Posted by: bgtwindad | May 5, 2010

Replacing Trucks

My N scale starter set was a Bachmann Thunder Valley set.  It came with a GP 40 locomotive, a refrigerated boxcar, a 3-dome tank car and a caboose.  I also have a few other Bachmann cars, none of which have caused me any problems.  Except the boxcar.  It has at least one coupler (maybe both) that tends to dangle a little bit, and that makes this car couple poorly with the other cars.

Unfortunately, it can be hard (nay, impossible) to find an exact replacement (well, upgrade) for these cars.  Fortunately, with the help of user Absnut on and Mike Fifer of Fifer Hobby Supply, I found a solution.

First, I purchased a set of MicroTrains #1030 short-shank Barber roller-bearing trucks from Fifer Hobby.  Then I dove into the repair job.

I apologize for the lack of photos.  I will try to provide some later, if I can.

This boxcar has a two-piece design, with a floor and the rest of the shell.  I removed the shell from the floor of the car, and then removed the Bachmann trucks from the floor.  There is a bolster at each truck location.  It has a larger base and then a narrower part that fits into the hole in the truck and accepts the mounting screw.

Next step is to cut off the narrower part of the bolster flush to the wider part, and sand the surface smooth.  That is easily done with a fine-tooth saw like the Atlas Super-Saw.

Now, the Micro-trains trucks have a plastic pin that needs to fit into the hole you just discovered in the bolster.  Unfortunately, the hole is not big enough for the pin, so you’re going to need to open it up a little.  I used a 5/64″ drill bit in my Dremel tool.  The fit was a bit tight, even though I hogged it out a little, so a 3/32″ bit might have been OK.  But I figured a little tight was better than too loose.

Once you have the hole widened, all you need to do is position the trucks over the bolsters, press-fit the pins, and replaced the boxcar shell.  A quick check to make sure the coupler is at the right height (mine was), and you’re done.

It’s so simple, I’m considering upgrading the whole fleet.  Well, at least the rest of the Bachmann cars.


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