• Body-mount conversions for tank cars, hoppers, etc. with long end platforms

    Hello everyone,

    I wrote this up for a forum of my model railroading club, but I think it could be of interest here too, so I'm copy-and-pasting it here:

    I have quite a few tank cars with truck mounted couplers and looked for a way to convert them to body-mounted MTL couplers, preferably 1015s. Anything mounted on the end platforms - like a standard 1015 - will both look stupid and put strain on the platforms. A fellow modeler had found some extra long coupler boxes on Shapeways, which looked like they could solve the problem because they could be screwed right to the tank. I got in contact with the seller and he very nicely adapted them to the length I needed and to 1015 couplers - they can be found here: https://www.shapeways.com/shops/wutt...pler+Boxes&s=0 - Make sure to get the correct ones for your couplers, his standard boxes are for 1025/1026 type couplers.

    The process is quite simple, takes about 30 minutes per car if you don’t take pictures along the way…

    This is the tools and materials required:

    The drills are 0.8mm, the screws are 1.2mm x 8mm panhead philips plastic screws, similar to DIN7981, black to make life easier.
    The car at the beginning (trucks taken off already for weathering):

    After cleaning the 3D printed parts (I used dishwasher detergent in hot water, probably some solvent works better) remove the parts from the sprue and pull them across a file to smooth the surface. This also removes some more wax from the print process, I believe:

    Then paint the parts - inside with a pencil to add some graphite for lubrication, as per Wuttermelon’s advice:

    (I used a 4B pencil to add some extra graphite)
    Outside with a black marker - the lid only needs some marker around the screw hole, the box needs to be black after this step:

    On this specific car (an Athearn ethanol tank car), I needed to cut away the end of the frame right next to the truck holster, which I did with a hobby knife. This largely depends on the specific car - for my Atlas 25500gal tank cars and my Atlas plastics hoppers there was no need to modify the frame (on the hopper, the screw will be moved back far enough to not be too obstrusive any more, but not all the way into the bin). After the modification, test fit the box to the car and mark the spot you want to drill - if I didn’t have to hold the camera, you’d see a pair of tweezers holding the coupler box:

    Drill an 0.8mm hole in that spot, as deep as possible (though the tank is hollow, so once you are inside, it does not matter). Make sure to get the hole in as straight as possible, this is crucial for a well-aligned coupler:

    Next, assemble the coupler as per the instructions from MTL:



    Put a screw through the lid and the box…

    …and attach both to the car, tightening the screw all the way and then loosening it a turn or two again to tilt the lid away from the box:


    Put the two halves of the coupler into the box, squeezing it in under the lid…

    …and, as suggested by MTL, use the tip of a knife to maneuver the spring in place:


    Tighten the screw and paint the rest of the lid black and the car is ready for trucks:


    The result is OK to my eyes, although this is actually the worst car in a row of nine:


    Hope this helps, and if there are any questions, go ahead...
    Comments 5 Comments
    1. Tim R's Avatar
      Tim R -
      This a good overview, but I don't recognize these coupler boxes. What type of couplers is this?

    1. Heiko's Avatar
      Heiko -
      Quote Originally Posted by Tim R View Post
      This a good overview, but I don't recognize these coupler boxes. What type of couplers is this?

      The coupler boxes are from Shapeways, a guy called Wuttermelon makes them. For some reason, the "promotion" of my post to an article only got the second half, check the first half for the link: http://www.nscale.net/forums/showthr...-end-platforms

      Thanks for your comment,
    1. Heiko's Avatar
      Heiko -
      ...I will attempt to edit the article to include all of it. Tonight, when I'll be home...

    1. Tim R's Avatar
      Tim R -
      Thank you Heiko, it makes a lot more sense with the whole thing.

      Quote Originally Posted by Heiko View Post
      ...I will attempt to edit the article to include all of it. Tonight, when I'll be home...

    1. Heiko's Avatar
      Heiko -
      I think this way it makes much more sense