Putting Micro-Trains on a Kato covered hopper

ogre427 Sep 19, 2020

  1. ogre427

    ogre427 TrainBoard Member

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    Hi All,

    I just converted some new Kato covered hoppers to Micro-Trains and thought I'd share how I do it.

    All you need is a pin vice with a number 53 drill bit, a chisel style hobby knife, and most importantly, some Micro-Trains 1039 bolster pins.
    IMG_2676.jpg

    I bought these many years ago, (probably by mistake) but they are still available.

    I don't know how many pictures I can upload in each post, plus I type slow, so I'm going to do this in several parts.
     
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  2. ogre427

    ogre427 TrainBoard Member

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    Here's what I started with: IMG_2668.jpg

    IMG_2671.jpg

    I start by removing the underframe. You could probably do this without disassembling the car, but this works for me.
    IMG_2672.jpg
     
  3. ogre427

    ogre427 TrainBoard Member

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    IMG_2673.jpg

    After taking off the trucks, notice the half-moon cutouts in the center of the clips. I use these to guide the drill bit. IMG_2675.jpg

    IMG_2674.jpg
    Slow and gentle are the watchwords for this operation. Also, don't forget to keep body parts out of the "stabbing zone".
     
    Last edited: Sep 19, 2020
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  4. ogre427

    ogre427 TrainBoard Member

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    After drilling through both bolsters, I use a hobby knife with a chisel blade to cut the clips off flush with the bolsters. (Sorry the picture is out of focus, but you get the idea.) IMG_2678.jpg

    Be careful not to cut off any details like the stirrups when the blade goes through. I cut each half from the rounded side toward the center to avoid gouging the bolster.

    IMG_2679.jpg

    Make sure the bolster is flat, either by scraping with the blade or possibly using a file/sanding stick.

    IMG_2680.jpg
     
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  5. ogre427

    ogre427 TrainBoard Member

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    Finally, it is just a matter of reassembling the car,

    IMG_2681.jpg

    and mounting the trucks with the 1039 pins.

    IMG_2682.jpg

    And Voila! You have converted your Kato covered hopper to Micro-Trains trucks!

    IMG_2683.jpg

    I hope someone finds this useful.
     
  6. drgwspup

    drgwspup TrainBoard Member

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    indeed I did as I have several to do. especially liked the drilling before cutting off the pins. smart idea! thanks for sharing.

    Mark
     
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  7. ogre427

    ogre427 TrainBoard Member

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    I realized I didn't include a picture of the pins. The top ones are the 1039s, the bottom set are the two "standard" size Micro-Trains pins for comparison.

    IMG_2684.jpg
     
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  8. Inkaneer

    Inkaneer TrainBoard Member

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    Rather than using the pins to secure the trucks I would go with 3/16" 2-56 black oxide screws. I use a magnetized Phillips #1 screwdriver to attach the screws. Screws are available on line from several places. I use Micro Fasteners available here:

    https://www.microfasteners.com/home.php?cat=604
     
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  9. ogre427

    ogre427 TrainBoard Member

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    I don't think there is enough material in the bolster to get a 2-56 screw in it. The tap drill size for a 2-56 screw is a #50. According to Micro-Trains that is the hole size needed for the small pin, and you still need to cut threads in the plastic after that.
     
    Last edited: Sep 20, 2020
  10. Inkaneer

    Inkaneer TrainBoard Member

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    No need for a tap. This is plastic not metal. The plastic is soft enough for the screw to cut its own threads. I have never used a tap except when doing cars with a metal floor like Roundhouse. Then again I never used a #50 drill bit either. I just used the tap. Got to go slow and back the tap out frequently but that is just SOP for using a tap.
     
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  11. ogre427

    ogre427 TrainBoard Member

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    What I'm saying is I don't believe there is enough material in the bolster for a 2-56 screw, it doesn't matter how you put it in. But if you've done it successfully I'd like to see it.
     
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  12. urodoji

    urodoji TrainBoard Member

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    Why didn’t you just bodymount?
     
  13. Inkaneer

    Inkaneer TrainBoard Member

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    I don't have any Kato covered hoppers but I have done it on many Atlas, Micro Trains, Delaware Valley, E&C shops as well as other brands. I would think that if there was enough material in the bolster to hold the MT pin then there is enough to hold the screw.
     
  14. Inkaneer

    Inkaneer TrainBoard Member

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    The issue is mounting the truck regardless what coupler is used. Besides, body mounted couplers introduce a whole new set of problems.
     
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  15. ogre427

    ogre427 TrainBoard Member

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    Part of the point of the post is that 1039 pins require a smaller hole than standard Microtrains pins. (Or 2-56 screws) That's why I included the comparison photo.
     
    Last edited: Sep 21, 2020
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  16. ogre427

    ogre427 TrainBoard Member

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    I noticed that the underframe appears to have a starter dimple for body-mounts, so that might work. I personally don't like body-mounted couplers and even try to replace factory ones with truck mounts when I can.
    I don't want to start that debate here. My trains, my choice.
     
    Last edited: Sep 21, 2020
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  17. Inkaneer

    Inkaneer TrainBoard Member

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    If you are satisfied with the 1039 pins then so be it. But just for kicks, have you measured the width of the bolster? If so, how does that compare with the width of the regular MT pin?
     
  18. ogre427

    ogre427 TrainBoard Member

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    I compared the bolster with a pin when I originally started trying to convert them. Just by holding a pin next to the bolster, it was obvious to me there would not be enough material left after drilling the hole. If you're that interested I suggest you get one of the Kato cars and try it yourself. I've found a solution that works for me and wanted to share it with fellow N scalers. You should modify your cars as you see fit.
     
  19. Inkaneer

    Inkaneer TrainBoard Member

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    That's okay. Seeing as how I don't envision myself purchasing any of these cars, I'll just take your word for it.
     
  20. BNSF FAN

    BNSF FAN TrainBoard Supporter

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    I had a pair of these that I sold years ago. Seeing your solution makes me wish I had tried that conversion.

    I know body mounts were mentioned and would be a viable option but not my cup of tea either. I can do a lot of things but those little screws give me fits so I stay away from them when possible.
     
    ogre427 likes this.

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