S Scale America Intermodal well cars...Yes! Highrail cars can run on r20 curves.

Thanks to the 20 percent off sale DesPlaines Hobbies ran last weekend I am now the happy owner of 3 intermodal well cars. Each is outfitted with highrail wheelsets and American Flyer compatible couplers.

The cars are beautiful and covered in exquisite detail and tiny micro printing where appropriate to each car.

Intermodal train 4-13-17 004

Intermodal train 4-13-17 006Intermodal train 4-13-17 005

As I expected the cars as delivered would not negotiate r20 curves. My entire layout is constructed with Fastrack r20 curves so I had to find a solution. I was very very reluctant to begin cutting up brand new cars as others have done to allow the highrail wheels to not hit the frame on r20 curves. So I tried another way. My thoughts were if the frame almost  clears the wheels why not just raise the frame until it does clear the wheels? Note...these cars are full of tiny fragile details. Make sure you position the cars on a soft surface when working on them. Even being extra careful I still managed to dislodge a brake wheel and air tank on one of the cars. A little glue put things right.

Raising the car bodies was  easier than I expected and only raises the car body 1/16" or thereabouts.

The trucks on the cars are near twins to the old SHS trucks. They mount to a projection on the bolster:

SSA bolster

The center raised area fits inside  the topside hole in the SSA truck. A tiny machine screw with a brass washer secures the truck. I removed the truck, took a #8 washer and bored out the center hole to 7/32". That washer now fit over the "large" bump on the bolster and gave a larger "flat" area surrounding the bump. I then added a 1/16" thick nylon washer around the smaller bump and secured the truck with a slightly longer tiny screw...I think maybe it was a #3 X 1/2" machine screw. Now the truck fit the bolster like this:

Intermodal train 4-13-17 014

The nylon washer is larger in diameter than the center bump on the bolster so it doesn't fit inside the truck. That's OK with me as the truck pivots freely and no longer hits the frame.

As others have commented in other well car posts the next issue is the wheels hitting the end of a 48' container. My solution was to raise the containers  by adding four 1.5" diameter  fender washers (2 at each end) under the 48' container. They raised the stack by 3/32" and added some needed weight since the loaded cars are very lightweight.

Intermodal train 4-13-17 007

Even with all this "raising up" the loaded cars are still very near the maximum scale height allowed which is 21' 2" on the prototype railroads.

My cars scale in at 21' 4". Close enough for me. Another issue was stacking the containers. There are no "pins" furnished to secure the upper container to the lower one. My easy fix was to add four tiny balls of "sticky tac" (poster adhesive) to the 48' container and then line up the 53' and press them together. The sticky tac can be easily removed and reused if desired:

Intermodal train 4-13-17 017

So with the r20 problems solved I decided it was time to run an intermodal train. My train today consistes of 3 SSA double stacks, Two MTH TOFC cars with 45' trailers, two SHS TOFC cars with a 34' SHS trailer and a 40' AM trailer, three converted Lionel Autoracks and finally a SHS Mopac caboose pressed into service as the EOT device was not on this train.

Finally one more note about these well cars. One of the wheelsets apparently had a flaw built into it as it would repeatedly spark in the r20 curves. These wheelsets are insulated on one side only so maybe somehow the insulation had failed and shorted across the rails. I substituted double insulated SHS wheelsets I had a supply of on all the car trucks. No more sparks!




Photos (7)
Original Post

Add Reply

Likes (1)
Chuck K

OGR Publishing, Inc.
33 Sheridan Road, Poland, OH 44514