N Scale Metal Wheels. Who do you like?

TMC Mar 30, 2022

  1. TMC

    TMC TrainBoard Member

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    I recently purchased a 12 pack of Intermountain High Detail Wheels 33’ #60072 for MTL they roll incredibly well but are actually based on 34.5’ diameter??? and raise the height of the boxcar, obviously not by very much but it’s N scale and small details count. They will be coming off.

    Fox Valley looks great but their supply seems to be all but dried up?

    I ordered Eastern Seaboard 33’ wheels, I’m just hoping they are to scale and roll as well as intermountain. Hard to believe intermountain wouldn’t make the wheels to scale.

    What do you use/ recommend for 33’ and 36’ metal wheels?
     
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  2. freddy_fo

    freddy_fo TrainBoard Member

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    60072 is advertised as 34.5" but the shorter axle length of .537" which is ideal for micro trains trucks. Their 33" and 36" axles have a wider axle of .554" which is what the IM trucks use. Although wider than MT I have used IM axles in MT trucks and they roll/track fine on my layout.

    ESM's seem to be the only game in town for the moment if you want 33" MT compatible metal wheelsets. FVM and IM have been out of stock on the stuff I want for quite a while now.

    Never used ESM but wouldn't hesitate trying a set if I had some MT cars I wanted to update.
     
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  3. Metro Red Line

    Metro Red Line TrainBoard Member

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    Before The Great N Scale Metal Wheelset Drought of the 2010s, I used Fox Valley and BLMA wheelsets. I'd also use Athearn if I were desperate.

    Today, Eastern Seaboard Models is the new king of N scale metal wheelsets! I like them a lot, and they're even more solid than the FVMs, which had production quality issues (I've run across 3 defective wheels and a few sets had the wrong-sized wheels mixed in there (36" in a bag of 33"s or a .553" axle mixed in a bag of .540" axle wheels).

    I've also heard some good things about Tangent Scale Models wheelsets. But like ESM, they only come in .540" axle size (Tangents are technically .537", which just means a more free-rolling .540").
     
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  4. CSX Robert

    CSX Robert TrainBoard Member

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    Interesting. As freddy said, Intermountain advertises those wheels as 34.5", but unfortunately, some retailers list them as 33" wheels, which I'm guessing is why you ordered them. I don't know why they used that size, they have 33" and 36" in their other axle length. I suspect any brand that truly are supposed to be 33" will be very close. The way things have been lately it may just come down to what's available unless you want to wait. Just make sure that if they don't say Micro-Trains replacement the axle length is around 0.53" - 0.54".
     
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  5. Metro Red Line

    Metro Red Line TrainBoard Member

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    In a way they are prototypical; when 1:1 scale railcar wheels leave the factory, they're a couple inches larger in diameter than their listed size. Gradual use will break them in to their advertised size. Then after years and years and miles and miles of use and wear and tear, they are smaller than their size and have to be replaced.

    I'm just not personally impressed with the look of Intermountain metal wheels (as well as those of Micro-Trains and Rapido Trains).
     
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  6. tehachapifan

    tehachapifan TrainBoard Member

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    Mark me down as another vote for ESM wheelsets! Love them!
     
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  7. BoxcabE50

    BoxcabE50 HOn30 & N Scales Staff Member TrainBoard Supporter

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    I gave up on FVM ever restocking. It has been years now. Way too long.

    So, another happy ESM user here. In N scale, and I also use them (as do a lot of others) with my HOn30 rolling stock.
     
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  8. Randy Stahl

    Randy Stahl TrainBoard Supporter

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    Love the ESM wheels. Got 100s of them.
     
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  9. Dogwood

    Dogwood TrainBoard Member

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    My favorit is ExactRail.
     
