Adding 5th Wheels to BLMA Trinity Spine Cars

I thought I would add this quick and dirty tutorial on how to build the 5th wheels for these cars.  Small dabs of super glue and good magnifying goggles, tweezers and patience are all you need.  Oh, and a #70 drill bit.

Please forgive the photography, this is all macro work and I don’t have my light diffuser handy :(

The Parts you will need for each stand up hitch you want to do and the orientation of them.  Note the orientation of the parts, please.  The saddle has the “notch” facing away from the tread plates on the car.  That is how the truck bodies are loaded and the 5th wheel keeps them from moving about on the car.  If it was reversed, the trailer could possibly slide out under acceleration… bad thing.

The body of the car itself.  Note that I opened the holes a bit with a #70 drill bit.  Not much, just enough to get the extra paint away.

Install the longer of the two support braces.  The piece fits nicely into the hole with just a dab of super glue, it becomes very solid.  Don’t worry too much about the angle here, just try to get it near what I show.  When you glue it to the other support, the angle will mend itself as this is very soft stuff.

Ok, now for the upright.  Again, it slides nicely down into it’s holes if you have taken the time to open them up a bit with the #70 (or even a sharp knife).  I glued the bottoms in first, then I glued the piece from the previous step to this.  The arms fit nicely into the upright and kind of “lock” into the notches in the upright.

Now comes the saddle of the 5th wheel.  It is tricky, since it just glues to the upright in two very small places.  As you look at the bottom of the 5th wheel, you will just be able to see the notches that the saddle fits into.  They are not in the middle, but rather in the back 1/3rd of the saddle.  The smooth side goes up :)

And there is the completed upright 5th wheel for these amazing cars.

Hope that helps!

Added: 10 July 2011 – Note that when you add the uprights to all your cars, they no longer fit into the original packaging.  You have to cut away some of the flimsy plastic on the package to allow them to lay in the wells.  A strange thing, since one of the cars has a “bubble” for the 5th wheel, the rest don’t.

BLMA Trinity Spine Cars

Wow!  Ok, you heard it here first. These 5 unit Spine Car sets are awesome.  (Ok maybe you heard it elsewhere first, but it’s the first time you heard it from me!)

Here is a quick video I made of them running on my hobby room test track;

As you can see, these are great running even when empty, on a very tight loop of Kato Unitrak and with one of the trucks de-railed by yours truly.  Even with the front truck on the ground, they went through both Kato switches perfectly.  That’s pretty bullet proof.

I’m a veteran of the older con-cor spine cars that were quite the pieces of Shi… pooh.  They didn’t track for crap and they wobbled from side to side so badly that even weighted trailers would go launching in every corner.  The amount of work needed to make them work was not worth the time invested.

As a modern period modeler though, I was quite thrilled when BLMA announced these Trinity Spine Cars.  My friend George at Wig-Wag managed to save me a set even though I hadn’t pre-ordered them.  (Brain dead me! Thank the heavens for George and Debra!)  I got to pick a set up last night and wow, was I impressed.  I even managed to grab another set today as an Anniversary present (27 years… people have served less time for murder…LOL, I’m kidding sheeeesh).

The down side.  Very minor.  On the first set, there was a VERY tight truck, wouldn’t swivel at all.  A few moments with a round file and that process was fixed.  Also, a teeny-tiny detail piece fell off an was laying in the packaging.  No biggy, it was one of the channel pieces around the 5th wheel mount.  A tiny dab of super glue, magnifying glasses and all was well with the world again.  On the second set, a brake wheel had come off.  Again, super glue, specs and no worries in about 2 minutes.

The Up sides.

  • They track brilliantly, even unloaded.  They are cast metal and have some heft to them so they keep the track.
  • The gorgeous new 70 ton trucks from BLMA with profile metal wheelsets.  A joy to behold, need a lot of rust though…
  • MT body mount couplers.  YAY
  • Beautiful detail, all around!

I have heard some folks say that the 5th wheels are a pain to assemble and build.  I did not find them all that hard to do once you look at the pictures on the BLMA site.  Still, they are small and highly detailed, so take your time.

Overall, BLMA gets a solid A+ for this release.  Beautifully done.  A little later I may post a snap or two of putting the 5th wheels together and on the car in case people need a hand.