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Discussion Starter #1
I have a set of 5 Athern yellow box stock cars that derail on most curves and turnouts. None of my other cars have this issue. These have sprung trucks unlike most of my other cars. Could the spring loaded trucks be the issue? The cars are very old. They derail going fast or slow. All turns and points cause this with a high frequency. I find it hard to believe each care has a different issue.
 

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I have a set of 5 Athern yellow box stock cars that derail on most curves and turnouts. None of my other cars have this issue. These have sprung trucks unlike most of my other cars. Could the spring loaded trucks be the issue? The cars are very old. They derail going fast or slow. All turns and points cause this with a high frequency. I find it hard to believe each care has a different issue.
The first thing I would do is try some wheelsets that were made recently. You may have 'pizza cutter' wheels with deep flanges on them. The forgs on the turnouts may be too shallow for those deep flanges, causing the wheels to climb over the rails. Try some newer wheelsets. Also, use a gauge to make sure that wheels are in proper gauge.
 

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The old spring loaded trucks may not be keeping all 4 wheels on the track. Set each car on a straight level section of track and look closely to see if all the wheels are in contact with the rails.

Check to see it the trucks turn free. They may be binding.
 

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I agree with everyone's opinions. The trucks should turn easily. Sometimes just backing off a little bit on the screw holding the trucks on will make them turn a little easier.
 

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Bob, i always hear "out of gauge" recommendation but in real life just how often it can happen? wheel-sets are rigid enough, they don't experience great forces during running so i can't see gage changing being such an issue as being painted.

i don't remember tkruger mentioning his track code which means it is the default C100 - toy train pizza cutter clear it fine.

so , since no extra details mentioned i assume the default Atlas customline turnouts are used. to make them reliable i had to file and polish stock rail just where it meets the point rail, and at the point rail joint.
 

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Anton, I just, and I mean JUST, got a set of Walthers RTR passenger cars, at a train show, a set of 6. Out of the 6 cars, four were bad. It seems that when you get bad wheels they come in "bunches". Mine weren't that bad, I didn't think, but they wouldn't pass the "gauge test". No difference to me anyway as I usually change to QUALITY metal wheels and I did so with these. Oddly, to make a point, these were not Delrin wheels, but metal sets. All of these cars got brand new CV metal sets.

Even with code 100 switches and track, the deep "pizza cutter" wheels climb the frogs and the rail. And if the slightest bit of ballast is lying along the inside of the rail, it will cause the wheels to "climb the rail". Back in the days before RP25, it was inevitable to buy a bunch of cars and have problems with all wheels causing derailments. Most of us back then just took it as a part of the "game".

A few years ago Atlas had some really big quality issues with their switches. The big reason I rarely use them to this day. The frogs were too tight and too high. This caused the wheels to "hang"(get stuck) causing the couplers to pull apart, or wheels to "climb" and jump the rail. Even RP25 wheels weren't immune. The problem then was the switches and not the wheels. And I did as you, I filed down the frog and widened the gap between the rail. But, that got tedious after a while.

The problem with wheels, now, is much less prevalent. The standard, RP25, has made the problems more scarce. But, problems do happen on occasion. I've found that it happens in bunches, and at random. Usually in cars of the same type and model. It seems like the manufacturers get into a bad lot and keep on running until the batch is gone. I have even gotten wheels that were flat on one side. Thump, thump thump down the rails. Hard to figure out how it made it through inspection.

The problem lies in two areas, both QC related. One, humans are involved in the manufacturing. Two, machines are also involved in the manufacturing. Both, or either, can fail and make "mistakes". But, I'd venture to say the biggest component of the errors are human. Whether it be falling asleep at the wheel, or not providing proper maintenance to the machine.........

Another point I should make. Older materials, track, switches, etc, were not made to the precise tolerances as they are today. Part of technology, I guess. With tighter tolerances, one can expect more "quirks" and "bugs". The problem with wheel gauge is very prevalent in brass models, but not as bad as years back.

But, for the sake of sanity, I would almost always suggest that one change wheels to quality metal wheels. The cars pull better and track better. And they stay cleaner. If problems do arise, it is best to check the wheel gauge, the switch frogs, and the track gauge. By doing so, one will be able to whittle down what the problem isn't and focus on what it could be. Much like trouble shooting a large machine.

The gauge sold by Kadee is one of my handiest gadgets. And it is available for most, if not all, scales and gauges of trains. I might also suggest here that the OP(original poster) check the gauge of the track at the problem areas. The track may narrow, or widen, just enough to cause a problem. I see it happening at curves usually, especially when one uses "flex", though rigid corners are not immune. And making sure the trucks are loose enough was a good suggestion. Some tighten them too tight. Have you ever sat and watched a REAL train? Ever notice how the cars sway from side to side? The same is needed on models. Maybe not to the same degree, though. I usually tighten mine tight and back off 1/4 turn, more if needed, to turn very freely.

