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RailRoad Modeling
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A Quick Track-Cleaner Conversion
Wisconsin, United States
Joined: September 11, 2009
KitMaker: 1,917 posts
Historicus Forma: 25 posts
Posted: Monday, March 02, 2015 - 02:08 AM UTC
Last weekend I undertook a quick project that revived a cheapy car into something very useful to my model railroad.
I like the appearance of this old Bachmann standard car that I inherited somewhere over the years, but it had plastic wheelsets and truck-mounted horn-hook couplers. This one is a Rio Grande high-cube boxcar with an attractive paint scheme (even though it wasn't "my" railroad). My focus is on the Milwaukee Road in the Chicagoland area in 1975, but this car with a 1968 new date would convincingly interchange there.
I used a sprue cutter to cut the coupler boxes off of the plastic trucks. I kept the plastic trucks but replaced only the wheelsets with metal ones. I checked them all, and they spun freely, so that was all I needed for that.
For the couplers, I used Kadee coupler boxes, dry-fit them, and drilled mounting holes in the car underside ends (beyond the end of the metal weight inside). I first glued the larger part of each box over the new hole with Aleene's tacky craft glue, then I filled the box with Kadee #5 couplers (you can use your preferred coupler, but I don't mind the oversize, focusing more on operating reliability) and screwed the lid down. I was lucky that no height adjustment was needed, as they matched perfectly to a Kadee coupler height gauge.
During model train operation, it's important to have clean railheads. To help keep the rails polished, I mounted a block of Masonite to ride underneath. The Masonite rectangle is glued to two roofing nails with large round heads, and the edges of the block were rounded to avoid snagging anything on the layout. I drilled two oversized holes in the car bottom, to guide the pad without grabbing it and causing any tracking problems in operation. Whenever the wood block gets gunky, just sand it clean with rough sandpaper.
Old Bachmann standard car into a track cleaner by windysean, on Flickr
Old Bachmann standard car into a track cleaner by windysean, on Flickr
Old Bachmann standard car into a track cleaner by windysean, on Flickr

thanks for reading!
Sean H.
Staff MemberManaging Editor
Tennessee, United States
Joined: December 21, 2002
KitMaker: 7,772 posts
Historicus Forma: 172 posts
Posted: Tuesday, March 03, 2015 - 08:30 PM UTC

Great idea! Thanks for the photos, the how-to, and the link!
Joined: March 05, 2004
KitMaker: 4,011 posts
Historicus Forma: 90 posts
Posted: Wednesday, March 04, 2015 - 09:47 AM UTC
This is excellent