Re: Replacing Athearn trucks and/or wheels


Irv had a tendency to do things his own way. Some kits are dead-on (mostly for SP and UPRR, which ran outside his back door) and others were amalgams or mixes of two or more similar bodies.

For example, his reefers (with the exceptions of the molded-on ladders and roof hatch details) were pretty much dead-on for specific classes of PFE reefers. The mechanical reefers were taken directly from PFE designs. His stock car is a UPRR class (almost perfect for one and close for another).

To me, they always seemed to be good starting points for detailing projects. Then the question was, how much effort do you want to put into a car that will be buried in the middle of a 25 or 30 car freight train? Ladders, grabs? It's up to the modeler (his brake gear sprues were always backwards).

Trucks are definitely one item I switch around a lot. In fact when I buy a kit, if the trucks that come with it are not correct (e.g., solid bearing trucks with a modern 100 ton covered hopper) they go into the truck drawer and when I build the model, a pair of appropriate trucks come out of the drawer and go on the model. That drawer has hundreds of different trucks in it (actually two drawers - one for freight cars and one for passenger cars). I am replacing most of my plastic truck wheelsets with Intermountain 33" or 36" wheelsets as appropriate. I use Kadee or P2k wheelsets on metal trucks, so I always have a plastic to metal bearing surface. I do not see much change in the coupler height as the height change is only 1-1/2 scale inches. So 36" wheelsets go on 100 ton trucks and 33" wheelsets go on 50 or 70 ton trucks. I have some 38" wheelsets too, but have only used them on intermodal well car end trucks so far.

Of course the cars all get Kadee couplers.

-- John

--- In, "hvyweight41" <hvyweight41@...> wrote:

Background: I received a large lot of Athearn blue box rolling stock from my father. He's had these for years and decided he'd never build or run them. Most seem to have 70 ton trucks, whether the prototype had them or not. The only exception I have found, so far, is an express reefer which appears to have express trucks.
Is it worthwhile to replace the wheels and/or trucks with the correct trucks?
For example, I have 54' covered hoppers with 200000 lb capacities that come with 70 ton trucks and 33" wheels.
Is it worthwhile to replace them with the correct 36" wheels? With the body mounted couplers, will I need to go with an underset shaft to compensate for the bigger wheel or should I lower the body?
Keith Kempster
Jacksonville, FL
PS I have discovered that many older Athearn kits don't have prototypes. I just want to do a little bit to make them better. I have a bunch of undecorated kits that I will be modifying to be more prototypical.

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