Progress on my 'Streets 18-wheeler (pics, videos)

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January 20, 2013 6:12 PM

After a week away on "vacation" and taking a day of "just running trains" yesterday, I got back in my workshop today and took up my "third generation" tractor trailer project.  Generations 1 and 2 had numerous limitations due to their use of stock 'Streets chassis and motors, most noteably they did not smoothly a real low speeds and some signs of having only marginal power.  This first gen-three tractor has both rear axles powered by a nice big can motor with a flywheel.  Electrical pickup is through all ten wheels and five center pickups.  As you can see, things are still beta rigged with tape and such as I work on weight distribution, pivot points, etc.  The mass you see sitting right behind the motor is 30 pennies put there for weight and traction.  I'm still experimenting with how much and where weight works best.  But it's looking like a tractor trailer now and it runs better than any previous 18-wheeler. 

3-G tractor trailer 1 01-20-13

In the video below you can hear some wheel chatter in the curve - I'll talk about that at the end.  After the turn I slow it down along mainstreet.  It will go slower but this is about as slow as I will ever run it.  As you can see it runs very steadily at a an appropriately slow speed that an 18 wheeler would take doing through a downtown line this. Stock 'Streets vehicles won't.

I think a good test of the design, weight distribution, and pivot points of a tractor trailer is if and how it can back up.  Here is the answer.

More: Initially, I am building two "third gen" tractor trailers, this one which is true-to-prototype by being powered by the tractor's duel rear axles, and one I expect to run much better: only one of the tractor's rear axles will be powered, but then one of the two at the rear of the tractor will be powered too (it will use two slightly smaller motors, one for each powered axle).  I have not started that yet.  I plan to finish this one completely first - it runs well and will, when done, look like a very good model.  The wheel chatter is due to its spinning its wheels in curves - none of the four powered wheels has a traction tire and this puppy gets marginal traction even with considerable weight over the powered axles.  I plan to coat the wheel face (but not flanges) of all four powered wheels with Frogsnot (yes, it will kill electrical conductivity of these wheels a lot, but there are six other wheels that also pick up power so there will be plenty of electrical contact.

 

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3-G tractor trailer 1 01-20-13
 
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January 20, 2013 6:26 PM

Hey Lee that looks really great, I must say a job very well done.

 

Alex

 

 

 

HOME OF THE JADA RAILROAD

 

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January 20, 2013 6:27 PM

Very Cool!!!  After you start marketing them I'd like 1 in G scale.

 

Rick

 
 
 
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January 20, 2013 6:30 PM

Nicely done, Lee!

 

 

Allan Miller, Editor-In-Chief O Gauge Railroading magazine

 
 
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January 20, 2013 6:45 PM

Nice! What type, size semi-truck are you using? 1/43 or ? Great job Lee!  Terry

 
 
 
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January 20, 2013 7:11 PM

I actually am not sure what semi-truck it is.  I've had the cab around my workshop for some time.  I think I will use it on this tractor but I also have a '53 Mack cab that will fit, too, and a Freightliner cab over I was thinking of using, too.  However, this looks really good, I think.

 

The trailer body is an unmodified New Ray trailer box from the ubiquitous offerings of 18 wheelers for about $20 complete. 

 

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January 20, 2013 7:49 PM

Got it. It does look great, especially while moving! Terry

 
 
 
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January 20, 2013 8:29 PM

Lee,

 

Again you prove to be the Master of SuperStreets.  Next I guess you'll come up with a street sweeper.

 

Joe

 
 
 
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January 20, 2013 10:17 PM

Lee....you are THE master of the "streets" for sure!  I have greatly enjoyed all of your conversions over the past couple of years or so and look forward to every one of your projects.  If you ever decide to do some custom creations (take orders), count me in!!!

 

Keep em coming Lee!

 

Alan

 
 
 
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January 20, 2013 10:28 PM

I always enjoy your latest creations, as has been said above you are the 'Streets Master'.  Thanks for taking the time to not only post the pix, but to show us all how its done!  I Love it!  Russ

 

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January 21, 2013 12:11 AM

Great work Lee!

 

 

Jerry

 

 

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January 21, 2013 8:24 AM

I have always loved that song! 

 

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January 21, 2013 11:41 AM

That look awesome! Next it will be time to go back and light them it is not hard to do just takes time for the first one. After that they become rather quick to do. If the trailer is plastic it is very simple to do.

bus

cars2

 
 
 
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January 21, 2013 1:05 PM

I have to admit that I look forward to your posts. There both informative & at times entertaining.

 

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January 21, 2013 1:06 PM

Originally Posted by Spence:

 . . . informative & at times entertaining.

Thank you!  I work to see they are both.

 

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January 21, 2013 1:37 PM

Originally Posted by NelsonW:

That look awesome! Next it will be time to go back and light them it is not hard to do just takes time for the first one. After that they become rather quick to do. If the trailer is plastic it is very simple to do.

bus

cars2

Nelson,

Where and how do you start on these. Is there info online for this? And also, where do you purchase the parts to do these vehicles? Thanks in advance.

