Author Topic: Best Of Freight Car Trucks: A Pictorial Comparison  (Read 16400 times)

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daniel_leavitt2000

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Freight Car Trucks: A Pictorial Comparison
« on: October 26, 2011, 06:42:49 PM »
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As many of you know, I have been working on an article for publication documenting various freight car trucks available in N scale. Since completion, the article has not found a buyer and is unlikely to see publication any time soon. Since the project is complete, I thought SOMEONE should be able to benefit from it. Here is the article, in its entirety, for your reference.


Freight Car Trucks: A Pictorial Comparison
By Daniel Leavitt



There are many styles of freight trucks available in N scale. Several manufactures offer a wide range of models from the ancient Fox style to the latest Barber S2. In this article, I will cover quality freight car trucks available in the market. For pictures and a more in-depth history of prototype freight trucks, I recommend reading Jeff Wilson’s article “Modeler’s Guide to Freight Car Trucks” in the December, 2003 issue of Model Railroader. The article is also available for free on the Trains.com website. Another excellent resource is the e-book “Freight Car Appliances - Volume 9” published by FCIX (www.fcix.info).

The Manufacturers
Micro-Trains Line is probably the most recognizable name in trucks. They have produced a great many types of trucks covering all eras from the late 1800’s to modern equipment. The vast majority of my equipment runs on MTL trucks with low profile wheels. They are rugged, good looking and reliable. Micro-Trains offer their freight trucks with 33” scale wheels. One note is Micro-Train’s Barber Roller Bearing truck is a 70 ton model, not the 100 ton variety seen on hopper cars, tankers and intermodal equipment. While MTL has recently introduced a new 36” wheel set for passenger equipment, they have not yet produced a true 100T freight truck. Many model train manufacturers use Micro-Trains trucks on their equipment, notably Intermountain, Red Caboose, Deluxe, and Huberts.

Atlas produces the Accumate line of couplers under license from Accurail. Athearn also produced a line of Accumate equipped trucks, but has since started using McHenry couplers in these trucks. The tooling used by both companies is virtually indistinguishable. Atlas has supplied OEM trucks and couplers to several manufacturers such as Deluxe, Walthers and Intermountain while Athearn supplies Exactrail. Both Atlas and Athearn produce a true 100 ton roller bearing truck with accurate 36” wheels, though only the Atlas trucks are available through retail channels.

Many modelers have complained that Accumate couplers tend to “explode,” meaning the coupler knuckle may break free of the truck when under load. Atlas admitted some early trucks had this issue and quickly redesigned them. You can distinguish the early 100 ton roller bearing truck from the redesigned truck by the prototypes they represent. The early truck was an ACF prototype while the newer model is a Barber S2.

Another point of contention was the fact that the Accumate coupler sticks out further than Micro-Trains trucks. Newer Atlas trucks, such as the National C1, Andrews and a redesigned Barber S2 100 ton truck feature a much shorter coupler shank.

There are other companies that produce trucks. Bowser produces three Pennsylvania Railroad prototypes; the 50 ton 2D-F8 and Crown 2E-F2 styles were used under a variety of rolling stock while the Barrett-Whitehead 2A-F5 style was used under many of railroad’s cabooses. BLMA has just introduced beautifully detailed ASF roller bearing trucks in 70 and 100 ton configurations. Tichy Train Group produces a great rotary snow plow kit complete with Fox trucks. The prototype for these trucks date back to the 1860’s and at least one piece of equipment (a Conrail rotary plow) was in active service using these trucks into 2000!

Like the Tichy Train Group’s Fox trucks, Atlas produces some styles available only with the purchase of a full car. For example, the single axle International Union of Railways truck included on the Front Runner is not available separately. You may be able to obtain Andrews and National C-1 trucks through their parts department. Most Athearn trucks are not easily available as parts while Atlas and MTL make great efforts to make most of their trucks available through retail channels.

Older Tooling and Exclusions
I have not included many inferior trucks. For example, most Bachmann models use the same Bettendorf style truck. Not only are these trucks crude and incorrect for much of their equipment, but they are generally unreliable. Likewise, Con-Cor used the same roller bearing trucks in their modern tank cars as they do on their transition area equipment. Again these trucks are crude and prone to derailing. There are numerous other examples of poor trucks, many dating to the early days of N scale. To keep this list relevant, I have left these out. Fortunately, there are higher quality counterparts available to every style manufactured poorly.

On the other end of the spectrum, I have included a few high quality trucks that come included with lower end equipment. The friction bearing trucks included with most Life-Like freight cars are actually well detailed, though the flanges are oversized. In addition, the trucks on the new Bachmann log cars are much improved over their predecessors. Intermountain produced a small line of trucks equipped with dummy couplers a few years ago. The trucks were well detailed and the couplers were reliable.

Since this is no longer a static project written for publication, I will add new trucks as they become available. I have samples of Con-Cor’s new knuckle equipped 70 Ton Roller Bearing truck and will be trying to obtain BLMA’s new ASF Friction Bearing Truck and Bachmann’s new 100 Ton Roller Bearing Truck.

