Adding Weight To Your Cars

Having trouble keeping certain cars on the track? Could be a weigh problem. Rather than what we usually hear today that we need to go on a diet, in this case we need to add weight!

If a car or even a loco is too light, derailments will be frequent and a nuisance.

The NMRA has set standards for car weights, that doesn't mean that all manufactures follow them. I'd be willing to almost bet that the majority of cars today when you buy them are not to this standard, but rather very light.

The below table is reproduced from RP-20.1. To find the optimum weight of a given car, select your scale and find the "Initial Weight". Then take the "Additional Weight" and multiply this by the number of actual inches in the length of the particular car. Add this weight to the "Initial Weight" for the total Optimum Weight of the car. In HO, a 6 inch car should weight 4 ounces. That is a 1 ounce minimum plus 1/2 ounce per inch of car. 1 + 3 = 4 ounces.

Note: Poway Station uses the NMRA standard plus 25% extra

RP-2O.1 Car Weight Table

What will you need?

Buckshot, lead fishing weights, store bought weights, double sided foam tape, epoxy and most of all, an accurate scale. I use a digital postage scale. Very accurate and even does tare weights.

So, if your car is to light, what do you do? Add weights, of course. Now some cars are easy to do, such as box cars and refers or tank cars. These can usually be carefully taking apart and you can glue weights to the floor of the cars, then reassemble them. Other cars such as flat cars or gondolas for example are a little tougher. Look the car over and see if you can sneak weights underneath. A good trick is to hide weights underneath a car load , but if your running empty you may have to try another way. On one small flatcar, I have a white metal diesel power generator load that is an almost perfect weight. In other words, you can be as inventive as you wish to reach the desired goal.

Try buying some lead buckshot from a gun store or even BB's, but buckshot weighs more. Mix some 5 min. epoxy and flip the car upside down. See all those neat little cavities between the frame and brake rigging? Slop some epoxy in those gaps and drop a bunch of buckshot in the glue. It's a good thing to weight the car first, then see how much buckshot you'll need and weigh that out. Now you know how much your going to have to use.

One thing you want to remember when adding weights is to try and get the weight as low to the ground as possible to keep the center of gravity low. You don't want a top heavy car! Also try and distribute the weights evenly across the bottom. I usually try and put mine half and half over the trucks to apply the weight directly down on the wheels.

Another idea from another modeler is a combination of the oval fishing line weights. He mashes them with a hammer to get a flat side suitable for gluing and glues them inside the boxcar out of sight near the ends. Be sure that the weight is balanced from the ends and centered in the car. For glue, I use Goo, CA (Super Glue), adhesive caulk & seal or 5 min. epoxy.

The use are automotive wheel weights work well too. They are pre-measured in amount of weight and they are FREE. Only good for enclosed cars and be sure they are very securely glued to the car floor.


So, try different adhesives, CA, adhesive caulk & seal, 5 min epoxy, and double sided sticky tape.

For weights, store bought weights in 1/4 oz or 1/2 oz. slugs with sticky foam tape, fishing weights pounded flat or auto wheel weights, use glue or double sided tape to hold them in place, buck shot glued down or BB's.

Weight those cars down and keep'em on the tracks!

Have fun :o)

glue and buckshot

double sided tape fishing weights