How do I install truck springs

 I'm assuming you mean the small springs in the side frame of the truck. I use a small flat blade screwdriver inserted between the coils or tweezers. I also try to do it inside a clear bag in case they go flying. You have a chance of finding them. You can also try inserting dental floss inside the spring. Then remove it after it's in place.

Here's how I do it:

  • Get a length of waxed dental floss
  • Thread it through the spring
  • Compress the spring using tweezers
  • Walk the spring in place
  • Slowly pull out the dental floss and the spring should lock in.
  • Repeat for the other springs.

When I disassemble trucks, When it comes time to pull the side frames, I put the truck into a plastic bag so when the springs go flying they're in the bag.

Hope this helps.

Matt Jackson
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I use a piece of fish line similar to the dental floss idea.   I lay it through the spring in about the middle parallel to the coils (perpendicular to the spring direction).    Then I hold the line in my hand and the spring between thumb and forefinger.    I insert the bottom of the spring (thumb side) onto one of the nubbins on the truck and then push the other side in place with my finger nail.   It works about 75-80 % on first try.    the line keeps it from flying if it slips.    After install simply pull the line out gently.    I have lost no springs since I started using the line.

Thank you everyone for the great advice.  I ended up using tweezers to compress the spring and a large zip lock bag to contain slips.  My fingers just arn't suited for handling the spring without the tweezers.  BTW this was a repair on a new MTH box car that had a loose screw on the truck that wasn't seated all the way and was rubbing on the wheel.

I usually never have a problem getting the springs out, but getting them installed can be tricky.  I've used the dental floss method and it works great for installation, but in fits of laziness and not wanting to take the time to thread all the springs I have lost a few.  

Does anyone have a source for replacement springs?  I've looked on the MTH parts site but don't find them listed.  All the springs seem to be very similar in size between MTH, K-Line, and Atlas for trucks that I have disassembled.  Anyone know where I can buy blackened springs used in these trucks?

Thank you,




I've done a lot of this on MTH trucks doing kadee conversions, because I always dismantle the trucks so that I can make a clean cut of the old coupler boss.

I use curved precision tweezers for both removal and installation of the springs. To remove, I just grab a coil of the spring near one end with the tweezers, push slightly toward the other end of the spring to compress it, and then remove it. Installation is basically the reverse. I grab the spring by one coil near one end, place the free end of the spring in the hole or boss on the truck, compress slightly, then position the other end of the spring with the tweezers, and release.

I've got the process down to about 5 minutes a truck for a complete disassembly and assembly. I don't use floss or anything to secure the springs, although that's certainly not a bad idea. I think in all the trucks I've done, I've only launched one or two springs. But, I do have some spares, and you can always use the kadee springs in a pinch (bit more realistic spring rate that way, actually...)

walt rapp posted:

I've always wondered: do they serve any real purpose other than "looks"?  Would it matter, for instance, if they were not replaced when the side frame(s) was removed?

- walt

Yes, on most trucks they do theoretically provide equalization for the truck, and they do need to be there to locate the side frames. In almost all cases, however, they are so stiff as to be effectively decorative.

Some passenger cars have springs and truck designs that are close to realistic, in terms of spring rate.

Hi Bill:  If at all possible, never fool with a real 2 or 3 sprung metal truck.  I learned the hard way not to ever take the side frames off of one of these trucks unless you have a "hole proof" plastic bag you are working in.  Always work on a large white poster board covered desk in case you drop a screw or spring (it will land on the white surface and you will see it).  Never work on small screws, springs, etc in a carpeted room.  If you drop one into the carpet, it will be gone forever  (especially carpets that have deep piles).  Take your time, wash your hands to clean off grease, etc and work slowly and methodically.  Every person who answered you has given excellent advise.  I cannot give you anymore advice,  but if you work on this type of truck, you will learn the in's and out's on to how you can fix those trucks.  If you think this spring is a problem, try putting in a knuckle coupler spring to replace a burned out one caused by the coupler falling to the 3rd rail in a derailment.   Write me and I will tell you more disastrous things that can happen with 3-rail sprung trucks, etc.  You can find me by looking up my name  --  railbear601 -- in the members section of this Forum.... 

Someone said it:  Do we really need realistic sprung trucks with tiny little springs in them?  No!  The manufacturers could easily mold in realistically looking springs in there side frames, allowing the truck to be taken apart and tiny little springs would not fly everywhere!

Also, I have a way of dropping wheel sets on trucks that have side frames screwed to the truck.  I do this when I have to replace a line-up spring in MTH Sprung Metal Coupler Armatures. Gently turn the side frame screws just a "few" turns without letting the screw come out of the side frame.  This will give you slop in the side frames and you will be able to pull one or both of the wheel sets from the truck.  Once the wheel set(s) come out, tighten back the side frame screws and the side frame will be on the truck without the wheel sets in them.  This works very nicely unless you have a complicated truck that has a pull down cradle on it.  That entails a professional or just buy another truck to replace it....All of these trucks are put together at the manufacturer with special jigs that we do not have in our workshops.   Good luck       railbear601

Bill Bish posted:

Twice a spring sprung across the room.  Thankfully I have no carpet and a 10 year old with eagle eyes.

This was an emergency repair I hope to never have to perform again!

In the future, as previously mentioned above, thread some dental floss or light colored thread through the spring. Then it will not get away from you.

As a teenager, right before I put trains aside for more 1:1 scale endeavors, I assembled an HO scale, heavy-duty, 4-truck Athearn flatcar kit, with 4 sprung trucks to be assembled - 4 springs per truck. 

Maybe it was that kit that made me walk away from model railroading - naw, it was the driver's license and such stuff - but I actually got the thing finished. Pretty fair patience for a 16-year-old, really.

I still have the car. 4 sprung trucks. HO. I used the thread-through-the-springs safety method; thank you, Model Railroader. Madness.

So, in O-scale, piece of cake.

Yeah, sure.   

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Alan Mancus

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