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Grandt Line Trucks FAQ

Compiled by Vic Hamburger – last update 20-Jun-2001
Checked by Jim Pasquill

I downloaded all the archives from the Mailcar and went through them with an editor to find references to Grandt Line HOn30 trucks, NWSL wheelsets, and related sidebar comments when appropriate. If I have missed any major postings, please accept my apologies as this has been a part time project. Feel free to add relevant postings via the Mailcar owner.

I have left the postor’s name attached to the post to give them due credit for their hard work to improve our hobby.

Jim Pasquill edited the letters and added comments as deemed appropriate.

Write to us if you have any new comments that you think should be added.

Vic Hamburger

From: Mark Rollins
Subject: Re: HOn30 trucks un-firkin etc.
Date: Sat, 21 Sep 1996

Joseph P. wrote: (after I wrote about Grandt Line HOn30 trucks w/ NWSL
wheelsets)
> Could you please share a bit on how you got them to roll great.  I
> tried the same combination both with and without lubricant and couldn't
> get a box car equipped with them to even roll off a MT railing ramp.  I
> agree they are great looking however.
> > > My new, favorite, "seal-of-approval" HOn30 wheelsets are the Grandt Line 

> > trucks ($4.95 U.S.) w/ NWSL wheelsets ($1.40 for two axles, or one
> truck); total of $6.35 USD. 

{Ed.  Prices are higher since this was written. However for something as
important as proper tracking most consider it to be worth it}

> >         Considering you need four axles to do the one pair of trucks that
> total price should be $7.75.  Hardly inexpensive for a pair of plastic
> trucks without brake shoe detail that roll like the brakes are locked on.
> Any suggestion for how you overcame the poor performance would be greatly
> appreciated since they are indeed good looking trucks.

I am comparing the Grandt/NWSL rolling characteristics to any good set of HO
trucks. If you are having problems, it may be the GrandtLine wheelsets were
warped in production or storage. I just use a little spray Teflon(tm) that I
spray into a paper cup then apply with a brush while it is still wet. You may
also want to see if anything is binding under the rolling stock.
Brake details? On HOn30?!?! 

From: "Joseph P."
Subject: Re: HOn30 trucks un-firkin etc.
Date: Sun, 22 Sep 1996

On Sat, 21 Sep 1996, Mark Rollins wrote:
> I am comparing the Grandt/NWSL rolling characteristics to any good set
> of HO trucks. If you are having problems, it may be the GrandtLine
> wheelsets were warped in production or storage. I just use a little > spray
Teflon(tm) that I spray into a paper cup then apply with a brush
> while it is still wet. You may also want to see if anything is binding
> under the rolling stock.

        Spray Teflon isn't something I've ever run across.  Where did you find
it?

        I can agree they are a good looking truck and the price isn't
unreasonable considering the size of the market, but unlike other underbody
detail, the truck really has to perform and they just don't. I'll gladly
explore any option for improving them as I have several pair I've removed from
cars and would like to be able to use em again.

>>Brake details? On HOn30?!?!

        Why not in HOn30?!?!  They are nicely reproduced on Hoffman's HOn30
passenger trucks and being outside mounted are quite noticably absent on the
Grandt Line HOn30 SR&RL truck.  They put them on their similar sized HOn3
trucks and those included metal wheelsets for far less the price.  I don't
think it's at all unreasonable for me to expect the HOn30 truck to have the
same quality as their HOn3 truck, especially since I readily conceed that the
higher price is acceptable.

I can agree they are a good looking truck and the price isn't unreasonable
considering the size of the market, but unlike other underbody detail, the
truck really has to perform and they just don't. I'll gladly explore any
option for improving them as I have several pair I've removed from cars and
would like to be able to use em again.

> > Which Teflon spray do you use?  Is this the Kadee product that has been
> >     mentioned earlier?  

Actually it's something called "Sprugh... mit Teflon(tm)!"   It's something a
German division of my employer makes. ANY spray Teflon(tm) will work, just be
sure it's got the good (ALLEGED ozone-destroying, non-plastic harming,
non-flammable) chlorinated solvent as a propellant. Anything else will eat
paint and/or plastic.

