Question: What is the best tool/easiest way to change out springs on our truck sets?
Rick White answers:
- One trick that Tom Bee (the truck maker) does each time he handles springs: place a piece of heavy thread or string through the spring and hold onto it. You do not want the spring to spring away from you or at you. I have seen Tom Bee and others use a large flat bladed screw driver to push down on the spring, then pull out (if removing) or push in (if adding) on the spring with the hand. Always hold onto the string to keep the spring in control. I have some bolsters to replace, so I will be doing this with Tom Bee's strongest springs, the purple ones. Tom Bee can replace the bolster and all the springs in five minutes per truck. I will be lucky to get a truck done in 30 minutes. Looks easy when Tom does it, not really that easy. The force you need with purple springs makes this hard. Practice will make you faster. I have four pair of trucks to do this on, so I should be getting faster, hoping for 20 minutes after doing all 8 trucks. Not hoping for five minutes, I am not strong enough to do it that fast.
- I purchased an unpainted caboose from Mountain Car Co. When I got to the trucks, I realized they did not quit look right, they were the standard Bettendorf truck that MCC supplies, I wanted something like Barber-Bettendorf Elliptical Spring Caboose Trucks.
- Should I attempt to replace those coil springs with leaf springs? No, that was way too much work. What I did instead was simulate the look of leaf springs by soldering sheet brass as shown in the photo. They are screwed only to the upper part of the bolster so the coil springs can still work.
- In much of our model work we try to approach the look of the real thing, not the function, and the appearance of these trucks is close enough for me.
- Ronald is not the only one to do the cover up job on some coil springs for a decent looking set of caboose trucks. Attached is a leaf spring modification by a Chicago area builder to a set of Tom Bee coil spring trucks.
See also Some Notes on Springs.
How to assemble brakes on modern trucks, by Tom Bee.
- "Modeler's Guide to Freight Car Trucks", Jeff Wilson, Model Railroader
- "Freight and Tender Trucks", NMRA
- "Product Guide", A. Stucki
- "AAR 1966 Hopper Car", Ozark Mountain Railcar
- "Barber S-2 Stabalized Truck Component Diagram"
- "BNSF 70 Ton Boxcar"
- Buckeye Truck Construction
- "Maine style trucks", Chaski.org