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I am going to very very slowly dip into the Tinplate area, to create one nice colorful train.  The 1950s and 60s cars with tab and slot couplers seem to be the very cheapest. 

I know that these were sold for use with the wind-up sets, but do these couplers have any problems when you run them on electrified O Gauge sets?  Or, when running across Lionel 021 electric switches?

I am currently looking at cars only.  Not locomotives.  My Scout engine has a tab coupler, so I assume I can pull these cars?

Also, important, how do you guys add weight to these cars.  Most of them are sealed metal boxes.    I know I could drill a small hole in the bottom of the frame, pour in #9 birdshot, and then solder a thin patch over the hole, but I suspect there is a far easier way.  And, I hate to damage anything old.

Thanks vey much for all info.


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@Mannyrock posted:

Well, back to the coupler issue.

Given all of the different types of couplers on the cars, which coupler system is the best please, in terms of trouble free operation and running on the tracks?     I'll probably buy 10 Marx cars, and I will need them to all have the same type of couplers.   



Why limit yourself to one kind of coupler?  Depending on how many types you're using, make a few transition cars - one type of coupler on one end, a different type on the other.  Use common, inexpensive cars for this so that you don't alter a collector piece.

For Marx litho cars, Grossman sells couplers, rivets, and a rivet tool.  It's an easy fix.

The tab and slot couplers on the cars I run have plenty of clearance with respect to distance from the track. I've never had any problem with them running on regular O gauge tinplate track or switches. Below are some examples to give you some idea of the coupler/track clearances.

American Flyer

















Modern (Ameritrains)



Images (9)
  • Car_AF_Baggage_1108_Salmon_Yellow
  • Bing_Car_Boxcar_BandO
  • Fandor_Side_Dump
  • Car_Hafner_Pass_New_York_Flyer
  • Car_Lionel_Boxcar_820
  • Car_Marx_B_O_Orange
  • Car_Marx_NYCPM_94
  • Car_Dorfan_Boxcar_PRR
  • Car_Marx_AMtrains_Production_Flat_With_Load

Thanks for all of the great advice.

And thanks Robert for those great pictures.

I think that if I let my small grandchildren run the colorful little Tinplate cars for the first few years, they will relate to the hobby much more quickly than having them run the flat painted, realistic cars.

And, I know that this is heresy, but I will probably have a small conventional locomotive pull the cars, instead of trying to get a Tinplate locomotive.  I'm trying to stay cheap and simple to start.  A small diesel Plymouth would look  great.  (May have to rig something to get it coupled to the first car, but that should be easy.)



I'm late to the party, but I wanted to chime in and say that Marx did sell 6" tin cars with Tab & Slot couplers in electric train sets.  The electric versions have rivets holding the coupler to the cars, whereas the (later) windup cars with T&S couplers have a simple twist or punch that keeps them in place.  The windup couplers will slide in and out.  The electric versions with the rivets will back up better around curves. Since the windup couplers slide in & out, they will bunch up when pushed and the carbodies will rub against each other, which can make them more prone to derail when backing through curves.

For that reason, I would strongly suggest that you look for 6" tin cars with riveted T&S couplers, plus they should have metal wheels as well.

Mannyrock - I guess I don't understand the need for adding weight to these cars.  I've run consists of 12 or so cars without any issues. I guess if you are planning on mixing these cars with non-tinplate cars like the Lionel 6464 series or the Atlas reefers then I could see where you would run the risk of derailment on curves but if not then I don't think extra weight would be necessary.

Hi Robert,

I don't have any experience with the tinplate cars.  My only experience is with traditional O Gauge, and very often I need to add weight to the cars to keep them from derailing on switches.

If the tinplate don't need any weight, then no, I don't have plans to add any.  (I just assumed that since they are so light, they may do alot of bouncing around.)

Windup, that is a great video.  Thanks!


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