Now, onto Roco [HO Scale] cars and their couplers ...
I am looking at a couple of Roco tank cars. I am wondering if there's a
coupler conversion kit available for the Roco cars - Kadee perhaps? If
not, have any of you applied a creative coupler assembly to solve this
Are Roco cars R-T-R or kits? They sure cost a lot of money. Might some
of you offer your opinion on their overall quality. As pictured, they
look quite impressive. I have not seen one in person. Hopefully, they're
on par with Kadee boxcars which cost about the same.
Again, thank you!
=>Now, onto Roco [HO Scale] cars and their couplers ...
=>I am looking at a couple of Roco tank cars. I am wondering if there's a
=>coupler conversion kit available for the Roco cars - Kadee perhaps? If
=>not, have any of you applied a creative coupler assembly to solve this
KD # 17, 18, 19, and 20 have NEM shanks and fit NEM boxes. They are different
lengths for different cars. Bachmann EZMate Mark II 78035 couplers alos fit.
(The Mark IIs have metal knuckle springs.) Roco's European protoype cars
AFAIK all have NEM boxes. For N. American protoypes, KD #5s are usually
fairly easy to install.
=>Are Roco cars R-T-R or kits? They sure cost a lot of money. Might some
=>of you offer your opinion on their overall quality. As pictured, they
=>look quite impressive. I have not seen one in person. Hopefully, they're
=>on par with Kadee boxcars which cost about the same.
Roco cars are RTR, not kits. They are very good indeed. IMO, they rival and
and often surpass Marklin and Fleischmann. The wheels are to NEM standards,
which are _not_ the same as NMRA RP25, and I routinely replace European
wheelsets for that reason.
Wolf Kirchmeir wrote: ....
Excellent info - Thank You!!!
Do you [and others] mix European designed cars [i.e Roco] with your Amercian
designed cars [i.e. Kadee] on the same layout? Would that ever happen with the
prototype? I cannot imagine it would which has me wondering if I should pass on
the Roco cars - as nice as they are.
Your thoughts on this matter - Thanks!
I mixed European & American prototype on same layout at times.
The mix would have been unlikly in the 1:1 world. However, I didn't
let that worry me as some of the mix's of American prototype equipment
(Athearn 57' reefer & Tyco camelback 2-8-2] I operated would have been
even less likely in the real world.
If you like it buy it and don't worry.
Might I ask you for a clarification on your wheel recommendation.
I am most interested in purchasing some of there 102mm tanks cars. I would like
to chnage out the wheels per your recommendation. I'm not quite sure what to do.
Might I guess and have you confirm or correct my guess.
1) Are you saying that I would use the existing trucks that come with the Roco
cars, but I would put in new wheel sets [axles]?
2) If so, what size wheels do I buy? 33" or 36"
3) What brand wheels?
If new trucks are required, what size and brand?
Atlas 55-ton trucks [#185000], perhaps?
Assuming the Roco wagons have NEM 362 coupler boxes into which the Roco
couplers snap, Kadee and Bachmann both do couplers to snap in. As I tend to
throw away US couplers to fit European, I don't know the catalogue numbers.
A problem arises for you, in that modern European stock has extending
coupler mechanisims intended to keep wagons equally spaced on sharp curves.
The European couplers create a rigid bar to operate these mechanisims but
Kadees etc make a flexible connection so a US coupler will force a coupled
pair of European wagons couplers to move fully sideways against spring
tension once a train of 20-25 wagons is attached. This can lead to
derailments at changes in curve and at turnouts.
RTR. Some will have a few addon small details like hand wheels, brake gear
Roco have been supplying the US market through other firms since the 1960s.
Quality is always excellent but level of detailing is proportionate to the
No, the nearest (that I'm aware of) they come to meeting is between Russia and
The couplers and buffer systems are entirely incompatible and almost certainly
The Russians and some European nations have interchange wagons with suitable
couplers/buffers/brakes and they change the wheelsets at the borders to take
account of the different track gauges.
You have a few issues in running European models (and here I'm refering to
"continental Europe rather than Britain where different scales and standards
apply) with North American models.
