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Bachmann ON30 Conversion to S

Bachmann ON30 Conversion to S

by Steve Blancard

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The Bachmann ON30 freight and passenger cars are ideal for conversion 
to S. They are suppose to be "O" is size but run on "HO" track.  Their size 
is is very close to the Franklin/Washington 4-4-0 size which is actual a bit 
large for S.  My intention was to make some old time freight cars to run with 
my Franklin.I started with the gondola.  This conversion was real easy. 
Here's what I did:
1. Remove the Flyer trucks from the donor by drilling out the rivets.
2. Remove the ON30 trucks by removing the retaining screw.
3. With a Dremel cut-off saw, cut off the coupler boxes on the bottom 
of  the Bachmann, flush with the base.
4. Drill out the pivot hole in the Flyer trucks with a 5/32 drill bit.
This allows the truck to fit over the Bachmann bolster. Be sure to de-burr the hole.
5. Put one #6 flat washer on the bolster, then the Flyer truck, then two #6 flat 
washers on the truck over the bolster.
6. Reinstall the original Bachmann truck pivot screw.
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For the caboose I decided to use SHS #384 trucks and #359 couplers. 
Rick Evans used these on his ON30 caboose conversion and I liked the more 
realistic look.  This conversion took a little more work but can still be 
accomplished in an hour or two.Here's what I did:
1. Remove the ON30 trucks and cut the lighting wires from the trucks.
2. Remove the caboose body, interior and steel plate leaving only the floor.
3. With a Dremel or similar tool cut off the coupler boxes flush with the
bottom of the floor.  Be sure not to cut off the tabs above the coupler boxes
that stick out at each end.  These are necessary to attach the hand rails.
4. The original truck mounting screw is a metric M2 but not long enough to
mount the SHS trucks.  I couldn't find longer screws locally with a large
enough size head, so I decided to use 4-40 x 1" long screws.  I drilled out
the bolster holes (both in the floor and the interior floor) with a .109"
drill bit.  I drilled the holes in the interior floor all the way through
because I planned to put a nut on the end of the screw. After drilling, the
bolsters are pretty thin so be careful.  If you are converting a flat, gondola
or tank car, you don't want to use a nut, so don't drill the hole all the way
through.  You may want to use 2-56 screws instead.
5. To assemble, put three #6 flat washers over the bolsters, then the SHS
coupler, then the truck.  The screw will be snug in the hole and needs to be
screwed in.  Be sure to route the wires from the trucks up through the floor
before attaching the trucks.  Run the screws up and take out all the slack
between the truck and floor.  Leave them just loose enough to allow the trucks
to move freely.
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6.  Now place the steel plate and interior on the floor over the screws.
Route the wiring up on each side.  Put a nut with a drop of thread locker
(Loctite, etc.) on the end of the screw and tighten enough to get the slack
out but allow the truck to move freely.
7.  Solder the new truck wires to the existing light wires in the caboose body
and insulate with shrink tubing or tape.
8.  Re-assemble the body to the floor and install hand rails and ladders.

The caboose comes with an interior that includes a pot belly stove, cabinets
and two bunks.  These are all red plastic.  While it was apart my wife painted
the interior with several shades of brown.  Now it looks much better.
With the light on you can see the inside quite well.

The steam generator load on the gondola is from Ertl.  It is actually HO
scale, but comes already weathered and looks right at home on the old style

S-Helper couplers
S-Helper trucks
Bachmann - ON30, Caboose, Lighted Interior Great Northern 
Item Number 160-27711  Price range  $23.45 - $35.00 
Bachmann - ON30, Gondola Baltimore & Ohio 
 Item Number 160-27212  Price range  $16.75 - $25.00 

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