Aristo-Craft Truck Spring Installation Method

Aristo freight car truck spring installation method
Ted Doskaris
Revision GE-B
January 1, 2008

There are two types of Aristo-Craft freight car trucks that come to mind that include small removable coil springs:

1) The Bettendorf type truck as characterized by its "hot boxes". These trucks are typically used on the 40 foot type cars. There are 2 coil springs for each side frame.

2) The newer Barber type truck, that includes emulated roller bearings that rotate. These trucks are used on Aristo's EVANS box cars, 100 ton hopper cars, and (with a different bolster) on the Road Railers. There are 3 coil springs for each side frame.

Of the two types, the older Bettendorf truck type is notably more difficult to work on because of its tighter side frame spring pocket - so it will be discussed here.

Everyone probably has been frustrated at some point in time when installing those little truck springs, but I have found a method that has worked for me with little problems, and I did not have to resort to using glue or a thread to retain the springs from getting lost during installation!

If there is a "secret" to this it is in just finding and using the correct type and size tweezers. This makes all the difference in the world!

Shown below are tweezers and a small flat blade screwdriver for removing and installing Aristo freight car truck springs. (The screwdriver is only used to remove the springs by depressing them.)

The scale shown in the above picture gives a perspective of the size of the tweezers.

The tweezer shown in the center of the pictures is just the right size to use.
(The tweezer above it is too big whilst the one below is too pointed.)

The middle tweezer also has the thinnest "bill" - so again it is the best to use by taking up the least amount of space when holding a truck spring.

Using the tweezers:

When assembling the side frame onto the truck bolster with the brake shoe, I hold the spring using a very flat tweezer with one coil extending above the tweezer's tip. Some folks will glue the springs to the brake shoe as an alternative installation method. Since the Aristo factory does not glue the springs, I always wondered how they assemble the truck parts together - so maybe they do as I will show!
(BTW, Whether or not ball bearings are installed on Aristo's trucks has no effect with the spring installation method.)

Leave one coil exposed beyond the tweezer tip to allow for the spring to pop into brake shoe hole whilst guiding long end of spring into opposite side frame bolster spring hole.

I chose not to use the gluing method so I used a pair of tweezers with very thin bill shape ends to install the truck springs.

Sometimes I use two tweezers to install the truck springs. One to install the spring and the second to hold the spring whilst withdrawing the first tweezer, but much of the time the second tweezer may not be needed as I have found the springs tend to pop in OK.

See below for other relevant "vignette" topics:
"Bettendorf Truck Ball Bearing Retrofit Vignette"
(Retrofitting Aristo’s miniature ball bearings into the Bettendorf type truck side frames common to the 40 foot car types.)

"Aristo-Craft Metal Wheel "train accessory" kits and wheel issues"

"Aristo-Craft EVANS car and operational improvements Vignette"
(This vignette includes info. about the "Barber" type trucks having the emulated roller bearing caps. These trucks are much easier to work on than the older type Bettendorf ones.)


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