In general service rather than special demonstration runs, full size
European stock and N. American stock do not run together. A matter of a few
thousand miles and different technical standards.
Its your railroad, though. If that sort of thing does not bother you then by
all means go right ahead.
I personally don't normally though I have extensive collections of models of
both in HO and have occasionally "test run" both types on the club's layouts,
on some of which they were mixing with British 4mm scale models.
To my eye, mixing European and N. American stock in the same train gives a most
odd appearance and it is much more satisfactory to form a train all of one type
This is not quite true.
Out of the box, European models come with a hook and loop type coupling, the
equivalent of the "train set" N. American horn hook, which does NOT form a
rigid bar between two vehicles. Fleischmann fit their own version which, while
different from the other "standard" (and I use that term VERY loosely!), has
the same effect. When pushed on these couplings the couplers will move to the
side as described. So for that matter will a heavy N. American train with KDs,
especially if mounted on pivoting mountings like some Walthers and Athearn
models. This can cause derailments but only in extreme circumstances. I have a
friend who used to operate his European models on quite steep gradients with
few problems with train lengths of up to around 20 cars.
You will find that the Roco tankers, and indeed virtually all modern European
stock comes with a standardised NEM 362 coupling mounting box into which any
NEM 362 coupling will plug. All European makers and KD make such couplings.
Assuming you are using KD's or compatibles on your your N. American stock then
that is the way to go. KD series 17, 18, 19 and 20 are the relevant ones. They
are all basically the same, varying only in length, which increases with
number. The longer couplings separate the car's buffers slightly more, allowing
operation on smaller radii curves before the buffers interfere. This is
necessary as the KDs do not hold the coupler bar totally rigid as the European
"close coupler heads" do, so the buffers can come together and cause problems
Only when special "close coupling" type heads are used does the coupling
between the two vehicles become a rigid bar and operate fully in the intended
manner. Roco, Fleischmann and Marklin all do such couplings, each different.
Rigid bar couplings with a "fishtail" at each end are also available. The KD
NEM type couplings have standard KD knuckle heads witth a limited degree of
pivoting which goes a long way towards achieving the effect of a rigid coupling
Many European modellers standardise on these very successfully.
I've never tried to run the two types together and my European stock is in
store just now so I cannot test the combination, all I can say is that I do not
foresee any problems unless heavy trains are run.
European stock is fitted as standard with NEM wheels. The way that standard is
defined, flange depth can vary, though recent models (certainly Roco) are
fitted with fairly shallow flanges which will run quite happily on code 75 or
so rail. The only possible problem that I have encountered is that some NEM
wheelsets can be slightly too narrow in back-to-back though I have never found
that with Roco. As almost all have at least one wheel insulated by a plastic
bush it is quite easy to adjust this by twisting the wheelset in the fingers of
both hands and pulling slightly at the same time until the dimension fits an
NMRA standard gauge. Properly adjusted modern NEM wheelsets will run very
sweetly through NMRA dimensioned trackwork.
You do have an NMRA gauge, don't you? Best single tool any North American
modeller can obtain.
If you really must have RP25 flanges then Roco do such wheelsets as a
replacement. Item Number 40264 (11mm dia.) fits the 102 mm long tank cars.
The length of a Roco pinpoint axle is 24.75mm (0.9744") if you wish to
substitute alternative wheels, though I feel that would be totally unnecessary.
Prototype European cars of relatively recent vintage generally use wheelsets of
1000 mm (39.37") dia. for 4 wheeled vehicles and 920 mm ( 36.22") dia. for
bogie (with trucks) stock.
Such wheels scale out at 11.5mm and 10.5mm respectively. Roco offer an 11mm
wheel which is a fairly acceptable compromise. BTW in European modelling
practice it is normal to refer to the actual diameter of the model wheel, in
this case 11mm, rather than the prototype, 33", 36", 1000mm or whatever.
Exceptions to this rule exist and there are special low floor vehicles for the
transport of heavy road lorries (trucks) with 730mm (28.75") and as small as
360mm (14.14") diameters. Even the prototype find problems with such small
There can be no question of substituting alternative trucks.
