Broadway Limited's Articulated Cars

How to make them stay together.

Broadway Limited has made a very nice set of cars for several different Southern Pacific Daylight consists. In this case I chose the 1941 Morning Daylight just because it was the first one I came across a good deal on some of the cars. The articulated joints - of which there are many - are well designed up to the point of operation, and they operate well. Where they fail miserably is once they come apart. You will see Ken Silvestri's video on youtube of him holding the 3-unit diner and you'll notice his hands never leave their death grip on the joints between the cars. That's because here's what happens if you let go. After spending nearly 2 hours trying to get the triple diner back together, taking it to the track only to have it come apart again, I simply kicked the shit out of it. Which only knocked it back apart again, upon which I began to think of ways to actually fix the problem, permanently.
The problem is, there's nothing really keeping the cars together except a very small plastic pin in a groove. The joint is so tenuous that you may pop it out just putting the car(s) on the track for the first time, or even if you jerk it too hard once it's on the track. In this photo I have already replaced one of the pins, but the other one you can see on the protruding piece. Not much to hold a train together is it?
But the worst part is, there is no way to re-assemble the joint while the cars are on the track. You must remove the flexible diaphragm piece, remove the truck, put the whole thing on the bench upside down and slide the diaphragm back into place, align all the pins and grooves, and then snap the truck back on keeping it all lined up. If you succeed in doing this, there's a very good chance it will still come apart again before you can get it on the track.
The articulated coaches - of where there are four pairs in my train - are difficult enough to re-assemble. The 3-unit diner, which has two of these joints, is pretty much impossible. You must assemble the first joint, then somehow assemble the second without disturbing the first, then pick up the three-foot long sausage carefully holding it by the joints, invert it, and then place it on the rails. If your hand even twitches, or you simply don't do a perfect job of inverting the car, it will pop apart again and you have to start over.
I have a name for this. SHITTY DESIGN. Period. I haven't looked at how MTH engineered this thing, but it can't be worse, and MTH - crude as they can be - does design their stuff to be durable and operable. The BLI articulated joint, as well as it functions, is useless because it's impossible to put it back together once it comes apart, and it surely will.
So what you're looking at is a sequence of photos depicting what I did to my diner joints to make them pretty well foolproof. I cut the little pin off and drilled holes in the same spot, at both ends of the long rod that acts as the drawbar between the cars. I then screwed it in place using Walthers delrin screws and compression nuts.
The compression nuts will generally stay put wherever you leave them, but I added some C-pox to the end of the nut anyway, after cutting off the excess screw length. You could use any appropriate sized screw and nut to accomplish the same thing, but I love these old Walthers screws because it's so easy to just nip them to whatever length you need, and the nuts stay put.
Now you need to make one other change. The screw and nut take up more space than the useless tit-pin that was originally used to engage the groove. The contact plate that snaps to the top of the truck passes the current from the truck to the car body via the copper plates. Won't hurt to put a dot of super glue on those because there's nothing really keeping them in place.
With the diaphragm/center piece in place and both ends now screwed together your joint will look like this. At this point you could hang the car on a meat hook and the two pieces would not come apart.
The truck and contact plate look like this in original form. The flat area between the contacts is what's supposed to keep the pin from disengaging the groove. It does not. What it does do.. well... is prevent you from ever re-engaging it on the track level. Well we don't need this anymore and in fact the screw head that's now holding it all together will rub against this and cause binding.
The answer is to just cut away all of this material in between. The contacts are left intact and the basic shape of the part isn't disturbed - it's delrin and rather thick anyway. You need to be sure not to take off the snap lugs that fasten this part to the diaphragm center piece, and of course the snap pin that holds the truck to the contact piece.
With the truck now snapped on, no one is the wiser. Your car should operated just as well as it did originally, assuming you ever managed to get it on the track originally.
These are the Walthers plastic screws and nuts. I don't think they are made anymore but any screw and nut will do as long as you use something to secure the nut and cut the screw off to the right length.
Sausage on a string.
You now not only can run your expensive Broadway Limited Daylight articulated diner, you can actually move it should the need arise. I'm thankful I have the skills to figure out how to fix stuff like this. Seriously, if not I would have returned the entire train for a refund. Broadway needs to re-think "ready to run" when they do stuff like this. The designers did a good job up to a point, but then it's like they went home and never finished the job.
Back to My Models