Beginners Ask Trains Help stop my Walthers troop sleeper car derailing

Help stop my Walthers troop sleeper car derailing

By Steven Otte, Senior Associate Editor | May 11, 2023

Any model train car having derailing problems can be diagnosed with these simple tests

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A military-green HO scale troop sleeper car on a white background
Are you having trouble with your Walthers troop sleeper car derailing? Any model train car having this problem can be diagnosed with a few simple tests. Model Railroader staff photo

Q: A fellow club member and I just started running the Walthers troop cars on the club layout. We are having problems with the troop sleeper cars derailing on the 36″ curves. Can you suggest a solution to this problem? – Alan Cox

A: If those are the only cars having derailing problems on those curves, the problem must be with the cars. The first thing you should check is if all the wheels roll smoothly, don’t wobble, and don’t pop out of the sockets on the sideframes. One-piece plastic wheelsets can sometimes warp, or the sideframes can flex, making their grip on the axles loose.

Next, check the gauge of both the wheels and the track with your National Model Railroad Association standards gauge. (If you don’t have one, you can buy one directly from the NMRA. If you’re a subscriber to, you can learn how to use it by watching this helpful video.)

Then check that the trucks can pivot freely. The prototype they were modeled after never had to handle curves nearly as sharp as those considered broad on our layouts. So cars faithfully modeled on those prototypes sometimes have trouble with below-the-frame details. If you find that the vestibule steps, drop steps, center sills, screws, air lines, or other such items contact the trucks when they turn, take a jeweler’s file to the parts that get hung up so the trucks can clear the obstructions.

Finally, check that the truck mounting screws let the trucks pivot as they should. One truck on each car should be tightened so that it turns freely, but doesn’t tilt. The other should be slightly looser so it can tilt to stay on uneven track.

Good luck stopping your troop sleeper car derailing.

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One thought on “Help stop my Walthers troop sleeper car derailing

  1. Also, be sure that the car it weighted sufficiently to make it “want to” stay on the rails. IMO, typically the NMRA weight standards are 1 – 1½ ounces too LIGHT. I have all my cars in the realm of this additional weight and rarely have derailment problems, regardless of where the car is in the train and whether pulling or pushing the cars.

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