Author Topic: How to shorten KATO passengers axles ???  (Read 3437 times)

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trainforfun

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How to shorten KATO passengers axles ???
« on: September 18, 2021, 04:34:13 PM »
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Hi
Just got The Canadian by RAPIDO and would like to change the wheels to get a bit bigger flanges , right now the original wheels looks great but the cars with them are very finicky .
 I tried to install KATO wheels/axle but they are a bit too long , the flanges are just a bit bigger , but not enough to rub the spikes on code 55 .
Maybe there is other wheels I could use but I dont have anything in stock to compare .
The cars are lighted using the end of the axles to pick up current .
Thanks ,
Louis



Maletrain

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Re: How to shorten KATO passengers axles ???
« Reply #1 on: September 18, 2021, 08:21:37 PM »
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Not sure how to shorten the Kato axles without changing gauge - would probably also have to move wheels on the half axle(s) to compensate - and I am not sure that is possible on the side that has metal-to-metal connection.

But, why not just make what you want?  If you can get metal wheel sets that have the correct axle length already, you could cut the axles in half and use the uninsulated wheel halves.  Press the half axle ends into a suitable plastic tube to the correct wheel gauge.  Then you have "Kato-like" dual pickup wheel sets.

But, you do need the correct axle lengths, and with Fox Valley out of the picture, that might be a problem, depending on what length you need.

Can you tell us what length axles came in those Rapido trucks?


Edit:  FYI, I just measured a Kato caboose truck pick-up axle and got 0.561".  I also measured a Bachmann tender truck pick-up axle and got a whopping 0.584", so if Kato is too long, Bachmann isn't a solution, either.
« Last Edit: September 18, 2021, 08:39:34 PM by Maletrain »

Steveruger45

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Re: How to shorten KATO passengers axles ???
« Reply #2 on: September 18, 2021, 10:26:38 PM »
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If the Kato wheels you have are pressed onto a plastic axle then you could pull each wheel off the plastic axle and press the pointy end into the wheel a tad with a press. protect the wheel axle point from the press with some aluminum or copper.
I do this on Kato loco wheels so they fit in an Atlas loco as per this
https://www.therailwire.net/forum/index.php?topic=48520.msg643634#msg643634
« Last Edit: September 18, 2021, 10:29:26 PM by Steveruger45 »
Steve

mmagliaro

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Re: How to shorten KATO passengers axles ???
« Reply #3 on: September 18, 2021, 10:53:01 PM »
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If its bigger flanges you're after, maybe try the Atlas metal 36" wheels.  Ain't much on looks, but since most of the wheel is hidden behind the truck frame anyway...
I used them on a passenger car that had the same woes (finicky derailments)... but it was a Walthers car, not a Rapido.

Maletrain

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Re: How to shorten KATO passengers axles ???
« Reply #4 on: September 19, 2021, 09:55:18 AM »
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OP:
Quote
"The cars are lighted using the end of the axles to pick up current ."

So,
Quote
"If the Kato wheels you have are pressed onto a plastic axle ..."
is not relevant.  The axle needs to be metal and electrically connected to the wheel to provide power to the contacts in the trucks that are connected to the lights in the cars.

Whether a metal wheel on a metal axle is actually moveable on the axle would need to be determined in order to use wheel sets that do not start with the correct axle length. 

The critical measurement is actually the distance from the axle tip to the point on the wheel tread where the inner edge of the rail for in-gauge track will contact it.  If the metal wheel on a metal axle cannot be moved along the axle, then this dimension can't be changed.

That is why I asked what the axle length is for the OEM wheels provided for these cars by Rapido.  If it is something readily available like 0.540", then it would be easy to make new pick-up wheel sets using the available metal wheel sets of the same axle length, because the wheels on those sets will have the correct dimension between axle tip and track gauge contact point on the treads.  You would just need to cut the axles of the replacement wheel sets and use the sides that have the wheels electrically connected to the metal axles (in pairs joined by insulating plastic tubes).

So, let's cut to the chase and find out what the Rapido axle lengths are for these cars.

« Last Edit: September 19, 2021, 11:10:55 AM by Maletrain »

thomasjmdavis

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Re: How to shorten KATO passengers axles ???
« Reply #5 on: September 19, 2021, 11:20:57 AM »
+1
Have you read through the Rapido Canadian thread from some months ago?

https://www.therailwire.net/forum/index.php?topic=51993.75

You could scroll back and forth from that particular point.  There is a lot of discussion on the thread about the Rapido Canadian and the various solutions to wheel, truck and tracking issues that some modelers experienced. 
Tom D.

