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the better affordable metal wheels for freight cars?
Bachmann metal wheels are affordable, and if you buy a box of 6 cards (x4 wheels) they are even better. Star Hobby sells the 6 cards for $89. They are cast and not as good as proper turned wheels, but most folk are happy with them.

Al Kramer's Roll-ez wheels, which he sells on eBay are well regarded. I've used USAT wheels and Gary Raymonds Wheels, plus the Sierra Valley, ex-Gary Watkins, wheels now sold by Jason at TTD. Unfortunately, there's no silver bullet - they are all good.
 

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(be careful, the Bachmann come in 2 different sizes)
There's actually a third type that I've been seeing recently - the Spectrum 1:20.3 wheelsets from their freight cars. A little more expensive.
Better wheels at about $21 per 4 axles from RLDHobbies.com
Keep your eyes out on FB Marketplace and eBay. We picked up 64 USAT silver axles (16 sets of 4 axles/8 wheels) for $50 in a local estate sale.
 

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There's an FGRS guy who seems to have a deal on the Bachmann wheels - selling 48 axles for $160, which works at $14/pack of 4. I think he wants you to buy the box of 48 (which is 2 boxes of 24 - the normal Bachmann supply is 6 cards of 4 axles in a box.
 
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