• Drawbars for well cars

    There are many cars running the rails today that are drawbar connected sets of 2, 3, or 4 cars. Athearn and Walthers have both released thier stand alone well cars painted as drawbar connected sets. Other manufacturers have released other types of cars that can also be found in drawbar connected sets. For intermodal modelers like myself, the most important of these ars is the Alan Curtis Models ( now N-Scale Kits ) Tripple 53 and Tripple 57 version of thier 89 ft flatcars.

    Until recently, the there were only two viable options for drawbar connected sets of these cars.

    One option was to modify a rapido coupler into an H shape so that the two sides of the H could be inserted into coupler boxes on adjacent cars. I believe athearn uses this technique for thier drawbar connected Gunderson cars.

    The second option is to use a drawbar that is connected to each car through the truck kingpin. Drawbars of this type are commercially available, in etched brass, and also sometimes used on steam locomotives to connect the tender. In the past, I have constructed drawbars of this type from thin plastic.

    Both of these options work, but neither is visually appealing.

    Micro-Trains recently introduced link and pin style couplers for civil war era cars. When I first saw these, I thought they might make a good option for body mounted drawbars, so I ordered a set to experiment with.

    http://www.nscale.net/forums/attachm...1&d=1366156505

    The link and pin couplers come with what appear to be pre-assembled Z-scale ( MTL905 ) coupler boxes. The coupler itself is a drawbar that snaps onto the mounting boss/coupler pivot inside the box.

    http://www.nscale.net/forums/attachm...1&d=1366153326

    My experiment mounted a drawbar on two units of a Walthers 3-unit Thrall set. I used boxes from MTL1025 couplers instead of the supplied boxes (this allowed me to use some coupler boxes recycled from coupers with broken knuckles. ) These are mounted in the same manner as the body mounted couplers used on the cars A and B ends.

    http://www.nscale.net/forums/attachm...1&d=1366153326

    I think the result is quite pleasing to the eye, and looks better than any other drawbars I have seen in N-scale.
    http://www.nscale.net/forums/attachm...1&d=1366156326

    Additionally, unlike other drawbar connection methods, the units of the car will pull apart with a little force. This means you can return the cars to the boxes they were delivered in without any tools or removing the trucks from the car.

    For those of you who truck mount couplers, the link and pin drawbars can be utilized in the same manner by removing the guts of the coupler from the box. The coupers components can be used as spare parts.
    Comments 16 Comments
    1. Paul Schmidt's Avatar
      Paul Schmidt -
      What an excellent idea!

      Just wondering if the "pull apart" force needed to disassemble them by hand is greater than the drawbar force exerted by a typical N scale train. With longer trains, in other words, is there a potential for break aparts?
    1. pbender's Avatar
      pbender -
      Quote Originally Posted by Paul Schmidt View Post
      Just wondering if the "pull apart" force needed to disassemble them by hand is greater than the drawbar force exerted by a typical N scale train. With longer trains, in other words, is there a potential for break aparts?
      This is certainly possible, but I don't think it is any more likely than pulling apart the articulated connections on a Walthers Thrall articulated car. (I've done this on more than one occasion.) (Possibly the Kato articulated connections also, but I haven't run my example of those in a long train yet...)

      The force that tends to cause this problem is a car behind the connection snagging. (Snagging is also a contributing factor to string-lining.)

      Paul
    1. bman's Avatar
      bman -
      I was wondering about the minimum radius that would work using these? It does get them closer connected that my Athearn 4 car set. But a great idea Paul. I really like the being able to pull the cars apart. I've scratch built many a drawbar to use in Microtrains trucks on my Wathers 3 unit set. I've broken several just trying to get them to and from shows or the club.
      Thanks

      B
    1. pbender's Avatar
      pbender -
      Quote Originally Posted by bman View Post
      I was wondering about the minimum radius that would work using these? It does get them closer connected that my Athearn 4 car set. But a great idea Paul.
      I know they work around the tightest curve on my layout at home without an issue. That curve is about 18". The real issue here is that the corners of the two adjacent units start to get close together, and I could see them bind and ause issues.

      If you use the z-scale boxes that came with the drawbars, you can mount them closer to the edge, which might give you another inch or two.

      Using these with trucks with couplers might give you an even tighter radius.

      I really like the being able to pull the cars apart. I've scratch built many a drawbar to use in Microtrains trucks on my Wathers 3 unit set. I've broken several just trying to get them to and from shows or the club.
      Thanks
      These are definitely less effort to replace.

      Paul
    1. DrifterNL's Avatar
      DrifterNL -
      Now all we need is a long version of the link and pin.
      The "Drawbars" seem to be a bit short but a good idea nonetheless.
    1. Charlie Central's Avatar
      Charlie Central -
      This seems to be a great idea. I don't run this type of cars since I model the 50's. My thought is to use them to join some F or E units. It just might work! Thanks for the tip.
    1. Stogie's Avatar
      Stogie -
      Do you have any prototype pictures of the drawbars currently used?
    1. pbender's Avatar
      pbender -
      Quote Originally Posted by Stogie View Post
      Do you have any prototype pictures of the drawbars currently used?
      I took a quick look through my photos I have posted online, and this photo:



      Has an example of a drawbar on the left hand edge of the photo.

      Paul
    1. Stogie's Avatar
      Stogie -
      So I presume the prototype is rectangular in cross section. Rather hard to see much detail in that photo. Are the edges rounded off?
    1. pbender's Avatar
      pbender -
      Quote Originally Posted by Stogie View Post
      So I presume the prototype is rectangular in cross section. Rather hard to see much detail in that photo. Are the edges rounded off?
      The prototype is identical in profile to the shaft of the coupler that goes into the pocket.

      The profile is square, not rectangular, with rounded edges.

      Paul
    1. alexlileys90's Avatar
      alexlileys90 -
      a really cool idea i saw in nscale magazine some years back for long trains. this guy used a light bulb tube the protects the florescent lights for breaking when the fall. they come 48" and larger. try that the next time you need to travel with long trains made up. and you can plase a track in it if you want too.

      Quote Originally Posted by bman View Post
      I was wondering about the minimum radius that would work using these? It does get them closer connected that my Athearn 4 car set. But a great idea Paul. I really like the being able to pull the cars apart. I've scratch built many a drawbar to use in Microtrains trucks on my Wathers 3 unit set. I've broken several just trying to get them to and from shows or the club.
      Thanks

      B
    1. pbender's Avatar
      pbender -
      Here's another one of my images that shows a really good example of a drawbar connected car:

      http://www.rrpicturearchives.net/edi...spx?id=4088314

      This one happens to be a pair of flatcars, but it's more clear than the one I posted previously to this thread.

      Paul
    1. ScottL's Avatar
      ScottL -
      Great idea!
    1. TwinDad's Avatar
      TwinDad -
      Nice, Paul! I may have to do this when I upgrade my Walthers sets.

      I wonder if one could replicate the drawbar in Shapeways with a little bit longer shaft, for those with tighter radii? You can get the strong/flexible plastic in black...
    1. Stogie's Avatar
      Stogie -
      Ironic. I forgot all about this post, then about a year ago I received a set of drawings for a project. Buried inside the stack of drawings was the drawbar discussed above. As the work is covered by an NDA, I cannot post the PDF here. If anyone has questions about it, I can answer some though.
    1. pbender's Avatar
      pbender -
      And more prototype shots, this one of a flatcar pair from above:
      http://www.rrpicturearchives.net/edi...spx?id=4080418
      http://www.rrpicturearchives.net/edi...spx?id=4080419

      Paul