Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Creating Operational HO Scale Red Caboose Trucks

Red Caboose HO Scale X29 with Red Caboose trucks

It has been said that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. That said, I owe all credit for getting me to ponder this solution to Dan Smith. Stepping back for a few moments, Red Caboose’s HO scale truck offerings deliver quite attractive sideframes that snap into bolsters. However, the entire assembly can be somewhat sloppy and prone to derailments. I found that by using long axle length Reboxx wheelsets, the “slop” is cleaned up dramatically. However, it is not a foolproof solution and is dependent upon ready availability of Reboxx wheelsets in a variety of applicable lengths.

Back to Dan Smith…. Recently, he shared with a few compatriots that he had developed a solution to solidify the trucks. He plunged a hot pin through the assembled bolsters and “pins” (or rods) on the back of the sideframes. This definitely tightened things up, but has a level of permanence that I usually prefer to avoid in things that operate and can potentially wear and/or fail, like trucks. That set me to thinking about a means to achieve similar results, but ones that could also be disassembled, if necessary.
Red Caboose truck before drilling of screw holes
In inspecting the trucks, my attention was drawn to the circle on the bottom of the bolsters. I envisioned drilling a hole through the bolsters and into the “pins” on the backs of the sideframes. Then screws could be used to tighten everything. The only issue is that even a 0-80 screw is too large. I set about searching for screws of a suitably small size. I found 000-120 x 1/8” screws on eBay. They're really small! One catch is that these screws use a Torx head (as opposed to Phillips or slotted). Fortunately, I also found a suitable Torx driver on eBay, as well, a Wiha no. 267 “T1” driver, which is the correct size for 000-120 screws.
Red Caboose truck with screws in place
I boldly tested my supposition on a set of assembled trucks. I used a bulletin board push pin to make divots in the centers of the circles to keep the drill bit from “wandering” while starting the holes. I used a 0.0275” drill bit (approximately a no. 70 bit) to create the holes. I carefully screwed in one of the 000-120 screws and was happy to find that everything was suitably tight. I repeated for the other sideframe and the result was the same. Solid Red Caboose trucks!

The wheelsets are Kadee 0.088" semi-scale tread width sets.

A note about the drilling process: the best way to drill the holes is to add the wheelsets into the assembled trucks. Then hold the trucks with wheelsets on a flat surface, applying light downward pressure, so that the truck and bolster are “straight”. Carefully drill the holes.  

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