Project 2 - Cane Truck
By Bob Dow
Whole stalk cane trucks were the mainstay of the sugar cane tramways (railways) until the 1970s. As the mills switched to machine cut cane, bins were introduced. Some of the mills modified the cane trucks to bins, but most bins were built as new items.
Compared to bins, the trucks are relatively small. Some minor compromises have to be made in order to achieve reliable running and coupling properties. Described below is the method of construction of a generic cane truck which looks great in a rake behind a cane locomotive. N gauge small diameter (5 mm) wheels with axle points are used. I have used Kadee, MicroTrains and Unimat wheels in my trucks. Most small diameter N gauge wheels would be suitable. Refer to the plan and photo as required.
1. Cut out floor pieces from 0.020" styrene sheet 23 x 19.5 mm. Scribe to represent timber planking, or if preferred use scribed styrene sheet for floor pieces.
2. Cut 4 pieces of HO 6 x 8 " styrene strip, 20 mm long per truck.
3. Cut 4 pieces of HO 6 x 8 " styrene strip, 7 mm long per truck.
4. Cut 4 pieces of 1 x 1 mm styrene strip, 16 mm long per truck.
5. Cut axle boxes from 2 x 4 mm styrene strip. Drill holes (use # 61) for axle points ~ 0.5 mm deep as per plan. Four per truck.
6. Assemble the underneath of truck - glue the 7 mm pieces at end, such that 5.5 mm gap is left central for coupler. Glue the 20 mm pieces as per plan. The distance between the innermost pieces does depend on the wheels, for most N gauge wheels it is 12 mm. Glue the 1 x 1 mm pieces to edge of truck to form the supports for the cane.
7. Cut small pieces of flat lead about 2.5 mm thick into pieces 12 x 4 mm. Glue to underneath of truck as per plan.
8. The axle boxes are positioned on the support beams at 4 mm from each end. Fit and glue TWO only axle boxes on one side only (the axle boxes on the other side are fitted later). Avoid getting glue on or in hole on axle box.
9.When all glue is completely dry, paint truck chosen colour (e.g. red oxide). Paint inside surface of the other two axle boxes. Do not paint the area where the opposite axle boxes will sit on beam or base of the axle box until after glued into position.
10. When dry, fit wheels into the axle boxes previously glued into position. Hold wheels into axle box and carefully glue remaining axle boxes into position ensuring wheels are correctly fitted. Before gluing test fit and make sure that wheels are square with each other and bin when axle boxes glued. Make sure glue does not get onto bearing surface or wheels, and wheels run freely. When dry paint remaining surfaces.
11. Fit couplers (Micro Trains 1025 are good). Add cane if required - use fine millet straw cut into suitable lengths.
These whole stalk cane trucks although small will run well providing wheels are properly fitted. Take a lot of care with this stage of construction and the results will be pleasing.
Until next time, look out for the cane trains and happy modelling!