Bachmann Message Board

Discussion Boards => General Discussion => Topic started by: BradKT on March 05, 2008, 03:58:56 AM

Title: Weights for Flat Cars
Post by: BradKT on March 05, 2008, 03:58:56 AM
What kind of weights are there or HO scale flat cars (Athearn, Bachmann)?  Who makes them and where can I find them?

If somebody doesn't make weights specially designed for flat cars, does anyone have any idea what to use instead?  Will metal trucks and wheels help?  Flat cars seem to be the one category of freight car that derails the most.

Any suggestions would be appreciated.

Title: Re: Weights for Flat Cars
Post by: Yampa Bob on March 05, 2008, 04:18:37 AM

A car should weigh 1/2 ounce plus an additional 1/2 ounce for every inch of length, so a 6 inch car should weigh 3-1/2 ounces minimum.

Flat cars and gondolas are difficult to add weight, no where to hide it.  I only run these cars with a cargo of some kind, so I can hide weight in the load.

A 50 ton car would have a scale weight of only about 2-1/2 ounces, which is too light.

You can buy "Tap-a-wate" stick on weights at an auto parts store and stick on the bottom as a last resort.  They are scored at 1/4 ounce increments.


Title: Re: Weights for Flat Cars
Post by: BradKT on March 05, 2008, 04:23:19 AM
Good idea.  Thank you.

Title: Re: Weights for Flat Cars
Post by: r.cprmier on March 05, 2008, 05:27:11 AM
You can also find lead foil, and lead "wool".  I try to get the lead foil, s I can use it between the cast top and the underframe on some models.  I have used both and was not particularly overjoyed with the results.  I think the best idea is Bob's; which is use a weighted load in the cars.

Happy motoring


Title: Re: Weights for Flat Cars
Post by: SteamGene on March 05, 2008, 10:00:07 AM
I use small lead birdshot and white glue it to the bottom of the car.  It makes for a messy bottom, but then the idea is to keep the "shiny side up!"  I bought a bag of small lead bird shot years ago and still have most of it. 

Title: Re: Weights for Flat Cars
Post by: Woody Elmore on March 05, 2008, 12:24:41 PM
I was going to suggest bird shot with epoxy. You could also use silicone caulk to secure the bird shot. Metal trucks will definitely help as will the old trick of having one truck snug and the other a little looser. This works but sometimes it takes some trial and error to get the trucks just right.

Title: Re: Weights for Flat Cars
Post by: Loco Bill Canelos on March 05, 2008, 01:14:28 PM
Some cars have hollow center beams, which can be filled with lead shot.   Some loads can make the car too top heavy so be careful.  metal trucks are a big help

Title: Re: Weights for Flat Cars
Post by: r.cprmier on March 05, 2008, 03:07:46 PM
using uncontained bird shot is OK; but sometimes you might find a dislodged piece in the most inconvenient of locations-such as in a turnout...
My time honoured method is to use a condom filled with the appropriate/desired amount of bird-shot (it is so tempting to mis-spell that word...relative to some of the stuff we had in SAC) and insert it nto the hollows of the cars, but a flat or gon won't hack it.

A seemingly nice idea would be to pulverize lead and mix it with a binder/adhesive, then install it.  It would go much smoother I think.


Title: Re: Weights for Flat Cars
Post by: Yampa Bob on March 05, 2008, 04:31:22 PM
A friend recently gave me a coal hopper he found at a yard sale.  It weighed 10 ounces.  Someone filled the car with ballast embedded in epoxy resin.

A box car weighed in at 8 ounces and rattled.  I cut the top off and found it was full of 16D nails.  I have found bolts, nuts, washers, one car even had locomotive castings.

I bought some K & S brass strips, 1/16" X 1" wide, 12" lengths. Kinda expensive but it can replace the light metal weights.  If the doors open on a box car, I paint the brass brown.  Drill a couple holes and screw it down to the plastic floor.  A 6" length weighs  2 ounces. 