{Ed.: Note that it must be plastic compatible Teflon spray. Another
alternative is powdered graphite.}

From: (Bob Hayden)
Subject: Re: HOn30 trucks
Date: Tue, 24 Sep 1996 

I've been watching the HOn30 truck discussion with interest, and I'll throw my
two cents worth in now. Here goes.
  Last night, after reading all the posts, I dug out two sets of Grandt Line
sideframes and eight NWSL wheelsets, the ones with the stub axles. In 30
minutes (and I was watching the football game, too), I had two pair of
great-rolling HOn30 trucks, ready for the new Train & Trooper tank car kits
that arrived today!
  The Grandt sideframes, molded in Delrin, work fine and look great. 

(The wheels are junk. Let's not discuss them any more.)

{Ed.:  Please note Bob's comments directly above.  If you have not caught on
by now, no one that is serious about HOn30 uses the Grandt trucks with the
plastic wheels. The wheels make great scenery items though!}

I prepare them by donning my highest-powered Opti-Visor and trimming away any
bits of thin flash around the backs of the journal boxes with a brand-new
razor blade or X-Acto #11 blade. It's got to be brand new for this. The mold
is getting old, and the most recent castings do have flash on at least one of
the journals.
  I've never encountered sideframes that wouldn't retain the axles, so I can't
comment on that problem. Gentle heating MIGHT help.
  The NWSL wheelsets require just a touch of preparation, too. First check
that the insulated wheel is fully seated on its plastic bushing, and that the
wheels are perfectly in gauge for your track. I use the NMRA N gauge standards
gauge or the Kadee N coupler-height gauge; those of you who use N gauge track
and turnouts may want to space the wheels slightly closer back-to-back.
  The NWSL blunt-end axles have a little nubbin on the axle end left by the
parting-off tool on the screw machine that makes them. You can remove this
with a couple of swipes from a very fine needle file. I use a multi-grit
polishing stick with extra-fine wet-or-dry sandpaper for this, and I also
relieve (or champfer) the corners of the axle stub to get rid of any
microscopic burrs that might be there. Then I pop the wheelsets into the
sideframes, roll them across the workbench, and test them through a turnout or
two on my layout. I must have a dozen of the blunt-axle versions running in
regular service on the C&DR, and they work great. They also sound great, which
is the reason I contracted with NWSL to produce them in the first place.
  Hope this helps. -- Bob Hayden

P.S.: For rock-solid running, the best trucks on my railroad are still the
Grandt sideframes with Sango 20" wheelsets. Although I'm gradually converting
these to the NWSL pointed-end wheelsets that I had made for the purpose, the
Sango wheels are absolutely concentric, which means cars equipped with them
run absolutely steady. The Sango sets do have two disadvantages: (1) steel
axles, which means they'll get pulled into permanent-magnet uncoupling ramps
-- not a big deal for me as I don't use many of same, and (2) the wheels are
plastic, which means they don't make any click-clack noise when they run over
rail joints and crossings. Number (2) is the reason I'm converting another 80
cars to the NWSL replacement wheels: I love the noise!
  A step-by-step conversion procedure for mating the Sango wheelsets
(available from Flying Zoo????) to the Grandt sideframes is available on the
HOn30 page formerly maintained by Dave Frary and now maintained by Jorgen.

{Ed.: Currently Sango wheelsets are very hard to find though NWSL makes a
similar wheel now.  Few are using them. There really is no need to modify the
Grandt trucks to use the Sango style trucks with the availability of  correct
NWSL wheels.}

From: "Keith Wandry"
Subject: Rail Line Boxcar Question...
Date: Wed, 5 Feb 1997

I've got a Rail Line boxcar and I put some Grandt hon30 trucks underneath it.
The only problem is that the trucks don't clear the sills on the underside of
the car, thus they don't turn on very tight radii. The plans mention nothing
about spacers.  Has anyone else had this problem and if so, how did you go
about fixing it? At this point, it looks like I'll have to cut the sills on
the underbody to allow for more clearance.

