Wobbly HO Freight Cars

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riverotter1948

Midwest Alliance Rail Sys
Greetings! After being absent from the hobby for ** years, I'm baaaaaack! This is my first post to the first model RR forum I've ever joined, and I have what's probably a really simple question / problem. I notice that a number of my freight cars, especially boxcars, "wobble" in a very un-prototypical fashion when rolling down the tracks in a train. I'm interested in any and all opinions about what might be causing this and what sorts of successful fixes "you-all" have come up with. Thanks in advance! I'm enjoying "surfing" these forums and plan to contribute whatever I can, hopefully establish many new friendships in the hobby, learn a lot, and have fun!
 

Steve B

Firefighter
Welcome aboard, hope you have fun along the way.

as for wobbly boxcars etc, what type of wheels are fitted, if they are plastic they could have out of centre wheels, and if there is a lot of play between the trucks and bodies this will allow more wobble. To fix mine i fitted replacement metal wheel made by Kadee or P2K, they are more accurate than plastic wheels, and second i adjusted the play between the trucks and there bodies, at one end i tighten the truck mounting screw till there is very little play but making sure that the truck still turns, and secondly the screw in the other truck is tightened up but this time leaving some play so the wheels maintain contact with the track on uneven trackwork like turnouts etc

hope this helps
 

NZRMac

In Training Down Under.
Welcome along, I'd have to fully agree with Steve, I had the same wobble on some older stuff but with an upgrade they run alot better.

Ken.
 

rhoward

S.L.O.&W. Trainman
Riverotter, welcome to the forum and most important, welcome back to the World's Greatest Hobby! Glad to have you aboard. This is a great forum! Steve B hit it right on the nose. I had cars back in the 70's that came with bent plastic axles and wobbled like crazy. If these are really old cars, you might want to replace the whole trucks on them. I have done that with all my older stock and they now run smooth. It also cut down on the amount of derails on the layout.
 

Brakie

Member
Heres the trick I been using for years..I tighten the truck screws down to where the trucks won't move I then turn each screw 1 1/2 to 2 turns till the truck turns freely but,isn't loose.This should end the car's wobble/bobble as it rolls down the line.
 

Espeefan

Well-Known Member
The wobblies

It's mostly been covered, but here's a little twist:

Tighten one truck screw until the truck binds, then back it off until the truck swivels, but doesn't rock. Tighten the other side leaving room for a little rocking. This will allow the car to equalize and handle rough spots in the track.

Also, dump the plastic wheelsets! Sooner or later you will anyway, and the sooner, the less you'll have to buy all at once. It's less painful on the wallet that way. Kadee, Intermountain, Proto, Jaybee, and Reboxx are all good. The Reboxx website has a section on wheels and how axle lengths vary from one manufacturer to another. Would you believe they aren't all the same?

Welcome back and have fun!
 

Espeefan

Well-Known Member
Wheels & trucks

I just mentioned the ones I see the most on the racks in the hobbyshops. I mentioned Reboxx because they have a nice selection of axle lengths, and their website has a nice selection guide by axle length and truck brand.

Most folks use the factory truck & just replace the wheelsets. I do have a bunch of NWSL wheels under Athearn diesels. I use their wheels under brass models too, but they can get confusing for newer modelers who may not be aware that NWSL can give you straight journals for brass trucks, and pointed ones for plastic (and some metal) trucks. I also use NWSL motors and gearboxes all the time. They have great stuff. I'm not familiar with the Genesis aftermarket trucks. I have so many spare freight trucks in my parts cabinets that I never have to buy trucks unless I'm looking for something very specific. That doesn't happen much.

And while we're talking about it don't forget that neat little truck journal reamer. Reboxx makes one and you can get them from MicroMark as well. They work well at smoothing out burrs and getting wheelsets to roll freely
 

sushob

Entrepreneurial Teen
Riverotter from the Kansas City area...I do believe I've seen that somewhere before :rolleyes: Glad to see you made it to the forums! I think you'll find this to be a great crowd.

As the others said, try tightening the trucks a little to see if that helps. If the trucks still wobble when tightened (i.e. the bottom plane of the bolster or the top plane of the truck isn't completely flat), a thin fiber washer might help some too. I've never tried it, but I suppose it's worth a shot.

