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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
recently Kevin Strong (East Broad Top) kindly hipped me to a set of four aristo heavyweights that his father had for sale. So out to MD I went--kevin didn't tell me his Dad runs what must be one of the finest and most impressive garden railways in the US! a delightful man.

So I have the heavyweights which are all old style, three coaches and a Pullman. Two of them have had the interiors removed and plastic wheels added to decrease weight. Those two have also had the coupler tangs dramatically (and very effectively) shortened.

So they run around my layout, which has R3 (8 Ft. diameter) curves or larger, but as everyone notes they tend to derail a lot. The drag with the six wheel trucks is very high.


So I read through a lot of old threads on the aristo heavyweights and it looks like this is the consensus about how to make them less derailment prone, aside from lubing them well

1. Switch to the newer 2 wheel trucks
2. Shorten the space between the cars
3. Make the middle wheel flange-less

From what I've read, trying to run the three wheel trucks with two wheels does not work well. I'll try shortening the coupler tang, and I may replace the plastic wheels (Kevin's dad is a battery man) with aristo metal wheels

Anyone else have any suggestions/experiences?
 

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OVGRS members experienced the same derailing problems with the six wheel trucks on these heavyweights and as a result the cars were seldom run. After widening all the mainline curves to 5 foot radius (10 foot diameter) a few years ago, we took another run at them. Changing over to 4 wheel trucks does not capture the prototypical look of heavyweights which almost always had six wheeled Commonwealth trucks on cars longer than 60 feet.

after some experimentation (note that we use only body mounted kadee couplers), it was determined that the weight of the car combined with the offset bolster were primary culprits in causing derailments on the slightest trackage imperfections. This effect is enhanced with sharp curves - and I would call a 5 foot radius curve pretty sharp.

We now have cars that have the bolster placed correctly on the cars and centred on the truck. The car is far better balanced and much less prone to derailing, though in fairness, long cars, sharp curves and body mounted couplers do not mix well.

Essentially it comes down to a simple point. Passenger cars are big all the more so if they are scale length. If you want heavyweight cars that look realistic then they need to have scale proportions ... they also need to be close coupled with working diaphragms ... and they need proper Commonwealth 6 wheel trucks. For these cars to run reliably, I would recommend larger curves than what many folks use. Think about it for a moment - in HO, a scale length heavyweight is normally thought to need at least 30 inch radius for minimal operation and 36 inch is standard for reliable operation; larger curves are needed for great appearance. HO is exactly 1/3 the linear dims of 1:29 scale. That suggests a 9 foot radius as the minimum for acceptable performance and operation. Since most large scalers rarely "operate" their equipment (in the sense of the small scale crowd) but mostly run their trains to look at, they should imho therefore look the part.

Let's get those bolsters centred properly, 6 wheel trucks on those heavyweights and wider curves for better appearance.

Regards ... Doug
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
I've read through George's site many times--it's a great resource

I wish I could do wider turns but I'd have to buy the house next store to pull it off. My standards of protypicality are pretty loose--the cars don't have to touch. I just want them to track a little better
 

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If these are the new type (in the last 3 years,I believe), they are newer that what is on George's site. The real differences are a bit more side to side play in the center axle, and new ribs on the truck (properly called side bearings) that contact the underside of the chassis. Many reports of derailments, but I lubed mine where they rubbed and the derailments stopped. Many of my friends did the same with the same results.
Take a look at the trucks and see if there is a vertical "blade" on each side of the center that contacts the car underbody.
Also, all of my trucks (I have 7 heavyweights) were poorly (or not at all) lubricated at the axle tips. Finally the wheels were all under gauge.
In addition to George's excellent pages, I have some more info on my site: http://www.elmassian.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=80&Itemid=90
Regards, Greg
 

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I bought five Aristo heavyweights many years ago, all had 6 wheel trucks. When I tried to run them it was a disaster on my 10' diameter layout. I took out the middle axle on each truck and I haven't had any trouble since. No derailing and they roll nicely through the curves and switches. I have body mounted them with Kadee couplers ( 830 I think).

