Minimum curves for 85' streamline cars

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#1
Help!

I'm just starting a layout, and of course, space is a problem. I plan to model the 1955 Empire builder with (mostly) Walthers 85' cars. Will that 15-car train run reliably on 32" curves?

I read the RP11 standard, and it suggests that 40" curves will handle all HO rolling stock, but that 32" curves will suffice for the 85' cars. My current design (in Sketchup) has 36" curves, but the layout is too crowded; I need to reduce those ovals to 64" diameter if possible. Hoping someone here has some real-life experience with 85' cars on 32" curves.

Thx!
 

cajon

Active Member
#2
This question gets asked & answered 3-4 times a year here & other MR forums. So do some searching & you'll get your answer.
 

tootnkumin

Well-Known Member
Staff member
#5
Apart from curve radiuses, and what is also overlooked in this discussion is S curves or changes of direction i.e. through turnouts in yards, is to make sure you have at least the length of a car (preferably more) of straight track between any reverse of direction so as to minimise the amount of opposite misalignment between the coupled ends of the cars. IIRC, Walthers used to claim for their Ready to Run line of coaches a minimum 22" radius (can't find any recommendation on any of the boxes/paperwork on those boxes I have in storage) but that would in practice only refer to a single coach rolling around on it's own. Their products have gone through several iterations over the years. The early RTR's had body mounted, extended swing arm coupler boxes and wire grabs, modeller fitted i.e you had to drill the holes and mount the grabs yourself and decal sheets to choose from. A few years ago they began offering that line with the grabs factory installed and decals applied where suited (UP's Heritage cars).

Walthers now seem to have dropped that RTR named category and are offering Mainline, which is the Entry level (truck mounted couplers, no wire grabs and non flush windows) with a stated on the box, min 18" radius. The previously improved RTR line is now "Proto" with 2 options, non-lighted or Factory fitted track powered led lighting and also window gaskets

To get back to the subject of radius suitability, some cars have stirrups that are either very close to the ends/sides of the truck frames, that can restrict truck swing. One in particular is an RPO ( the one with the express mail bag swing arms) that has long stirrups that the truck can actually hook into. The factory diaphragms vary in style according to the prototype car/coach's style and I have noted some of them, even though they do compress, seem to interfere with each other on too tight of curves. Doesn't take a lot of sideways pressure to derail a car.
 
#6
I'm just starting a layout, and of course, space is a problem. I plan to model the 1955 Empire builder with (mostly) Walthers 85' cars. Will that 15-car train run reliably on 32" curves?
I don't think I hve ever run my Builder on curves that small, but I have taken the Walther's Superchief and a train of some Walther's heavy weights through a 28". I did slow down there, so I don't know if you consider that reliably or not.

I am saying that I think they should be fine on a 32".

Then, just curious, is your Builder from Walther's first run or the 2nd run?
 
#7
Apart from curve radiuses, and what is also overlooked in this discussion is S curves or changes of direction i.e. through turnouts in yards, is to make sure you have at least the length of a car (preferably more) of straight track between any reverse of direction so as to minimise the amount of opposite misalignment between the coupled ends of the cars. IIRC, Walthers used to claim for their Ready to Run line of coaches a minimum 22" radius (can't find any recommendation on any of the boxes/paperwork on those boxes I have in storage) but that would in practice only refer to a single coach rolling around on it's own. Their products have gone through several iterations over the years. The early RTR's had body mounted, extended swing arm coupler boxes and wire grabs, modeller fitted i.e you had to drill the holes and mount the grabs yourself and decal sheets to choose from. A few years ago they began offering that line with the grabs factory installed and decals applied where suited (UP's Heritage cars).

Walthers now seem to have dropped that RTR named category and are offering Mainline, which is the Entry level (truck mounted couplers, no wire grabs and non flush windows) with a stated on the box, min 18" radius. The previously improved RTR line is now "Proto" with 2 options, non-lighted or Factory fitted track powered led lighting and also window gaskets.
These are the Empire Builder cars released in 2007 (I believe). They recommend min 24" radius, but everyone I've talked to says that's not enough. These cars have independent couplers.

walthers1.jpg walthers2.jpg

Thx for the advice!
 

tootnkumin

Well-Known Member
Staff member
#10
That car, I would say, is the same type, whether it's 1st or 2nd run of the Empire builder, I'm not familiar, but the end of the box is the same as the UP set of cars I had firstly, which also said 24" radius (not 22" as I thought previously) I do remember Walthers were clearing on discount at the time. I was very disappointed with them because the Armor (greenish) yellow didn't match the Proto 2000 PA/PB sets I had also got on a clearance price at Internet Trains. They were no different as far as the couplers and body details as the later RTR versions (Correctly colored, started with the introduction of the "City" series I think), and came with the modeller fitted grabs/decals.

