Author Topic: MTL Circus Car Solution  (Read 1174 times)

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M and K Fan

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MTL Circus Car Solution
« on: August 27, 2013, 09:27:52 PM »
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I thought you would like to know that Micro-Trains Line has done what
it promised me back in May it would do, and Micro-Trains has done it
at its own expense.

This tale has a happy ending for both me and Micro-Trains Line, and I
offer it for your information, perhaps for your help, too.

Thanks to the efforts of Joe D'Amato, MTL R&D design engineer, and the
continual reassurance and calm patience of Ben Thielemann, MTL
marketing director, Micro-Trains has come through with a fix for the
unrelenting uncoupling problems I was suffering with Mother's Day
weekend, May 11-12.

You might remember I wrote on The Railwire blog early Mother's Day
morning how I was
having a horrible time trying to get my Micro-Trains/Con-Cor Ringling
Bros. and Barnum & Bailey white (Blue Unit) circus cars to stay
together.

Our club, Montana NTRAK (mtntrak.org) was going into its second day of
a big display at our public library here in Bozeman.  I had bought a
good many three-car runner packs and flat cars and the loads to go on
them for the Blue Unite train, hoping to present the train as best I
could at prototypical length. We had the layout to do it, so Why not?,
I thought.

 I spent most of Saturday trying to get the train to stay together.
NOTHING worked. I couldn't believe it. "This is Micro-Trains
equipment," I kept telling myself.

The children's librarian and I had been planning two months on a theme
for that display –– Circus Trains of Today and Yesterday. We had TV
and newspaper publicity. We had new books on circuses and trains. I
had started buying the RBBB rolling stock back in March to get ready
for the big weekend event.

That Saturday morning, cars were coming apart left, right, and center.
I put the train out on a siding for static display, and I fumed.

I awoke frustrated very early Mother's Day Sunday, and I came here and
wrote a plea for help.

A few people joined in, here and there, but one message from a
correspondent identifying himself as Glenn Poole grabbed me, as it did
other readers and correspondents.

Mr. Poole said someone at MTL told him the manufacturer expected
consumers to buy the RBBB line only as
collector pieces and not cars to be run. "Shelf Queens" was the term used.

WHAT?

I ask Mr. Poole for clarification and verification; however, he did not respond.

The give-and-take sorta heated up. I went back to the library and
tried again to get my circus train to stay together. Again, nothing
worked.

At 3:47 p.m. I filed a  message to the Railwire from the library,
saying I still could
not get the cars to stay together. In the meantime Joe D'Amato had
invited me to contact him Monday, May 13.

I contacted Joe, and we went through about two weeks of discussion. He
sent me new 1018s, assembled, and with the proper Con-Cor snap pin and
washer in place. I tried them. Nothing worked. It was driving me nuts,
and I was driving Joe nuts.

Enter Ben Thielemann, MTL marketing director, giving Joe a break from me. :-)

Ben was completely open and up front with me. He answered all
questions, some of which were rather blunt.

While Ben patiently, almost daily, dealt with me, Joe and his
associates were working on a new RDA coupler and bolster for the 1018
and 1017 trucks. It took about six weeks. Ben and Joe asked me to test
a few of the new couplers on my RBBB cars on my home loop. I put them
on the original silver 1018 trucks. The couplers worked
perfectly. The train stays together.

The new couplers are sorta big, and look out of scale; however, the
train stays together.

Also, the new couplers protrude from under the Con-Cor cars about 3 or 4
millimeters beyond the distance of the original 1018 and 1017
couplers, so the cars stand farther apart; however, the train stays
together.

Neither the size of the new couplers or the car spacing bothers me. I
knew when I started buying these Blue Unit and Red Unit circus cars
that I would be assembling a representation of the RBBB trains and not
an exact model. Nonetheless, I'm pleased.

My faith in Micro-Trains has been restored and, in fact, strengthened.
I can be a pushy old goat (some use more colorful terms), and Joe and
Ben put up with me skillfully and in a friendly manner, too. They did
exactly what they promised they would do. We have become friends. I
have come to know each man a bit better, and I respect each. Even
Chris Randall, in MTL product development, still puts up with my
continual pesterments on what the next Micro-Trains Line Runner Pack
should be and with my indefatigable grumbling about when MTL is gonna
produce heavyweight diners, baggage, and combine cars. (Diners are
coming next spring, I've been told.)

Micro-Trains is still in the process of working with these new
couplers. I'm sure more testing will be done. The real test-of-tests
for me will be to see the trains running perfectly on our NTRAK layout.
I'm hopeful of doing that test here in late September.

