Large Scale Central

Is there a Way to Determine if a Plastic Wheel Set Worn Out?

Today Kid-zilla and I turned-to on the “Box-o-Trains” salvaged off Craigslist last year. One was an LGB stock car that had a habit of derailing. After confirming that, yes, in fact, a year of sitting around did not solve the problem, we hit upon the idea of swapping out the wheels, donations from either @Rooster or @Pete_Lassen . This solved the problem but…

…I am loathe to trash the other four sets. All of them have badly applied paint, some of which got onto the tread. Some have light damage to the flange. Is there a sure-fire way to visually mek a keep / repurpose call? Otherwise, all four will get a heavy dose of rust-colored paint, a heavy wash, and go on permanent display in the yards at Pu’u’om’ao.



First I’d check the back to back spacing (1.575" is a pretty good standard to use).

Then, I’d look/feel to see if any of the flanges had chunks missing/wear.

I’d guess that it’s more likely out of gauge than a worn flange.

Thanks! We will try that.

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The proof is in the pudding; no sure-fire solution until it is seen to run.

One trick you might try is to put the end of the axle in the drill chuck and spin it. You will see immediately if it is wonky, and you can lightly sand off any paint that got where it shouldn’t. If you are doing all 8 wheels, you will figure out by sight if they all look the same.

Throw them in the trash as I need to purge again! Please send me a message/email however you chose as a reminder if interested.

Thanks, Pete! We’ll try both! I did just see @Rooster 's post, though, so maybe these will become the drums for that crane car’s winch.


If you need more Eric, just let me know. And unless you need them for scenery, I agree with Rooster, just toss 'em. I’m guessing several guys here have boxes of them after swapping out to metal wheels, and are only saving the plastic ones to donate to a good home like yours.

Since I am already planning on sending you a package I can throw in some myself. I have a life time supply of plastic wheels. Like you have experienced, people have been generous with me and I have way more than I will ever use.

But with that said, I agree with Craig. A wheel gauge is your best friend. I have found that almost to the letter every problematic wheel set I have had has been gauging.

Thanks again. I shall add “wheel guage” to my “must have list!”

Eric; if you can find one; an Aristo wheel gauge is a handy tool…Any wheel sets I have ever gauged with it, when using Arist, LGB, USTrains track; has never given us problems.
Of course, any “Track” can be found to be out of gauge, at one time or another. There are many other tools to use…, but it does help if both your wheel sets and your track have matching standards, or derailments are most likely to happen, then FRUSTRATION grows.
For those people that dislike “Standards”…if they didn’t have some, their wheels wouldn’t work well with the track…!!!
Fred Mills

Dial or digital calipers are pretty easy to find at hardware stores and work really well for measuring the gauge/back to back.

Plus you’ll learn all sorts of other helpful uses around the house. For instance, your kids can learn the difference between .020 thousandths and .010 thousandths… :joy: