Truck Rivets

I'm struggling with truck rivets.  I have a Brakeman's Riveting Tool, but it doesn't do the job - it isn't strong enough to fold the rivet edge... I have the same problem with the shoe rivet.  A press would be awesome, but I haven't had to do enough wheel work to justify the cost.  Just curious what other's have done.

 

Thanks!

Original Post

Are you using the larger Brakeman's Riveting tool?  I've put a few truck rivets in with it.  It takes more than one "hit" to properly fold them, but I've had no problem getting them to fold properly.

One thing I've noticed is some rivets are a lot tougher than others, I see this especially with the coupler knuckle rivets.

John, this may not be what you wish to do. But you said you were curious as to what others do. I intentionally drill out the trucks held with rivets and I will explain my reasoning.

Most rolling stock with trucks held by a rivet have quite a bit of slop in the tightness of the truck to the car body. If you pick up a piece of rolling stock, you can grab the coupler and jiggle it up and down quite a bit.

By necessity and choice, I use 027 track, and was experiencing common derailments when pushing a train in reverse. When trucks are loose and you are pushing a train backwards through 027 curves, the loose attachment of the trucks will allow the wheels to ride upwards over a curve or through a switch, and especially on "S" curves. Now, "S" curves are a basic layout no-no, but when you have a small layout, compromises are necessary. My quest became not to change the layout design, but to alter the trains so they would not derail.

So I drill out the rivets on anything that is excessively loose and replace the rivet with a truss screw and a stop or lock nut. I tighten this all the way, and then loosen it just enough so the truck swings top the left and right freely with a absolute minimum of up and down jiggle movement of the truck.

I've thus practically eliminated derailments** when pushing a train backwards. And this includes very light MPC era short cars pushing much heavier cars with sheet metal frames with die cast trucks. It makes running the trains much more fun!

Now depending on the type of car, I vary the truss screw. On a box car, a silver truss screw is fine. For flat cars, gondolas etc. I sometimes use a pre-blackened hex screw. I've also used nylon or steel truss screws that are painted to the color of the car body.

** The other factor for derailments is wheel sets being out of gauge with the wheel sets on the same truck... a bigger factor when buying used trains with fast angle wheel sets. I make sure the wheel sets on one single truck are in alignment with each other. They can be slightly out of alignment between two trucks on the same car, but not out of two wheel sets on the same truck. 

brianel027

 

You can pick up the press, but then you need all the tooling to go with it.  You're into the task a few hundred dollars before you can actually do useful tasks with the press.

I find that it is important to use the correct sized clincher with each rivet. If the clincher is too small, the hollow end of the rivet (or eyelet) will just be crushed. When the clincher is too large, the rivet splits.

Sometimes I will use a larger clincher to start the rolled end, and finish with a smaller one.

Even with a press, I find Lionel truck rivets to be difficult to roll with a clincher. They are very hard.
I get much better looking results if I use a star clincher.

The original poster did not ask, but I will comment on knuckle rivets:
They are generally available in black and "silver".
In my experience, the silver ones are hard and can be difficult to roll.
The black ones are softer, and roll quite easily, making it simple to get a nice appearance.

With any clinching job, it pays to take your time and make certain the rivet is square with the clincher.

C.W. Burfle

Appropriately timed discussion. A while back, I bought the Harbor Freight arbor press shown above and thought that would be the perfect solution on the cheap. I had the necessary mods done to the press done by a good machinist-friend (hole drilled into the rack, adding a set screw, machining the bottom piece, etc.), then had to buy some clinchers, anvils and what not. I even had one splaying clincher long-reach tool specially made just for re-securing motor side frames - made by Carl at Hobby Horse. He's a good guy to deal with, and didn't charge two arms and a leg. So John's comment about cost is spot on.

Last night I had to replace a broken spring on an electrocoupler on my 6250. After watching the spring fly away a couple of times, I did finally develop a bit of a technique - finally got all pieces seated, then stuck it in the press and quickly bent the first (black) rivet...then a second. I grabbed the wide reach pliers out of desperation and bent yet another rivet. I went back to the arbor press and this time I really took my time to get everything vertical as CW stated above, and boom, a working coupler!

The problem with the HF press is a lack of precision. A high quality, well machined arbor press will make your job easier and reduce frustration, especially when it is used on relatively delicate items like couplers.

 If you choose to go the Harbor Freight route because of cost, I get it! Just be prepared to pay particular attention to getting a good table (the rotating piece with four arms.) The contraption they supply is a crude hunk of metal that has been roughly machined and equipped with a center pin that insures slop will occur and alignment will be affected, and it just isn't up to the task. Oddly enough, the heavy metal shaft (the rack) stays aligned quite nicely - most of my problems are with the base. I will be going back to my machine shop friend and see if we can come up with a better solution.

No matter what you choose to do, you probably can't justify it financially, so just relax and spend a few bucks and enjoy the fun of repair work - I do!

