Improving Roundhouse Ore Cars


This is a project I believe I’ve mentioned before, but it’s been a while. One of my annoyances with the Roundhouse models is that the couplers are way to far out. Even with the shortest shank couplers I could find they stuck out way to far. A while a go I tried cutting off the old coupler box that was part of the original casting and gluing a modified plastic Kadee box in its place.

My original experiment was a success, however my Dremel at the time was battery-powered and quite frankly worthless. Because the battery lasted such a short amount of time and took so long I never really made it very far on the project. In the intervening time I had the need to replace it with one rotary tool that worked and opted for one that was not battery-powered. After some Walthers ore cars (up coming projects) were delivered at the end of last month I got all my ore cars out and was inspired to restart the project. It’s still a bit tedious but much easier with the new Dremel.


On the old most the pivot point for the couplers is actually past the end of the car, now it’s moved to as far in as I could fit it. I have to cut off the back of the new coupler box for extra room, I probably could have shortened it a bit more but I wanted to be careful to leave room for the coupler to pivot.


Modified car on left, unmodified on the right


End view of modified car with Accurail dummy coupler

You may notice that the one car has a gray coupler, it is a dummy coupler I found in an Accurail kit. I was about to toss it out when I realized it was perfect for between sets of cars. The Missabe ran ore cars in sets of four, it is my understanding that this was to reduce connection problems with brake hoses.

Copyright Mike Danneman

Example of semi-permanent coupling
Photo Copyright Mike Danneman

Drawbars are less than idea for modeling because that leaves you with one 16 axle piece of equipment that is difficult to transport and difficult to put on the rails. What is a little easier in modeling is dummy couplers, finding these extra dummy couplers was quite nice. In fact if you have come across these and have no use for them let me know! These gray couplers will eventually be repainted and weathered.

I’ve got seven more cars to finish (and of course parts on hand for 2!), the next step after that is painting and weathering. I’m strongly considering painting three of them to match the three test cars the DM&IR had when evaluating new dumping mechanisms.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.