This weekend I switched gears from layout construction to freight car upgrades. A change of pace is always good!
I decided to upgrade the trucks on my Weaver 50-foot boxcars. These cars look great when weathered and detailed!
One downer, however, is that the Weaver trucks do not have rotating roller bearing caps. Being a railroader, when I see a moving car with frozen bearings my first thought is that someone left a tight handbrake on! To remedy this problem, I decided to upgrade the cars using Lionel trucks and NWSL wheelsets. The conversion is very easy and simply involves flipping the carfloor. The Lionel trucks are built differently than Weaver's. Inverting the floor gives a flush mounting surface for the Lionel's. It just so happens that the resulting car and coupler height are dead-on the NMRA height gauge. No extra shimming is necessary.
I began by disassembling the car:
Then, I cut the bolsters from the center sill using a razor saw. I made sure to remove enough of the sill to allow the trucks to swing freely:
The ribbed side of the carfloor becomes the bottom; the smooth side becomes the top. I add small blocks of styrene over the truck mounting holes (see top of photo below). The styrene, when drilled and tapped, gives the mounting screws a little more bite. I drilled and tapped for 10-32 machine screws, then reattached the underframe assembly to the ribbed side of the car floor with ACC. Last was adding Kadee couplers and installing the trucks.
I insert 4mm lengths of 0.093 diameter styrene into the coupler spring to eliminate the caterpillar-like effect of the Kadee's. There is just enough slack action to create a realistic effect, while the coupler still moves side to side freely.