Ready for Service

Walthers All-Door Boxcars
Walthers All-Door Boxcars

I picked up these two Walthers all-door boxcars at a toy show in Morden, Manitoba. I just had a few steps to go through before they were ready for service.

This kind of car was used for paper service and most were owned by paper companies, such as Boise Cascade and Weyerhauser as seen here. I paid $30 for the pair and I was pleased to have them, as I didn’t have any cars of this type.

 

Coupler Height Check

First it gets put on the test track to check coupler height.

Coupler height check
Coupler height check

That end was good. I flipped the car around to check the other end.

Coupler height FAIL
Coupler height FAIL

This was a FAIL. The coupler was way too low, with the whisker hitting the plate before it could even couple up. It was also obvious that the coupler itself was too low.

I checked the coupler and there wasn’t much play in the box so the solution was to add some washers between the truck and the car body to raise that end.

Adding washers
Adding washers

It ended up taking two washers before I could get the end raised enough. I also snipped off most of the whisker using side cutters.

Good coupler match
Good coupler match

When you raise one end, you have to check the other end again to ensure it didn’t throw that end off! In this case it was OK.

 

Weight Check

Now it was time to check the weight of the car to see if it matched NMRA standards.

Car Weight Check
Car Weight Check

5 ounces was about right for the length of the car, so there was nothing to be done here.

 

Wheel Check

Finally I checked the wheel spacing using an NMRA standards gauge.

Wheel Spacing Check
Wheel Spacing Check

No problems here! There is rarely a problem with wheel spacing on cars, but if there is, the usual fix is to twist one of the two wheels until the spacing is correct.

 

Finish the Paperwork

I printed up the car cards in Easy Model Railroad Inventory and stuck some destination cards in the pocket, then put the car cards into the appropriate slot.

Car Cards - Check!
Car Cards – Check!

 

Ready for Service

The last step was to actually put them on the layout, ready for operation. They are on the CN-CP interchange track now and will get picked up by CP 948 on my next operations session.

Ready for service!
Ready for service!

Further reading:

A Few Small Car Repairs

I had a little time so I decided to do some car repairs in the train room. I picked two cars and got to work.

Time for Car Repairs
Time for Car Repairs

Caboose CN 79575 had two problems… a low coupler and it leaned to one side. I tackled the leaning problem first. I knew why it leaned. I had added weights to the interior of the caboose to bring it up to spec but I obviously added more weight to one side than the other. I took the caboose apart, pried one of the weights off, then split it in half and glued it back on.

No More Nails
No More Nails

Glue… I must say, I love No More Nails.

I used to use either white glue or CA (cyanoacrylate) to stick things down. They worked OK but the white glue took too long to dry and the CA sometimes glues things you don’t want to glue.

Enter No More Nails. This stuff is fantastic. It is thick enough to go where you put it and nowhere else, it is strong, and it sets quickly.

Obviously you don’t use it for detail work but for things like sticking weights down, it’s great.

I used the No More Nails to fix the boxcar too. The problem there was that the weights (pennies) had broken loose and were rattling around in the boxcar. I had used white glue for those… but No More Nails came to the rescue.

Boxcar with Coin Weights
Boxcar with Coin Weights

The other problem with the caboose was that the couplers were too low. I got a few washers to put between the trucks and the car body and that raised it enough.

Coupler Height Check
Coupler Height Check

You can see the car on my car checker.

Once both cars were OK, I placed them in the CN siding in Georgetown for pickup by a passing train. I haven’t done up car cards yet so there was no paperwork involved.

Ready for Service
Ready for Service

PS – as you might have guessed, my title was referencing the great album A Few Small Repairs by Shawn Colvin. Recommended.

Aye, There’s the (Wheel) Rub

My niece and nephew were over for a visit a few days ago, and my nephew wanted to see the “choo choos”. We went downstairs and he got up on the step stool to see the trains. He showed me that he wanted an intermodal train to run, so I hitched CN 3665 to the head end and pulled a train of six or seven well cars out of Brandon around the layout. As we often do, I also started a CP train going around the CP tracks with 4505 in the lead.

Suddenly, the layout ground to a halt. The CN train had stopped on the east siding switch in Georgetown.

2015-12-08 07.08.53

My NCE Power Cab controller was constantly resetting, indicating a short somewhere.

I immediately blamed 3665 in my head, as it has been known to short out Peco switches. It did seem strange to me that it was doing this, as it has gone through that switch literally dozens of times without incident.

I pushed the train a bit and the short was cleared, so I restarted operations. The next time 3665 and the train came around to that spot, it happened again. And again.

With my nephew there, I didn’t have time to get into debugging the situation, so I decided to do something different with 3665 and we went to switch Helene a bit. After that, he lost interest so I shut everything down.


 

Later, I had some time to debug the problem. I drove the train around to the same spot and the short happened again. At least it was reliable!

I lifted 3665 off the rails, and the short did not clear. Oh! It wasn’t 3665 after all…

I lifted each of the following freight cars off until I found the culprit, a DTTX well car. I think it’s a Walthers model but it’s not shown on the car. This car has a metal body and metal wheels, so I figured the wheels must be contacting the body on both sides and that’s where the short is happening. A little “wheel rub” as it were.

You can see there is not a lot of clearance between the wheels and the body.

2015-12-07 12.34.45

This car is a bit banged up!

I took it off the rails and turned it over, then removed the trucks. The problem was immediately obvious.

THERE's the rub
THERE’s the rub

The wheels were rubbing against the frame and had worn through the paint to touch the bare metal of the frame itself.

I pulled all of my intermodal cars out of service and examined them. It turns out that I have five cars that have the same problem. Click on the photo to see a larger version.

Pretty Maids All in a Row
Pretty Maids All in a Row

My other intermodal cars don’t have this problem, because they either have plastic wheels, plastic bodies, or there is no metal above the wheels, like this BNSF car.

2015-12-07 13.41.40

So… what’s the solution?

I decided to paint over the scratches with a thick layer of paint, and also to insert a wheel washer between the truck and the body to give a tiny bit of space. I don’t want to raise the car too much because there would be coupler alignment issues.

It’s not an ideal solution but it’ll do for now. Any suggestions? 🙂