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I think the flare he is talking about is slight - not much: so a tapered drift (grind a taper like a sharpened pencil slope onto a nail) would do the job; the reason would possibly to locate them (tapped in (with a hammer (NO screw thread) with a smear of glue to hold them in.

Why use brass tube - because he had that in stock, as he says eyelets can be used, and the taper on those is quite slight.

Then the friction in the brass tube bearing is lessened - the flare reduces the bearing depth

For #3 personally I would have added a couple of layers of plastic on the end to look like an axlebox, and that would keep the axles in place. The above mentioned 'flare' could also assist in keeping the axles in place - all the would do if loose would add some shimmy as they passed along the rails - logging trains did not travel fast - they were very slow, about 5 - 10 mph or so. The track was usually appalling, as it was very temporary.
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