Chuck N
 

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I run four heavyweights around my 8 and 10 foot diameter curves all the time with very little derailment problems, even through back-to-back LGB 1600-series turnouts. Just don't try to back them through back-to-back turnouts with any speed.
One of the four had the 3-axle trucks and I found removing the center wheels did help some. Ultimately, I replaced this with 2-axle trucks and it tracked even better.
If you replace "just" the wheels on the older units, you will loose the electrical pickup, unless you use the same type wheels (i.e., split axle as the insulator with the "tires" connected to the axle). Wheels, like San-Val, where the axle is insulated from the "tire" will not allow electricity to travel up through the tire, to the axle, to the side frame, to the wireing.
If you use the newer-type trucks, the pick-up is on one side or the other and these trucks will "short out" is the wheels are installed "backwards." (About drove me crazy figuring this out the first time.) BTW, the axles/wheels that come with the AristoCraft track cleaning caboose are the same as the original heavyweight wheels, so that's the first place to look for a new set, switching out the caboose wheels to any metal type.
I also found the closer coupling does lead to better operation. I use Kadees. Originally, they were just installed in the regular mounting holes. When I added the "leap frog" feature, the fourth car stuck out just enough such that sometimes the passing train would clip the marker light. I recently, cut down the tangs even more, bored out the close hole in the Kadee coupler box, and attached this to the tang. This took out anouth 1/4" per coupler (1/2" per set) making the four cars about 2" "shorter" and leaving just enough space so that the marker light is out of harm's way.
This is how they are delivered (these SPs are actually my cars photograghed by George Schreyer).

This is how they were with the original installation of the Kadees.

With the now "shortened" Kadees, the space between the knuckles and the bellows is reduced by about half again and this seems to have helped. (Sorry no pics.)
BTW, one of the biggest "NO NOs" you can have with heavyweights is to have a turnout followed immediately by a curved track (even 10-foot diameter) that curves the opposite direction of the turn-out's "turn out" leg. As the engine follows the curve, it will push the heaveyweight's bolster toward the diverging path causing a derailment. Always put at least a 6" straight between the turnout and the curve!
 

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Posted By Dougald on 04/03/2008 4:40 PM

OVGRS members experienced the same derailing problems with the six wheel trucks on these heavyweights and as a result the cars were seldom run. After widening all the mainline curves to 5 foot radius (10 foot diameter) a few years ago, we took another run at them. Changing over to 4 wheel trucks does not capture the prototypical look of heavyweights which almost always had six wheeled Commonwealth trucks on cars longer than 60 feet. after some experimentation (note that we use only body mounted kadee couplers), it was determined that the weight of the car combined with the offset bolster were primary culprits in causing derailments on the slightest trackage imperfections. This effect is enhanced with sharp curves - and I would call a 5 foot radius curve pretty sharp. We now have cars that have the bolster placed correctly on the cars and centred on the truck. The car is far better balanced and much less prone to derailing, though in fairness, long cars, sharp curves and body mounted couplers do not mix well. Essentially it comes down to a simple point. Passenger cars are big all the more so if they are scale length. If you want heavyweight cars that look realistic then they need to have scale proportions ... they also need to be close coupled with working diaphragms ... and they need proper Commonwealth 6 wheel trucks. For these cars to run reliably, I would recommend larger curves than what many folks use. Think about it for a moment - in HO, a scale length heavyweight is normally thought to need at least 30 inch radius for minimal operation and 36 inch is standard for reliable operation; larger curves are needed for great appearance. HO is exactly 1/3 the linear dims of 1:29 scale. That suggests a 9 foot radius as the minimum for acceptable performance and operation. Since most large scalers rarely "operate" their equipment (in the sense of the small scale crowd) but mostly run their trains to look at, they should imho therefore look the part. Let's get those bolsters centred properly, 6 wheel trucks on those heavyweights and wider curves for better appearance. Regards ... Doug


Excellent, highly informative post that is directly relevant to my upcoming projects.


Does anyone have a suggestion as to where to obtain working diaphragms?