Bob
 

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Hey Bob...once again you have put things very well! Your experience with model railroads really shines through! All the points you have brought up are worth noting! It seems like derailments can be the result of any of a number of different causes...or combination of causes. Even the real railroad has a hard time finding the cause of derailments at times.

I am guilty of not checking gauge. I do not have a gauge tester, and wouldn't know how to use it anyway (I think I should learn). I don't understand how things get "out of gauge" if you buy them "in gauge" from the start. As you said, Bob, I imagine it can be the QC issues you described.

I like the point you brought up about the track too. A slight imperfection in the track can certainly cause trouble. I think one temptation with flex track is to bend it more than the train can safely travel through. After all, it bends so easily! I quickly learned that a more gradual curve is better!

In short, there are so many things to watch for. I do the best I can to avoid future problems, but I am often just hoping for the best! For the little maintenance I have done when it comes to track and wheels, I have had really good luck. You are right, though, Bob...problems will develop eventually!

Chad
 

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My guess would be out of gauge track at the corners and bad frogs at the switches. Still with "pizza cutter" wheels I'd tend to blame them as the culprits first and the other possibilities next.

Gauge of wheels, as I take the meaning, is flange depth, tracking width, bearing surface ... All add up to gauge. So, if the depth o the flange is too deep, the wheel's gauge is bad.

I've often wondered, and maybe someone with more insight can answer. Do you think that manufacturers use a "go-no go" criteria when manufacturing thins like the wheels? Would seem to explain some of the bad ones we get from time to time. I know that in some areas of manufacturing this works and is practiced. Just wondering about Some manufacturers of train parts.

I just bought a bunch of Branchline "Blueprint" box cars. The sprues are as big around as a pencil. Sure makes removing some of the finer pieces a chore. Things like this and the conformance of the wheelsets should be mandatory. All are quality issues.

Bob
 

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Hey Bob...I had no clue what "gauge" of wheels meant. I was guessing that it might have meant the distance between the wheels on the axle. Your explanation makes more sense, because one would be checking the diameter of wheels or extent of wear.
 

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When I speak of gauge, I am referring to the "spread" between wheels, depth of the flange, and the "tread" or bearing surface to the rail, not necessarily diameter. Diameter, IMO, falls under the "scale" category. With wheels being 33", 36", 28", and others, in scale, it would be hard to include them in the gauge of the wheel. The areas I mentioned, 'track", depth of flange, and "tread" will always remain rather static regardless of the wheel diameter.

MAybe this link will help. Scroll down to RP25. There is a picture of the gauge(tool) at the top of the page which may also help.

link: http://www.nmra.com/standards/sandrp/consist.html

Hope this clears things up a bit.

Bob
 

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Oh my...I didn't know there was THAT much to checking the gauge of wheels! I get pretty lost when I have to deal in something with that small of measurements...especially looking at so many aspects of a wheelset. I think I will run the cars until they start having derailing problems and just try new wheelsets. I would never have the patience to check for gauge anyway!

Thanks for the info, Bob...it clears up a lot more for me!

Chad
 

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Discussion Starter #15
There are very old wheels and trucks. I do not believe that it is my rails or switches at this time. All of my other cars do not have this issue.

The trucks do turn freely as do the wheels. have noticed that the cars tend to 'Push' forward hen they should turn. This causes them to ride over the outer rail of the curve. Watching closely it appears as if the whole truck is flexing. Can these springs were out? What is the reason for using the spring trucks and not the standard ones Athern uses now?
 

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Sprung trucks are for realism. I have many OLD cars with sprung trucks and they have many 'miles" on them. I've never heard of them wearing out, but stranger things have happened. Change out the whole truck see what happens.

It's the "surge" forward that has me baffled. Sounds as if the rails may be too close together and the wheels may be just enough out of gauge(read too wide) that they bind then get loose, as in get past, the narrowing of the rail and ride up.

If you have some train buddies, try the cars on their layouts, or if you belong to a club try them there.

if you decide on replacing the trucks, I'd be interested in the old ones.

Bob
 

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Discussion Starter #17
Found the issue. It is the wheels. The flanges are not to tall, the wheel is just worn down. Where the wheel rides on the rail the wheels are worn down. They are n olonger flat, more of an angled surface. I replaced the wheels on one of the cars and all of the problems went away. Thanks for all of the advice.
 
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