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  • Topic: REVIEW: New Aristo Street Car - foible are wheel flanges ?

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    • January 31, 2011 8:49 PM EST

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      Based on an recent e-mailed sale ad from TrainWorld, I purchased a new Aristo-Craft street car -- in the Los Angeles livery. Cost was near $200.00. Here is my evaluation of both the construction and running quality.

      Construction:
      1 - Size is 19" long x 4 1/4" high x 3" wide. The Aristo packaging declared the car to be 1:29 scale. To me, compared to the Hartland street car, it is considerably smallerl. Hartland size: 18 1/2" long x 6" high x 4 1/2" wide. I won't run them together as the Aristo would look like "O" gauge.
      I was very surprized at the "small" size compared to the Hartland street "Red Car." However, in fairness, I did not inquire as to the actual size nor do I know if the 1:29 assessment is inaccurate. Simply, the car is noticeably smaller.

      2 - Detail of the car is very good. The assembly is not complicated once the decision is made as to which screws separate the frame from the body to access the interior --- there are only 4 screws to make that separation and they are the only ones recessed. The interior has seats and upright poles to accomodate standing passengers. No passengers are included. The detail appears well thought out. The paint is very well done.

      3 - The frame is metal and appears to be more than adequate. The weight is 4 lbs., 4 ounces.

      4 - The lighting is by leds. The passenger section has seven leds on each side of the interior providing more than enough light. There are running lights and directional headlight. The belly switches are no motor, no lights, and a choice for the cantanary system. The electronic board is easily accessable -- I think the lighting has a max limitation in the electronics.

      5 - The cantanary system is designed to work.

      6 - Each truck is powered. On the bench the motor assemblies ran smoothly -- some wobble in the axle/wheel, although it is minor. The motors appeared well-lubed. To me, the drive assembly appears complicated with the double drive/geared axles per each wheel. This evaluation is a comparison to the simplicity of the Hartland drive. My description is none other than it looks complicated, not that it is inadequate.

      Problem (?)
      The wheel flanges are a full 1/8" tall. When running on the 40' of Aristo stainless track -- a point-to-point set up -- the car wobbled at certain points in the track. The wobbling was specific to those points which appeared to be where the track ties were attached to the rail. The wheels would actually lift up from the rail. In the 40', about fifteen instances occured. The Hartland has LESS than 1/8" flanges and runs beautifully -- so does the B'mann switcher, mining cars, the USA Gp 38 diesel, and all of the LGB locos. So my guess is the flanges are toooo large.
      However, on LGB brass track and portions of Aristo's brass track used on the 400' of mainline, the new street car has less problems -- one of the LGB 1600 turnouts gave it problems.

      Question: Is there an inherent problem in the Aristo stainless track ties or is it simply too high flanges?

      Soooooooooooooo. Is the remedy to file off the flange or run the flanges against a bench grinder. Taking them out of the gear system to do either will be a new one for me.
      Your suggestions are welcome. Sure, I can send the car back to Aristo. If I can remedy the problem myself I give it a 100% "least hassle" award. I am leary of horsing around with manufacturers -- especially, I doubt very much that the Aristo folk have a smaller flange wheel set at the ready to send out.

      OK, that's the review. Your comments are welcome!
      Wendell
    • January 31, 2011 9:07 PM EST
      • Missouri, It's like Floodsburg, man
         
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      Aristo PCC is modeled after one of the first models delivered to Brooklyn. Real ones were somewhere around 45 to 46 feet long, 10 feet tall, and 8.5 feet wide.

      They are little bitty things
      http://www.railpictures.net/viewphoto.php?id=350252

      http://www.railpictures.net/viewphoto.php?id=350544

      http://www.railpictures.net/viewphoto.php?id=147822

      http://www.railpictures.net/viewphoto.php?id=147559

      Some busses are bigger
      http://www.railpictures.net/viewphoto.php?id=350426

      http://www.railpictures.net/viewphoto.php?id=255868

      http://www.railpictures.net/viewphoto.php?id=215877

      Motorman's station
      http://www.railpictures.net/viewphoto.php?id=268561

      Here's some history on them http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/PCC_streetcar
    • January 31, 2011 9:08 PM EST
      • Missouri, It's like Floodsburg, man
         
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      This is the one model is patterned after http://www.railpictures.net/viewphoto.php?id=116389

      Pretty good reviews and commentary here http://groups.yahoo.com/group/largescaleTrolley/message/5861
      http://www.interurbansofthefoxvalley.blogspot.com/
    • January 31, 2011 9:33 PM EST

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      Forrest-

      Many thanks for the photos -- 1:29, in this case, means NOT as large as I anticipated. So I'll remedy the problem with the flanges and run it separate from the Hartland street car.
      Thanks again,
      Wendell
    • February 1, 2011 11:58 AM EST

