The online magazine on the history and operation of vintage scale model trains in American OO gauge

Sunday, February 21, 2010

How to differentiate Nason and Scale-Craft (and Graceline) Wheelsets

In working on the Sacks cars a bit to prep them for The OO Inventory (read the next issue of The OO Road for an update on this) one curiosity is he mixed Nason and S-C (and maybe Graceline) wheelsets in his freight trucks (and Famoco wheelsets in the passenger trucks). I am trying to sort those out a bit better before they go out to SIG members.

The primary reason to not mix them for me as an operator is that many Nason wheelsets derail easily on my Mantua turnouts. At first I thought it was something about the flange profile, which if you look hard enough you can begin to spot, but UPDATE it has to mostly do with tread width variations, some are actually OK, many not (see this article for more).

Besides them derailing on my layout the other easy way to tell them apart is to look at the axle. The overall visual impression of Nason wheelsets is that they are similar to most S-C wheelsets but the axle is of a heavier diameter tube on most (but not all!). Graceline wheelsets may also have that heavier looking tube but also the flanges are a bit heavier typically and they track OK generally. The wheelsets on the left in the photo are Nason and on the right are S-C.

In short, of the three brands mentioned in this article, S-C wheelsets with the split axle as illustrated above are pretty much bullet-proof operators on my layout if they are in gauge, Graceline will probably work, and Nason I mostly can't use. I would be curious to know from others their experiences, especially how the different brands track on Lionel turnouts, of which I own no examples.

I should note however that the place TO use Nason sideframes is for tender trucks. The bronze castings are much better than the die cast material used by Scale-Craft to conduct power reliably. All steam locomotives I run that have four wheel trucks on the tender have Nason trucks with upgrade wheelsets, and I also have a pair on a lighted caboose. Save those Nason trucks for electrical applications, they are the best.

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