Large Scale Central

Articulating Bachmann & USAT Arch Bar Trucks

Bob Cope said:

Bob, while I am 100% a supporter of articulation/suspension/equalisation, I have to say that the Bachmann trucks always seem to be made of fairly soft plastic that allows the axles to tilt or rise independently, thus providing articulation. The weight of the car is a factor, of course.

I have no experience with the USAT ones.

I re-work all my trucks to roll better and have good articulation, mainly LGB and USA Trains trucks, so far they do well on the rails when running. I do paint all my trucks to some degree on weathering, rusting, etc. and all my wheels are painted in rust color and well as my couplers are now all getting painted and have that rusty look, you do know that all railroad wheels and couplers are rusted and not painted. I will say that a flat rusty color on the couplers does make them look smaller in size as the tend to blend in more, just the way I see it. I use Rust-Oleum red primer from Home Depot, the color is right on for rust, them I brush on a coat of Isopropyl Rubbing Alcohol with a small drop of shoe dye in it, either black or brown, you decide which way you want it to look. This rubbing alcohol thing is use by model railroader for a weathering look, it’s mainly used for a weathering look on wood, does work on painted plastic also.


John, I don’t own any of the LGB trucks, but a fellow LSC’er advises me that the earlier LGB trucks were rigid like the Bachmann and USAT trucks. The later releases from LGB are articulated (equalized) by having one side frame able to have some pivot motion relative to the bolster. This is definitely an improvement of the LGB trucks. He also commented that I could lessen my work by only doing one side of the truck like the newer LGB trucks. When I started doing mine it hadn’t occurred to me that one side would accomplish the task. Go figure.

I have taken a USAT truck modified as I describe, installed a pair of Sierra Valley fine scale wheel sets and traversed our club layout shortly before our track maintenance program with no problems. One of the members made a comment that the layout was supposed to represent a mainline standard gauge road but looked more like narrow gauge logging line. The upgrade in track quality goes a long way.

As for painting, I do paint my trucks and wheels similar to what you do, but a slightly different technique. I credit either Jon Radder or Bruce Chandler (I can’t remember which) for the technique. Clean and mask areas where no paint is desired. I use several ‘rust’ colored paints, but basically I first spray a full covering coat of a lighter rust color, then while still wet, over spray a very light coat of a darker rust color. With the paint still wet, the darker color sort of melds into the lighter color and gives effect of differing rates of rusting. I don’t bother with washes and such, I am a 1:20 narrow gauge modeler ant the trucks are far enough under the body the additional detail will not generally be seen unless you are up close and personal.

I have not painted any of my couplers yet. I am of mixed emotions regarding couplers. I use a mixture of Kadee 830, Bachmann Spectrum, and AMS. These all play well together and I am not wanting to affect the operations of the couplers. I may try a couple of the Kadees and see how that works.