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      The Heartland model & the Aristo cars are not the same scale. By scale alone, the Heartland car would be bigger. As was pointed out, the PCC is a relatively small car compared to many others.
    • February 2, 2011 7:08 AM EST
      • Shut up Rooster
         
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      I got a chance to see two of these run at our last club meeting. They were very nice and ran well. Didnt noticed any wheel issues on LGB/Pico track. I like the lighting in them.
      HLW is 1:24 scale.
    • February 3, 2011 12:02 AM EST
      • YYC, CANADA
         
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      George Schreyer has put together another great tech' page, here is the one re: "scale";
      http://girr.org/girr/tips/tips12/pcc_tips.html#scale

      According to his acquired figures, there is not any major (noticable or otherwise) dim. diff. other than in trolley pole ht.

      IMHO nite, doug c
      ____________________________________

      " G-Gauge may not RULE, but it  GROWS  on Ya !! "    djc'99

    • February 3, 2011 2:05 AM EST
      • Missouri, It's like Floodsburg, man
         
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      Doug Cannon said:
      George Schreyer has put together another great tech' page, here is the one re: "scale"; http://girr.org/girr/tips/tips12/pcc_tips.html#scale
      Just wrote the author of that page with this: Re: " Many lines chose to use double ended cars with a trolly pole at BOTH ends. To my knowledge, there were NO PCC cars with a normal cab at both ends. " Those two sentences have me a bit confused, in the reference books I have, "double ended" means it does have a normal cab at both ends; otherwise it wouldn't be double ended. Maybe I'm missing something about this specific use of the phrase "normal cab": to me that means a regularly used and equipped motorman's station with seat and such. References on hand give four outfits which did have PCC fitted with driver stations both ends. In 1939 Pacific Electric Railway ordered 30 double end cars. Quoting page 133, PCC Coast to Coast, "Numbered 5000-5029, the double-end cars were not only the longest ever built, but were also the first to be provided with couplers and multiple-unit control for operation in up to three-car trains." In June 1942 Dallas, Texas, ordered 25 double-end PCC, road numbers 601 to 625, from Pullman-Standard. As you might imagine they were not delivered until 1945. They wound up going to MTA in Boston in 1958 and 1959. St. Louis Car Co. built double-enders for San Francisco, 10 cars in 1948 numbered 1006-1015. Before that purchase of 10 cars there was a bit of controversy with the first five SF cars because SF Muni wanted non-PCC trucks on its cars. Transit Research Corp. who held the PCC patents wouldn't allow Muni to call the cars PCC although they did want to be paid the royalties for the same cars. And also in 1949 for Illinois Terminal, 8 cars, numbered in the 450 series, with General Electric multiple-unit control for its St. Louis to Granie City suburban run. References say that each of the St. Louis Car batches did not precisely follow the PCC's specs for double end cars. References: PCC From Coast To Coast by Fred W. Schneider III and Stephen P. Carlson. Copyright the authors 1983. Published by Interurban Press. ISBN 0-916374-57-2 An American Original the PCC Car by Seymour Kashin and Harre Demoro. Copyright the authors 1986. Published by Interurban Press. ISBN 0-916374-73-4 The Colorful Streetcars We Rode. Bulletin 125. Copyright 1986 the Central Electric Railfans' Association ISBN 0-915348-25-x From Bullets to BART. Bulletin 127. Copyright 1989 the Central Electric Railfans' Association ISBN 0-915348-27-4 The Interurban Era by William D. Middleton Copyright the author 1961. Published by Kalmbach Books. ISBN 0-89024-003-5
    • February 3, 2011 3:20 AM EST

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      I used to run this one, once St. Louis #451 from those described above .... and it did indeed have two poles and a cab at both ends.

      http://photos.nerail.org/s/?p=168082
      http://photos.nerail.org/s/?p=66243
      http://photos.nerail.org/s/?p=17511 (Front) http://photos.nerail.org/s/?p=19894 (rear)

      Oddly, it was the biggest car in service at the time, the other three being a Naragansett car (1850) a Montreal Safety Car (2600) and a Montreal open "Golden Chariot" (4) .... the #4 may have had some weight on the PCC, but the PCC just ... felt bigger. Also, while the other cars all had air brakes of one kind or another, the PCC has electric brakes, in four stages: Dynamic, Brake Shoes, Brake Shoes plus track skids, and the last bit of travel on the pedal, brake shoes, track skids, and sanders (assuming there's actually sand in the box!.) The operator sits down, and controls the car with his feet, much like a bus sans steering wheel, while in other earlier trolleys, the motorman typically stood up, and used hand controls for most functions. Oh, and vis a vis the double poles: On many cars the idea was to remove one pole before putting up the other to avoid short circuits ... with the PCC doing this would remove your braking effort, so you want to put one up before pulling the other down, so as not to lose power to the brakes. As a result, if one is too energetic pulling down the pole and whacks the roof .... blue lightning results!

