NYC ALCO FA / FB Units

NYC ALCO FA / FB Units
Custom Painted P-2000 units

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Going Big

This month I came upon some Athearn 85' Trailer Flat Cars and some Athearn 86' Auto Parts Boxcars at prices that I could not refuse. The prototype cars were introduced in the mid 1960s and they are right on for my targeted modeling range. These are the first Athearn Blue Box freight cars that I have purchased with a length greater than 57 scale feet. Most of the past reviews I have read on the 85' flat cars and 86' boxcars were not positive as they were reported to be prone to derailments even on very broad curves in excess of 24" radius. Well the price was right and with some tinkering I thought I could get these cars to be reliable runners and then added to the fleet. Here is how I made that happen.
 85' Trailer Flatcar
#1. Clean the rust of of the metal weight and wash the plastic parts with soap and water. Allow to air dry.
#2. Spray paint metal weight, underframe, body bolster and draw bars flat black.
#3. Straighten metal weight as best as possible. 
#4. Attach metal weight o flatcar with adhesive. I used thin double sided tape.
#5. Attach under frame to metal weight with adhesive. Again I used thin double sided tape. 
#6. Add Kadee #27 couplers to the draw bars.
#7. File down hooks on draw bars where they meet the trucks. The draw bars are designed to swivel and make contact with the trucks when installed straight out of the box. Not doing this eliminates the free play the trucks need to swivel freely on their own. 
#8. Attach body bolsters. After building five cars I noticed that quite a few body bolsters needed some filing to fit over the molded on body bolsters. 
#9. Optional I added 33" Intermountain metal wheels to the trucks. This gives the cars a bit more weight.
#10. Attach trucks with 2-56 x 1/4" screws (provided in kit). Again after five cars I noted that on a few I had to use screws from my parts inventory for better truck control. 
#11 Test with Kadee height gauge. Adjust as necessary.
#12. Road Test.

86' Auto Parts Boxcar        
#1. Clean the rust of of the metal weight and wash the plastic parts with soap and water. Allow to air dry.
#2. Spray paint metal weight, underframe, body bolster and draw bars flat black.
#3. Straighten metal weight as best as possible.
#4. Attach metal weight to floor with adhesive and the two short screws provided in the kit.
#5. Add Kadee #27 couplers to the draw bars.
#6. File down hooks on draw bars where they meet the trucks. The draw bars are designed to swivel and make contact with the trucks when installed straight out of the box. Not doing this eliminates the free play the trucks need to swivel freely on their own.
#7. Optional I added 33" Intermountain metal wheels to the trucks. This gives the cars a bit more weight.
#8. Attach trucks with 2-56 x 1/4" screws (provided in kit). Again after five cars I noted that on a few I had to use screws from my parts inventory for better truck control. 
#9 Test with Kadee height gauge. Adjust as necessary.
#10. Road Test.

Here are some of the finished cars






So far the cars are running reliably on 22" radius curves, which are the sharpest on my layout. The above consist also negotiated the #4 turnouts in my staging yard with no problem.

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