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

Sunday, May 17, 2009

The truck problem, and one arch bar solution

A couple of posts ago I highlighted a most interesting quote from the late Bill Johann on his roller bearing trucks and his reasons for producing them. He wrote in The OO Road,
Your Editor got tired of mooching, buying, or trading for freight trucks for the Watchung Valley. Not only that, I’m sort of fussy—Scale Craft (reworked extensively as shown above), Lionel, or Nason with the square bolsters only, if you please.
Notice the brands mentioned: Scale-Craft, Lionel, and Nason (with “square bolsters only,” one of three styles of bolsters they produced. The other two Nason types are a cast bolster [three rail] or a similar U shaped bolster of fiber). Any lines not mentioned? A number of makers produced trucks but the most obvious one missing is Schorr. Many people feel that these were the best trucks ever produced in OO; I have mentioned them a few times in this site, a photo is in this post for example. Available in Bettendorf and Arch Bar designs, they are sprung and roll and look great! They were made in Japan and sold with his cars and as separate sale items. But there is a downside to these trucks. I can on my layout run very reliably any car with modern RP-25 flange wheelsets. Scale-Craft trucks are essentially as reliable with their original wheelsets and tuned up well. Lionel trucks run great with replacement wheelsets and even with the originals work fine on the layout. But Schorr trucked cars seem more prone to derail. I am not sure what causes it but I suspect it is due to a combination of my track, the wheelset profile (which is not RP-25), and the light weight of the cars. I check them all with my NMRA standards gauge (see this post), so gauge is not the issue.

[UPDATE: So it was my track. I spent a good while tweaking my turnouts, the Schorr trucks work great through them now. One of the best American OO products ever!]

As I do actually run my OO layout, cars that derail are a concern! I have made quite a few pair of trucks converted from Mantua/Tyco/Model Power HO trucks, as featured in this post. They roll well and track great around the layout but really only work visually on cars that are not “classic” OO; I have most of them consigned to HO conversions and cars that were scratchbuilt or kitbashed to fit into a more modern era from the 60s-80s. I also have four older time cars on arch bar trucks by Kemtron and Schorr. Then we have the rest of the roster, cars that are of a 40s-50s era. The majority of these cars that I run the most on the layout have Scale-Craft trucks, a number with Ultimate wheelsets.

Of course, I do have other trucks on the layout running. One pair I am very happy with in operation is late Graceline for example but they have been upgraded to modern RP-25 flange wheelsets. If I have visitors the cars on the layout all have RP-25 trucks as a precaution. Nason trucks I find a bit iffy with the original wheelsets, Famoco/Eastern are not as reliable, Graceline wheelsets are not that great, etc. I could go on and on.

The best pair of new trucks I have are these. They are by North Yard, a Sn3 manufacturer in New Zealand. I purchased this pair from someone getting out of OO a few years back that went to some trouble to have them made. They are lost wax brass with female journal bearings and needle point axles. The wheelbase is just a hair under 5’ 6” feet in OO (4’ 7 1/2” in S scale) which is perfect for OO.

North Yard does not have a website [they do now, see UPDATE II for link] but if you write the owner he will send you the current catalog as a PDF. I did find a 2006 version of the catalog online as a PDF; the contact information there is accurate.

The trucks I have are a version of the 3181 Sn3 arch bar truck. These can still be purchased with wheelsets gauged for American OO, which is great news. And these trucks are great! It is really interesting how by a quirk of scales and gauges these side frames scale out well for standard gauge in OO. They are not cheap, however; in US dollars they cost over $21 a pair! I will save this pair for a special car. Arch bar trucks were banned from interchange service in 1940 (see this time line), so I will likely use it on either an older time car or a car that is not interchanged (a work car perhaps).

The 2006 North Yard catalog also shows a truck design that is similar to a Bettendorf truck; this seems to have been replaced in the current catalog however by a truck of a different design but the same catalog number. Of their other trucks one of the passenger trucks may also be usable in American OO.

In terms of my own operations I need more freight trucks that would fit into a 40’s-50’s era layout that look better than S-C trucks. My current thinking is to look into Sn3 trucks of domestic manufacture; in particular I am very interested to see a couple of the different 4’ 8” wheelbase trucks that are on the market, especially Andrews trucks, as they would be perfect for several cars on the roster (the type was still in interchange service on some older cars before 1957) and the wheelbase is right on the money for OO. I have some on order now; I will report on them more in a future post.

UPDATE: The Andrews trucks have arrived, and look very promising.

UPDATE II: See also this article, I have built up more of these trucks and also have and updated link for North Yard.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I'm Glad the North Yard trucks worked good for you.

Phil R.