Also, could you elaborate on properly centering the bolsters. I must have missed something there in the context.
 

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On these cars, we removed the original bolster and moved it to be centred fore and aft on teh truck ... a new kingpin was fabricated and the truck reinstalled. I will try to get a picture on wednesday when I am next at the IPP&W shops.

By working diaphragms I mean that the diaphragms actually compress when the buffer plates touch as when going around a curve. This can be achieved the same way as on the USA Trains F3s with a flexible accordian like material. Close coupling of the cars is needed to achieve a nice appearance and this is best done with working diaphragms.

Regards ... Doug
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
This is all very useful, thank you. These are very old cars--15 years, maybe--and two of them were simply stored in Jim Strong's basement in the original plastic. The other two Jim or Kevin mdafied ingeniously (see below). The problematic ones have the plastic axle metal wheels, which roll very badly. I just took the trucks apart and lubed them throughly and also filed a place on the trucks where the truck corner hit the truss rod bolster on the diner car. I did a very brief quick and dirty test (it's raining here) and they rolled much more freely. I;m planning to cut the tangs off and reinstall them shorter, but not prototypically short.

The other two car had their interiors removed, to lighten them, and had plastic wheels installed. They also had the coupler tangs replaced with dramatically shorter tangs, and they couple (aristo couplers) very very closely. One of them has an ingenious spring system, so that the coupler can be pulled out for coupling but then springs back to hold the cars close. These cars track well but come uncoupled. It may be because they couplers sat untended for fifteen years. I'm going to put metal wheels in them and replace the couplers with new aristo couplers, and then maybe try to get the lights working and fake up an interior
 

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Posted By lownote on 04/06/2008 5:09 PM
This is all very useful, thank you. These are very old cars--15 years, maybe--and two of them were simply stored in Jim Strong's basement in the original plastic. The other two Jim or Kevin mdafied ingeniously (see below). The problematic ones have the plastic axle metal wheels, which roll very badly. I just took the trucks apart and lubed them throughly and also filed a place on the trucks where the truck corner hit the truss rod bolster on the diner car. I did a very brief quick and dirty test (it's raining here) and they rolled much more freely. I;m planning to cut the tangs off and reinstall them shorter, but not prototypically short.
The other two car had their interiors removed, to lighten them, and had plastic wheels installed. They also had the coupler tangs replaced with dramatically shorter tangs, and they couple (aristo couplers) very very closely. One of them has an ingenious spring system, so that the coupler can be pulled out for coupling but then springs back to hold the cars close. These cars track well but come uncoupled. It may be because they couplers sat untended for fifteen years. I'm going to put metal wheels in them and replace the couplers with new aristo couplers, and then maybe try to get the lights working and fake up an interior




Also note that on the old ones (like mine too), the bushings in the side frames that the end of the axle rides in become elongated vertically into an ellipse. I've found that sometimes you can turn this bushing in teh side frame to get a fresh surface for the axle to ride up against, and this also helps matters.
 

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You might consider purchasing the new style trucks, the wobbly wheels I think may be from loose fit in the center, take a look.

The newer trucks have better play in the center axles, and seem to track better, but I don't really know all the reasons. On the Aristo forum, when the newer heavyweights came out (you can tell by some of the colors of the detail parts), it was found that they did indeed track better. And it was universally found they all needed lubrication.

Hope this helps,

Greg
 

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As I recall, newer trucks/wheels may track better, but you loose half of your power pick-up points.
 

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Yeah, only three wheels per truck, but rolling resistance is better. Some people run a power buss between cars to minimize flicker.

Regards, Greg
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
Well I should top off this thread by adding that I

lubed everything--the wheels, the point where the trucks bear on the plastic--with white grease with teflon
Changed out the plastic wheel that had been on two of the cars for metal wheels

Big difference--they roll easy and they stay on the track. Someday, in the future, I might try to switch to th new style trucks. But everything is working at the moment--thanks all

Now I wonder if I could find some interiors--two of the cars had the interiors pulled out by the previous owner to make them lighter...
 
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