Project Log: Lionel HO Freedom Train

Affiliate Disclosure: We may receive a commision from some of the links and ads shown on this website (Learn More Here) - An online railroad bookstore featuring a curated selection of new and used railroad books. Railroad pictorials, railroad history, steam locomotives, passenger trains, modern railroading. Hundreds of titles available, most at discount prices! We also have a video and children's book section. - An online model railroad bookstore featuring a curated selection of new and used books. Layout design, track plans, scenery and structure building, wiring, DCC, Tinplate, Toy Trains, Price Guides and more.


Always Improvising
Thanks to the power of Facebook marketplace I'm the happy owner of one of a classic Lionel HO American Freedom Train set. I acquired it without a box, with #4449 as the motive power but only with four cars (Official set with 4449 had five). I'm not too bothered by this at the moment, but I have ideas to make a few of my own additions, such as the Tool Car that joined the AFT with #4449.

So here is where I am stuck, I guess. I need to bring the cars up to spec so that I can run them on the club layout! They need metal wheels and Kadee couplers for sure. The cars are extremely lightweight and of course have truck-mounted horn-hook couplers. Weight I can do. I have wheel weights and a scale. Trucks and couplers? Those are tripping me up. I was thinking I would replace the original trucks with appropriate Walthers GSC metal trucks and wheels and install Kadee extended swing couplers on them. Conversions like this are a little different thing for me, so I wanted to ask about it here first. What would you guys do to bring these up to standard?



Well-Known Member
Mount the Kadees to the car's chassis. I would both Glue and screw the coupler boxes to the underside of the car. Look over the Kadee Website at to get an idea of what couplers to use. You could simply nip off the truck mounted couplers and still use the trucks, if you want. Replacement of the wheels with metal wheel sets is a simple enough job. If you feel the trucks on the cars are incorrect than replace with ones that are correct. There is nothing magical; or, difficult to this process.


Always Improvising
There is nothing magical; or, difficult to this process.
I'm really just not sure if I am best served with Kadee Extended swing couplers like I was thinking or if a regular Kadee box and long shank couplers are good enough. My thinking is that since I am a young-ish guy with an uncertain future as far as model railroading, an adaptible system like the Extended-Swing couplers might be the better option.

Really hoping to get these ready to roll fairly soon. I want to get a newer loco with sound to tug them around.
Last edited:


Well-Known Member
I see Kadee recommending a 24 TM coupler for Lionel Passenger cars. When I look at details about the 24 TM it shows a truck mounting system (Talgo Mount) for this coupler. If you want to mount the couplers to the trucks, than this is the way to go. My guess is the TM part of the nomenclature stands for Talgo Mount.

However, if you want to mount the couplers to the car's chassis, you need to do some further digging at the Kadee website to find what couplers will work for you. You can also ask them personally, by phone; or, over the Internet (see Contact Information)

I had some heavy weight passenger cars that all I can remember about them was I used the Talgo style of mount with Kadee No. 5 couplers and they worked fine. The Talgo Mount can cause problems when backing the train up as they can cause significant side forces which may derail the truck. I didn't really need to back my passenger trains up.

Now, I have MDC Roundhouse Overland 50 foot Passenger Cars and I simply cut off the Talgo coupler mount and mounted coupler boxes with No. 5 couplers to the chassis.

Good Luck!
Last edited:


Always Improvising
Well Walthers had passenger car trucks on sale so I went ahead and ordered a bunch that match AFT photos. These are GSC trucks of some type which I forget at the moment.

I'm actually pretty amazed. These cars are what, 43 years old by now? They ride at the perfect height on Walthers trucks with proper 36" wheels if you use the Walthers Proto bolster adapters intended for these trucks. They have to be doubled-up and glued together but it works. IMG_20190216_2319183892.jpg
Here's a comparison of the new trucks vs the old originals. One definitely looks better than the other, and since I probably will not go super crazy with extra detail, the change offered by the new trucks is very welcome.


Active Member
Dakota, not to be a knitpicker, but the 'window car' with the model Liberty Bell in it, went between the loco, and the 2 display cars, in 1976, when I saw it at Denville, Jct, NJ. I bought the cars from 'Hobbies For Men,' in the late 70's and the Lionel GS-4 from Charles Ro, about the same time. Haven't run any of them for years. Since then, a friend of mine has given me some Tyco Bicentennial box cars(3 actually) which I plan to run as part of the train..


Always Improvising
the 'window car' with the model Liberty Bell in it, went between the loco, and the 2 display cars.
You are absolutely correct. The two window cars were behind the tool cars & flats, and ahead of the walk-through display cars. Trust me, I've gone through a couple bouts of serious research into the AFT consist since acquiring this set. I'm now stuck on whether or not I want to model more of the AFT consist or not. I may opt to turn my set into a selectively compressed AFT consist of maybe 8 cars instead of 26.


Right now I just need to wrestle with what I have. The Walther's trucks look great, and the bolster adapters for them seat on the car bodies almost like they were intended to, but no glues I have seems to want to adhere to them.

Fortunately the original Lionel trucks fit Intermountain 33" wheels no problem, so I may just run them like that for a little bit. I have a Bachmann #4449 in AFT colors on its way to me via mail as of right now so I'm really hoping I can get the consist in good enough shape to run at the club Sunday.

Finally got enough work done on my cars to run them behind a brand-new Bachmann 4449. The loco itself ran very well, although I did add some weight right out of the box. The loco is the Sound Value version, and it needs a little tweaking of the sound. At some point during the summer I'm going to have to paint the car ends and underbodies black, and I want to add vestibules also.

6.jpg is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to