Double-Trucking Annie & Clarabel ~ Tuesday, February 26, 2013
Tomix's Thomas + Annie + Clarabel set (Tōmasu + Ani + Kuraraberu if you sound out the Katakana) is cute but has an awkward drawback that the two coaches, true to the book illustrations and animated series, just have two axles, fairly widely spaced, and can't make it around the 140mm/5.5" radius curves of Tomix fine track.
I noticed that the overall length of these coaches was pretty close to the Bachmann old-time series of freight cars, which being based on American prototypes are double-trucked, although still pretty short. The metal underfloor weight/chassis piece comes out of the Bachmann cars pretty easily, and turns out to be a pretty good fit with Annie and/or Clarabel, once you get the coach's original base off (you have to push aside some tabs with tiny flathead screwdrivers or something like that).
I attached the Bachmann base to the Tomix body by drilling some small holes in the plastic body, looping some wire through these and some holes that were already in the Bachmann chassis, and twisting the ends together on the inside.
The modified cars sit pretty high, but are actually about the same height as the original, slight lower actually.
The modified cars can really take pretty tight curves. Here's one sitting comfortably on a piece of 71.5mm/2.8" radius track (plastic track from a Modemo diorama kit). So it would probably run fine on the 110mm/4.3" radius Tomix curves I have on my permanent trolley layout, though I don't think Thomas would.
The modified car is already in service (I'll do the other one too, but it turns out double-trucking just one of them is enough to let the whole train to get around the curves).
Incidentally, I do have a "prototype" -- this is from a Thomas ride at Six Flags/Discovery Kingdom in Vallejo, CA (although I've heard it may have been rethemed as some other kind of train since our last visit). Anyway, count the axles!