More Tyco Freight Car Upgrades

ModelRailroadForums.com is a free Model Railroad Discussion Forum and photo gallery. We cover all scales and sizes of model railroads. Whether you're a master model railroader or just getting started, you'll find something of interest here.


jwb

Member
Charles Smiley has posted about upgrading Tyco flat cars following Bruce Petty's ideas. (Steve Priest had an article in MR in the 1990s doing something very similar with Tyco flats.) The Tyco plastic reefers are also very good candidates for upgrade. I've filled out a PFE reefer block with rebuilt PFE wood cars that I upgraded with Tichy PFE underframes. I've also done some as MDT cars leaving the stock underframe:



I've also upgraded some with .040 styrene underframe, Athearn sills, and aftermarket brake parts:



Bruce Petty talks on his site about upgrading the Tyco hopper cars into SP ballast cars http://lariverrailroads.com/gravel_pit.html Robert Mosteller at Great Decals has similar ideas with Virginian cars and sells decal sets to convert them to VGN and merged N&W cars. I've done a bunch of these:



I've always wondered why nobody's taken over the Tyco tooling and issued upgraded versions of these cars, since they'd still be roughly equivalent to Athearn bluebox or Accurail quality. It turns out that Bachmann has in fact done this. The newer Bachmann HO flat car is the Tyco tooling with better trucks and body mount couplers. They've also announced reefers that look like they're also Tyco tooling, look like interesting paint schemes, but seem expensive.
 

JimT

Member
I remember and have a few of those Tyco / Mantua / Life Like / Revell and Varney stuff. Looking at the $34.00 list price, $22.00 discount prices of the models currently it looks like I won't be buying them from Bachmann.
 

Cjcrescent

Master Mechanic
Ther's not much wrong with Tyco cars, that were made by Mantua, and sold under their Tyco label. Their short gondolas are a perfect match for the Southern's short gons. Just shave off all the cast on detail, and replace with wire grabs, and a couple of short ladders and an Ajax brake wheel, you've just upgraded to a better model without spending a ton of money. I see these cars on E-bay for under $5 all the time.
 

whowey

Member
What kinds of replacement trucks are you guys who are doing this using? I have a handful of this quality of car, I want to retrofit for use. But if I am going to spend almost as much money on improvement parts as I would have on a better quality car in the first place it seems a bit redundant.
 

jwb

Member
The least expensive, but good ones, are from Accurail. But keep in mind that a Tyco body is a raw material, and the fact that you can find them for $2-3 shouldn't mean that's what you should spend. A Tyco rehab for contemporary serious layout use would need new trucks, metal wheels, Kadees, detail parts like grabs, stirrups, brakes, etc, paint, and decals. This is going to mount up, although the price will still be reasonable. But there ain't no free lunch! Or put another way, you get what you pay for. I think that more than spending a buck or two less (or whatever) than a new car is the reward in getting something a little different. But also keep in mind that Bachmann has reissued a lot of Tyco bodies, but in the $25+ range list. You'd still beat that rehabbing an old Tyco car.
 
Last edited by a moderator:

Railrunner130

Well-Known Member
Don't forget the weights. I purchase a variety of trucks and avoid the ones with couplers attached. Couplers belong on the body.
 

whowey

Member
The least expensive, but good ones, are from Accurail. But keep in mind that a Tyco body is a raw material, and the fact that you can find them for $2-3 shouldn't mean that's what you should spend. A Tyco rehab for contemporary serious layout use would need new trucks, metal wheels, Kadees, detail parts like grabs, stirrups, brakes, etc, paint, and decals. This is going to mount up, although the price will still be reasonable. But there ain't no free lunch! Or put another way, you get what you pay for. I think that more than spending a buck or two less (or whatever) than a new car is the reward in getting something a little different. But also keep in mind that Bachmann has reissued a lot of Tyco bodies, but in the $25+ range list. You'd still beat that rehabbing an old Tyco car.
Thank you. I feel almost the same. I realize that single new car is in the $30-40 range these days, my point was that an old Tyco/Bachmann/Mantua/Czech Special car riding around on $30 worth of improvements is still going to look/perform sub par to the much better molds and tooling being used today. But when the project yields a reasonable quality model at a reasonable cost, this might be a good way for folks to boost their fleets.
 

jwb

Member
I think it's a question of what you're trying to do and who you're trying to impress. Accurail is the current lower-tier equivalent of bluebox Athearn, which in turn was always more acceptable than Tyco or AHM, aince they had screw mount trucks and body mount couplers. You can still find bluebox Athearn on the auction site or at swap meets for the $5-10 range. With a itttle extra detail, touchup paint, and weathering, these are perfectly acceptable models. With metal wheels and Kadees, Accurails will run in the $20 range, also perfectly acceptable models, and again, you can find em at swaps and the bay. Walthers Trainline take some work, equivalent to Tyco, but you can often find them at good prices. Walthers Mainline run in the $20 range at discount or on sale at Walthers.

The big thing is that these are even better suited for layouts, since there aren't all the delicate parts that fall off, catch on clothes, break in handling, etc. With good wheels, couplers, and weight, they run, which others do not.
 

montanan

Whiskey Merchant
I think you have done some nice work there. The majority of my freight cars were acquired well over 20 years ago, Athearn blue box cars, with a couple of Con Cor and Walthers kits thrown in. I custom painted a number of them for my Logan Valley RR and some were experiments with dry transfers. All were weathered to some degree. All of them were equipped with Kadee meatl wheels or even Kadee sprung trucks along with Kadee Couplers. I recently got a hold of some Kadee box cars with great detail. When you put them together in a train it's hard to tell the difference. With the cars upright on the track, you really don't see the underside details either.

I'm not trying to impress anyone at all as I am a lone operator. I just want freight cars that operate reliably and look decent. Most have been operating for decades with no problems at all.

Reliability I guess would be the most important thing, and if they work for you, that's really all that counts.

Again, nice work.

............................................... Chet
 




Affiliate Disclosure: We may receive a commision from some of the links and ads shown on this website (Learn More Here)


ModelRailroadForums.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com

RailroadBookstore.com - An online railroad bookstore featuring a curated selection of new and used railroad books. Railroad pictorials, railroad history, steam locomotives, passenger trains, modern railroading. Hundreds of titles available, most at discount prices! We also have a video and children's book section.

ModelRailroadBookstore.com - An online model railroad bookstore featuring a curated selection of new and used books. Layout design, track plans, scenery and structure building, wiring, DCC, Tinplate, Toy Trains, Price Guides and more.

Top