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I recently won a few auctions on ebay for a bunch of older blue box Athearn rolling stock, but they have plastic wheels and don't roll as good as my ones that have metal wheels. I would to change them over to metal wheels, what ones would you suggest I go with? I've seen them as 33" and 36", smooth backs and non-smooth backs. I'm guessing code 110 is what I should look for as well? I am running on code 100 track and will be running DCC.

Thank you for the help!
 

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Most freight cars use 33" wheels. Very large heavy freight
cars and most passenger cars use 36" wheels.

If you won't be lighting any of these cars you can
use either smooth back or ribbed. Lighted cars
need smooth back metal wheels for wipers to
collect power.

Don
 

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I upgraded all my cars to have metal wheels a while back. I bought the 33" size wheels from InterMountain in a box of 100 axles. I don't remember what tread width I went with, but its likely it was code 110. They've worked well for me. I painted them before installation to eliminate the "shine" of the faces. I was also able to put resistors on some of them to make my cars detectable on my DCC automated layout.
 

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Admittedly, I can't read all the labels, but AI don't see anything in that group that would take a 36" wheel, so go with 33". Intermountain is a good choice: the 100 axle set can be found for about $60.

Ribbed or smooth backs is your choice.
 

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InterMountain is one of the best brands to look for, and are widely available. They're also blackened.
Tangent and Kadee also produce excellent wheelsets.
Get 33" for standard freightcars, in packs of 12, or bags of 100.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
InterMountain is one of the best brands to look for, and are widely available. They're also blackened.
Get 33" for standard freightcars, in packs of 12, or bags of 100.
Admittedly, I can't read all the labels, but AI don't see anything in that group that would take a 36" wheel, so go with 33". Intermountain is a good choice: the 100 axle set can be found for about $60.

Ribbed or smooth backs is your choice.
I was looking at the Kadee 520 Wheelset 33" Smooth Back, are they any good?
 

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The 520's are fine.
Code 110 wheels are 'standard', and code 88 are 'semi scale' to render a more 'scale' (narrow tread) appearance... .110" wide vs .088".
Kadee, Tangent and InterMountain often have 'price wars' on wheelsets, so look for the best deal among them.
 

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Decline of Cast Iron Wheels: As of January 1st, 1958, cast iron (ribbed back) wheels were banned from new and rebuilt cars, From January 1st, 1964, no new cast iron wheels were allowed on existing cars, and from January 1st, 1968, all cast iron wheels were banned from interchange.
Looking at your blue box car labels, you'd be safe to go with all smooth backed wheels.....ribbed back wheels were found on very old rail cars....nothing "wrong" with using the ribbed back wheels on your cars, but if you want to more accurately portray those cars after 1958, go smooth backed....
 

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A couple of questions occur to me before bothering with wheel swaps.

1)How big a layout are you working with?
If you're dealing with a layout large enough where you are running long trains and where track cleaning is an issue, then you may experience considerable benefits from metal wheels in terms of rolling and cleanliness. If not, the benefits will be less.

2) Have you taken a "Truck Tuner" to the trucks yet?
It's a very spiffy little tool for around $20 that will often get your plastic trucks rolling MUCH better than stock. If you're going to use the stock trucks with new wheelsets, you'll often want to use the truck tuner anyway.

3) How concerned are you with realism?
It's very likely that many of these older BB cars are not prototypical anyway, so if you're swapping wheels for prototypical reasons, then that may be a losing fight anyway.

All this to say, it's your railway and there are certainly advantages to metal wheels, but depending on your situation, an evening with a truck tuner may be all that's really necessary to get these cars operating in a way that is satisfactory to you.
 

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I was looking at the Kadee 520 Wheelset 33" Smooth Back, are they any good?
One thing to keep in mind about Kadee's is that they have plastic axles. If you want to add resistors for block detection, this makes it more difficult (but not impossible).

I have several cars where I replaced the whole truck with Kadee all-metal trucks, and they work great.
 

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Discussion Starter #11
The 520's are fine.
Code 110 wheels are 'standard', and code 88 are 'semi scale' to render a more 'scale' (narrow tread) appearance... .110" wide vs .088".
Kadee, Tangent and InterMountain often have 'price wars' on wheelsets, so look for the best deal among them.
Took and ordered 3x 12pks of wheels for almost all of my cars I'm going to run!
 

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One thing to keep in mind about Kadee's is that they have plastic axles. If you want to add resistors for block detection, this makes it more difficult (but not impossible).

I have several cars where I replaced the whole truck with Kadee all-metal trucks, and they work great.
I probably won't do block detection for quite sometime yet as I am still learning, so I am okay with the plastic axles for now. Maybe in the future I will have to change them to all metal.
 

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Where would be a good place to pick one of these up? I checked 3 online hobby stores here in Canada and none of them have one...
Micro-Mark is the maker, but I'm not sure who distributes them in Canada.

I'd add that if you're using plastic trucks, the truck tuner is a very good thing to have regardless of whether you have plastic or metal axles.
 

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I would go with inter mountain. For practical reasons, I would go with smooth back, I think IM are only that way. The 110 is more forgiving on track work.
Kadee wheels have a couple of draw backs. First for some reason they will oxidize forming a grey deposit all over the metal. Secondly, their axles are plastic, designed to go with the Kadee metal trucks. Plastic axles in plastic trucks is a problem for resistance. Good luck.
 
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