Regular readers know I’ve been doing this for a few weeks now – and while things are moving in the right direction, they still need a bit of work. In particular, I still have more problems coupling than I’d like. However, I’m pondering an experiment:
Recently, Mike McNamara has been blogging about his experiences with boosting the weight in the freight cars on his HO scale Maine Central Railroad to well beyond NMRA specifications.
Mike chose this weight after reading about the heavier cars used by Mike Confalone on his Allagash Railway. In his excellent eBook series on his layout (available from Model Railroad Hobbyist), Mike C notes:
When drilling cars in a yard, the cars don’t bounce around and jerk all over the place. There is a naturally-occurring inertia battle between the locomotive and the heavy freight cars. The switching shove and pull moves smooth out, and occur more naturally. To put it in perspective, a typical 10-car cut in a yard may weigh 7 lbs or more!
(This is a great series, by the way. I thoroughly enjoyed it, and recommend it to others – regardless of scale, gauge, era, theme, etc…)
Mike McN’s early findings are likewise encouraging…
The amazing thing is how nice the heavier cars feel when you handle them and put them on the track. It makes the other cars seem super light, even at NMRA standards. It just feels like a working railroad piece now and less like a model. Switching a few cars is really cool and feels totally different. Hard to put into words, but the extra weight really changes the dynamics of car handling.
Reading this, I wonder if the extra weight – and the changes in the dynamics of car handling – would provide enough inertia to encourage the steel locking ball inside the couplers to drop when cars connect. Right now, it seems, coupling onto a single car at a prototypically slow speed can actually push the car along without the locking ball dropping into place. Since many of the moves during an operating session on my layout involve single cars, that’s a problem.
So, adding extra weight is worth a try – but I must keep in mind that unlike Mike and Mike, who run diesels on their layouts, my small steam power already struggles with hauling two passenger cars equipped with compensated trucks. In particular, the 10-wheelers will slip their drivers – and my experiments with Bullfrog Snot were not successful.
I don’t want to overweight my rolling stock to the point that my locomotives can’t pull a typical train. As well, locomotives must be able to shove a cut of cars up the short but steep incline of the Port Rowan coal track. And weighting empty open cars like hoppers and gondolas could be tricky.
Fortunately, I have a couple of open cars I can simply set weights in to see if it makes a difference.