A while back I posted a topic about how long S gauge cars might be and still navigate r20 curves. At that time I was considering well/stack cars to pull behind modern locos such as SD70's and ES44's. I'll still get some of those cars as it was discussed that they could be made to run on r20 curves.
But then I wondered about 89' autoracks. You see them everywhere in modern train service and they are some really l-o-n-g cars. So I had to see if they could handle r20's.
I started with a piece of wood scaled to 89'......16 3/4". I attached some trucks with couplers attached at one inch from the car ends. Well the "car" would turn an r20 curve but the overhang to the inside of the curve was incredible. The entire right side of the car was hanging over the left hand rail! So that wouldn't work.
I went to the net to get the lowdown on life sized cars and found some useful info. The cars are actually a little longer than 89' and the trucks are 66' on center. I didn't change the length but did move the trucks w/o couplers to the proper 66' centers and added some body mounted couplers at both ends. That worked a lot better. So I decided to try to make a sort of realistic looking car without going to too much trouble and absolutely NO EXPENSE! Here's what I came up with:
It's just a big old block of 2 X 4 with some 1/4" masonite added to both sides and the bottom. Adding a little paint, posterboard and O gauge decals I had a "good enuf" car to do my testing. The car follows the prototype pretty well. It's 19' High above the rail, 10'8" wide, 89' long, has 66' centered trucks, couplers that extend 1" from the car ends (Not so prototypical but any closer and the car derails any other car attached to it), and weighs way way way too much. I even drilled four 1 1/4" holes into it from the bottom to lessen the weight but it's still heavy.
Here's the pic and data on a real car:
This car caries 15 real life automobiles so I wanted to see if any of our so-called "scale" autos would fit in the car. Since this is a complete fantasy car I used a fantasy load...1957 Chevys. I have a lot of M2 Machines 1/64 scale autos so I put some on the roof of the car to check the length. They do fit this car and the real car is actually 89'9" so they would fit there also:
The '57 Chevys scale out to around 5'4" high so if those floor decks are adjustable I think they might fit all three levels.
Anyway onto the car handling r20 curves. Here's a pic of the car on r20 showing the inside curve overhang of about 2" from the center of the roadbed:
The ruler is actually up against the outside of the inner rail showing a 1 1/2" over hang when measured from the rail edge. Here's the other side of the car:
I didn't have any r27 Fastrack or r30 S-Trax to compare but I did have 3 pieces of SHS r24 to see if it was any better. It was. The inside and outside overhang was less as one would expect:
It's not just the overhang in the car middle but the overhang of the leading edge (corners) of the car. It too is about 2" when measured from the roadbed center:
So I decided to see just how much carnage this car would cause on my layout by making a full loop of the layout. The results were pretty bad. I killed 4 track workers, 3 pedestrians, slid one building 2 feet off it's foundation and sideswiped 3 cylindrical hoppers. After the slow speed damage was corrected I decided to take some videos of the car in action.
My conclusions are:
1. Lionel could make this car and it would run on r20 curves.
2. I would need to build another and couple them together to see how they run in tandem around the layout but since I'm out of 2 X 4's......
3. R27 curves would handle the cars much, much better than r20 but for me that's not gonna happen.
4. 89' cars are about the maximum length car to handle r20's.
Watch some or all of the videos to see the car in action. Pay close attention to the inswing and outswing of the car and ask yourself if you still want cars of this length. One more thing. Video 7 shows the car in a reverse move. To my amazement it runs as smoothly backwards as it does forwards. Go figure! Oh, if you don't like the music some of the videos play there's always the volume control.