Over the years Lionel has made some really nice passenger cars. I am a big fan of their 18" streamliners and heavyweights as well but they all suffer from a way too large coupling gap. To quote another formite, they couple in the next zip code.

When Lionel came out with their UP Excursion Cars they made gap especially wide. I discovered two reasons for this. The first they actually made the modern style "tube" diaphragms too small in addition to having the couplers stick way more that necessary. Little excuse for this as the cars use the newer kinematic couplers and automatically extend further in the curves.

I sought to address both issues. Another forum member posted a pic of the actual UP tube diaphragms. What I discovered is the tubes don't mount directly to the rear bulkhead but rather to a short I beam. My replacements include this beam and are also slightly larger in diameter. 3/16" OD vs 1/8" OD for the Lionel ones. To assemble these new diaphragms I made a couple of simple jigs to glue the styrene together, pictured below. 

The second part of the modification involved repositioning the couplers. I have used Kadees in the past but wanted to retain the big knuckles to easier mate with my other equipment. That and kadees don't work the best on the club modular layout which can have some uneven track sections.

To do that it was a matter of tapping new holes in the frame for the kinematic couplers to mount to. I also replaced the springs with shorter ones found in eBay.

So here are the results.

First as they come from the factory. Olympic broad jumpers would have a hard time passing between cars.

 

With new diaphrams, stock coupler position.

New diaphragms and couplers moved inward 1/4".

Excursion Car Coupled to a Challenger car with traditional diaphragms. Challenger car coupler moved inward 1/4" as well.

Picture of the prototype showing the two different diaphragm types together.

 

Pete

 

 

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Original Post
Norton posted:

Thank you. Lionel specifies these for 054. I expect them to be able to do that but these will be running on our club layout that has minimum 072 with 096 mainlines.

Pete

Thanks, I didn’t see why they wouldn’t make O-54 but maybe if that cuts it close then I’d imagine it’d make O-60. We also have a O-72 minimum. Looks so good I might have to try modifying my cars. Great job!

Lionel builds in a fudge factor with these couplers. In a straight line there is about 1/16" of play in the couplers so under load the diaphrams will not be making contact but may have a 1/8" gap. Its less of a problem for the Challenger cars as those diaphrams are very flexible like the real deal and can move almost a 1/4" in and out.

Pete

jim911 posted:

what did you do about the lack of passengers since these cars do not come apart easily?

You are right but I was able to get one apart so far. The Challenger cars don't have this issue nor does the Power car in the Excursion set. It was just a matter of working it apart and placing thin cardboard along the seam. After getting it apart I placed scotch tape over the glue along the bottom and cleaned off the residue on the frame. It now comes apart as easily as the Challenger cars.

Filling the seats has begun.

image

Pete

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jim911 posted:

what did you do about the lack of passengers since these cars do not come apart easily?

I haves added passengers to all of mine. They really aren’t bad, never had the old aluminum ones to compare to but I’ve hear horror stories. The worst part about theses is that the body is got double sided taped to the frame and it is to say the least, very sticky. Oddly enough the new theater car was not tapped, very easy to get into with out the tape. 

Pete, have you posted somewhere the position where you drilled or otherwise modified the Lionel kinematic coupler mechanism to shorten the length? I thought that you had but I can't trace it.

POSTSCRIPT: I have found what I was thinking of; I leave it to you whether to post the details here. Next question: which are the shorter springs you got on fleaBay?

Hancock52 posted:

Pete, have you posted somewhere the position where you drilled or otherwise modified the Lionel kinematic coupler mechanism to shorten the length? I thought that you had but I can't trace it.

I don't have pics now but plan to do at least one more car this weekend. Basically after removing the body and seats I located 4 holes 1/4" inboard of the existing ones. 1/4" will make the kinematic bracket clear the screw heads for the body. If you go with less (greater car gap) you will have to remove some plastic from the bracket. I may still do that on my Challenger cars as the diaphrams are somewhat compressed with 1/4".

The holes are 3mm/.118" from the edge of the frame and are 2mm x .4 thread.

There is a pic above that shows the underside with the original holes and new screw location.

Keep in mind if you do this the springs have to be shortened to compensate. I bought new springs but you can shorten the existing springs. 21" cars come with 25mm springs which I replaced with 20mm. 18" cars like the Power car come with 20mm springs which I replaced with 10mm. About 30 cents each on ebay.

https://www.ebay.com/itm/Tensi...p2057872.m2749.l2649

 

Pete

Thanks very much. I'll be interested to see how you get on with other Excursion cars. 

Within the mechanism, only partly visible in the photo above, is a flat and roughly  "T" shaped bar that the coupler is connected to which governs the amount of travel (side to side and out from the body of the car) that the coupler has. Did you also modify that?

BTW, as a whole this mechanism is a simplified version of the kinematic couplers on the Acela passenger cars. Don't get me started about those . . .

 

Great work here. Pete, I'm going to ramble here and I don't wish to take anything away from your work. I may have too much time to spare? 

