Grand scale wheels

Discuss park gauge trains and large scale miniature railways having track gauges from 8" to 24" gauge and designed at scales of 2" to the foot or greater - whether modeled for personal use, or purpose built for amusement park operation or private railroading.

Moderators: Glenn Brooks, Harold_V

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Topics may include: antique park gauge train restoration, preservation, and history; building new grand scale equipment from scratch; large scale miniature railway construction, maintenance, and safe operation; fallen flags; track, gauge, and equipment standards; grand scale vendor offerings; and, compiling an on-line motive power roster.
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hptwin
Posts: 44
Joined: Thu Apr 24, 2008 10:36 pm
Location: Sweetwater, New Jersey

Grand scale wheels

Post by hptwin » Sun Nov 13, 2016 10:04 pm

Grand Scale Forum is a most welcome addition to the "family". Many thanks.

I spent about twenty years as a locomotive engineer on Conrail. I retired and in 2011 we moved to Sweetwater, New Jersey on the southern edge of the Pine Barrens. Shortly thereafter I discovered Camp Haluwasa, a non denominational Christian children's camp that just happens to have a three mile long two foot gauge railroad. The railroad is used primarily to deliver the campers and their baggage to their appropriate camp sites at check in each week, among other duties. The railroad was completed in the late 1970's. When I arrived on the scene in 2011 the camp management was looking for someone to operate the line, their previous operating person having just left the winter before. I have been very happily volunteering there ever since.

The previous paragraph is by way of introduction.

I have a question regarding wheels. The expression "run 'em till the wheels fall off" comes to mind. The wheels are chilled iron. On some wheels the chill is starting to wear through in spots and on some wheels the tread is so thin that it simply disintegrates. It is not really a safety issue since we operate trains a quite low speeds, in the 5 to 6 mph range. I have been cannibalizing wheel sets from out of service cars to get us through the season, but the situation really calls for a proper solution. My question is this: does anyone know of a foundry that can produce chilled tread cast iron wheels. They used to be the common, everyday wheel on full size railroads until they were supplanted by steel wheels. The nice thing about the wheels we have is that there is virtually no flange wear, we have some fairly tight curves, maybe 60 foot radius. The chilled flange is truly "glass hard", a file won't touch it. This leads me to believe that even cast steel wheels may not have the flange life that the chilled iron ones do.

The wheels are about 11" in diameter with a 2 1/4" tread width, the bore for the axle will be done in our shop. We probably need fifty or sixty wheels. If anyone has any ideas about chilled iron wheels I would be most grateful to share it. Failing that, any ideas on cast steel wheels, perhaps with heat treated flanges?

Thanks again for Grand Scale, it really fills a need. Best regards, Mike Condax

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Loco112
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Location: Dallas ,Texas. USA

Re: Grand scale wheels

Post by Loco112 » Mon Nov 14, 2016 12:30 am

The chilled flange is truly "glass hard", a file won't touch it. This leads me to believe that even cast steel wheels may not have the flange life that the chilled iron ones do.
You are right about those chilled flanges and treads, they were like carbide, diamond hard. The old wheels had multiple mold chill witness marks on them that lasted for a hundred years, you can still find them with practically no wear. They do get cracks in the treads, but it doesn't seem to matter much. Steel will not last 1/2 as long, but only a commercial operation can put enough miles on the equipment to make it a real consideration.

Wanting 50 wheels, you could buy them (from china or India) in iron and with chilled tread and flange. The chill part of the tooling might be a challenge, but maybe you could have the chill tooling made in steel and in a curve covering maybe 30 degrees each, all identical, so it would take 12 to fill the 360 degree mold. Get them on the axles you need, all painted and assembled. the more you do over there, the more you will save, and it will only make it worth it if you get as much as you can in one order.

If you ordered 50 wheels, you should be able to get that with your RR name and anything you wanted cast onto the outside face of the wheel.

My plan is to make wheels out of high carbon steel plate, then if they ever wear out I'll turn them down and tire them. So my wheels will have no markings or Id on them, but I'll live.
Narrow Gauge (Information) Exchange dot Org forum
My Projects:
Davenport 30 ton diesel (SV#101 / D&RGW#50)
C&S 1908 steel & 1905 wood: box, stock, flat, gon
D&RGW wooden freight cars, long & short cabeese
EBT 2-bay hoppers, Conoco #44 tank
DV (K&J) hopper
8"n3 - 3-footers, 8" scale, 24" gauge

Glenn Brooks
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Joined: Mon Nov 10, 2014 1:39 pm
Location: Woodinville, Washington

Re: Grand scale wheels

Post by Glenn Brooks » Mon Nov 14, 2016 1:02 am

Loco112 might be on to something regarding chilled wheels from China. I corresponded with a couple of China steel mill RR suppliers a year ago or so, and found very sophisticated and responsive engineering and steel production capability relating to Park Gauge / amusement park railway equipment.

alibaba.com is the Asian version of eBay and Amazon rolled up into one. You can post a request on the railway forum or amusement park train forum and correspond to perhaps half dozen suppliers.