      Matthew (OV)
    • February 3, 2011 6:01 PM EST

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      REPORT:
      The wheel flange saga is only part of the problem. The wheel gauge is sooooo tight that the flanges are within a sneeze from touching the inside of the rails. Therefore, in places whereby the track has moved ever so slightly inward, the trolley lifts up from the track and derails. Why Aristo has chosen -- I suspect they didn't but the mfg. did -- to make the flanges so tight to the inside of rails defies logic. No other loco or rolling stock I have from LGB, USA, LGB, or earlier Aristo-Craft has this problem. IF you were to look at the wheel tread surfaces you see at least width greater than 1/4 inch. That's plenty of room for the wheels to slide. If you choose to purchase, read my posting in the Problem Solving section of our site. I make a full report as to what I did to make this trolley work.
      Wendell
    • February 7, 2011 2:56 PM EST
      • UK/Ontario/Oregon
         
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      Mrs tac has promised me the Tronna version for my upcoming birthday anniversary - if I'm good.

      However, given the rather odd-ball nature of AristoCraft's interpretation of the back-to-back measurements for 45mm track, I'll take a raincheck until it gets sorted.

      tac
    • February 7, 2011 6:49 PM EST

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      Tac-
      Ironic that Mrs. Wendell agreed that my birthday present to myself was the Aristo street car. Waiting for a review and the "how-to" sorting out makes sense. The flanges were so tight against the inner rail surfaces there was occasional screech on the straight-aways. Let's see what Kevin or Marc reports if the cars are reviewed in GR.

      Congrats on your own birthday anniversary. How many years have you celebrated your 39th birthday?
      Wendell
    • February 7, 2011 7:29 PM EST
      • Missouri, It's like Floodsburg, man
         
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      Forrest Scott Wood said:
      Just wrote the author of that page with ...
      He replied, and I'm still trying to develop some comprehension of this statement in that response, "I know of no cars that had passenger doors on both sides as would be required of a car that was truly double ended. " Huh? Granted, one can only directly see one side at a time, but one can tell through the windows that both sides looked like this http://www.phillytrolley.org/redarrow.html Image

      Those sure as hell weren't freight doors. http://www.flickr.com/photos/8226029@N06/3389298255/in/photostream/
    • February 7, 2011 10:32 PM EST

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      I think part of the bit about the double ended car needing doors on both sides at both ends goes along with part of the PCC car philosophy of operation ... one part was that, unlike many earlier trolleys, the PCC car was designed for one operator, and not necessarily an operator and a conductor. On some units, the design involved a wide door at each end, where passengers both boarded and disembarked, and the operator collected fares. The door, much like a modern bus, was designed to be on the "curb side" with respect to the direction of travel, much like a bus. The door at the trailing end was not used except in an emergency. On cars with center doors, passengers would board (and pay) at the front, and exit via the center.

      One interesting "contradictory" fact about the St Louis PCC's is that they must have been operated with a conductor at some point, as there is a covered "bell box" at each end allowing the conductor to send signals and perform other functions from the trailing end of the car, and the operator has a signal bell with which to answer him.... though as these cars were equipped for multiple unit operations, that may have been to provide a conductor in a trailing unit the ability to communicate with the operator at the front of the lead unit....

      The only "truly double ended" cars, with mirror image doors left to right might have been designed for operation on subway systems or interurban systems with subway style platforms... the majority of PCC cars put the operator on the left mimicking the motor buses they resembled.
    • February 8, 2011 2:43 AM EST
      • West Grove, Pennsylvania
         
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      ____________________________________

      "Nothing in the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity." --Martin Luther King Jr

    • February 8, 2011 6:35 PM EST
      • Missouri, It's like Floodsburg, man
         
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      Okay; we've got a 1931 Brill Bullet and then a PCC carrying the number of one from PTCo's July 1944 order with St. Louis Car Co. for cars numbered 2701-2800; which with the war going were several years later in being built and delivered.
    • February 8, 2011 6:52 PM EST
      • Missouri, It's like Floodsburg, man
         
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      Matthew (OV) said:
      ... one part was that, unlike many earlier trolleys, the PCC car was designed for one operator, and not necessarily an operator and a conductor.
      PCC came off the factory floor with or without conductor according to whatever labor rules the ordering outfit was operating with at the time. Apparently some systems changed from two man to one man later. Might have even been some change the other direction. Speaking of changes, Chicago tinkered with door locations and numbers of doors on some of its cars testing various patterns of passenger flow as well as changing from two man to one man operation. Which, given that the PCC used standardized body panels, wasn't all that difficult to do. It was also not all that big a deal to build the car to different body widths and track gauges to suit operator specs. Would have to go look it up but I think gauges varied from 3ft 6in in LA to 5ft-something for at least one outfit in Pennsylvania. Ya know what, I am going to go look. BRB
    • February 8, 2011 7:00 PM EST
      • Missouri, It's like Floodsburg, man
         
