AVWRR Riding Car

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I had the pleasure of attending the 2014 annual Southwestern Live Steamers meet at the Annetta Valley & Western Railroad. During the meet I borrowed one of the AV&WRR riding cars. These are heavy steel cars with three riding seats. They are very comfortable and stable. I was so impressed how smoothly they ride. This is definitly the Cadillac of riding cars.

There are two secrets to their stability and smooth ride. First, they are heavy! Second, they use Tom Bee Model Freight Car Trucks with the swing bolster.

I made some quick sketches of the car's dimensions shown below.

I spoke to Michael McGrath, AV&WRR Superintendent, about the car. He said they purchased it years ago from a gentleman that made them commercially, but has since left live steam equipment manufacturing. In the past the car had a tendency to derail. However, Terry Shirley and Stephen Grief found the cause of the problem. The car was warped, causing one bolster to hike up higher than the other side. This warp was most likely introduced during manufacturing, as it is unlikely this stout car would have warped during normal use. Terry and Steven patiently shimmed and retested the car until derailments were eliminated. I had absolutely no problems with the car while I used it.

Drop me a line if you build one of these cars.

Happy steaming!

Daris A Nevil

Size Matters

Rick White wrote, 16 May 2014:

Your drawing shows a 4 inch channel down the center. The HALS cars have a 5 inch channel down the center. With that down the center, the car is much stiffer than using a 4 inch channel. The most recently upgraded HALS cars have the Tom Bee Modern Heavy Duty Trucks with swing motion bolsters, as do six of my heavy steel riding cars, with three more to be converted. A really great ride. Especially in the middle seat with more leg room and between the two trucks. The HALS cars weigh about 217 lbs with the Tom Bee trucks and 200 with the MCC trucks that we have used the last 16 years. With the boat seats, they weigh more, how much more depends on the weight of the pedestal and seat. The HALS cars are 15 inches wide, and I have one like that with boat seats, converted when new in 2000. I also have one that is 19 inches wide. The wider area gives the feet more room. I have seen a lot of toes off the edge of the 15 inch wide ones. But, the HALS 15 inch wide ones have a wood bench seat and the sides of the seats take up 3/4 inch of the five inch foot space. With boat seats, you loose none of that space to the wood. Looking at your drawing, the cars are close to the HALS cars except for the center channel.
Vance Nickerson still builds these cars. With a five inch center channel, you can get any width in the 15, 17, 19, 21 inch size. The bar stock for the sides comes in even inch widths. You cannot use a 6 inch channel and the Tom Bee trucks. The wheels hit the channel because they are scale 1.6 inch to the foot of 36 inch wheels and the wheel base is a bit longer because of the scale. You show a 4 inch center channel used to get 16 inch wide cars. Since some of these with 4 inch center channel had a bend end to end and none of the 25 plus HALS type cars with 5 inch channel had that bend end to end, I would not recommend the 4 inch channel. You really are stuck with the 5 inch channel. If you must have a 16 inch wide car, get the plate for the sides cut to 5.5 inch width at extra expense, but do not mess with the center channel.
Jack Haskins makes these cars in 72 and 71 inch length for 2 seat riding cars. Very good design and he now has built over 10 cars, perhaps a lot over. I saw four delivered to the WB&S in late April. Excellent cars. Jack has also made 1 seat versions. Jack does not build the 8 ft long 3 seat versions, for that you have to go to Vance.

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