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Discussion Starter #1
Bang for the buck
for a high performance fleet.


I'm a big fan of Accurail kits...
A finished Accurail car can be one of the nicest and best rolling cars on your layout.
Forget the fact that they don't have separately applied grabs and ladders, and that they don't exude the expensive glamor of RivetCounter, Proto & Genesis. My real bottom line is 'bang for the buck'.

Yes I have premium brand freightcars.
But Accurail far outnumbers the lot by a wide margin, and I'm equally happy with them.

If you want bang for the buck on a high performance fleet of a particular car that Accurail produces, here's how to do it:

* Buy the cars in bulk or sets, at the best price you can find. LHS sale prices are generally below $10 per car.
* Get Accurail number decal sets for that car... $4 a set. Change all but one car number... up to 12 per set.
* Assemble the cars.
* TruckTune the Accurail trucks.
* Install metal wheelsets.
* Slap on Kadee couplers.

The result will be some of the best rolling, best performing cars on your layout.

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Still using Kadee #5?

I've started using the Kadee #148 whiskers and semi scale couplers #158 with the Snap-Together Gearbox.
 

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You sure have some nice looking models, Late Starter; both locos and rolling stock.
I do agree with Dennis on the new Kadees. 148s are an improvement over 5s.
I inadvertently bought some 158s. Really don’t see much difference but they are a bit smaller and closer to scale.
 

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Good process LS,
I'm also not picky about the "finer" details on my rolling stock. Accurail, BB, Walthers, etc are all good to me. I tune my trucks but haven't bothered going to metal wheels yet. Maybe someday when I have a layout big enough to run long consists.

However, you forgot to add "Buy KD's in bulk" to your budget plan. Save some real bucks that way. Also, I'm with Dennis on the #148's. Love'em.

Looks like the decal sets are colored. Are they decals or stickers?
 

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Discussion Starter #7
#5's work well for me...
They'd better -- I got my hands on 1,200 of them at a bankruptcy sale in 2014.
Still many hundreds left, and it'd be foolish to buy another type.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
BTW, I've always used InterMountain wheelsets, but I found a few packages of Tangents selling at a lower price.
There's no real difference in quality, but I occasionally find one that's discolored toward a brownish hue.
No problem... kinda' looks like random aging.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
No matter what brand... Accurail, Athearn BB/RTR, Rivarossi, Bachmann, whatever --

TruckTuning, metal wheelsets, and Kadees will make any freightcar roll and perform as good as (or better than) anything else on the market. Anything!

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Discussion Starter #10
However, you forgot to add "Buy KD's in bulk" to your budget plan. Save some real bucks that way. Also, I'm with Dennis on the #148's. Love'em.
Bulk?
In 2014, I got 304 packs of #5's at a bankruptcy sale for $50. I think that works out to about 40 cents per coupler.
 

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Well Done Sir! Excellent work and excellent advice! Once you see what metal wheels can do you will never go back. Good couplers a truck tuner tool an metal wheels yer jammin!
 

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Discussion Starter #12
As an additional note, consider this:
Bachmann locomotives are widely considered to be generally underpowered.
The ones I have are no different.
As an example, my Bachmann S4 would normally pull 9 to 11 unmodified cars before quickly overheating.
But it'll handily pull 15 to 18 TruckTuned cars with metal wheelsets.
Doesn't take much to turn a so-so freightcar into a curling stone.
 

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Discussion Starter #13
BTW, Walthers Proto models (and current Mainline) are equipped with ProtoMax couplers, which are as good as Kadees.
No need to change them out.
 

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Discussion Starter #14
FWIW, more and more RTR brands are now equipping their cars with metal wheelsets.
Athearn, Bachmann, Con-Cor, and recent Rivarossi are now shipped with them.
At this point in time, all but the cheapest 'toy store' brands have them.
Most are fairly good rollers out-of-the-box, but are made even better with TruckTuning.
If you use a TruckTuner you will notice a difference.
 

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Discussion Starter #15
Tangent, Kadee, and MTH are the only brands I've not had to TruckTune.
Even some Proto and ExactRail cars are occasional "stickers" out-of-the-box.
 

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Discussion Starter #16
Be advised that Accurail offers Bettendorf, Andrews and roller bearing trucks in packs of 12, 50, & 100.
The roller bearing type are available in black, silver, gray, and mineral red.

Tichy offers archbar trucks in gray, with Delrin wheelsets for $3/pr. They're very nice.

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Discussion Starter #17
This ExactRail car was a "sticker" & "clicker" out-of-the-box. Wouldn't roll without a noisy intermittent limp... (burrs in the journals).
A quick TruckTune fixed it good as ever.
Just goes to show -- even the premium brands can use a little help now and then.

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Discussion Starter #19
No matter what brand, or how 'vintage' a car is, it can be made to perform.
Varney, Mantua, Silver Streak, whatever.
This old MDC/Roundhouse kit is truly a great roller, thanks to a TruckTune and metal wheelsets.
Note the Tichy archbar trucks.

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Discussion Starter #20
Brass trucks are a different story...
I'm bashing a tender for a friend.


These Precision Scale Commonwealth tender trucks are brass castings, and their journal cups were out-of-the-mold 'ingot raw'.
A roll characteristic could be described as 'gritty'.

I tried the TruckTuner on them, but made no progress.
Eventually I spun some wooden dowels to a point, and dabbled auto polishing compound in the journal cups.
After several hours of spinning the dowels in the cups, (replacing them repeatedly) smooth shiny journal points were evident.
Problem solved.
They roll like a dream.

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