Re: Metal Wheels
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First, plastic wheels are banned from my layout. Bowser wheelsets are plastic wheels on metal axels, and are pretty good, but I don't use them. Some train set quality plastic wheels are really bad with parting lines across the wheel tread and crooked axels.
I use Tangent 33 inch Semi-Scale All-Metal Precision Wheelsets (code 88 tread )for all new freight cars and as replacements in older cars. I use Tangent 36 inch Semi-Scale All-Metal Precision Wheelsets in passenger cars. These are the best I've found so far. They very free rolling and are round and don't wobble. Buy directly from Tangent. I have not had issues with them being out of stock.
ExactRail wheelsets are very good, but seem to be out of stock often.
Tahoe Model Works offers trucks with metal wheelsets, including standard and semi-scale wheels. I have a few but don't have experience operating them at this time.
I tried Intermountain wheelsets years ago, but a large percentage were out-of-round to the point of being unusable. I check many of them with a dial gauge. I found that out-of-roundness over a ten-thousandth of an inch is noticeable and annoying. Some of them were off by more than 20 thousandths. The issue seems to be with the molded plastic insulator. They might be better now, but check them carefully. Don't accept wheels that make your cars wobble.
I used to buy Proto 2000 wheelsets. They were very good, free rolling and not out-of-round. However, they only come in code 110, wide tread. I have many Proto 2000 freight cars that came with Proto 2000 wheelsets. I haven't found any need to change them.
Kadee wheelsets were the gold standard for many years. They are good quality, and don't wobble. They don't roll as well as the Tangent wheelsets because Kadee uses slippery axels, where Tangent, ExactRail, Intermountain, and Proto 2000 use metal axels. Kadee wheels can develop corrosion that manifests as a white crust over a long period of time. Kadee recently added code 88 tread semi-scale wheelsets to their line. They come in sets of 12. I didn't see an option for a bulk pack on their web site.
I haven't tried Jay-Bee or ReBoxx wheelsets.
Also, get a truck journal reamer tool. There are several brands including Micro-Mark HO Truck Tuner. I've had mine for years. They really do work.
Bottom line: You can't beat metal axels in slippery plastic sideframes for rolling quality.
I recommend Tangent wheelsets because they are available in semi-scale code 88 and regular code 110, are very free rolling, don't wobble, and have good availability.
From: main@RealSTMFC.groups.io [mailto:main@RealSTMFC.groups.io] On Behalf Of Peter Weiglin
Sent: Saturday, August 03, 2019 5:36 PM
Subject: Re: [RealSTMFC] Metal Wheels
I have had best results with Intermountain wheelsets, purchased in boxes of 100 axles. And yes, that can be a significant expense. The Intermountain wheels come in 33" and 36" diameters. Tread width is not offensive.