First off, I hope that you all had a very enjoyable Easter. We got together with our family and enjoyed a wonderful meal.
Over the past few days, I’ve had a chance to actually spend a little time at the work bench, cleaning up a few projects that have been sitting there way too long. Several months ago, I scored some old Walthers outside braced boxcars on the Bay. Given the continually rising cost of model railroading these days, it does pay to sometimes haunt Ebay and local train shows to find the ever fleeting bargains. That’s just what this was; three outside braced boxcars for not much more than the price of ONE new one. But as you might guess, they did need a little clean-up.
All three of them were sporting a nice coat of dirt which was easy enough to remove once I popped the bodies off of the underframes. Next came straightening a couple of wire brake staffs; those seem to get bent rather easily. Underframe work was a little more time consuming as I needed to replace the old horn-hook couplers with some newer knuckle ones. For this, I’ve not yet standardized. I use a mixture of Kadee, McHenry and Bachmann EasyMates. In this particular case, I chose the Bachmanns since they were right there on my work bench. They fit nicely into the cast on coupler boxes so that part wasn’t too bad either. But the trucks were a little more of an issue.
To try to avoid problems down the road, I check all of my projects for coupler height while they are still on the work bench. Those dragging coupler pins can be a real issue when in service on the layout. For whatever reason, I’ve found that almost ALL of my car kits need a thicker Kadee washer (the red ones) to raise the underframe enough to get the coupler to line up properly with the gauge. Even then, I often grab the coupler with a couple of pairs of needlenose pliers and bend the very end up to help it to not catch on turnouts, grade crossings and diamonds. These cars were no exception so I put the washers on the kingpins and put the trucks back on. A quick check with the coupler gauge and things were looking ship shape.
Bottom line is that a little time at the work bench and $3 worth of new couplers got me three really nice cars for the low price of $20! I’ll not complain given that the cost of most new kits today are right around that mark.