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Thread: Wheel sets?

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    Default Wheel sets?

    Iím sure this has been asked before. What type wheel sets are best favored for N gauge rolling stock. I HO there are some very distinct opinions. Some of which probably transfer. Metal axles are probably best in the plastic trucks. How important are metal wheels? Is there a preferred brand? Are there scaled wheel forms. I know what pizza cutters are, but do they make variable widths?
    metal wheels are more durable than plastic. However with my brief exposure broken metal wheel sets out number the others 2 to 0.
    Any help will be appreciated.
    Larry
    llxlocomotives.com

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    Quote Originally Posted by llxlocomotives View Post
    I’m sure this has been asked before. What type wheel sets are best favored for N gauge rolling stock. I HO there are some very distinct opinions.
    llxlocomotives.com
    And you will find the same is true for N scale.
    The only difference is they are a little harder to find.
    The Little Rock Line blog


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    Metal wheels sound pretty cool. I usually try to have at least one car in a train with metal wheels. Supposedly, they also help to keep your track clean too.

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    As @Allen H. already mentioned: In N scale it tends to be more of a "what's available" than "what's favored". Especially 36" metal wheels for MTL trucks...

    I personally like the BLMA metal wheels as well as the FVM narrow tread metal wheels. I think Exactrail used to make some, too, and the ones their cars came with look and work great as well.

    Haven't seen Eastern Seabord Models or Rapido or Intermountain or those new Micro Trains metal wheels in person yet (though some new MTL cars with metal wheels are on their way to me) so I can't say anything about them. Those old Atlas metal wheels are not my cup of tea, they have a large plastic disc and a narrow metal "rim" which makes them look less prototypical: https://www.nscalesupply.com/atl/atl-trucks.html - work well though, and I'm not going to replace the ones I have in service for that.

    Oh yes, it's all metal wheels for me, in case that wasn't clear...

    Heiko

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    Be aware that there are basically two different axle lengths in N scale. They're just different enough that they'll either not stay in the truck well, or not roll well if you use the wrong one. Good news is most manufacturers of wheel sets make both, you just need to be aware of which you need based on what brand of rolling stock you are buying for. The axle length and a list of rolling stock manufacturers it is appropriate for is normally listed on the package (don't know if I can say that is true for every brand, but every one that comes to mind this morning).

    Metal wheels roll more freely (sometimes much more freely) than plastic wheels. I think they sometimes help a light car like a flat car track a little better - they're not much extra weight, but it's a little bit and it's in the right place. Common wisdom is they help keep your track cleaner, which may very well be true, but I've never really tested that theory.

    Much like with HO, a little paint on those metal wheels sure makes them look better.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jenn Popp View Post
    Supposedly, they also help to keep your track clean too.
    Well, that's an interesting theory. I'd like to see some data on that. They are much less likely to get the build up of crud compared to plastic wheelsets, though. That may be what you're thinking of

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    I did a little research based on the discussion of axle length. I found a reference that is interesting: https://www.trovestar.com/generic/blog.php?Article=421

    In his lists he shows 10 different lengths between .526 and .576 inches. When looking for product, I find four lengths, .54, .553, .563 & .576. The sheer number of options would put a strain on supply.
    He also lists by manufacturer. Atlas is the only one who seems to have different lengths.
    Really indicates the need to standardize on truck type & axle length.

    The case for metal weeks is mainly weight & durability. Yes they make an interesting noise as they roll. The metal needle point axles riding on the plastic truck bearings is most of the drag resistance. Too much side bind force will eliminate that quickly.
    Are newly manufactured cars made with plastic wheels in N scale? In HO anything made in the last 10 years would almost be assured to have metal wheels.
    My experience with scale thin wheel has not been good. They would go out of alignment just installing them. What is the N scale experience?

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    Quote Originally Posted by llxlocomotives View Post
    He also lists by manufacturer. Atlas is the only one who seems to have different lengths.
    Just to make sure: This is the axle lengths they use on their models. They may or may not sell wheelsets with other lengths as well.

    I think the Fox Valley product line is the most complete, if it's in stock: https://www.foxvalleymodels.com/NWheels.html but I may be wrong.

    And yes, there still are new N scale cars with plastic wheels. Though in the last few years, more and more come with metal wheels, I believe.

    My personal experience with "semi scale" wheels in N scale is good. I have no idea how they compare to thin H0 wheels, but I didn't manage to misalign any. One out of 200 was misaligned and one was shorted from the factory, though, but that's not too bad, I guess.