For one thing the vehicles are only four wheel and both axles are rigidly
mounted in the frame. To fit trucks would totally destroy the character of the
vehicle and, as the model frame is an open one with the coupling kinematic
mounting below it in way of where the truck would go, would require very
extensive alterations to mount trucks.
BTW 4 wheel vehicles are very common in Europe, low density merchandise cars
(goods vans or box cars in Americanese) can be found up to about 40' or 50' on
4 wheels only. Main lines can generally carry axleloads of 20 metric tons,
making such vehicles about 40 tons gross weight.
the Roco 102 mm long tank cars are not particularly elderly, representing
designs (there were two different tank diameters though only the larger one
still seems to be catalogued) originating in the 1960s and still running.
shows one British trader's range of Roco wagons, including 102 mm long 4 wheel
tankers Nos 47078, 47082, 47771, etc. BTW the references to Epoches or Eras on
that page refer to periods of operation. III is about 1945 to 1970; IV is 1968
to about 1985 and V is1985 to the present. This is a system used Europe wide by
modellers. and something similar would be helpful for N. America, Are you
takes one directly to a picture of one of the tankers which should clarify a
few points which seem to be puzzling some posters.
BTW in British practice, modern tank cars come in both 4 and 8 wheel varieties.
The 4 wheel ones are exactly half the length of the 8 wheelers so that when at
the loading and discharge docks the fillers line up regardless of the
composition of the train.
8 wheeled vehicles are becoming increasingly common in Europe but do not use N.
American style trucks, rather distinctive European ones, generally of one or
two standardised designs.
Pre WWII the N. American archbar truck was common and, to a very limited extent
in Britain, Fox trucks. After WWII Bettendorfs saw a limited use, mainly on
stock built in USA to overcome postwar shortages. Though again Britain, even up
to the present day, embraced these much more widely then our continental
Again, I can see no possible reason to change these, only the wheels if one
really must. The way each maker mounts their trucks to their cars varies as
well and NMRA type trucks will not usually easily substitute without
I agree with one of the recent posters who advised to just buy the models, try
them out and make alterations if any are found necessary as the problems arise.
When working with European models, think European, and do not try to
automatically use American components. Therein lies the way to failure.
Same principle with Australian or British models for that matter. :-)
Hope this helps.
Alex. W. Stirrat
Depends on the maker; Marklin and Roco come with KK type NEM couplers,
with their own KK type, Trix and Brawa with NEM standard.
Thats right on the limit!
If they're bought via E-bay, or otherwise second-hand, there's a high chance that
the models will be pre KK and pre-NEM coupler pocket types. Of present day
products, probably only Ma's lower priced range (and many locos of most makers)
without the pockets.
The archbar truck used in Europe equates to the Bachmann "old-time" models in
it is higher at the center than, say, the Kadee model. An accurate version is now
made by Fleischmann for the French "TP" series wagons whose prototypes were built
in the US from around 1917, initially for US Army use in Europe.
Wow! Thank you all for the fabulous text on European designs and recommended
to this purchase.
I like the suggestion of buying the equipment and making adjustments as needed.
what we'll do. I have ordered several cars [Roco, Fleishmann, and Marklin]. The
and Fleishmann are exclusively tank cars [3" and 4"]. The Marklin cars are both
I only expect to change out the couplers to a Kadee #17 or a Kadee #18 in all
E-mailed Kadee on Saturday, and I sent them the exact model numbers for their
recommendation for each individual car. By the sounds of it, I will not fuss
wheels at all. They should be fine. We're using Atlas code 83 track and Walthers
'Shinohara' switches. Our train lengths will always fall under 12 cars in number
many trains numbering less than 10 cars including the caboose.
Mixing the cars with our N. Amercan cars will be visually pleasing given that we
selected oil tankers with common place roadnames [Texaco, Esso, Shell]. The
are ATSF and Milwaukee. Though the car designs are certainly different, that's
with us. We just enjoy the aesthetic of each car with little concern for era and
Thanks So Much - your input was extremely helpful. Your understanding of
quite impressive! We truly learned quite a lot from this thread.
Matt and Kathleen
Gregory Procter wrote: