To paraphrase Vane Jones, "Knowledge is of little value until shared with others."

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Important Info About Ordering Trucks Plus Trucks for the Older Wooden "L" Cars

Important Before Ordering Trucks for Any "L" Car

Direction of Motor
All the prototype "L" cars are built with the trucks installed very close to the end of the car. The modeler needs space under the end of a model to install couplers and other items at the end of the car. For Q-Car Company using a can motor, and perhaps Wagner/Current Line, there is more room at the end of the power truck where the motor is located. The additional space is both above and at the end of the of the truck.

Therefore when ordering power and trail trucks, tell the vendor which direction the motor and gear box are to be located. Should the power truck be made with the motor facing "out" towards the end of the car or "in" towards the center of the car.

Regular Power Body Bolster or a Flat Brass Body Bolster
For a low profile power truck Q-Car Company will usually supply a soft cast metal bolster like this:

You may find this bolster has to be mounted inside the model on top of the floor. A flat brass bolster can be ordered instead of the soft metal casting which can be mounted under the floor where you want it.

You can request the flat brass car bolster from Q-Car, You must indicate this when the power/trail trucks are ordered. The brass bolster has to be mounted to the model and cannot be removed from the power truck. A short screw holding the brass bolster is soldered to the power truck's truck bolster.

I was unaware of this, removed the screw, and mounted the flat brass bolster into the floor. The bolster became part of the floor.

To see the correct installation of a Q-Car Company low level power truck with a flat brass bolster see post "AEFRE 49 - #4B ..." Saturday, August 4, 1912 in this Blog. While this is an installation in a model with a brass frame, a model with a wooden, plastic, or sheet brass floor would be similar. The flat brass bolster would be held in place with screws through the bolster and into the floor.

Insulated for 2-Rail or Not
Always when ordering any power/trail trucks specify if the trucks require insulated wheels for 2-rail operation. If you are not sure if the model will ever be operated on a 2-rail layout, order the insulated wheels anyway. The model can always be operated both on a trolley uninsulated or 2-rail layout.

Ordering Power/Trail Trucks for Wooden "L" Cars

Naturally when you see "L" used to describe rapid transit or elevated cars, it is the Chicago elevated which is being talked about. As long as there have been posts on the topic of trucks for the steel 4000 series "L" cars, what about other older "L" cars. Prior to the 4000 series of steel cars the "L" had various number of series of cars constructed of wood. Each series had trucks with different sideframes.

Over the years the "L" used a ridged, the Hedley design, unknown manufacturers' and Baldwin MCB's, and a Jackson & Sharp or McGuire lightweight MCB truck. The ridged sideframes were used in the very early days of the "L" when the motor cars were used as "locomotives" like the early steam locomotives to haul trailers. After the "locomotive" motor cars were converted to MU operation, the ridged sideframes still appeared on the passenger cars. But over time the ridged sideframes started to appear under various service or work cars on the "L".

Ridged sideframe in "storage" in an open field.

CTA S-300 boom car. Both trucks have ridged frame sideframes. Note only the truck under the cab has sleet scrappers. 

The "L" used Jackson & Sharp or McGuire 60" lightweight MCB trucks under wooden trailers. This leaves Hedley design and unknown manufacturers' or Baldwin MCB sideframes.

To scratch build the Hedley the only sideframe with the correct wheelbase, wheel size, and bulk I am aware of is the PSC #9107 Disconnect Log Trucks. It's best to start with the kit since some parts have to be cut off or never added. Parts of the sideframe can be created out of either styrene or brass.
Hedley design sideframe under a 1260-1299 series "L" car at the Illinois Railway Museum.

The unknown manufacturers' or Baldwin MCB sideframes can be simulated with Q-Car's Peckham BU style of trucks shown in the prior post. The Peckham BU's style looks very much like Baldwin MCB's.

Before getting into the topic of the Peckham's, if a number of photos of wooden "L" cars are viewed; you'll notice a number of cars have wheel guards and sideframes with low end frames (like the Peckham BU's).

After automatic train stop as part of the signaling was installed on the "L", the wooden cars had piping coming down from the car body on the ends for the center trip device (cock lever). Some sideframes had outside brake rigging. Coupler supports were added to hold up couplers installed without hangers. One item easy to miss, even though it was painted red, was the 600 v buss junction box. There was a lot of extraneous material under the floor on the end of a car! 
Open gate powered "L" car stored at the west end of the Lake St. "L" route. Finding a photo of a car in which the underbody is visible is difficult. Coupler, chains, and hanger are visible plus the center angle cock and air brake plumbing. See if you can find in the center the 600 v buss receptacle (square shape) and the MU receptacle (round head cover).

Depending upon the car series either the Baldwin MCB or Peckham BU sideframes may be appropriate? The low end frame of the Peckham BU sideframes adds to the material below the floor at the end of a car. Almost all wood plus 4000 and 5000 series "L" cars had strap steel steps on the ends of the sides of the cars. These helped the yardmen in getting in and out of the cars to ground level. On some of the models of these cars the frame of the trucks hits this step. One way around the problem is to use Peckham BU sideframes.

When modeling the older wooden "L" car pay attention to the trucks. Some of the sets of trucks on a car had the same wheel base, some did not. Each series of wooden cars was unique.

When it comes to 3rd rail beams for the wooden "L" cars, I prefer using the Q-Car CS 090 3rd Rail Shoe Beam, Over-running Style. Again, over the years some of the cars got bigger 3rd rail beams just like the 4000's. For every rule there is an exception. This is what prompts me to say, "Build to the photo!" Get a photo of the prototype car (and era) you desire to build. Better yet get photos of both ends and both sides of the same car!


CRT 3143 operating on the Lake St. "L" as a single car train with the conductor on the rear platform.
The 2 photos are of my scratch-built open platform car. It is powered with Q-Car trucks. The sideframes are Peckham BU with the same wheelbase and wheel size. The trucks have NSL 3rd rail beams and an arc shield. The arc shield was added more to hide the sideframes. The prototype car did not have MCB sideframes. Each of my wooden "L" cars has trucks with different sideframes and 3rd rail beams.

You may have asked yourself how do I know what sideframes and 3rd rail beams appeared in the wooden CRT cars and the 4000's during their life. Like everything else in life nothing is just black or white. There are a lot of grays. After looking at enough photos of something, one starts to get ideas of when something started and ended. My comments are to give other modelers a general idea of what was or was not. Again, when modeling a specific car obtain as many photos of that car on or about the date you wish to model. Be sure to get photos of each side and both ends.



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