Wheelset demo train performance

JP Barger

This is a news item from Hudson, MA which perhaps will amuse a few STMFC members, maybe more. Hope you enjoy the story while seeing in your mind's eye a perfectly running 100 car train in HO scale.


A recent deployment of a massive version of Reboxx' WHEELSET DEMO TRAIN at the Medina Railroad Museum in Medina, NY occurred on 5 November 13. Featuring 100 HO covered ACF 70 ton hoppers, the prototypes of which were all built by ACF and its carbuilder competitors (licensees) between the 1930's and the 1970's and operated by dozens of prototype railroads, the train couldn't be more coincident with the STMFC time period and subject interest. The train occupied about 35 feet of track. For Reboxx and its friends, it's just a convenient and economical way to showcase the effective use of metal car wheels with fitted axle lengths for surer and cleaner operations , narrower wheel width for near prototype appearance and precision needle bearings- like your analog watch has-for minimum friction and long operating life. Nothing like a good road test to develop potential modeler/operator interest, especially when the subject is model trains.


Demonstration runs of the LO train began about half a dozen years ago with its first tests at the North Shore Model RR Club, a large layout near our base here in the Boston area. The NSMRC layout features unrelenting curvature and a 3% gradient on its mainline. Next came a run in upstate New York at a very large personal layout with 2% long grades. After a suitable interval, the train was shipped to Southern California to demo on four major club layouts in LA and San Diego. These clubs feature some of the longest mainlines and greatest gradients and curvature in the nation. Pasadena and La Mesa include full circles on steep grades.


When there is DC power available, our 100 car train can be pulled by three RS-11's of our own supply.  A proto train of the same makeup wouldn't operate at suitable track speed with the RS-11 power set on mainlines with substantial grades, if at all. But in HO, with the very powerful Tiger Valley mechanisms and high locomotive body weights, operation is excitingly prototypical. This train, for example, maintained realistic track speed on the La Mesa Club layout, representing the west side of the Tehachapi crossing, pulling uphill on as much as 2.75% grade. Consider that this train weighs more than 350 ounces, or around 25 pounds, because all of the cars have individual car total weights of 3.5 ounces or more. Moreover, since the exercise is to demonstrate wheelsets, the added car weights are at the lowest position in each car-in the hoppers- to keep the trains from tending to tip on sharp curves. Thus, wheelset operation remains the focus of the exercise. By the way, 350 ounces times 2.75% gives a required tractive force of nine and five-eighths of an ounce!! That's not counting the inevitable curve friction on greatly curved layouts. So TF goes over 10 oz. And 400 wheelsets are  rolling simultaneously. No tipping, no out of alignment cars, and especially, no derailments.


At Medina recently, DCC was the power source, and for this we used a power set owned by the museum, a four unit PRR F7 lashup, which exhibited no limit in speed with the full train of 100 cars. On the highest grade, it would climb at around 100 mph pulling the entire train uphill on grade. Running the demo train at Medina was great fun; a rewarding event we hope to repeat sometime in the future, perhaps with a different train consist.


The Museum, if you haven't yet visited,  is a worthwhile place to drop in, an ex-NYC freight depot on an obsolete NYC line paralleling the old Erie Canal bed. It not only has an HO layout over 200 feet long with an almost 500 foot double track mainline, but it is finished with marvelously competent scenery. The layout operates whenever the Museum is open, so count on seeing multiple HO trains running. The Museum is host to an extensive collection of railroadiana, which alone could entertain a visitor for hours. Marty Phelps, the Executive Director, will be glad to welcome you and perhaps give you the special tour for serious HO aficionados  The Museum is in Medina, NY, about twenty miles north of the NY State Thruway exit in Batavia, easy to get to.


The Reboxx demo train can be made available to groups of modelers/operators/collectors who have major trackage available. Email address is above. Thanks for listening, and have a rewarding set of yearend activities. Hope this little news squib made you smile broadly.

Best for Happy Model Railroading      JP Barger/Reboxx

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