Large Scale Central

USA Trains Intermodals, 10 foot diameter curves on grade


The intermodal USAT cars with shared trucks on 10 foot diameter curves with extra weight to prevent string lining result in the bottom of the wheels rubbing up against the underside of the cars. The photos show how the wheels have worn away the plastic on these parts.


My railroad has predominately 10 foot diameter curves. I have 3 sets of the 5 intermodal shared truck sets of cars. I had to add weight to them as they would string line in certain parts of the railroad when trying to pull all 3 sets. They have proven to be the most difficult to work with on my railroad. This is understandable due to my sharper curves and steeper grades.

I had a run recently and had trouble yet again with these cars and SD70’s pulling them.

I contemplated switching to KD couplers but due

  • Tight radius of curves I would have to do truck mounted
  • I didn’t realize how much higher the couplers would need to sit. I would have to do offset and the while USAT couplers will couple with KD couplers, the heights would be off.

One of the things I noticed about my intermodals is a squealing noise they would make from time to time. This past weekend when I realized at times the wheels are rubbing up against the cars themselves. This is amplified when extra weight is added to the cars and the cars are being pulled up a steep (up to 3%) grade on curves.

The photos show how the bottom has been worn out.

I have a few solutions in mind

  1. Remove that part from the cars. They come off easily, and can be put back easily if I want to. This removes detail from the cars though. I also realized the wheels could still hit the other part of the car. Since the material has never worn off there perhaps not, but with that piece gone the wheels might actually slide into the vertical space left behind.
  2. Add a small washer to each truck to raise up the cars. While it would be less prototypical to do this, my railroad is not exactly prototypical with its sharp curves.
  3. File away a clearance in the problem areas so the wheels don’t rub up against the cars.

I am betting that once I solve this issue, those cars will work better going up and down sections of my railroad.


I’d try the washers first…you can always reverse it at a later time or if it doesn’t work.

You could cut the cars down to 40’ capacity just like TTX did back in 2004. :grin:

Thanks, but that’s a bit more modification then I would like to do. Is that car one you modified yourself or did someone produce a 40" version at some point?

Did it myself. The design of the car makes it a pretty easy mod but I’ve yet to do more than one.

Interesting. CharlesRo still has a CP 5 unit set an a Conrail 5 unit set available for about the same price they originally were.

I’d have to

  1. Purchase a set
  2. Remove all small details like railings
  3. Strip the paint if possible and decals
  4. Cut it down as you did and reattach
  5. Paint it
  6. Acquire new decals and apply.

Not a small undertaking. Not willing to cut down the ones I have though since I like them as is and I have containers that are bigger than 40 feet.

It looks like you took an old UP one and turned it into the TTX you showed. HOw difficult was it to find the right color paint and decals? Whilst this won’t solve my issue I am contemplating getting a 5 car set of either the ConRail or CP Rail and then bash building them as you did.

The one I used was an old faded one (single). I used krylon bauhaus gold for the paint and made the water slide decals with a laser printer. I have a few more of those UP I plan on cutting down. I really like the look of a 40’ on the bottom with a 48’ or 53’ on top. I am also making Thrall type 40’ wells.

In the short term I am going to start with just popping off the one piece that is shown to rub and see what happens as its quick to remove and put back and will let me know how much distance is really needed. If the wheels start getting stuck in the slot left behind, than I know they are dipping down more then originally thought and without the part in the way to stop them they are now free to move further. I am doubtful they will go much further.

I’ll probably end up with one of 2 modifications.

  1. Add washers and use longer screws to secure the trucks. This has the advantage of also getting them a bit further off the ground but at the same time it will change the center of gravity.
  2. File down the area where the wheels are touching until there is clearance. Its not an area that is really visible unless you really get close to look. The only downside of this is that i have purposefully modified the cars. This is kind of a moot point though since using them modified them already.

Can someone post a picture of the same spot on their cars so I can confirm how much the wheels have rubbed away from the cars?

If you decide to cut some down, Let me know and I’d be happy to share the decal graphics. It would be nice if Charles Ro would sell the 5 unit sets for $350 again like they did back in 2020. I only bought one set. If only I’d known. :frowning_face_with_open_mouth:

Can you tell where on the layout the cars rub, after I put KaDee couplers on my single (not 5 car) intermodal cars I had to hand roll them around with some of the wife’s lipstick on the flanges to se exactly what part of the layout the rubbing was happening. If yours are rubbing when the track transitions to a grade maybe you can ease the transition from flat to up or down

Its more then just one spot. I have a complete loop on a grade in which I think they rub the entire way up the grade when pulling a heavier set.

The only place I don’t think they rub may be on level track, but I am not even sure about that. I have heard the squeals in various spots over the years and I am pretty sure that those squeals are happening as the wheels are rubbing away at the plastic.

The loop that does almost a 360 to get up is a great place to test to see if I made things better. I used a luggage weigh scale the last time I was working on these to see just how much hard it is to pull them up.

The string lining will hopefully become less of an issue once the resistance is removed as the wheels rubbing against the plastic would make for some significant drag, and uneven drag.

This map shows the grades I have in place. The railroad has gone through some changes since then but the mainline here is still mostly the same.

Apparently I made this map just after I learned about string lining after my containers tipped over when trying to pull 3 sets.

Taking off the end trucks with the couplers I noticed some rubbing there as well.

I would not want to remove material from these spots so this pushes more more towards adding washers to see if raising it up a bit will eliminate the rubbing when being pulled up curved grades. It may still rub as raising may just give it more room to move.

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is this a 3d print? looks amazing

Thanks, It’s a combination of CNC milled and 3d printed.