 
Member Mid America 3 RailersRoger Wasson
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January 21, 2013 2:28 PM

Lee:  I've enjoyed following your work with superstreets and now your new modifications.  Nice job!  I wondered if you had seen some of the videos of that huge HO layout in Germany called "Miniatur Wunderland"?  i realize that this is a very professional and, I'm sure, very expensive system that they have going there.  But I've noticed that they have some moving vehicles on the layout that operate on complicated roads but without any slots or tracks in the streets.  I wonder how they do that.  The vehicles also have lights on while running but I understand that that is accomplished using batteries in the vehicles. 

 

I'd just like to find out how they power, steer and control those vehicles on their display. 

 

Paul Fischer

 
 
 
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January 21, 2013 2:55 PM

Nice job Lee...........

Don

 
 
 
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January 21, 2013 3:42 PM

Lee

Adds a lot of interest to the layout.

How about a big rig sound board next or loading dock annimation scene?

 

 Charlie

South Jersey

 

 

 
 
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January 21, 2013 4:49 PM

Well, I've finished my "resarch phase" with this tractor trailer.  No pictures as it looks just the same now - except it has 10 cents more of pennies for weight over the tractors rear axles than the other day (total 40 cents).  I am going to finish it as is now (solder all wires, fit and finish it, detail it as a model, etc.) through the rest of this week.  

 

Ultimately, the problem I expected proved, beyond a certain limit, insurmountable: driven only by two axles at the rear of the tractor, it will not drag a big trailer up a steep slope.  It also does not really like D16 curves and even protests a bit on D21 curves, but you saw it run on them in the video, and see below:

 

Today I ran it on Atlas track.  My country road for these 18-wheelers will be made from Atlas, filled in to look like highway. I was elated at how much better it runs on Atlas track.  It is quieter, has more traction, and it just likes to run a lot better.  On 31 and 36 inch curves (the tightest the country road will have, it behaves entirely differently than on the tighter 'Streets curves - doesn't even notice them, chatter its wheels, or slow a bit.  Test results while pulling a trailer weighted, itself, with 30 cents worth pennies to give its wheel flanges some traction, it does:

- lowest smooth speed is a scale 5 - 6 mph - very satisfactory

- highest speed is a scale 78 mph - more than satisfactory

- at a scale 20 mph it will start and climb on a 7.5% slope on straight section without wheel slip, but only 5% on 31 inch dimater curves (11% and 8% without trailer). I really hoped for 10%/7.5% but I could find no combination of weights for traction, traction tires, etc., that would do better than this.  It will climb steeper if it gets a running start or his going faster, but  . . .  this is okay, I can live with this.  

 

This is a key milestone to me not because I have compelted thi vehicle, but because it confirms I will have something worthwile to run on my country road, so I know the cost, time, and fuss will be worth it. I will finish this truck this week, then start on the road next week. 

 

I will provide updates as I go along.

 

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January 21, 2013 9:42 PM

Lee, Am I correct in assuming the tractor pivots between the front wheels and the rear double axil power truck? (at the bolt head behind the cab) And does the rear double axil truck on the back end of the trailer also pivot on the trailer? I would guess that would be necessary to avoid binding on the tight Super Street curves.

 

Just wondering. Thanks, Paul Goodness

 
 
 
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January 21, 2013 9:54 PM

Originally Posted by paul goodness:

Lee, Am I correct in assuming the tractor pivots between the front wheels and the rear double axil power truck? (at the bolt head behind the cab) And does the rear double axil truck on the back end of the trailer also pivot on the trailer? I would guess that would be necessary to avoid binding on the tight Super Street curves.

 

Just wondering. Thanks, Paul Goodness

Yes.  I poisted a .pdf report with diagrams about a year ago that had illustrations about why that is necessary.  Only way an 18 wheeler will go around the tight corners. 

 

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January 22, 2013 7:01 PM

I promised to identify where I got the very nice 1:48 cab for this tractor if I could.  I bought this yesterday as soon as I saw it, from MB Klein (modeltrainstuff.com).  This diecast cab is put on a variety of truck bodies (mostly plastic) but I usually see it on this wrecker style.  I think it was $18.  The company on the box is "Realtoy."

Wrecker with big Rig cab and sleeper

 

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January 25, 2013 3:09 PM

Great. When are you going to start your production. That tractor-trailer Looks great. Always like your posts. Job well done!!!! Ed P.
 
 
 
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January 25, 2013 3:39 PM

Lee, thanks and great work.  I think that a lot of us have wanted truck traffic on our layout in addition to trains, and you are showing us the possiblities.  I can currently run two O and one On30 train simultaneously (with two other trains staged and ready to go), it would be very cool to add the action of a highway and have some 18 wheelers running at the same time. 

 

Now I have to figure out where I can add a highway to the layout!  

 
 
 
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January 25, 2013 4:25 PM

I really can't understand why someone - and I would much prefer to see Lionel do it, doesn't bring out a "Cargostreets" or some such name - a line that is nothing but big trucks.  I imagine a 'Streets with 18 wheelers, 14 wheelers, 10 wheelers, etc. even down to just big single box trucks, maybe cross country buses (the truck equivalent of passenger trains), too.  

