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A little paint can improve N scale ready-to-run freight cars

Read the N Scale Insight column from the September 2017 Model Railroader
Here’s a Micro-Trains boxcar in the process of getting painted trucks and stirrups. The couplers have been body-mounted and the plastic wheels have been swapped out for metal. Jim usually stays away from painting couplers to maintain good operation.
Bill Zuback photo
A few weeks ago I bought an N scale freight car at my local hobby shop. The car was a bright yellow Milwaukee Road covered hopper by Trainworx, and besides the marvelous detail, it had two other features I’ve come to look for on cars: metal wheels and body-mounted Magne-Matic couplers.

Without body-mounts, my freight trains with mid-train helpers can’t climb Tehachapi Pass without littering the terrain with derailed cars. And by using couplers of all the same brand, I cut down on inadvertent uncouplings.

An exquisite car like this earns and gets a bit of a premium price, but in my case I save about five bucks on the replacement couplers and wheels I’d have to add. Also, I’ll almost certainly get a perfectly centered, perfectly installed coupler, as opposed to my effort.

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