With some flats the floor and chassis girders are separate pieces,  I paint the brass black and sandwich it between the pieces. 

My Bachmann 7" flats weighed 3 ounces stock. The low side plates hide the four  1/4 ounce  stick on weights  on the bottom, painted black.   My other flats had no place to hide them.  For gondolas I put the brass inside and cover it with a load.

Speaking of flats, when I was thinking about what to use for stakes, my wife handed me a box of flat wood toothpicks.  They are perfect, equivalent to about a scale 2 X 6.  She reminded me that sometimes we need to "think outside the box".


Title: Re: Weights for Flat Cars
Post by: ebtnut on March 05, 2008, 04:35:04 PM
Somebody used to, or still does, make a weight material (the name Shape-a-Wate comes to mind) that was essentially powdered lead in some kind of clay that you knead and mold to fit most any crevice.  The other thing some folks have done is take regular nails and cut them to length to fit between the crossbeams and glue to the bottom of the floor.  Another option, based on the construction of the model, is to get some thin sheet lead (like roof flashing) and insert it between the car floor and the underframe.  

Title: Re: Weights for Flat Cars
Post by: Woody Elmore on March 05, 2008, 07:15:32 PM
I remember a guy who would take plain old solder off a roll, straighten it and lay it in the center sill of a car- there is usually room. The solder is just unwound off the roll and secured with some kind of adhesive. In the "old" days that would have been Walther's Goo. Metal couplers can add a tad of weight (free plug for Kadee)

I knew a guy who had a Bowser NYC K-11 and the trailing truck derailed all the time until he wound solder around the axle. I think that Bowser now includes a brass weight that goes around the axle. So I guess the problem is still there.

Title: Re: Weights for Flat Cars
Post by: Redtail67 on March 05, 2008, 11:23:33 PM
Yampa Bob and All:

Bob that was going to be one of the next questions I had :

1. How too weigh down the  cars?

This board is very helpfull to newcomers like me. Thanks to all for the wealth of information.


Title: Re: Weights for Flat Cars
Post by: Guilford Guy on March 05, 2008, 11:38:01 PM
While Birdshot is preferable, I've had good luck by gluing pennies in IHC cars...

Title: Re: Weights for Flat Cars
Post by: grumpy on March 06, 2008, 12:25:57 AM
You can buy a two part epoxy that comes in a roll somewhat like a tootsie roll.The outer part has steel grindings imbedded in it . The idea is to cut off a length and rollit in your hand to blend the innner and outer parts .Then mold it into place and let it harden.
Don 8)

Title: Re: Weights for Flat Cars
Post by: RAM on March 06, 2008, 01:13:44 AM
try pennies

Title: Re: Weights for Flat Cars
Post by: Yampa Bob on March 06, 2008, 02:10:00 AM
I just bought another locomotive, my wife won't give me any more pennies.

If you want to save money, here's a hint.  Visit your local tire dealer.  Mine gave me a bucket full of old weights removed from wheels.  Hammer them out thin, form to the space available and epoxy them in. 


Title: Re: Weights for Flat Cars
Post by: r.cprmier on March 06, 2008, 05:48:33 AM
Found a way to make pulverized lead:  grind it off of a bar (junk batteries make the best material source) using a sanding disc with the coarsest grit you can find.  If you can, try to use a variable speed tool and put it on the slowest speed.  Let the chips fall into a container.  When done, mix the chips with an epoxy compound so that it is just binding-not too much epoxy; it would defeat the purpose,  and install it wherever you want the weight to be.  This way, you can use a couple of 5/8ths nuts in a boxcar, etc,, put this compound into the bores, and you have some pretty good weight over the axles, which is where you would probably want it anyway.
I have used this idea with the nuts and lead shot, but am going to do the powdered version, as it is denser.  Polycarbonate resin cars like F&C products might be a great recipient.


Title: Re: Weights for Flat Cars
Post by: Atlantic Central on March 06, 2008, 09:08:27 AM
I replace almost all freight car trucks with metal ones from Kadee, and I replace the Kadee wheel sets with metal axle ones from Intermountain.