Bottom line: Joe and Ben did what they told me they would do, and they
did it successfully. You will be impressed with the new couplers.


Ken

peteski

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Re: MTL Circus Car Solution
« Reply #1 on: August 27, 2013, 10:01:06 PM »
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Thanks for the follow up Ken!  It is always nice to hear a story like yours, with a happy ending.

Since you seem to now have some pull with the MT staff, maybe I should ask you to try to get MT to make a drop-in Micro Trains coupler for Kato models. The Kato couplers just aren't reliable enough for me. I would love to see a MT drop-in replacement. I discussed this with Eric Smith several times (over the years), but I never got anywhere.  Maybe you could do better.  :D

So, the new couplers are actually larger than the standard MT N scale coupler?  That seems a bit unusual.
. . . 42 . . .

Nick Lorusso

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Re: MTL Circus Car Solution
« Reply #2 on: August 28, 2013, 02:21:12 AM »
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Ken glad to see it all worked out. Is it possible to post some photos of the new couplers? I have a friend that these might work for. He has standard run Con-cor cars and the keep coming apart.
Regards,
Nick Lorusso
https://sbhrs.wildapricot.org/

Denver Road Doug

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Re: MTL Circus Car Solution
« Reply #3 on: August 28, 2013, 10:14:18 AM »
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Ken,

Nice to hear they resolved the problem.   I had the same issue and ultimately sold my "shelf queen" Red Train.   I don't know what the chances of them running the RBBB trains again are, but hopefully someday I can grab hold of another set.
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.

Shipsure

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Re: MTL Circus Car Solution
« Reply #4 on: August 28, 2013, 10:40:29 AM »
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He is refering to the draft gear box...the T shank that was on it is smaller than the standard loop shank coupler.  Knuckle is a standard 2000 series.

Joe

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Re: MTL Circus Car Solution
« Reply #5 on: August 29, 2013, 09:14:26 PM »
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He is refering to the draft gear box...the T shank that was on it is smaller than the standard loop shank coupler.  Knuckle is a standard 2000 series.

Joe

Hello Joe,

I have a complete RBBB Red Unit set and have also tried running it unsuccessfully on an N-TRAK layout. How do I get a hold of this fix?
Paul Ohegyi
Director
https://nrmrc.org/

Frisco Larry

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Re: MTL Circus Car Solution
« Reply #6 on: August 29, 2013, 10:52:32 PM »
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I do not understand this thread at all.  I have over 100 heavyweight passenger cars with the very same MTL trucks and they are quite reliable.  I replaced all of the HW trucks on my MTL Circus cars with KATO El Capitan trucks because they are correct for these cars (ignoring that Con-Cor's trucks are made backwards, they should have used them, instead of MTL's HW trucks).  Since reading this thread, I concluded that the problem must be related to using the HW trucks on Con-Cor LW cars.  I tried some of the trucks, which I had removed from the Circus cars, on some other Con-Cor LW cars.  I do not have any problems at all.  What am I missing?

SkipGear

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Re: MTL Circus Car Solution
« Reply #7 on: August 30, 2013, 12:01:04 AM »
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I do not understand this thread at all.  I have over 100 heavyweight passenger cars with the very same MTL trucks and they are quite reliable.  I replaced all of the HW trucks on my MTL Circus cars with KATO El Capitan trucks because they are correct for these cars (ignoring that Con-Cor's trucks are made backwards, they should have used them, instead of MTL's HW trucks).  Since reading this thread, I concluded that the problem must be related to using the HW trucks on Con-Cor LW cars.  I tried some of the trucks, which I had removed from the Circus cars, on some other Con-Cor LW cars.  I do not have any problems at all.  What am I missing?

Larry,
 Running at home on perfect track, mine run perfectly fine also. When you get to Ntrak is where things get next to impossible. There is no tollerance for any sort of verticle curve in the track with the 1017 an 1018 couplers, no matter what they are mounted on. It is a combination of the design of the coupler that allow them to pivot verticaly and the distance of the coupler from the bolster pin. Both exagerate any sort of verticle uneveness in the track causing the couplers to ride over top of each other. I planned on eventually body mounting mine as the cure.

Ken,
 As far as the coupling distance, couldn't you use the adjustable coupler mounts on the truck to adjust the coupling distance as needed to make up for the change in the shank length? One of the things I did that improved performance with the original couplers was to shorten the coupler mount distance but there was plenty of adjustment left that I couldn't use or the cars would interfere with each other.
Tony Hines