From: Tobias Giles
Subject: Re: Rail Line Boxcar Question...
Date: Wed, 5 Feb 1997

>I've got a Rail Line boxcar and I put some Grandt
[snip]

Da Ja Vue or how ever it spelled. I just ask that same question only with HOn3
Grandt trucks to the newsgroup. Here are a few of the replies:

1) These cars seem to be designed for the Grandt Line trucks.  The pin on the
car frame fits perfectly into the truck, and the little truck securing ring
that Rail Line provides slips right into the counterbore on the Grandt Line
truck.  I've built several of these cars using the Grandt Line trucks, and the
flexibility is severely limited as you noted.  The wheels touch the frame
stringers.  If you carefully carve clearance into the frame stringers for all
four axles the cars will go around 12 inch radius curves pretty well, and 15
inch with no qualms at all.  The same goes for the Rail Line stock cars.  I
pull mine with either old Westside C-16s, or the old Micro-Motor equipped
Grandt Line box cabs that run so well.
If you want to be more adventurous and get a better rolling truck, get the
Kadee HOn3 trucks.  It's a lot more work but boy they roll nicely.

2) I too have built several Rail Line cars and used the Grandt Line trucks. I
also had the same problem of limited truck swing.
I understand that the prototype also had this problem.  Their solution was to
make a curved notch in the underframe where the trucks hit to allow a little
more swing.
I may have read this in a model magazine but could not say for sure which one,
or when.  Old age you know!
I have done this on a few cars but it takes some careful cutting with a slow
speed Dremel.
Jerry Nichols

3) It's much easier to make modifications before the car is assembled.
Basically I found I had to do two things. 1) remove or cut back center and
intermediate sills - since this detail is very hard to see, I just twisted
bits off with pliers. 2) I also found it necessary to drill new holes for the
truss rods, closer to the queenposts.
It's a shame to do that to such nice underframe detail, but it comes with the
territory.
Tom Smith.
Basically, everybody says the same thing-cut till it fits.
Regards, Tobias Giles Mtn. View, CA USA Narrow Gauge Enthusiast
tgiles@mail.arc.nasa.gov

From: OWENEARL@aol.com
To: "HOn30 Mail Car"
Subject: Re: Mail digest
Date: Thu, 6 Feb 1997 08:25:04 

Okay -- I admit it --I cheated and didn't cut away any of the really cool
underbody detail.    I drilled the truck out to accept a close tolerance
clearance fit for a #2 screw head, tapped and threaded the bolster to accept
the screw, blackened  the screw and the nut with "Blacken-it",  and tightened
the nut down to a snug fit on the truck and backed  it off about a half turn.
I then screwed the truck into the bolster.  The nut does not appreciably
change the appearance of the car and it definitely improves the performance of
the truck.   I have tried this method  both in HOn30 and Sn20 and find
consistant improvement in performance of an otherwise good looking but poor
tracking truck without any deterioration in appearance.
OWENEARL

From: (Bob Hayden)
Subject: Grandt truck conversion
Date: Mon, 24 Nov 1997

 A couple of weeks ago there was a flurry of discussion about replacement
wheelsets for the Grandt Line No. 5146 [update:  #5257-01] two-foot freight trucks. I've been
building three models of the Bedford & Billerica freight cars over the last
couple of weeks, and needed freight trucks with 18" wheels. Here's how I made
them.
  You'll need the Grandt sideframes, and a package of Micro-Trains No. 1008
non-magnetic N gauge wheelsets, with low-profile flanges. The only
modifications required are (1) to drill a little ways (hand tools only) into
the journals of the truck sideframe so the axles have enough clearance to
turn. I use a flame-shaped pointed high-speed-steel cutter in a pin vise for
this, but I'm sure you could achieve the same result with a drill. The trick
is to drill a few twists into each journal, test the wheelset, and drill
again, little by little, until the wheelset will turn freely.
  Modification (2) is to shave the small boltheads off the bottom of the
center of the sideframe so they won't catch on rails or road crossings. And
yes, these trucks run really LOW.
  (They also run really FREE. I was checking the finished product by rolling
it along the track near the front of my layout. It rolled a lot further than I
expected, and got onto part of the 3 percent mainline grade. I wound up
running an engine around the layout to push it out of the inaccessible spot
where it finally stopped!)
  The finished trucks ride rock-steady, and the Grandt wheelsets make good
scenery around the enginehouse or car shop.
  Bob Hayden

