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 HO PRR P-54/MB-54 Tune-Up & Maybe More
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Posted - 09/27/2011 :  11:28:40 PM  Show Profile  Visit jbvb's Homepage  Reply with Quote
Last winter Con-Cor imported a run of HO PRR 54-foot monitor roof commuter cars. More than 100 had been sold to the B&M in 1940 and they ran all over the system until the RDCs replaced them about 1956, so I'd been hoping for an easier path than resin kits for some time.

I was a bit disappointed when I put them on the track and found they uncoupled several times in a lap around the main line. My track isn't perfect, but I routinely run 8-coupled steam and full-length passenger cars with body-mount couplers and diaphragms, so I was fairly sure where the fault lay.

The couplers looked low, so I thought to raise them with Kadee washers. Alas, the kingpin diameter was too large; none of Kadee's sizes fit them. I put the P-54s to one side and worked on the layout all winter and spring.

Tonight I noticed both the cars and a punch & die set I bought a while back. Time to see if I could make my own washers and get another commuter consist off the to-do list and into the staging yard.

Country: USA | Posts: 6514


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Posted - 09/28/2011 :  07:31:25 AM  Show Profile  Visit jbvb's Homepage  Reply with Quote
It got too late last night, so the philosophy waits for the 2nd post: There's no rocket science here; fixing up RTR equipment has been getting written up in magazines since "Ready To Run" was first defined. I thought this was worth a thread because a) it's passenger equipment and b) current production techniques may benefit from new approaches.

I looked closer the 2nd time, trying to get an idea of the required washer thickness. And I realized that most, if not all of the problem was the factory knuckle couplers. They were thin for the supplied draft gear, and the plastic shank was soft and too flexible; under load they distorted and worked their way apart.

Luckily, I'd bought a bulk pack of Kadee #158 "scale head" "whisker" couplers. The factory couplers aren't in the trash yet, because some day while glue is drying I'll salvage the knuckle springs.

While I had the boxes apart, I did a little filing and scraping to tighten things up and raise the couplers relative to the body: I took a little off the upper side of the box's top, and a couple of strokes off the pivot. I took a little off the top edges of the box itself. I scraped the mounting surface on the step casting with a knife blade, and filed the top where the steps are held against the frame.

That raised the mount maybe .010" and tightened up the box enough that I didn't tighten the screws all the way. Most of the difference was the rigid coupler fitting the box better, it's worth try that before you file anything. At any rate, that turned out to be enough for reliable operation on my layout.

I'm not sure when I'll get to the "maybe more" part, but it will definitely include B&M-appropriate detailing and probably doing something about the shaky car lighting circuit - it took me a minute of jiggling to get all the lights on at once for the picture.

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