The added weight of these trucks is almost always enough for any cars that are a little light. The weght is added where it is most effective, down low. Plus, this combination produces an extremely free rolling car that increases the pulling capacity of all my locos.

I also have found over the years that sprung, equalized trucks track much better with fewer derailments and are just plain smoother running through trunouts and crossings. So if the correct trucks for the piece of equipment are available sprung, and roll well or will do so with different wheel sets, I will be spending the money for the conversion.

My one exception to this is six wheel trucks. I have found sprung six wheel trucks do not proform noticably better than their rigid counterparts, so while I will retrofit wheelsets for better rolling quaility, i seldom replace the trucks - example, my large fleet of Athearn heavyweight passenger cars.

The self centering version of the Kadee trucks lends itself to easy retro fit onto most rolling stock on the market these days and has the added benifit of making the equipment easier to place on the track.

I also install genuine Kadee couplers on ALL equipment.

On the rare occasion that a car is too light, I use the stick on weights or moldable lead from A-Line. since its a rare occasion, I don't worry about the cost of those somewhat pricey items from A-line, they work nice and are convenient.

No bird shot, condoms, lead weights, glue, rolled solder, smashed up wheel weights, spent 50 cal. mini balls, pennys, or other unprototypical stuff clinging to the bottom or inside my rolling stock if I cad help it.

Simple, straight forward, killing three birds with one stone. Not the cheapest solution but easy and effective. I my humble opinion, in most cases, you do get what you pay for.


Title: Re: Weights for Flat Cars
Post by: Woody Elmore on March 06, 2008, 09:53:22 AM
Sheldon, I agree. When I belonged to an HO club in the 70s and 80s they required metal trucks and Kadee couplers. I had a fondness for Tru-scale metal trucks (long out of production). The cars generally didn't require added weight after truck replacement.

By the way, if you look at the center sill casting for a lot of HO cars, they are actually a channel so you could put in bird shot or solder and it wouldn't be visible once attached to the underframe.

Maybe if they brought back the old MDC and Ulrich line of white metal cars, weight wouldn't be an issue. If you haver ever had one of these cars you know why they sold Hobbytown engines. That was about all that was available to pull them.

I think that the people messing with lead should be careful; it is dangerous stuff, especially if children should be around. Leave it to plumbers.

Title: Re: Weights for Flat Cars
Post by: Larry Green on March 06, 2008, 10:35:58 AM
To add to Woody's comment about the trailing truck, the idea of wrapping solder around the axle was passed on to me, also. For G1 cars, I use 1/8" dia. solid solder; 1/32" or so would be good for HO. A drop or two of CA adhesive holds the coil in place. Something very important--do not let the coil of solder contact the back of the wheels and bridge the wheel insulation, like I did once. Instant short!
Placing the weight on the axle, instead of the car body, eliminates any extra load on the truck bearings and lowers the center of gravity for better tracking, what I was able to accomplish with a string of 4-wheel dump cars


Title: Re: Weights for Flat Cars
Post by: jsmvmd on March 06, 2008, 01:49:38 PM
Dear Rich,

I am very impressed with the quality of your posts.  IMHO I would suggest being very careful with grinding Pb and possible ingestion or inhalation and lead poisoning. Very nasty stuff. (I quit casting bullets for that reason and buy them in bulk.) It killed our good friend Beethoven.

Dear Bob,

I used to get wheel weights and cast them into ingots to mix for casting lead bullets. Their Zn and Ab content makes them pretty hard. Neat idea to pound them out.

Of all the ideas, I really like the lead solder wound around the axles.

Best Wishes,


Title: Re: Weights for Flat Cars
Post by: barrowsr on March 06, 2008, 01:57:32 PM
I have been using some sheet lead I bought from a scrap yard years ago.  I replace the lighter metal weight with one or two layers of the 1/8 thick lead depending on space and weight needed.  Plumbers used to use lead for vent stacks and surrounding flashing on older homes.