From: Jonathan Piasecki
Subject: RE: Micro-Trains trucks
Date: Mon, 27 Jul 1998

Since the issue of Grandt Line trucks has come up again, I'll add the comments
that I always add when the topic arises.  I have a whole whack of the
Grandt trucks with the NWSL wheels, and I cannot get them to operate reliably.
The axles flop around in the trucks, and often fall out of the trucks all
together when the car is lifted off the track. The rolling quality is less
than ideal -- they seem to drag, rather than roll.
Have thought that turning little nubbins out of brass rod that could be
inserted into the truck and could act as bearings for the NWSL axles might do
the trick.  Last time I looked really closely, though, it seemed to me that
the trucks are slightly warped and spread out of shape -- not surprising,
really, since they are fine and fragile castings that could be easily damaged.
Standing still, though, they are quite attractive!
Thanks -
Jon Piasecki

From: "Jeff Bissonnette"
Subject: Re: Micro-Trains trucks
Date: Mon, 27 Jul 1998

Joseph P. , Jonathan and whomever else,
To begin, could your problems with the NWSL replacement wheelsets for the
Grandt line trucks be related to the burrs and "nubs" on the outer ends of the
brass axles?  I have had no problems acheiving good rolling quality from these
trucks with replacement wheelsets, as long as I de-nubbed and deburred the
axles with a file and sandpaper.  To prove it to myself again, I've hauled out
the 12 pair I have (narrowed to HOn2 of course) and rolled them on my
desktop...  they all work fine.  If you won't take my word for it, contact
Chris McChesney or Bob Hayden they use them with excellent results too.
Secondly, to drill out the Grandt frames for the needle point axled Kadee
wheelset is a waste of time.  This is because needle point axles are meant to
run in tapered holes to take full advantage of the decreased surface area
(ergo, decreased friction) of using such a design.  Shoving needle point axles
into cylindrical holes will do nothing for improving rolling quality of the
trucks.  If that were not the case, why have all these truck manufactures been
using tapered axle holes in their cast truck frames all these years? Thirdly,
it does not take a genius in physics to realize the benefits of metal
wheelsets v.s. plastic to rolling quality. While the Grandt frames might not
be 100% perfect, by adding the NWSL replacement wheelsets AND a little work on
your part, you can make a darn good looking and pretty smooth rolling set of
trucks.  They won't look as toylike as the Kadee's to boot!
Darryl Sleszynski can be contacted at:
           Portland Locomotive Works
           P.O. Box 8157
           Utica, NY 13505-8157
Before anyone out there gets angry or upset at me for my commentary, please do
yourself and me, the favor of trying my suggestions.  There are some HEAVY
HITTERS in the HOn30 world (I'm not one of them), that have used the Grandt
line trucks and NWSL replacements wheelsets with excellent results. So don't
be afraid to pick up a file and some emery paper and give it a shot... you
won't be sorry!
                        JeffB

Received: from JamesMPII
Mon, 27 Jul 1998

<<  So don't be afraid to pick up a file and some emery paper and give it a
shot... you won't be sorry!  >>
Also look closely at the frame area where the axle end is inserted.  As the
Grandt  molds have gotten older there is more and more flash showing up in
this area.. Often the flash rubs the wheels.  Slice it off with a sharp blade
then put the slightest amount of graphite in the hole.  My converted trucks
roll for yards when pushed on level track.   --Jim

kennethl
Wed Dec 30 1998
Subject: Re: Grandt line trucks 

Being something of a person that has to see for himself if something is true,
I went to my bench and picked up a pair of Grandt trucks and a set of NWSL
wheels along with my dial calipers and did some measuring. The results follow.
I measured end to end on the axles for the NWSL set and Grandt set. NWSL
measurements: .544, .542, .544, .542 inches. Grandt measurements: .539, .545,
.539, .539 inches.
The trucks roll well with the Grandt wheels which ae .539. The set with the
.545 length axle sticks.
The trucks all stick with the NWSL wheels.
>From this very limited set of measurements and observation, it would appear
that the NWSL wheel sets are too long in the axle to work right out of the
"box" with the Grandt frames.
-Ken

{Ed.:  In late 2000 NWSL introduced a new wheelset for the Grandt truck. They
conceded that many of the wheelsets sold prior to them were too long. If you
them bought post 2000 make sure you are getting the late 2000 to present
production runs.  If you have older sets follow the procedures found here to
modify them.}