Part of the reasons that almost steered me away from O scale, was the way all the equipment looked when I first saw it. It was almost like manufacturer's didn't care anything about looks at all. Coming from HO which jumped forward leaps and bounds over the years, it seemed like O scale was stuck in the 50's and 60's to me at first glance.

 Then I noticed a movement in O towards details and looks. It seemed most of the manufacturers had their own partial offerings with this in mind. Almost a division in the scale that would either cater to this group, or ignore it with each offering.

 So now I find it interesting to see an offering that maybe tried to please everyone. Better details and yet parts of the equipment seemed to be just thrown in that don't match the design. A young child may just imagine passengers inside these cars without the need for them to move through the train. As we grow older and learn, it's hard to ignore some basic facts about how things should work. A huge gap between passenger cars makes me feel like no one cares about realism.

 So I have to ask just how many scale feet is between the stock cars? I can accept things when the manufacturer is trying to make something that will run on anyone's layout. If they make something so sloppy that it goes beyond that, it makes me wish to leave the hobby! I do applaud Lionel for many strives forward in realism and engineering, and this gap can be with anyone's products. I just wish there were standards that would move O scale forward. Until they happen, we have to modify almost everything if we want better realism on our toy RRs.

" on Sour mash and cheap wine " ??

Why go back to DCC when I have DCS!

I didn't do anything to the T bar. An early plan was to file away some metal at the back of the T bar to allow it to pulled back further but without altering the stop towards the end of the car, a trainload of cars would just pull on the spring and the gap would be unchanged. 

That is an option though and could be done without disassembling the car.

Joe, for me this is just an extension of growing up with HO in the 50s. It seemed then the ideal was to build everything yourself from rolling stock and structures to laying track. Brass engines were mostly assembled kits that had to be taken apart to run right. Very little ready to run unless you were willing to sacrifice detail. Not unlike todays 3 rail. 

Pete

zhubl posted:

That looks AWESOME! Just out of curiosity what size curves will the modified cars fit on?

Zach, I don't have any 054 but do have an 042. The cars will do 042 except in my case they hit a switch lantern located inside the curve. Otherwise the trucks can swivel far enough and the couplers do their job and open up. The cars are not close to hitting each other. On 042 over half the body is past the inside rail.

Bottom line this mod doesn't affect minimum diameter at all. 

Pete

Norton posted:
zhubl posted:

That looks AWESOME! Just out of curiosity what size curves will the modified cars fit on?

Zach, I don't have any 054 but do have an 042. The cars will do 042 except in my case they hit a switch lantern located inside the curve. Otherwise the trucks can swivel far enough and the couplers do their job and open up. The cars are not close to hitting each other. On 042 over half the body is past the inside rail.

Bottom line this mod doesn't affect minimum diameter at all. 

Pete

That’s very interesting to hear. Makes one wonder why they left such a gap. One last question I saw some of your work inside they car and thought it was amazing. I’ve wanted to do something along those lines but was a little scared. Where did you find flooring and the little top for the seats?

Thanks Zach but if you want real inspiration on what you can do to the interiors check out the threads by T. Albers and Hancock52. 

The carpet and headrest covers were images off the web printed on plain copier paper. I use a windows freeware program called Irfanware to shrink them to size and make many copies to fit on a piece of paper. Its been around for decades just make sure you download it from their site.

Pete

Laidoffsick posted:

That looks 100% better!

How about removing the thumb tack now? or does that affect the operation of the knuckle?

 

Thanks Doug, Removing the thumb tack is easy and I have done it on other cars. These couplers have a tab on the side so they can still be opened by hand. Its just down on my priority list right now. Next step is decorate and populate the interior.

These cars are a hobby in themselves. Other than a few more UP cars to fill out my train I doubt I will be going down this path again.

The ex Weaver cars that Lionel is doing have the same type of coupler, just not on a kinematic mount. The thumbtack was removed simply by drilling out the rivet that holds it to the arm. ex Weaver car on the left.

Pete

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A skilled plastic surgeon friend of mine converts all of his MTH and Lionel passenger cars to close coupling and also lowers the car bodies to the trucks. He has excellent dexterity skills due to his profession, plus the necessary tools!

vita sine litteris mors est  (Seneca)

His layout is custom built and so HUGE, he needs repeaters for the Legacy and DCS signals! Every structure has extra added lighting details and interiors. Probably the largest layout in our region! All the vehicles have operating headlights and tailights. He has one huge, multitrack trainshed which you have to see in person to believe!

vita sine litteris mors est  (Seneca)

The doc is kind of a privite person, and although he encourages visitations, invitations are limited to known friends. Would not want to blow his cover on our forum. His close-coupled and low-sitting carbodies are impressive and represent a lot of time and effort. This thread reminded me of the fruits of his labor, and he has many sets of passenger cars that have been modified.

vita sine litteris mors est  (Seneca)

Met this gentleman today and had the opportunity to see his layout. He showed me how to close couple my passenger cars and lower them on trucks. I'm going to work on them as soon as possible as his directions are simple and with his advise is a huge improvement.  He has one of the finest layouts I have ever seen. 

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