Alternatively, here in the US, two places you might check with are Cattails Foundry in Lancaster Pa, and the Redwood Valley Railroad, Tilden Park, Oakland, California. redwood valley RR has a reputation for assisting other Park Gauge RR's. Cattails is an Amish run foundry that works the old way and is both inexpensive and very dependable. They have a phone down at the end of their road that they check every week for messages. Or you can send them a letter explaining your needs to:

Phone: 717-768-7323

Address: Emunal J King 167 W Cattail RD Gordonville PA 17529.

And no email available.

I have no idea if they can do chilled iron, but Emanuel will certainly give you an honest assessment of their capabilities.

PHotos and a brief description of your RAilway operation would be wonderful addition to the forum!

Regards

Glenn P.
Moderator - Grand Scale Forum

Motive power : 1902 A.S.Campbell 4-4-0 American - 12 5/8" gauge, 1955 Ottaway 4-4-0 American 12" gauge

Ahaha, Retirement: the good life - drifting endlessly on a Sea of projects....

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Loco112
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Location: Dallas ,Texas. USA

Re: Grand scale wheels

Post by Loco112 » Mon Nov 14, 2016 3:00 am

Here is a posting from one of our grand scale owner friends Russ, who got these (link: http://www.dochemp.com/russ.html) as surplus leftovers from the huge ATT&N RY project a few years ago.

This would be your 4140 heat treatable option, and you get the cast on lettering to customize it at little extra cost since these are cast.

Then there is the "cut it from plate & machine" method that I'm aiming at. It will be 4140, and heat-treated, but no fancy lettering. Might be the lest expensive way to get good steel wheels.
Narrow Gauge (Information) Exchange dot Org forum
My Projects:
Davenport 30 ton diesel (SV#101 / D&RGW#50)
C&S 1908 steel & 1905 wood: box, stock, flat, gon
D&RGW wooden freight cars, long & short cabeese
EBT 2-bay hoppers, Conoco #44 tank
DV (K&J) hopper
8"n3 - 3-footers, 8" scale, 24" gauge

LIALLEGHENY
Posts: 91
Joined: Sat Jan 11, 2014 12:36 am
Location: Bohemia, NY

Re: Grand scale wheels

Post by LIALLEGHENY » Mon Nov 14, 2016 4:51 am

My plans are similar to Loco112. I am going to get 4142 or 4150 in heat treated round bar which is hardened to Rockwell C 28-32. EMJ Metals has it listed as being available up to around 30" diameter. 11" should be no problem at all to get which gives you another option.

I would have to question anything coming from China or India, they are notorious for supplying materials that are not to spec. They tell you what you want to hear and send you something different.

Nyle

Soot n' Cinders
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Joined: Wed Jun 27, 2012 5:24 pm
Location: Marietta, Georgia

Re: Grand scale wheels

Post by Soot n' Cinders » Mon Nov 14, 2016 12:02 pm

Another option is Hillcrest Shops. The Hillcrest & Wahtoke has done all kinds of work for park gauge railroads of all sizes. And since they already advertise building custom equipment, I would imagine they would be willing to help you with your wheels.
-Tristan

Projects
-2.5" scale Class A 20 Ton Shay

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Loco112
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Joined: Fri Jan 19, 2007 11:09 pm
Location: Dallas ,Texas. USA

Re: Grand scale wheels

Post by Loco112 » Mon Nov 14, 2016 2:46 pm

Guys, I can get any parts in quantity from The East, and its great stuff. It has to be worth the shippping cost to make it worth while, so think in terms of 20,000 or 40,000 Lbs. Multiple orders can be combined into one shipment. I can also run every part through an American QA lab to verify it, every item, 100% inspected. There are some junky suppliers coming out of all the East countries, but I don't use those (We have those here too). When you or I buy a part from the East, we are basically buying parts from our foundries and shops that were here, but were subsequently taken apart, packed up, shipped to China, reassembled, and are using the entire inventory just as it was when it was here. Sometimes the buildings went too and they even look the same. They have everything we had, and a lot more.

I don't do this for income anymore, so if I do some sourcing of this stuff, its for fun, so keep that in mind.

I do not, and did not, support the offshoring of our manufacturing. The situation today is, if you or I want a grand scale RR, we are either going to get the big parts and pieces from the East, or pay 2-3 times as much for some company to make them in the East, then ship them to you and tell you they are AMERICAN MADE.