I have a mind like a steel trap...a VERY rusty, old steel trap.

trainforfun

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Re: How to shorten KATO passengers axles ???
« Reply #6 on: September 19, 2021, 12:18:03 PM »
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Have you read through the Rapido Canadian thread from some months ago?

https://www.therailwire.net/forum/index.php?topic=51993.75

You could scroll back and forth from that particular point.  There is a lot of discussion on the thread about the Rapido Canadian and the various solutions to wheel, truck and tracking issues that some modelers experienced.

Wow , thanks a lot I missed that post !

For people who asked question :
The mid axles are insulated
The wheels are all metal and connected rather solid to half axle
I can't measure the RAPIDO axle , but are shorter than KATO
Thanks ,
Louis



trainforfun

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Re: How to shorten KATO passengers axles ???
« Reply #7 on: September 19, 2021, 01:35:05 PM »
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OP:
So,  is not relevant.  The axle needs to be metal and electrically connected to the wheel to provide power to the contacts in the trucks that are connected to the lights in the cars.

Whether a metal wheel on a metal axle is actually moveable on the axle would need to be determined in order to use wheel sets that do not start with the correct axle length. 

The critical measurement is actually the distance from the axle tip to the point on the wheel tread where the inner edge of the rail for in-gauge track will contact it.  If the metal wheel on a metal axle cannot be moved along the axle, then this dimension can't be changed.

That is why I asked what the axle length is for the OEM wheels provided for these cars by Rapido.  If it is something readily available like 0.540", then it would be easy to make new pick-up wheel sets using the available metal wheel sets of the same axle length, because the wheels on those sets will have the correct dimension between axle tip and track gauge contact point on the treads.  You would just need to cut the axles of the replacement wheel sets and use the sides that have the wheels electrically connected to the metal axles (in pairs joined by insulating plastic tubes).

So, let's cut to the chase and find out what the Rapido axle lengths are for these cars.

Thanks , exactly , the only places where I could shorten the axle are at the "point" , the wheels of KATO and RAPIDO look to be part of both half axles .
Now how do I cut the axle ends and keep a "point" ...

I have to use an axle with a middle insulation tube in the middle since the light power comes from each half wheels/axle , any other manufacturer have this combination except KATO ?
Thanks ,
Louis



mmagliaro

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Re: How to shorten KATO passengers axles ???
« Reply #8 on: September 19, 2021, 02:27:13 PM »
+1
Okay, I get it now.  Half-axles with a metal wheel solidly attached.  You can't push the who half-axles further into the plastic insulating tube in the middle without making the wheel gauge too narrow.  Now that I reread your post....  ;)

But... did you go read that other thread, where Peteski explains how the Kato wheels are actually a separate metal wheel pressed onto a metal axle?  You should be able to take a Kato half-axle (metal wheel, metal axle), carefully press the wheel slightly toward the outside (toward the pointed end), and then press two of those together in a plastic axle tube to get the correct gauge AND the shorter axle length you are after for the Rapido car.  If you can't quite press the wheels close enough together into the axle tube, gently trim the tube and the inside ends of the half-axles so they won't touch.
You'll need to put the pointed end of the axle into something firm, but not too hard, to protect the axle point, while you force the wheel outward... like maybe a block of oak or a piece of hard plastic with a small depression drilled in it.

trainforfun

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Re: How to shorten KATO passengers axles ???
« Reply #9 on: September 19, 2021, 03:38:02 PM »
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Okay, I get it now.  Half-axles with a metal wheel solidly attached.  You can't push the who half-axles further into the plastic insulating tube in the middle without making the wheel gauge too narrow.  Now that I reread your post....  ;)

But... did you go read that other thread, where Peteski explains how the Kato wheels are actually a separate metal wheel pressed onto a metal axle?  You should be able to take a Kato half-axle (metal wheel, metal axle), carefully press the wheel slightly toward the outside (toward the pointed end), and then press two of those together in a plastic axle tube to get the correct gauge AND the shorter axle length you are after for the Rapido car.  If you can't quite press the wheels close enough together into the axle tube, gently trim the tube and the inside ends of the half-axles so they won't touch.
You'll need to put the pointed end of the axle into something firm, but not too hard, to protect the axle point, while you force the wheel outward... like maybe a block of oak or a piece of hard plastic with a small depression drilled in it.
I get your point .
I removed the 2 half axles from the plastic tube .
The wheels looks like it's one piece with the axle ...
I could hold the long portion of the axle in a Dremel tool and turn it at a good speed and use a file to shorten the point ?

Or enlarge the deepness of the cup in the brass pieces on each side of the truck to use the KATO wheels/axle as is .

Thanks ,
Louis



mmagliaro

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Re: How to shorten KATO passengers axles ???
« Reply #10 on: September 19, 2021, 04:24:38 PM »
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Nooooo!!!!