    YMMV,
    Heiko

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    I prefer metal wheels. FVM was my go to until they weren’t available. I have a large supply of BLMA and Tangent (same wheels) that I’m using to get cars ready for the layout. @Heiko you were asking about data on track cleanliness. While a little old now, we debated this to death 10 years ago in my old NTrak club. This prompted a “test”. During a show we delegated one main to plastic wheels and the other to metal. All cars were cleaned beforehand, as were the rails. We ran a full day and then compared the cleanliness of the track. The main that was metal only was distinctly cleaner. So much so that I went 100% metal only on all my equipment from that weekend forward.
    Karl

    CEO of the WC White Pine Subdivision, an Upper Peninsula branch line.

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    I've recently purchased the Rapido 33" metal wheels. They fit my MTLs. The part number is, 102069. I'm quite happy with them as they're easier to find than other brands. Intermountain was my go to brand until they became scarce.
    A simple man trying to run my trains...

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    I prefer metal wheelsets as well.
    Although I’m not picky as to which manufacturers’ wheels I use, for me, its function over form.
    I have metal wheelsets from most all manufactures that make them, I run them all.
    If they free roll I’m good, if shiny, I’ll paint. Very low priority to change to something that “looks better” if it doesn't roll better.
    On a moving train, the dark wheel faces are in the shadow of the car, I find it very difficult to visually determine whose wheels are whose.
    Metal yes, manufacturer mostly irrelevant.

    Some prefer plastic for the very same reasons.
    One is not better than the other.
    Experiment for yourself.
    You decide what works best for you, that will be what's best.

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    Is this metal wheel shortage COVID related? Or were they hard to find before it hit?
    I spent some time shopping on line yesterday. Only found 2 places that said they had the parts. I bought a some of ESM for 6 cars as a trial. The only other brand that I could find was ExactRail from a different source. I decided to wait to pay the second shipping until I know how these fit. They are supposed to be for MTL trucks. I will see how they do. Just getting my feet wet on this area of N scale.

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    Quote Originally Posted by llxlocomotives View Post
    Is this metal wheel shortage COVID related? Or were they hard to find before it hit?
    They were hard to find before. I guess supply and demand are going up and down in a classic pork cycle.

    Heiko

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    A little bit of info I compiled a while ago, hope this helps -> https://www.nscale.net/forums/showth...942#post588942

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    That is a lot of info. Basically we’re looking at a difference range of 1/32 inch. In this size may be a bunch. I wonder about the tolerances, particularly on the molded plastic trucks.

    My initial thought is to go with MTL trucks & .54 inch metal wheels for everything. In the past I have not cared about some of the finer details. To some it is important, but to me it is more important to keep it simple. Go with a standard truck and wheel set where possible. Wheels & trucks the do not match are more noticeable than the wrong style for the car.
    The rolling quality is not discussed in the link. That is the consideration that may change my standard. That is something I will get by experience. At this point I am courteous to see the measure the difference in rolling capacity for several variations of wheel configuration. This will help solidify my choice of standard. I post my technique and what I find out.

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    Quote Originally Posted by llxlocomotives View Post
    My initial thought is to go with MTL trucks & .54 inch metal wheels for everything
    This is a question because I don’t know but If a MTL truck is designed for a .53 inch wheel set will a .54 inch wheel set roll freely or will it cause binding, etc? Has anybody done this? We’re there any issues?
    Regards,
    Warren

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    I find no difference in the 0.537" MTL plastic wheelsets versus the Intermountain 0.537" metal wheelsets and the Fox Valley 0.540" metal wheelsets as far as "binding". They all roll free. Where I see the difference is the 0.537" have a little more side to side play and pop out of the trucks during handling while in the cases on occasion (moving them around on my shelf over the years when not in use). A 0.540" has not up until now (knock on wood).
    Grant.

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    That is more sensitivity than I would have guessed for a .003 variation. Of course each has a tolerance. The wheekk on s are not here yet. I will have a better appreciation for this when I can try them.

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    FYI, Exactrail now has their 33"and 36" .540" metal wheels available. Order from your favorite dealer or direct: https://exactrail.com/collections/n-scale-parts

    They're good wheels, albeit the treads are a bit wide for my tastes, but if that's not a factor for you, then go for it.

    Last edited by MetroRedLn; 7th Apr 2021 at 01:26 AM.

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    Because of my many questions & bring new to the scale, I have decided to launch a study to identify the benefits of Metal wheels. Initially I will be looking at rolling improvement and weight added.
    My initial thoughts and plan are discussed here: http://www.llxlocomotives.com/?p=2740

    I will be adding to this as info comes in.

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