TH&B 70 Ton Hoppers Part 6 – Trucks

In his response to my previous post on this topic, Chris Mears asked about the trucks that came with the Stewart model I used for my TH&B hoppers. I’ve put together a short post in response to his question.

Because I mentioned the ill-fated attempt at using True Line trucks in my previous post, I want to expand on this first.  True Line has had their fumbles, and the masses have subsequently beaten them with suitable vigour.  I think it’s safe for us to leave that debate to the various online fora.  I’ll celebrate the fact that they’ve survived the lashings, and they continue to make a go of it.  I own a number of their models and I especially like their slab side covered hoppers.   I’m in line for a pair of their upcoming SW1200RS models, and I’m hoping for another run of their CP and CN vans and the slab sided covered hoppers.  My experience with their freight car trucks was a disappointment.  They should never have let those parts get into a package and onto store shelves.  One pack of bad trucks would be a fluke, but I bought two packages and both were unusable.  In the end, I was refunded my money, but I that’s beside the point.  It’s inconvenient for me to get to a store that has the parts I need for the hobby.  I want to support bricks and mortar stores, but when I get there and put my money down, I should not be performing quality control for any product I purchase, especially if that product carries a premium price, and is not labelled as a factory defect or second.  There; I can move on.

As I wrote in my previous post, I wanted to move the project forward.  Chris’s question was whether the Stewart sideframes are good enough to keep if the wheelsets are replaced.  Let’s go through some photos and figure this out.

Here’s a photo of a truck on the prototype car.


Next is a series of photos of the stock Stewart trucks from my models.




You’ll have to ignore the compression that took place when I took the prototype photo with a telephoto lens, and the expansion that took place when I took the model photos with my iPhone set to wide angle.  The Stewart model appears to have the correct proportions, despite these distortions.

The Stewart part is missing some finer details on the journal doors, the openings at the ends of the frame, and the insides of the bolster openings.  The lip around the opening in the truck frame is too pronounced.  The overall dimensions seem appropriate for a 70 ton truck.  The detail that bugs me the most is the area under the springs on the frame.  That looks different from the prototype.

I suspect that Stewart was aiming at representing a 70 ton capacity ASF A-3 Ride Control truck (with solid bearings, obviously).  I don’t know the origin of the trucks on the TH&B car.  Maybe they were cast by National Steel Car themselves, and are therefore going to be slightly unique from the ASF trucks.  Maybe my spotting is off.  I’m hoping someone can enlighten me on this.

Tangent Scale Models builds a much nicer model of a truck that represents the same prototype as the stock Stewart truck.  This is still not an exact match to that on the TH&B car (again, my spotting could be off).  Here’s the Tangent model (image is from their website).


There are some other quality representations of the ASF truck available in HO scale, but the photo of the Tangent model illustrates the improvement in quality that’s taken place over the past two decades.  My options, as I see them, are to equip the stock trucks with replacement wheelsets, or buy something like the Tangent trucks.  The stock trucks with replacement wheelsets will certainly work.  Whether they match the level of detail on the car the way I’ve modified it is a question I’ll wrestle with over the next while.  I’m leaning toward the Tangent truck with semi-scale metal wheels.

Thanks for the question, Chris.  What would you do?

6 thoughts on “TH&B 70 Ton Hoppers Part 6 – Trucks

      • Intermountain. Good price in bulk and they work well. All of mine have been in gauge.

        I hate Intermountain trucks though. They’re designed to flex but in practice they don’t but rather raise one wheel ever so slightly off the track causing regular derailments.

        For flat cars, I use Kadee metal trucks with Intermountain wheelsets. This combination is the heaviest possible and gets the weight down low where it helps.

        I switch the Kadee wheelsets from these trucks over to cars which are too heavy anyway as the Kadee wheelsets are lighter.

  1. Interesting post. Thanks.

    The first thing that came to my mind when I read your post had little to do with either of the main subjects you touched on; both of which I want to comment on. I can’t get over how thick the HO scale trucks and wheelsets are. I am reminded of the photo that Andy Reichart uses on the front page of his Proto 87 Stores website that shows a prototype grain hopper as it actually is and how it would look if real railways used wheels profiled the way we modellers do. But that tangent has little to do with your post. Sorry.

    I feel terrible about the luck True Line has had. The company itself is just so eager to really make a meaningful contribution to the Canadian model railway and it’s so heartbreaking the way things seem to work out for them and it upsets me the way they are treated in various online forums. I have TLT to thank for hammering in the final points of temptation realing me back into HO with models like their eight hatch reefers and my starting to realise just how often I was swooning over their upcoming sw1200rs. So, with my fan confession exposed I agree that it’s frustrating that both sets of your trucks weren’t useful for your project. Out here on Prince Edward Island I too don’t have a local hobby shop. I depend almost totally on mail order and it’s frustrating to pay for shipping and patiently wait for something only to have it not work out.

    Onto the trucks. The Tangent truck castings look really nice and would be a noticeable improvement over the Stewart ones. I never understood why they too have chosen to produce a wheelset with a flat face. I wonder if a hybrid using something like the Tangent truck with another factor’s wheelsets might be the route to take. I picked up a bunch of Intermountain 33″ and 36″ steel wheels on a whim to see what they were like. I’d be more than happy to mail you a few axles so you could offer your review. Just email your address and I’ll get them in the mail.

    Now I’m intrigued with where one could source a truck like the one you’re after. I think I’ll have to surf around to see what is out there.

    • Andy has hit upon the locus of the next big milestone in HO scale model trains, I think. Wheels, trucks, and track details represent its greatest shortcomings and Proto87 is on the vanguard of addressing those.

      • Agreed and yes he has. I love the way each of the different finescale groups are starting to produce product lines to help overcome some of the shared challenges. Examples of this include the track products the 2mm group is making now and of course Andy’s superb product line.

        I remember reading in a very old British magazine that pursuing finescale tolerances wasn’t so much an obsession with fidelity as it was an investment in simply working toward models and railways that ran better. After reading that article I looked at my own models and some of the common faults that too often plagued them and found I agreed with that observation.

        That the track just looks so fantastic in P87 helps too!

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