed that as I was assembling the track, and just slipped it back in place.
HTH
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I've searched Google for about 15 minutes and I can't find a site that has anything but a minimal selection of LifeLike track. That is there is plenty of stuff in steel, but very little in 22" nickle/silver.
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Spender wrote:

In Walthers current catalog I find 9 items: N/S Power-loc track -- all code 100 rail:
9" and 3" straights 18" and 22" radii (full sections only) RH, LH remote control turnouts Terminal rerailer (power connector) (18" radius) Bumper Powerlink adaptor (for connecting to standard sectional track.)
This is the same selection as the black-base, steel rail Power-loc track.
Walthers owns LifeLike, BTW. But their website is a major disaster. The worst search engine I've ever seen anywhere.
Generally speaking, the plastic base lines do not have the same variety as the standard sectional track. And although the manufacturers claim that you can use it on the carpet, advise against that. Too much fuzz and other stuff that can get into the mechanisms, wheel bearings, etc, and in HO there's not enough mass to overcome the results.
HTH&HF
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in article 45a95b09$0$28102$ snipped-for-privacy@news.newshosting.com, Wolf at snipped-for-privacy@ruddy.moss wrote on 1/13/07 2:26 PM:

There is another option, though it is harder to get: Altas True-Track code 83 track and roadbed system. The nice thing is that the actual track is the same as their snap track and can be removed from the plastic roadbed if you decide to improve the look of your layout.
--
Ed Oates
http://homepage.mac.com/edoates
  Click to see the full signature.
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Edward A. Oates wrote: [...]

Yes, I've used that too. It's the best looking, IMO. However, it's not suited to repeated disassembly and reassembly, because the plastic spike heads that hold the track to the ties are quite fragile and break easily.
OTOH, because you can remove the track, you can weather the plastic base, then put the track back on. Can look very good indeed!
HTH
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I was wondering about that. How does one reconcile an 18" radius section of track with a 22" radius layout?
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Spender wrote:

You don't. The 22" radius track is intended for the outer track of a double track (half-) circle, eg at one end of aan oval to make a passing track there.
Solution: use "terminal railjoiners", that is, metal joiners with wires attached. Atlas makes them, and they are very handy, since you can put power feeders just about anywhere you want. Replace the regular railjoiners with these. Cut notches in the track base if needed to prevent humps where the track passes over the wire. Or drill holes for the wires to pass down through the track support for under-table wiring.
Re wheels: the sizes available reflect the actual sizes of wheels on real trains.
Freight cars: older cars had 33" wheels. Since about the 1980s, some cars (eg, some large tank cars, grain hoppers, etc) have 36" wheels. A few high capacity cars even have/had 38" wheels. Double-stack container cars may have 36", 33", or 28" wheels. Depends on the prototype.
Passenger cars: from about the 1850s on, these all have 36" wheels.
Regarding coupler height: NMRA has a standard for truck bolster height and coupler-mounting pad height relative to car bolster, such that the coupler will be at the correct height when mounted on the car body. Model Power is one of several train set manufacturers that ignore this standard. That's one reason you will find few serious modellers using M/P rolling stock - and if they, it's usually as raw material for modification for a car they couldn't get any other way. BTW, the better quality cars from Atlas, Walthers and many others conform to the NMRA standard - you can switch or replace trucks with no problems.
If you just want to replace the wheels, that's easy. Cut off the truck mounted coupler, glue a small pad to the body, and mount a Kadee, McHenry, or Accurail coupler with draft gear box onto that pad. Bachmann does not offer its couplers with draft gear. The knuckle couplers of these manufacturers play nice together. Fort the mounting pads, I use the plastic closures on bread bags etc - they come in several thickness, and one of them will suit. I use a sprue cutter to trim them to size. Caution: varying shank thickness will cause some couplers to droop when mounted into existing coupler pockets.
Main point: coupler height. Kadee makes a coupler height gauge, or else (as another posted suggested) you can make your own. Kadee's gauge also gauges the height of the magnetic trip pin so that it will clear the rail, so IMO it's worth the price.
OTOH, some M/P and other train set cars have nice body moldings, and it's worth the effort of replacing the trucks, and body mounting the couplers.
HTH
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This doesn't surprise me. Looking over the Model Power cars it seems like the quality is much lower than Bachmann, Athearn, Atlas, etc.
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Sorry I wasn't clear. I was speaking of the way the track is made. Natural wood ties. GarGraves, BTW, isn't just three-rail track. They also make two-rail (O Guage) track, as well as four and five rail track for special purposes.
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