Photographing the Models
For these photos, I used low-profile wheels from the truck manufacturers whenever possible. Many companies produce replacement wheels for Atlas, Micro-Trains and Athearn trucks. These Include Fox Valley Models, Atlas, Intermountain and Northwest Short Line.

Improving Appearance and Performance
For those looking to upgrade your models to a more realistic appearance, here are a few suggestions. If you use Atlas code 55 track products, I recommend using wheel sets from Fox Valley Models. These are made of metal, roll better than OEM plastic wheels and provide weight down low. These are also useful for improving performance on flat cars and intermodal equipment. Metal wheels are also available from Northwest Short Line and Intermountain, but cost substantially more. I often pull the trip pins from my Accumate couplers since I do not use magnetic uncoupling and the trip pins sometimes fall out.

The Atlas 100 ton roller bearing trucks with under-slung couplers have a lot of uses. The trucks feature short shank Accumate couplers, which look a lot better than their standard version. Do to the low profile coupler box; these trucks fit the MDC Huskystack as well as most modern tank cars, hoppers and gondolas with little or no modification. Many of these cars include the incorrect 70 ton Barber roller bearing trucks by Micro-Trains. I have been known to swap out MTL trucks with proper style Accumate trucks on a Micro-Trains car.

There are several trucks not yet available in N scale. Early Bettendorf trucks, commonly known as Bettendorf T for the shape of their cross section have not been produced. I would also love to see a converted roller bearing equipped Bettendorf truck that was a staple of freight cars in the 1970’s.

For nearly four decades, N scale modelers have had to compromise the look and reliability of their rolling stock with poorly molded, inaccurate trucks. Thanks to many recent additions, we now have the ability to improve the freight trucks on our models.

Special thanks to Athearn, Atlas, Bachmann, BLMA, Micro-Trains and several individuals for providing samples of various truck types. This article could not have been completed without your help.

All captions above photos.
Friction Bearing Truck Designs

Allied Full Cushion by Micro-Trains


Andrews by Atlas


Andrews by Micro-Trains


Arch-Bar by Athearn


Arch-Bar by Bachmann


Arch-Bar by Micro-Trains


Arch-Bar by Model Die Casting


ASF Ride Control by Kato


Bettendorf 40 Ton by Atlas


Bettendorf 50 Ton by Athearn


Bettendorf 50 Ton by Atlas


Bettendorf 50 Ton by Intermountain Railway


Bettendorf 50 Ton by Micro-Trains


Bettendorf 50 Ton by Walthers/Life-Like


Bettendorf Coil-Elliptic by Micro-Trains


BX Express truck by Micro-Trains


Crown 2E-F2 by Bowser


Dalman by Micro-Trains


Express Truck by Athearn


Fox Truck by Tichy Train Group


National B-1 by Micro-Trains


National C-1 by Atlas


Pennsylvania 2D-F8 50 Ton by Bowser


Roller Bearing Truck Designs
Roller Bearing 70 Ton by Athearn


Roller Bearing 70 Ton by Atlas


Roller Bearing 70 Ton (ASF design) by BLMA


Roller Bearing 70 Ton by Kato


Roller Bearing 70 Ton by Model Die Casting


Roller Bearing 70 Ton (Symington Ride Control) by Micro-Trains


Roller Bearing 70 Ton (Barber S2 design) by Micro-Trains


Roller Bearing 100 Ton (ASF design) by Athearn


Roller Bearing 100 Ton (Barber S2 design) by Atlas


Roller Bearing 100 Ton (ASF design) by BLMA


Roller Bearing 100 Ton (Barber S2 design) by Intermountain Railway


Roller Bearing 100 Ton by Kato


Caboose Truck Designs
Barrett-Whitehead 2A-F5 by Bowser


Bettendorf Friction Bearing Caboose Truck by Atlas


Bettendorf Friction Bearing Caboose Trucks by Kato


Bettendorf Roller Bearing Caboose Truck without generator by Athearn


Bettendorf Roller Bearing Caboose Truck without generator by Atlas


Bettendorf Roller Bearing Caboose Truck without generator by Micro-Trains


Bettendorf Roller Bearing Caboose Truck with Generator by Athearn


Reverse side


Bettendorf Roller Bearing Caboose Truck with Generator by Micro-Trains


Reverse side


General Steel Industries Outside Swing Hanger Truck by Centralia Car Shops


Reverse side


Single Axle Light Duty Truck Designs
Roller Bearing IUR Single Axle by Atlas


Reverse side


Triple Axle Heavy Duty Truck Designs
Buckeye 6 Wheel Truck by Bachmann


Buckeye 6 Wheel Truck by Micro-Trains


Commonwealth 6 Wheel Freight Truck by Micro-Trains


Narrow Gage Truck Designs
Diamond Arch Bar on left, Barber Coleman Arch Bar on right, both by Micro-Trains


Samples of Older Tooling
Bachmann included this Arch-Bar truck on the equipment flat that came with their 250T crane. The proportions are a little off to say the least.


