Wheel & Gear Pullers


Setting the gauge of wheelsets and replacing gears is part of the hobby. Here's some ways to handle the tasks


Pulling/ adjusting wheels on rolling stock:


You will normally only "move" the wheel(s) in or out to set gauge. Most wheelsets are undergauge from the manufacturer.

Usually one side is metal wheel to metal axle. The other side is normally metal wheel with plastic insert on metal axle, insulated side.

Tip: be careful when adjusting the insulated side that you move the insulator with the wheel, otherwise you can pull the wheel right off.

If the wheel is too loose on the insulator you can try to wick some CA glue between the insulator and the metal wheel, but often it does not work well.


To pull wheels off axles, you don't want to wedge screwdrivers between the wheel and the motor block, get a wheel puller.

Ted Doskaris found that this Craftsman battery terminal puller worked great. The jaws are spring loaded which helps keep them on the wheel.

Here's a great idea from John Jablonski (JJ) for adjusting wheels:

Take an ordinary "C" clamp and mill a notch in the "foot"

Place it in a vise to hold it steady:

Use it this way to move wheels closer:

Use it this way to open the wheels up:


You absolutely need one of these. Buy from Harbor Freight. This press allows you to press wheels on and off axles, and more importantly, re-gauge your wheels, which are hardly ever in correct gauge.

If you look at the base, you see a rotating plate that will let you put a wheelset in, so that the back of the wheel rests on the plate, and the cutout lets the axle and the other wheel hang through. Thus pressing down will press that wheel closer to the axle end, thus opening up the gauge of the wheelset.


To close up the gauge, you turn the plate so it's not open below the axle and then put one axle tip in the hole in the ram (see the hole in the end in this picture?) Thus pressing down will allow the axle tip to be free inside the hole, the rest of the ram pressed down on the wheel, and thus closes the gauge.


Specialized tools for USAT locos:
On the puller, I purchased 10-32 stainless steel screws and nuts, and locked a wing nut to make a handle. I had to drill the holes out just a bit to make a close but non binding fit to the screws. I also just "touched" the 3 recesses that locate the screw ends for the screws.
Weather Underground PWS KCACARLS78