Do these you have, have those grabs and decals included in the packet?
 

tootnkumin

Well-Known Member
Staff member
#11
As a footnote, I can run the cars I have now (either late RTR City Series, or Proto) through tighter curves (2 such) than the 36" you are envisaging on my club's layout (about 30"), but at a crawl, observing as they roll past. Rarely get through without at least one derailment.
 

tootnkumin

Well-Known Member
Staff member
#12
As a toenote to the footnote, do your cars have plastic couplers? The late RTR ones have Walthers metal "clone" of KD's #5, which was the replacement when KD's patent on the #5 ran out.
 
#13
Do these you have, have those grabs and decals included in the packet?
Just checked 2 of them. Decals. but no grab irons, even though the instruction sheet says they are included. (These cars are all still in their boxes). Haven't checked the others. Should be no trouble to make some up. One of them is a Proto car, and the grabs are already installed.
 
#14
As a toenote to the footnote, do your cars have plastic couplers? The late RTR ones have Walthers metal "clone" of KD's #5, which was the replacement when KD's patent on the #5 ran out.
Hard to tell, but they look like metal. All cars have interiors, but no lights (I plan to add them).
 

montanan

Whiskey Merchant
#15
You should be able to run on a 32 inch radius. I have Walthers North Coast Limited cars which I am guessing are pretty similar. Most of my curves are pretty broad, over 40 inches, but in one spot I had to drop the minimum radius to 32 inches and I have no problems at all.
 
#16
I do not have any experience with the walthers cars so i cannot comment on tracking reliability for a given radius. It might be useful to note that for aesthetic purposes you "need" bigger radii for curves viewed from the outside than ones viewed from the inside. Furthermore, if part(s) of the curve are hidden, you could consider varying radius, ie like a very large easement from 40" going to 32" (32" at the hidden part). For a future layout that i am planning i am considering 40" for curves viewed from the outside and 36" or less (even 30" at some points) for curves viewed from the inside.
 
#17
Not sure. All seem to be from the same run. See pics above. Can you tell from those pics?
Yes, I Believe those are the first run. They have the Empire Builder sleeve over the box, and it doesn't look like the hand rails are applied at the factory. That is the set I have. I might have a set of 32" sectional track I can throw down later this week and see if they'll go through.
 
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montanan

Whiskey Merchant
#18
The Walthers cars are very good. In the photo below, The train coming out of the yard with the Lowey paint scheme on the right is part of the Walthers North Coast Limited which I use as a tourist train. The train on the left in the pint tree paint scheme coming out of the tunnel is made up of old Riverossi and IHC cars. I got some of these cars from Garry when I purchased the two Atlas F units. They were a nightmare as some had truck mounted couplers and some had body mounted couplers. With the mix of truck and body mounted couplers I was lucky to make it around the layout without any derailments whereas the Walthers cars operated flawlessly. After a boat load of work which required all truck mounted couplers to be removed and replaced with body mounted couplers, and changing out the plastic wheels some of which has flanges so large the wouldn't work on my code 70 track, they now finally operate almost as good as the Walthers cars.

IMAG0506.jpg

In order to get to one of my passenger stations, the train has to back through a number of turnouts and again the Walthers cars have no problem at all. One thing that I will say is that 85' cars can look a bit awkward on tighter radius curves.
 

tootnkumin

Well-Known Member
Staff member
#19
Just checked 2 of them. Decals. but no grab irons, even though the instruction sheet says they are included. (These cars are all still in their boxes). Haven't checked the others. Should be no trouble to make some up. One of them is a Proto car, and the grabs are already installed.
Have a look at the underside of the plastic tray the coach is sitting in for the grabs, they're usually in a small plastic bag, scotch taped on, if they're supplied.
 
#20
Just to upset the apple cart, then rock the boat a little. I have successfully run Walthers Proto 85' cars on 28" radius curves with no problems. This includes the Capitol Limited cars and the Broadway Limited cars. New layout has minimum radius of 30" for main line curves, with wider when practicable. Bottom line is that you should build your curves to the widest radius possible in relation to the space you have available. One other point, contrary to what Walthers says on the box and in their catalog, they do not take well to 24" radius curves. (Which is one reason I'm building a new railroad). :rolleyes:
 



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