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Kadee 1906 Couplers on an Aristo-Craft 40-Foot Boxcar

This article details a method of installing Kadee 1906 couplers on an Aristo-Craft 40-foot boxcar. Although a boxcar was used for this article, the installation procedure will be the same for Aristo-Craft 40-foot stock cars and refrigerator cars.

CarEnd

Place the car upside-down on a foam lined work cradle or other soft surface. Remove the screw from the center of each of the truck bolsters. Remove the trucks and fasten the screws back in the frame so the washers and screws do not get lost.

AC-Coupler

If the car is a vintage boxcar, the drawbars will have to be cut from the truck bolsters. For newer cars or those fitted with lowered frames this step is not necessary as the drawbar should clear the cut in the center rails of the frame when the truck is reversed on its mounting post. If the frame is the newer style, jump to the paragraph about adding shims for the Kadee 1906 couplers.

For the older style of car, remove each wheel axle from their sideframe bushing one-at-a-time by gently spreading the sideframes. Remove the brake shoe holders (shown at the bottom of the photo). Be careful not to lose the two small springs in each. If a spring does disappear, it can be replaced with a spring from a hook and loop coupler. To prevent the springs from getting lost, place a small puddle of CA (super glue) on a piece of paper. Place the end of each spring in it, and glue it back in its brake shoe holder.

Truck 

Remove the truck bolsters from the sideframes. Using a razor saw cut the drawbars from the bolsters as shown in these two pictures.

 Bolster

Place a little plastic compatible grease in the slots at the end of each bolster. Holding a sideframe and bolster upside-down, insert the bolster in the opening of the sideframe and slide it down until it touches the bottom. Add the other sideframe to the bolster.

Place a brake shoe holder, with the springs pointed down, behind the sideframe. Angle the brake shoe holder until the springs are through the opening in the sideframe and their ends engage the near side of the pins in the holes in the bolster. Carefully angle the lip on the top of the brake shoe holder down until it just clears the top of the opening in the sideframe. Push the lip through the opening until it just clears the other side of the sideframe. Square up the brake shoe part with the back of the sideframe. With any luck the brake shoe part and springs are in place. Do not become discouraged if you do not get it together with the first try, I didn’t. With a little patience and practice however, this will become a lot easier.

 Sideframes

Repeat the process for the other bolster, sideframes and brake shoe holders. If metal wheel sets are being used, you may have to install the axles before adding the second brake shoe holder and sideframe.

Spread a little plastic compatible grease on the end of each wheel axle. Insert the wheels one-at-a-time into their sideframe bushings by gently spreading the sideframes. Place the truck on a piece of track and test the action of the springs by pressing down on the bolster. Repeat the process for the other truck.

Shims will be required to mount the Kadee 1906 couplers on this boxcar at the right height above the rails. Each shim will be 1 inch long and 3/4 of an inch wide. The shims for this Aristo-Craft boxcar with a lowered frame will be 3/16ths of an inch thick. For the older style of boxcars the shims would be 5/16ths of an inch thick.

 ShimB

The shims will be made by gluing layers of styrene together. Score and snap a strip 1 1/2 inches wide by 3 inches long from a 1/16 inch thick styrene sheet. Score a line down the center of the strip. Using a small square, score lines across the strip at 1 and 2 inches from either end. Lightly sand the strip on both sides to remove the ridges from the edges, ends, and lines. Snap the strip into 6 pieces.

 Strip

Glue two sets of 3 pieces together with all the edges and ends of the pieces flush with each other. I have tried a number of glues, but found Testors plastic cement was the easiest to use. Clamp the two shims in a vice to ensure the pieces in each bond flat together. When the glue has cured, paint the edges and ends of the shims flat black and let them dry.

 Shim

Remove the long chrome screw from the center of each end of the boxcar and set them aside. Fasten a strip of thin double-sided carpet tape to the top of each shim. Remove the masking from the tape and fasten a shim in the center of the coupler pad at each end of the car. The ends of each shim should be flush with the ridge on the coupler pad and the end of the car.

ShimB 

Remove the screws from the frame and use them fasten the trucks to the car. Each truck bolster should have a washer underneath it. Place the car on a straight and level piece of track with a Kadee Gauge 1 coupler gauge. The coupler on the gauge should face away from the car for this test.

 Gauge

Ensure all the wheels are on the rails and push the car from the far end. The bottom of the shim should just slide over the anvil like protrusion on the end of the gauge. If it hits the shim is too thick. If there is space between the gauge and the shim, try moving the washers from under the truck bolsters to under the screw heads.

If the shims are the proper thickness, remove the screws, trucks, shims and carpet tape. Fasten the screws back in the frame so the washers and screws do not get lost. Fasten a shim in the center of the coupler pad at each end of the car with CA (Super Glue). The ends of each shim should be flush with the ridge on the coupler pad and the end of the car.

When the glue has cured, draw a line down the center of each shim from front to back. From the front of each shim measure back 1/4 of an inch and place a mark on the line. Drill a hole at the marks with a 3/16 of an inch bit. If it is placed properly, the bit will pass through the shim and the hole in the frame left by the long chrome screw. From the front of each shim measure back 7/8 of an inch and place a mark on the line. Drill a hole at each of the second marks through the shim, car frame and floor with the 3/16 of an inch bit.

Assemble the Kadee 1906 couplers. Using the self-tapping screws provided by Kadee fasten the couplers to the shims. The screws should be tight, but not enough to affect the movement of the coupler.

Kadee 

Remove the screws from the frame and use them to fasten the trucks to the car bolsters. The washers should remain under the truck bolsters.

 Truck

Congratulations, you have successfully installed a set of Kadee 1906 couplers on your Aristo-Craft 40 foot boxcar.

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