From: "Jeff Bissonnette"
Subject: Grandt vs MT trucks
Date: Mon, 8 Nov 1999 

  After all the talk about the MT vs Grandt Line trucks, I finally went out
and purchased a pair of the MT archbar trucks to check them out.  Well, they
roll superbly, but there is something even better.  I tried them with the NWSL
metal replacement wheelsets made for them, and they roll even better than with
the original delrin wheelsets!  With both trucks on the same inclined piece of
track, the MT/NWSL trucks would either pull away from the straight MT trucks,
or push it along (depending upon if the MT/NWSL truck was leading or
following).  Probably just simple physics at work!    Anyway, the way I saw it
the MT/NWSL combination was the best rolling of the three, next was the
straight MT truck, and BELIEVE IT OR NOT, the Grandt Line truck with the
PLW/NWSL metal wheelsets, was a VERY CLOSE third place.  For non-believers, I
again stress that you need to de-burr the axle end with a file and emery
paper, and de-flash the bearing surface/journal on the truck frame.
 Another thing I've recently discovered that helps the PLW/NWSL/Grandt truck
even more...  Use a stainless steel wire brush in a Dremel tool to
burnish/polish the ends and running surface of the brass axle to a nice shiny
lustre.  This eliminates small unseen burrs, and makes the surface a little
slicker.
 The big plus of the MT/NWSL combo...  You have the nice clickety-clack over
the rail joints AND even better rolling qualities!  Although at more
expense...
JeffB

From: Mark Rollins 

I just discovered an easy way to re-gauge the Grandt 5110/5111 (I think) brown
and black HOn3 trucks. These are the envy of HOn30ers, as these trucks have
metal wheels that actually roll, and brake shoe detail.

{Ed.: These trucks are fine for HOn30 modelers not following a Maine
two-footer prototype.  They are a bit large for the two-footers.}

You can try to trim the stock plastic axles by hand, or do what I did and
order sets of HOn30 replacement wheels from NWSL. There's a better/cheaper
way.
What I did was to remove the wheel/axle sets from the trucks, and chuck one
wheel (hand tight) into a Makita electric screwdriver. I then held the axle
(in the space between the wheels, I hope this explanation is clear) with a
pair of pliers, close to the wheel. This limited the distance the wheel would
slide on the axle, and any axle warpage.
I then pulled the trigger on the drill, causing it to turn the wheel faster
and faster - until the plastic axle began to soften. Steady pressure forced
the axle into the wheel more, reducing the gauge. I did the other side, taking
care to initially push the wheels in a bit more than necessary, as I can
always slide the wheels out.
Time to do 2 axles (4 wheels), less than 5 minutes.

Most of what is below is a recap of hints from above but it is stated more concisely so the redundancy was thought to be warranted.

In late 2000:
James Pasquill wrote:

Get some Grandt trucks and NWSL wheelsets ... Test fit the wheels in the
frames. Check for flash on the journal boxes and if present carefully slice
off so the flash does not hit the wheels.  If the wheels don't
turn smoothly take out the wheels, slightly file the axle ends and then
burnish with emery cloth. Then bend the frames out slightly too if they look
like they are flexing in too far.  Test again, file a bit more if needed,
burnish, test, etc. 

Don't file too much off or you can end up with short axles which can't be
used. Repeat as needed until your trucks roll smoothly. Finally take a pencil
that is not too sharp but not large enough to distort the journal box, stick
it in some graphite powder and stick the pencil in the journal box twisting
around to burnish the inside of the box. Your wheel should now spin long and
free. 

Finally check the gauge with an NMRA standards gauge and adjust as needed.

Jeff Bissonette replied:

I have a better method than this and it produces better results faster... I
use a fine cut needle file to remove the parting "nubin" at the ends of the
axles. Once done one wheelset, check it in a truck frame, it needs to have
a small amount of side to side play, if not, use the file to remove about
.005" from one end of the axles. Once done, use a stainless steel wire
brush in a Dremel tool to buff the axle ends and remove any burrs. Using
this method will polish the brass axles and make them turn smoothly in the
journals, and at the same time removes any micro burrs, and eliminates any
chance of accidentally filing or sanding a flat spot on the running surface
of your axle ends. Pop them in and your Grandt Line trucks should roll
NEARLY as well as the MT truck with stock Delrin wheelsets.

NWSL has recently re-tooled their axles for the Grandt Line HOn30 truck. I
have about 100 axles worth on hand (gauged for HOn2 but the same axle) and
they roll extremely well with NO work to the axle or wheelset, just remove
the flash around the journals on the truck frame.

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