Do not try to make a new point on that axle with a Dremel.  No way you can do that and get enough precision without a lathe.
Believe me, I've tried it, and the results are "less than acceptable" at best.  If that point isn't ground with extreme precision, the wheelset will bob up and down all over the place.  Not only will it look funny, but electrical contact in the cone will be lousy.

Wouldn't it be a heck of a lot easier to slip a short length of tubing over the half axle, place the half axle, point-down, on a hard block of wood,
and then gently tap the tube with a hammer to drive the wheel slightly outward on the axle?  Then you could press the wheels a little further into the plastic center tube, the wheel gauge would be correct, and the overall axle length would be shorter.  You'll need a little trial-and error here to get it so the gauge is right and the axle length is right, but it doesn't seem all that bad.

Or even better, put the half-axle + tube + little block of wood in a jeweler's vise, and then you can very precisely squeeze to move the wheel just how you need it, instead of tapping with a hammer.

I'm only suggesting a block of wood because I'm guessing it's something you can get your hands on that will cushion the axle point so it isn't ruined.  It needs to be something hard, like oak, but not TOO hard (like metal).  In fact, a small piece of tubing, a little less in diameter than the axle, could be put over the point to protect it and still support the end of the axle while you press.


Maletrain

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Re: How to shorten KATO passengers axles ???
« Reply #11 on: September 19, 2021, 05:35:44 PM »
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Since you posted that you have no way to measure the existing Rapido axle length, I'm going to suggest that you buy a caliper that measures to thousandths of an inch so that you can tell what you are doing with these dimension changing processes.

While it is true that you would have to do trial and error on the first wheel set to get the right length, and then move the wheels enough to get them back to the correct gauge, it would be far easier to then measure the length you arrived at with the caliper and then make more using the caliper, than to do trial and error on every set for a bunch of cars.

And, if you have a caliper and measure the existing Rapido axle to be something readily available like 0.540", you could use some other metal wheel sets that are already the correct axle length, cutting them in half, and then you would only need to make sure they match the NMRA flange gauge when you position them in the axle tubes - no sliding wheels along axles.

And, I am sure you will find many other uses for a decent caliper, both in model railroading and elsewhere.

trainforfun

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Re: How to shorten KATO passengers axles ???
« Reply #12 on: September 19, 2021, 08:57:28 PM »
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And, if you have a caliper and measure the existing Rapido axle to be something readily available like 0.540", you could use some other metal wheel sets that are already the correct axle length, cutting them in half, and then you would only need to make sure they match the NMRA flange gauge when you position them in the axle tubes - no sliding wheels along axles.

And, I am sure you will find many other uses for a decent caliper, both in model railroading and elsewhere.

Doing that would mean to get both metal wheel on metal axle .
I think only lighted passengers cars like KATO and RAPIDO use that system .
I will surely find a tool to do an acurate measurement of the RAPIDO axle , thanks for your idea !
Thanks ,
Louis



trainforfun

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Re: How to shorten KATO passengers axles ???
« Reply #13 on: September 19, 2021, 09:00:40 PM »
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Nooooo!!!!

Do not try to make a new point on that axle with a Dremel.  No way you can do that and get enough precision without a lathe.
Believe me, I've tried it, and the results are "less than acceptable" at best.  If that point isn't ground with extreme precision, the wheelset will bob up and down all over the place.  Not only will it look funny, but electrical contact in the cone will be lousy.

Wouldn't it be a heck of a lot easier to slip a short length of tubing over the half axle, place the half axle, point-down, on a hard block of wood,
and then gently tap the tube with a hammer to drive the wheel slightly outward on the axle?  Then you could press the wheels a little further into the plastic center tube, the wheel gauge would be correct, and the overall axle length would be shorter.  You'll need a little trial-and error here to get it so the gauge is right and the axle length is right, but it doesn't seem all that bad.

Or even better, put the half-axle + tube + little block of wood in a jeweler's vise, and then you can very precisely squeeze to move the wheel just how you need it, instead of tapping with a hammer.

I'm only suggesting a block of wood because I'm guessing it's something you can get your hands on that will cushion the axle point so it isn't ruined.  It needs to be something hard, like oak, but not TOO hard (like metal).  In fact, a small piece of tubing, a little less in diameter than the axle, could be put over the point to protect it and still support the end of the axle while you press.

I don't see a construction line between the axle and the wheel , they look like one piece ...
Thanks ,
Louis



Ike the BN Freak

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Re: How to shorten KATO passengers axles ???
« Reply #14 on: September 19, 2021, 11:17:35 PM »
+1
Grant Eastman of SAR, swapped his out with BLMA wheels. However doing so you'll need to ensure the insulators are on the same side and such.