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  10. BNSF FAN

    BNSF FAN TrainBoard Supporter

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    Not too long back, I happened upon two packages of Intermountain and two packs of ESM metal wheel sets. that allowed me to update twelve more cars to metal wheels. These were all installed on M/T 3 bay covered hoppers. Both typed seem to run well and I found no quality issues with any of the wheel sets. Maybe it's just me but I honestly can not see the size difference between the two. Like some other folks here, I have used most brands and really don't have an issue with any of them. I've kind of favored the IM wheels but now that I have tried the ESM wheels, I have to admit I like the look of them. Not saying I will go exclusive ESM but if I find more, I will probably get them.

    Here is a string of hoppers that have all (some recently) been upgraded to metal wheels.
    20220326_135120.jpg
     
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  11. Traindork

    Traindork TrainBoard Member

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    I have metal wheels from probably every manufacturer on my fleet. They're all acceptable, except for the early Micro Trains, which didn't roll very smoothly. They've gotten better though, as my MT TBOXes roll pretty well. I'll buy whatever is available at the time. As far as the Intermountain wheels, I do believe that they also come in 33" and 36" sizes, not just the 34.5" in-between size.
     
  12. TMC

    TMC TrainBoard Member

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    Why if you were desperate? Are their wheels not great? A local hobby store has some for sale I was thinking of picking some up to try.
     
  13. Metro Red Line

    Metro Red Line TrainBoard Member

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    They're not bad at all, it's just that I prefer FVM/BLMA/ESM metal wheels. The Athearns are certainly better looking and better performing than ExactRail (actually good-quality wheels, but the rims are too thick and the treads are too wide for my tastes)/Atlas (non-BLMA)/Intermountain/MTL/Rapido.
     
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  14. freddy_fo

    freddy_fo TrainBoard Member

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    Yesterday I pulled out my collection of boxcars that I've been acquiring since the late 90s. The large percentage of them are MT. Several are from the early 2000's that came with an extra set of low profile plastic wheels to swap out with the installed large flange if desired. The newer ones are low profile but I've counted about 23 from the "old days" that I'd like to update with the low profiles and thinking ESM would be the way to go if I were to do metal/brass.

    So, maybe I did find a project to use these for after all lol.
     
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  15. urodoji

    urodoji TrainBoard Member

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    I'd planned to convert my entire fleet over to FVM wheel sets. Made some pretty decent progress too. Now, I'm stuck. How are the ESM wheel sets? I don't think the BLMAs are affordable enough, and I don't want the IM sets. I prefer the semi-scale appearance that FVM had.
     
  16. TMC

    TMC TrainBoard Member

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    They do but the axle lengths seem to be a different size than the ones needed for MTL.
     
  17. freddy_fo

    freddy_fo TrainBoard Member

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    I just ordered some to see for myself and I'll update when I get them in. This is going to get expensive to swap out all my MTL plastic wheels so I'm going to start with the large flange cars I have. I purchased enough to do 54 cars which is about a 1/3 of my inventory of that type.
     
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  18. bkloss

    bkloss TrainBoard Supporter

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    My go to is now ESM and I have been extremely pleased. Very few rejects and they have been readily available. I buy 100-200 at a pop (they come 12 ea so that's a lot of packaging to toss. Personally, I wish MT would issue their new releases with metal wheels but there are probably a lot of people that may still prefer plastic.

    Buy your metal wheels when you can as you never know when the supply dries up!

    Brian
     
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  19. Metro Red Line

    Metro Red Line TrainBoard Member

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    I believe the recent runner packs come with metal wheels (the 60' TBOX cars certainly did).
     
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  20. freddy_fo

    freddy_fo TrainBoard Member

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    The recent "on track for a cure" car from MTL had metal wheels but my recent runner packs were all plastic. Intermountain, bluford and such seem to come with metal wheels on all their newer stuff.

    I got my first batch in and they are indeed nice and comparable to the IM "high detail" wheelsets which I've been using to update that brand of plastic wheeled cars (wider axle). They roll/spin very nice.
     
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