Lionel Trains and Mikes Train House have produced a number of very accurate 1/4 inch scale rolling stock. Many of these cars have been converted from 3-rail to 2-rail by a number or modelers. Some of the cars are easier to convert then others but all doable with a little work. The following is a sampling of a few cars that have been converted and how it was done. There are many other cars that have been converted and we welcome you showing them off and sharing your techniques with us. Many of these modelers have added additional details to enhance further the accuracy of the model with the prototype car.
Converting a Lionel Reefer car
John S. Huber shares with us how he has converted over 7 Lionel milk cars and 22 other freight cars. The process is the same for each car and rather simple. He explains as follows.
The above photo shows the 3-rail truck before I cut off the coupler, the truck after I cut it and the left over parts to be discarded. The tan lines on the first truck shows you where to cut.
The above shows me cutting off the coupler with a rotor tool.
The above photo is the conversion to two rail. First I remove the 3-rail wheel sets by removing one of the side frames. Be careful not to loose the truck springs. Now carefully pry out the plastic bearing inserts. I punch a .028 insert from brass, but you can use any material. Styrene will also work very well. I think they are about 1/8″ in diameter. Now replace the bearing insert. See photo. I use Intermountain Railway 33″ metal wheel sets. Now you can put the truck back together.
The process is the same for freight trucks. If you do this process correct, I have found that this combination of Lionel truck with Intermountain wheel sets are the BEST rolling trucks. For some reason, the Bettendorf freight truck will out roll the passenger truck on the milk cars, but they still roll freely. I know that some people use NWSL wheel sets, but I don’t care for them. They will not out roll an Intermountain. The only other trucks that will roll as well as a Lionel is a Intermountain truck with Intermountain metal wheel sets and also a Athearn truck with Intermountain wheel sets. They all roll very well.
The above two photos show the completed Lionel truck under the Lionel milk car. The Lionel trucks are sprung but not equalized. Lionel has a bolster with a radius on it. This is Lionel’s way of equilization. I hope this will help you.
John S. Huber – Peoria, IL.
Converting a MTH, 55 ton, all steel drop bottom gondola.
The above photo shows the MTH truck with Intermountain 33″ metal wheel sets. The photo shows how I cut off the MTH 3-rail coupler.
The photo above shows how I filled the large hole and reversed the screw for mounting the truck. MTH requires you to take the car apart and then adjust the screw holding the truck to the car from the top. Now I can attach the truck and screw and adjust the tension from the bottom.
Above shows the truck installed on the car waiting for touch up paint.
John S. Huber