Walthers released a set of ore/taconite cars recently that I immediately knew I wanted on my railroad. These cars are perfect for running on lines with short radius turns as well as running out on the mainlines. The set I procured was a twelve-pack of ore cars marked in Union Pacific colors. Each car is individually numbered, which is the first little detail that doesn't require any attention.
Two of the twelve cars are equipped with Kadee-compatible couplers on one end so that these cars can be switched into any run. The other ends of these two cars, as well as on both ends of the remaining ten cars, are non-functioning short-coupled couplers. This presumes that you won't be breaking up this 12-unit run anywhere on your railroad. The advantage is that these short couplers look great and won't accidently disconnect during operations. If you want the option of switching any or all of these cars individually, simply replace the dummy couplers with your favorite coupler.
These cars run smoothly together on the test track. The only problem was with the dummy couplers. They do hold onto the next car quite effectively, but the flash and left-over mold lines inside and outside of these dummy couplers bind when setting up the cars.
This problem is easily remedied - take your needle file and simply remove the flash and mold lines from the inside and outside of each coupler. It only took me a few seconds per coupler, but the result was well worth it. The cars link together much easier on the track.
Straight from the box, the cars run smoothly on the track with no bobbing or wobbling on the track. The wheels all registered in gauge using my trusty NMRA wheel gauge. Yet there is something still wrong with these cars...they're empty!
Chooch To The Rescue
I found that Chooch Enterprises makes loads for different types of rolling stock and the Walthers ore cars were no exception. I opted for the taconite loads. Chooch bundles four loads on each of their load kits for these ore cars, and no two loads appear to be from the same load. This greatly enhances the appearance of the set.
As you can see in the photo on the left, the loads are molded to drop into the ore car, theoretically without any muss or fuss. I found that the loads appeared unrealistically high when placed in the car, so I grabbed my trusty Dremel tool and ground down the side edges and altered the curve on the ends to get the loads a little further down in the car. This only took a few seconds for each load. NOTE: Use safety goggles and a protective mask to fend off the resin dust that you'll stir up. The photo on the right shows the resulting alterations.
The newly loaded cars are now a little heavier than NMRA-recommended practice, but they run smoothly and look great on the rails. Straight out of the box, the Walthers ore cars were nice, with the exception of the flash on the couplers. With the Cooch Enterprises taconite loads installed, these cars are even more realistic.
The next step will be to weather these cars. Stop back for par