 

The possibilities and market would be big, I think, and very close to home: run on a track like locos, different wheel combinations just like in locos, different types (Kenworth, Peterbilt, Freightliners, Mack , White, IH, Ford, GMC) just as there are ALCo, Baldwin, EMD, etc.  You could even make nifty operating accessories (log loader, cattle truck loader, etc.  I can't imagine it would not make a ton of money - so many people would buy them (me included - I'm only making mine b ecause not one will sell me some). 

 

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January 25, 2013 5:09 PM

Really great, Lee. This just might me tear up my layout!!! OH NO !!! 

 

Running the BLOSSOM CREEK RR on the Crappy Basement layout.

 
 
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January 30, 2013 8:17 AM

Lee,

 

I would also like to see someone bring out a system as you described "Cargostreets".  Thinking back, my son had quite a setup of Tyco US-1 Trucking.  We did not set them up with HO trains but looking at what they offered for vehicles, track, and operating accessories it pretty much illustrates what we would like to see in O.  Here's a link that shows what was available.

 

http://www.ho-scaletrains.net/tycous1trucking/

 

Larry

 

 

 
 
 
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January 30, 2013 8:39 AM

Wow!!!  I never knew about it.  Very nice.  Amazing, isn't it, how much the picture on the lower right, of the tractor leaving the airport, looks like it is on Superstreets track - a thin slot and two electrical rail looks just about like three rails, doesn't it?

Tthanks!

 

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January 30, 2013 9:42 AM

Seemed to be a fairly good system.  Basically a slot car track.  Vehicles had guides front and rear to allow backing up.  Semi trailers also had guides and pivoting axle sets to follow around the curves.  Vehicles were driven by the tires.  Electrical pickups rode on the embedded rails and were the touchy part of keeping a vehicle operating smoothly. 

 
 
 
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January 30, 2013 11:12 AM

Lee; do EZ Streets connect to superstreets??

 

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January 30, 2013 12:25 PM

Lee,

   Nice job very nice!

PCRR/Dave

 

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January 30, 2013 12:34 PM

Lee

Like the catenary thread regarding the unavailability of useful potential products, your homemade creation of semi-trucks certainly fills that gap in what else to run on Superstreets and should demonstrate the appeal of the concept. In my case, you certainly did. 

 
 
 
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January 30, 2013 12:35 PM

I have a fair amount of Tyco US-1 Trucking items. My kids loved them when they were young. They are VERY reliable and run flawlessly. They run on standard 'HO' track but have 6 volt motors. They also have two guide pins, front and back, and two sets of pick up shoes......making them stall free and speed correct!!! This is kinda what I'd do in O scale using the 1/32 scale SCX track and components.

 

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January 30, 2013 1:01 PM

Originally Posted by Lee Willis:
Originally Posted by paul goodness:

Lee, Am I correct in assuming the tractor pivots between the front wheels and the rear double axil power truck? (at the bolt head behind the cab) And does the rear double axil truck on the back end of the trailer also pivot on the trailer? I would guess that would be necessary to avoid binding on the tight Super Street curves.

 

Just wondering. Thanks, Paul Goodness

Yes.  I poisted a .pdf report with diagrams about a year ago that had illustrations about why that is necessary.  Only way an 18 wheeler will go around the tight corners. 

Lee your work is outstanding and provides us with another fasinating aspect of RR.  Would it be possible to repost the .pdf report on the 18 wheeler mods?.  Also what are you using for motive power?  Please keep your updates coming - can't get enough of seeing your creations.  Thanks for sharing with us.

 

Wild Mary (AKA Nick) Retired & "Riding The Wild Mary"

 

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January 30, 2013 5:26 PM

Here they are: realize these were written two and one half years ago and a lot I've talked about here since is not in them.  In fact Lionel brought an entirely new type of SS vehcile out (the UPS-like delivery van) after the first one was written so it is not in the tables, etc.  The 18-wheelers are my first gen.  Second gen used the same (stock drive) but picked up power from the rear wheels and center pickups there - I recommend at least adding that.

 

I do intend to update and extend these to cover recent stuff, and Alan Miller has an article on how I built the buses, which I don't if he intends to put in OGR. I will try to get updated material in the next few weeks

 

The "All I learned"

 

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January 30, 2013 6:39 PM

Lee. Thank you very much for sharing your attachments. They are super helpful.

 

All. Just FYI, a company called Carrera (lesser known than Scalextrics) makes slot cars in 1/43...Yes, one of Lee's posts got me hooked on 1/43. There aren't a lot of choices but I thought I'd share since there were several posts about HO scale for use on streets.

 

Terry

 
 
 
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January 30, 2013 9:34 PM

I  bought some Carrera about four years ago and experimented with it a bit, but decided to go with Superstreets.  they were good slot cars, but like you said theirs was a limited range and I decided that if I had to work with something I'd go with the other.  They were the best alternative though, definately.

 

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January 31, 2013 12:17 AM

Great job Lee.

 

David Neuzil

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