In the end, metal wheels are probably the way to go. I like Kadee wheels due to the fact that they're made here in the states, not overseas, but Proto 2000 wheels are usually the most economic. Either would be a great improvement over plastic wheels...the extra wheel weight seems to help with smoother tracking.
 

jbaakko

Diesel Detail Freak
Hehe, yup Steve. As for choosing, I'd say go with the P2K wheels, on Athearn or Accurail trucks if you're using left over trucks, otherwise use P2K trucks. For complete trucks use the Athearn Genisis, Kadee, or P2K complete trucks. I've used just about all of them. I find the left over Accurail trucks look the best, for cheep trucks.

JUST remember not to mix the small pinned Intermountain wheelsets with Accurail or Athearn trucks, its too loose of a fit!
 

riverotter1948

Midwest Alliance Rail Sys
Thank you all for these excellent responses! After reading these replies, I've looked at my rolling stock, and virtually all of the freight cars showing this symptom have -- you guessed it -- plastic wheels. The cars with metal wheel sets are virtually all rock steady. I just happen to have enough metal wheel sets to replace the plastic ones on about 25 cars, and about another dozen "spare" trucks with metal wheel sets I can substitue for some more plastic ones. I will also try the tightening tricks several of you mentioned. What a great forum this is! Thanks again!
 

Brakie

Member
jbaakko said:
Hehe, yup Steve. As for choosing, I'd say go with the P2K wheels, on Athearn or Accurail trucks if you're using left over trucks, otherwise use P2K trucks. For complete trucks use the Athearn Genisis, Kadee, or P2K complete trucks. I've used just about all of them. I find the left over Accurail trucks look the best, for cheep trucks.

JUST remember not to mix the small pinned Intermountain wheelsets with Accurail or Athearn trucks, its too loose of a fit!

Josh,I use to use the Athearn truck/P2K 33" wheel combination till I got some P2K wheels that was either to tight or to loose in the Athearn truck..Now I use Athearn's new trucks with the metal wheels as a replacement wheel set as I get around to replacing the wheels.
Of course I may stop replacing the plastic wheels as well..
 
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Brakie

Member
riverotter1948 said:
Thank you all for these excellent responses! After reading these replies, I've looked at my rolling stock, and virtually all of the freight cars showing this symptom have -- you guessed it -- plastic wheels. The cars with metal wheel sets are virtually all rock steady. I just happen to have enough metal wheel sets to replace the plastic ones on about 25 cars, and about another dozen "spare" trucks with metal wheel sets I can substitue for some more plastic ones. I will also try the tightening tricks several of you mentioned. What a great forum this is! Thanks again!
Actually plastic or metal wheels has nothing to do with the wobble/bobbles because 98% of the time the trucks are not mounted correctly.
Several of my cars still have plastic wheels and you'll not see a wobble or a bobble from these cars.:D
 

rhoward

S.L.O.&W. Trainman
Brakie said:
Actually plastic or metal wheels has nothing to do with the wobble/bobbles because 98% of the time the trucks are not mounted correctly.
Several of my cars still have plastic wheels and you'll not see a wobble or a bobble from these cars.:D
I would bet what Riverotter is experiencing is caused by the old plastic wheelsets that have bent axels. I had a lot of them right out of the box 20 or more years ago. The early all plastic ones warped easily and caused wobbling and derailments. I had some that the center of the axel would almost touch bottom if rolled on a flat surface. His best option is to replace them ASAP. All the comments about how to tighten trucks on the bolster are also correct, but if he has warped axels, they will still wobble.
 
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jbaakko

Diesel Detail Freak

Brakie

Member
Josh,Thanks for the link but,that doesn't help the axles that was to loose in the truck or the axle being a tad to long..I may have gotten some bad wheels sets that slip by QC.:confused: At any rate I like the new Athearn trucks better.
=========================================================
rhoward,Assumming he is using Athearn cars Athearn has been using metal axles and RP25 wheel sets since the 60s..You are correct though about the plastic axles warping and causing the old wobble/bobbles.:eek:
 

jbaakko

Diesel Detail Freak
It'll help with a slightly snug axle, but a short axle, well yeah thats another story, i should really pick up a pile of Accurail trucks & P2K wheels, I have ALOT of freight cars to work on.
 

sushob

Entrepreneurial Teen
If anyone can use Stewart 70-ton Friction Bearing trucks, I have a couple bags of 800 I'd be willing to part with fairly cheap ;)
 




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