Couplers are a breeze with the Brakeman's Rivet Kit, I've done tons of them.

 I get it! Just be prepared to pay particular attention to getting a good table (the rotating piece with four arms.)

Over the years I've examined a few of the aftermarket imported presses that have been on and off the market, and chatted with the folks making (modifying) them. One company completely removed the table and bolted a thick metal plate to the base of the press.
I think another company locked the turntable in place with a couple of machine screws and drilled a hole for the anvil holder in the appropriate place.
With either of these solutions, you might need a spacer or a post for the base to lift the lower wheel cup away from the plate (turntable) to provide clearance for some work.
Even my LTI / Hobby Horse press needs a spacer for some wheel work. My buddy with a metal lathe made me one when I was using a green Hobby Horse press. The LTI/Hobby Horse press outfit came with a post, so no spacer is needed.

No matter what you choose to do, you probably can't justify it financially, so just relax and spend a few bucks and enjoy the fun of repair work - I do!

I guess this is true. Still, even today trains are expensive. If you think about the value of the trains, and enjoy the work, you will probably find the press and tools to be a good purchase.
Plus, I find uses for the press doing household repairs.
Just recently I helped my buddy attach all the brackets to some reproduction plastic pieces for a pinball machine he is restoring.

The most difficult thing can be finding the correct fasteners.

C.W. Burfle

Thanks for all the feedback - this group always has a lot of insight.

I too have no issues with the Brackeman's Rivet Kit for couplers.  It works awesome.  I do have the smaller one though - just noticed the larger for the first time.  Might have to make another investment.  It seems the smaller one does just fine for the coupler rivet.  I struggle with the shoe and truck rivets.  Gunrunner John, are you using the larger for the shoe and truck rivets?

 

C W Burfle posted:

 I get it! Just be prepared to pay particular attention to getting a good table (the rotating piece with four arms.)

Over the years I've examined a few of the aftermarket imported presses that have been on and off the market, and chatted with the folks making (modifying) them. One company completely removed the table and bolted a thick metal plate to the base of the press.
I think another company locked the turntable in place with a couple of machine screws and drilled a hole for the anvil holder in the appropriate place.
With either of these solutions, you might need a spacer or a post for the base to lift the lower wheel cup away from the plate (turntable) to provide clearance for some work.
Even my LTI / Hobby Horse press needs a spacer for some wheel work. My buddy with a metal lathe made me one when I was using a green Hobby Horse press. The LTI/Hobby Horse press outfit came with a post, so no spacer is needed.

No matter what you choose to do, you probably can't justify it financially, so just relax and spend a few bucks and enjoy the fun of repair work - I do!

I guess this is true. Still, even today trains are expensive. If you think about the value of the trains, and enjoy the work, you will probably find the press and tools to be a good purchase.
Plus, I find uses for the press doing household repairs.
Just recently I helped my buddy attach all the brackets to some reproduction plastic pieces for a pinball machine he is restoring.

The most difficult thing can be finding the correct fasteners.

Hobby horse is an excellent product. Got to know those guys years ago when I lived in Kendallville. The nicething about their press is the wider throat and use for Std gauge wheels where the Post war Lionel press only does O gauge. I agree the best tools are best (close tolerances) but even with Lionel press take your time as they have some wiggle room on use. But for the sliding shoe the tool makes it easier. If anything buy that separate ($17) and with a vise and judicious use of a punch you can get the job done as well.

John Fuller posted:

Thanks for all the feedback - this group always has a lot of insight.

I too have no issues with the Brackeman's Rivet Kit for couplers.  It works awesome.  I do have the smaller one though - just noticed the larger for the first time.  Might have to make another investment.  It seems the smaller one does just fine for the coupler rivet.  I struggle with the shoe and truck rivets.  Gunrunner John, are you using the larger for the shoe and truck rivets?

Yep, I use the large punch for the truck rivets.  I haven't done a shoe in several years, but I think I used the small punch for those.

I have some clinchers.  I bought a 3-way c clamp and I'm going to see if a machinist friend of mine can help me make adapters for the clinchers to clamp end.  Seems like a decent solution - versus the $$ for buying another Brakeman's tool... althought I do like my first one for couplers.  Next stop will be an arbor press.

Why do you need the C-clamps?

I often use clinchers outside of the press.
I hold them in my hand, and strike the back with a SOFT hammer.
Over the years I've used a heavy rubber mallet, a leather mallet, a plastic one, and a brass one.
Doesn't really matter which material, it just has to be heavy enough and soft enough to not damage the clincher.
When Hennings was selling presses, they sold a holder to use the clinchers by hand. I have one, but haven't bothered to try it.  (last I looked, they seem to have dropped the line)

Of course you will need some sort of anvil.

C.W. Burfle

Henning's still sells the presses and all the tooling for most modeling jobs as well.  They just haven't gotten them onto the new web store pages yet.

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