Bachmann’s Bettendorf truck first appeared in the late 1960’s. This truck can be found under virtually every freight car they make. The tooling is really starting to show its age.


Model Power’s Bettendorf was first tooled about the same time as the Bachmann example above. The die work is still crude but the casting shows little ware.


Walthers produced this 70T Roller Bearing truck in the early 1990’s. The truck became more globular with every run.

« Last Edit: October 11, 2015, 05:04:53 PM by tom mann »
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diezmon

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Re: Freight Car Trucks: A Pictorial Comparison
« Reply #1 on: October 26, 2011, 06:49:49 PM »
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very nice!   This is something I've always hoped would end up on the web somewhere. 

Do you have a blog, or a page you can put it on?    I know we all like to think RW will be around forever, but..  :D

Bob Bufkin

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Re: Freight Car Trucks: A Pictorial Comparison
« Reply #2 on: October 26, 2011, 07:07:31 PM »
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Great info.  Now is one could be done on passenger trucks.

rogergperkins

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Re: Freight Car Trucks: A Pictorial Comparison
« Reply #3 on: October 26, 2011, 07:29:26 PM »
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This seems very well worth publishing!! Are there any options still open to you.  Best wishes.

ednadolski

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Re: Freight Car Trucks: A Pictorial Comparison
« Reply #4 on: October 26, 2011, 07:33:18 PM »
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Great stuff! I'd like to nominate this for Best of the Wire Archives.

Ed

GaryHinshaw

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Re: Freight Car Trucks: A Pictorial Comparison
« Reply #5 on: October 26, 2011, 08:04:39 PM »
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Very nice indeed.  One question: isn't the truck labelled 100T roller bearing by Kato actually their 125T? (The only one offered in N, I believe.  I wish BLMA would make those...)

Cheers,
Gary

daniel_leavitt2000

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Re: Freight Car Trucks: A Pictorial Comparison
« Reply #6 on: October 26, 2011, 08:25:26 PM »
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The 100T truck was used for their 125T stack cars but they are the same as the 100T trucks used under their coalporters. I will verify that the wheels are 36" instead of 38" and make any adjustments if nessisary.

I need to add the updated tooling from Con-Cor, plus the BLMA 70T friction bearing trucks. If anyone would like to donate older trucks (Mehano, Roco, Minitrix, etc) I will add them as well.
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DKS

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Re: Freight Car Trucks: A Pictorial Comparison
« Reply #7 on: October 27, 2011, 06:54:37 AM »
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Outstanding job, Daniel, and sorely needed. I'm quite surprised (even alarmed) that Pam wasn't interested!
"Life's a piece of sh!t when you look at it."
                                       —Monty Python

Sokramiketes

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Re: Freight Car Trucks: A Pictorial Comparison
« Reply #8 on: October 27, 2011, 07:55:47 AM »
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Quote
General Steel Industries Outside Swing Hanger Truck by Intermountain Railway

If that's the truck off the UP Caboose, it's Centralia Car Shops, not Intermountain.
Mike

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Denver Road Doug

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Re: Freight Car Trucks: A Pictorial Comparison
« Reply #9 on: October 27, 2011, 10:04:11 AM »
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Great article!   Thanks for your efforts and sorry you got dissed by the rags  :facepalm:  ...that's all I'll say at risk of hijacking the thread.
NOTE: I'm no longer active on this forum.   If you need to contact me, use the e-mail address (or visit the website link) attached to this username.  Thanks.

sizemore

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Re: Freight Car Trucks: A Pictorial Comparison
« Reply #10 on: October 27, 2011, 10:08:36 AM »
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This should be put under "Best of..."

The S.

David Leonard

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Re: Freight Car Trucks: A Pictorial Comparison
« Reply #11 on: October 27, 2011, 11:39:47 AM »
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Great job, Daniel! Are there any others you might want photos of? I don't have time yet to study all the photos carefully, but I don't recall seeing the IMR milk car trucks or the older Red Caboose Bettendorfs(?). I don't know exactly what they are.

sizemore

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Re: Freight Car Trucks: A Pictorial Comparison
« Reply #12 on: October 27, 2011, 12:19:22 PM »
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Oh...forgot to mention...part numbers would be great with the photo descriptions as manufacturers can really dumb things down in their outward descriptions.

The S.

daniel_leavitt2000

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Re: Freight Car Trucks: A Pictorial Comparison
« Reply #13 on: October 27, 2011, 02:23:44 PM »
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I will try to add part numbers, but some simply don't have part numbers and are not available separately.

Did Red Caboose make their own trucks or did they use another manufacturer?
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cec209

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Re: Freight Car Trucks: A Pictorial Comparison
« Reply #14 on: October 27, 2011, 04:06:51 PM »
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Great reference source. Thanks for putting it together.

Charlie
Charlie