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Take a ride on a 4 car unit train of the new Menards lighted hopper cars. They are not prototypical of course but they are fun! I felt compelled to assign a special locomotive to pull these colorful cars and the original Lionel Phantom locomotive was awarded the honor. Enjoy!

TJ

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pGfQzXSmZiE

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Very nice, Terry!!

As someone on the Menard's announcement thread commented, these cars seem destined for a play role with Lionel's Nuclear Reactor accessory.  Not quite sure how. 

I was hoping for a pass-by scene with that awesome thunderstorm display in the background!

Very timely with Michigan re-starting its Palisades power plant reactor.

KD

The interior wiring ribbon makes me think of a wave and the curves are all consistent. I was wondering about the synchronization as well because some inevitably lose contact over turnouts and there is no battery to maintain power. There may be a capacitor but it is really small if there is. Without studying it closely they look pretty similar to each other. I think the scene towards the end of the video where they are sitting still looks like they are in synch.

I'm not sure if they will take a constant 18 volts. I was running the train at 14-16 volts so the old Phantom could pull the lead sleds. They really roll poorly even with a generous oiling of the axles. The PC board was heating up to the point you could feel it through the plastic body where it is mounted.

Thank you all for your comments!    TJ

Last edited by TonkaNut

Great video, Terry.

I just received one of the cars this AM.  I made a few 15 second videos with my cell phone, which are only fair in quality.  No sense in posting them, now.  I should add that the car soon shorted out one of my tracks.  Removing the car, it was apparent that one of the pickups wasn't properly seated and was being forced against the truck cross-brace by the third rail. It's fairly simple to get at the truck screws, so (after a few attempts at bending the pickup) I took out the offending truck and put a small piece of black tape between it and the pickup shoe.  Works fine.  I agree that the wheels roll poorly, no matter if properly oiled.

I have close to 100 Menard's cars on two different layouts.  I've had many issues with their trucks and wheels. Most are easily corrected. If I hadn't maxed out my layouts a few years ago, I would still be buying more Menard's cars.

Jerry

@TonkaNut posted:

I'm not sure if they will take a constant 18 volts. I was running the train at 14-16 volts so the old Phantom could pull the lead sleds. They really roll poorly even with a generous oiling of the axles. The PC board was heating up to the point you could feel it through the plastic body where it is mounted.

It'll be interested to see what the life expectancy of these hoppers will to turn out to be.

Last edited by breezinup
@Micro posted:

Just for clarification (I'm not thinking clearly right now) the "they" is the hoppers?  And the Hopper's PC board?  Sorry and thank you.

Yes, you are correct. I really don't want to bash the neat cars but the quality is not what I get with MTH Premier cars, granted the price is generally less as well. I had to loosen the screws that fasten the trucks to the car so they would swivel easier, otherwise some derailing would occur. Also I equate the term "lead sled" with my vintage postwar cars but they are actually better rolling than these Menards hoppers. Modern locomotives with traction tires can handle these well but the old Phantom with a single motor combined with my Gargraves track that generally ignores Magna-traction, was straining to pull just the 4 cars. I ended up adding as much weight as possible to the Phantom so it could pull the 4 cars up a slight grade.  Given all that, they are worth it to me and I'm glad I have them!

@TonkaNut posted:

Yes, you are correct. I really don't want to bash the neat cars but the quality is not what I get with MTH Premier cars, granted the price is generally less as well. I had to loosen the screws that fasten the trucks to the car so they would swivel easier, otherwise some derailing would occur. Also I equate the term "lead sled" with my vintage postwar cars but they are actually better rolling than these Menards hoppers. Modern locomotives with traction tires can handle these well but the old Phantom with a single motor combined with my Gargraves track that generally ignores Magna-traction, was straining to pull just the 4 cars. I ended up adding as much weight as possible to the Phantom so it could pull the 4 cars up a slight grade.  Given all that, they are worth it to me and I'm glad I have them!

Thank you for the explanation!

In some ways, this has to be the dumbest thing I have ever seen on a "model" railroad (also, the Phantom was always....well, no). Menards continues to be...Menards.

Yet, on the other hand, it's hilarious. "Eye-catching" to say the least. Where is the Lionel nuclear reactor? The AEC tank car? The Coppertone ad below the train is a nice touch, as suntans are nothing but radiation burns from the sun, anyway.

Do I like it? Well, not really, but I can't seem to look away. Are clear-bodied, lighted F-units next?

....what was that item number....?

@TonkaNut posted:

I'm not sure if they will take a constant 18 volts. I was running the train at 14-16 volts so the old Phantom could pull the lead sleds. They really roll poorly even with a generous oiling of the axles. The PC board was heating up to the point you could feel it through the plastic body where it is mounted.

Thank you all for your comments!    TJ

I was hoping they would re-run them. If the board is getting hot not sure I'd get them.

Do all the Menards trucks roll poorly? Have seen other comments about that.

Thanks for the video.

@BobbyD posted:

I was hoping they would re-run them. If the board is getting hot not sure I'd get them.

Do all the Menards trucks roll poorly? Have seen other comments about that.

Thanks for the video.

I'm not sure the board is warmer than intended but it was a little surprising to me to be able to feel it through the plastic body of the car. These are the only Menards cars I have so I can't speak in general terms, but all of these 8 trucks needed attention such as liberal axle lubrication. Also, all of them needed to have the screw that holds the truck to the car loosened so it can swivel easier and allow some vertical tilting movement as it negotiates the track. Out of the box they rolled way too hard and derailed where no other cars have ever derailed.

@TonkaNut posted:

These are the only Menards cars I have so I can't speak in general terms, but all of these 8 trucks needed attention such as liberal axle lubrication. Also, all of them needed to have the screw that holds the truck to the car loosened so it can swivel easier and allow some vertical tilting movement as it negotiates the track. Out of the box they rolled way too hard and derailed where no other cars have ever derailed.

That is rare, even for Menards cars.  More frequent is their not being quite the right gauge--they are sometimes off by .5-2mm compared to Lionel/MTH.  Ours were stiff (pre-oiling) but the swivel was fine.

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