We are going to re-shore the high end portion of that which we lost, but basic iron and steel foundries might never return. Every parts and piece that we need is well within the capabilities or the majority of Chinese shops. I also have some dealings with India, but China is their equal and China is less expensive.

The cast iron suppliers are still competitive, so cast iron you can still get here at a competitive cost. Steel and other materials are less expensive from overseas. I have a cast iron coupler that I'm thinking about sourcing from a foundry here in Texas.

These parts in large quantities are the parts we should be buying from the good Chinese supplies:
Rails, wheels, axles, couplers, draft gear, springs, plain bearings, journal boxes and plate steel.
Narrow Gauge (Information) Exchange dot Org forum
My Projects:
Davenport 30 ton diesel (SV#101 / D&RGW#50)
C&S 1908 steel & 1905 wood: box, stock, flat, gon
D&RGW wooden freight cars, long & short cabeese
EBT 2-bay hoppers, Conoco #44 tank
DV (K&J) hopper
8"n3 - 3-footers, 8" scale, 24" gauge

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ALCOSTEAM
Posts: 610
Joined: Tue Feb 04, 2003 9:20 am
Location: illinois

Re: Grand scale wheels

Post by ALCOSTEAM » Fri Nov 18, 2016 6:30 pm

I know several people that work at foundries. The foundries we have left in this country are BUSY and its not because they are cheap, its because customers are coming back to domestic suppliers due to the poor quality and lead times of several months to over a year they are getting oversea's. namely china

Possibly something as simple as a wheel they might not have alot of difficulty with. Just look at brake rotors on cars these days, all from china. As an example take four from one vehicle and you might get one that will outlast a set of pads, the other three you will be replacing cause they are so soft the pads are just rubbing them away. No consistency to chinese metallurgy and if they can't get something as important as brake rotors consistant your wheels would even be lower on their importance list.

If the cost was a few dollars per wheel casting more here it would be worth it especially if the foundry you are working with is close enough you could drop off your patterns and get them back when you pick up your castings.

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RussellCofIdaho
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Joined: Wed Jun 08, 2016 1:44 pm

Re: Grand scale wheels

Post by RussellCofIdaho » Mon Dec 26, 2016 6:12 pm

This subject is interesting to me as I feel the cost of good wheels is the single greatest barrier to entry for budget Grand Scales Railroading. Many of the other parts can be scrounged or substituted but good wheels are essential.

I have hit on the idea of using cast iron barbell weights for wheels and pressing on 'Erich Thompsen Standard' 2.5" wide treads for my 18" gauge (with adjustable gauge axles) but even this is costly.

I picked up 8 barbells at an auction, four 10 pound about 9.5" diameter, four 20 pound about 11" diameter but 1" wall, 10" OD tubing is $68 for a 2.5" wide slice (for 4140; mild steel, I don't remember the number, is $1 less) plus shipping to my local distributor plus cutting fees plus tax so nearly $100 each if I do my own machining on my old 3 in 1.

I was hoping to have my firewood railway in place before now but we are still dragging firewood on a sled through 12" of snow!

I am working on a more detailed post for my blog.

Here is the latest:

http://unknownidaho.wordpress.com
Russell Courtenay
Idaho - USA
unknownidaho.wordpress.com
Big trains and big dreams...

JR May
Posts: 84
Joined: Tue Jul 11, 2006 9:10 am
Location: NJ

Re: Grand scale wheels

Post by JR May » Tue Dec 27, 2016 1:38 pm

I just put this under the broader park train topic, but thought it fit here as well.

I have the 24” gauge Jenkinsons Beach Train which did indeed run on the beach. As in the sand. As a result wheel wear was a apparently a major problem, and I would suppose an expensive problem over its operable life of about 48 years. At some point, someone, and I have no idea who, came up with a wheel design for the Beach Train which had bolt on flanges. The wheel also has a rubber center, I would assume for noise abatement as it ran near peoples’ beach front homes.

In this case, the wheel rotates on the stationary axle, so a ball bearing rode on the axles and was then pushed into the rubber center of the wheel’s tire. The flange bolted on from the back, sandwiching it all together.

Key here is that there is no big casting involved. This is for a 24” gauge park train set, so meets the amusement park type wheel sizes. Heavy wall pipe must have been used for the tread, perhaps thick plate for the bolt on flange once it had been machined.

For the cost of postage, I have some extra worn out wheels if anyone wants one to take apart and copy.

J.R. May
Wall, NJ
Attachments
4 piece wheel 1.jpg
4 piece wheel 2.jpg
4 piece wheel 3.jpg

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