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      Here we go,
      "An American Original The PCC Car p.59" said:
      A variety of modifications was allowed in the specification book. While it has often been stated that the "standard PCC" was a single-ended, one-man car, 46 feet long, this was incorrect. The specification book encouraged assembly of the standardized body components into a number of alternative lengths and widths to meet specific operating conditions. As mentioned earlier, two types of trucks were available. More than half of the PCC surface cars built in North America were for operators using other than standard 4' 8 1/2" gauge.
      Back to the double-ended issue; Appendix I, "United States-Built PCC Surface Cars - Original Equipment" on pp.180-182 of book mentioned above, has a column headed "Backup Control" with entries of Yes, No, DE; with DE being for Double Ended. DE comes up for, 1938 San Francisco order #1619; 1940 Pacific Electric order #6624; 1942 Dallas, Texas, order #6699; 1948 San Francisco order #1667; 1948 Philadelphia Suburban Transportation order #1755; 1948 Illinois Terminal order #1672. Hmm, 1938 San Fran order says see note g. Okay. "These cars contain PCC patented components. Not designated PCC cars due to a city charter prohibition to royalty payments requiring a lump sum settlement included in car purchase price. Original order was four cars, two with GE equipment and two with WH equipment; order increased by one additional car with GE equipment and Clark B-2 trucks"
    • May 10, 2011 10:04 PM EDT

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      Thanks to superb work by Greg, the new Aristo street car is running.

      Now full testing did occur:
      Surprise data for me: With the lights on in the car, the voltage required to maintain speed outside of slow is 17 volts. The power supply is a MRC 10 amp. pack running 17 volts measured at the track. The track is a single line 60 feet long, in stainless with stainless and brass clamps, and using the excellent reversing unit made by Split-Jaw. the surprise is in contrast with the Hartland Pacific Electric street car model that races at that voltage -- with full lights on. The Hartland little Big Mac goofy 0-4-0s with heavy lighting in the cab also are much more efficient. Is the Aristo lighting engineering so different in causing what appears to be a noticeable comparative energy draw with this particular Aristo product?
    • May 11, 2011 12:03 PM EDT
      • North Coastal, CA
         
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      Wendell:

      Your voltage versus top speed observations have absolutely nothing to do with the power efficiency of either of the units you are comparing.

      First, the amount of electric power required (again, NOT the power efficiency) is the product of current times voltage. The formula is P=IxE, where P is the consumed power in watts; I is the measured current in amps; and E is the measured voltage in volts. The measured current and voltage must be taken simultaneously, then the formula applied. As an example, if you measured 2.0 amps at 17.0 volts, the unit is using 34 watts. That number is the power draw of the unit, but even a lower watt value does not directly imply better power efficiency.

      To determine power efficiency, you must consider the weight, number of motors, number of powered wheels, gearing, measured tractive effort, type and amount of lighting, sound, and any other electrical appliances in the unit. I don't own either of the units you mention, but imagine you will find significant differences in these items. A lighter weight body running one motor with high gearing might consume less watts (power), but may not have the tractive effort of a heavier, dual motor unit with four driven axles.

      Even a lighter body is not necessarily the mark of good (power efficient) engineering, especially if that body is prone to easier damage or if it has less detail than a competitor's heavier more detailed unit.

      There is another consideration when only looking at the voltage required to run a model: The ability to precisely control speed is directly related to voltage span. The following explanation is highly simplified, but voltage span is the difference between the minimum voltage required to move the model and the voltage that produces the top prototypical speed. If a model requires 4 volts to start moving, and reaches its top prototypical speed (say 50mph for a streetcar) at 12 volts, it has an operating voltage span of 8 volts. A similar model with the same starting voltage that reaches its maximum (50mph) prototypical operating speed at say 24 volts has a voltage span of 20 volts. Now consider the speed control available: In the first unit, a change of one volt will cause an increase or decrease in speed of 6¼ mph. A change of one volt in the second unit will increase or decrease the speed by only 2½ mph. The higher voltage unit has much more precise speed control. Precise speed control in models is definitely a sought after plus. I think this is especially true in an item like a streetcar.

      Bottom line: Your voltage measurement versus observed speed has little (actually nothing) to do with the power efficiency of the units, nor with the ability of either company's engineering departments.

      Hope this helps.

      Happy RRing,

      Jerry
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