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ACSG Carolinas Division - Lionel Ambassador Program
Atlantic Coast S Gaugers - ACSG

Carolinas Division
"Promoting S Gauge along the East Coast"

Carolinas Division - Lionel Ambassador Program

August 2015 - The Lionel Reversing Handcar - It's Bulletproof!

At a recent Atlantic Coast S Gauge show where we were running our "Super 8" layout, I started thinking about the reversing handcar we have been using for several years. We have this handcar running on a short, approximately 4 foot section of track with bumpers at either end. It runs under the upper part of the figure 8 and beside the lower part of the figure 8. The entire layout is approximately 5 feet by 9 feet.

The handcar shed is at one end which the handcar goes into and bumps to change direction. At the other end it bumps into a fixed track end device to change direction. We are running the handcar using an American Flyer 8B transformer and it is set at the 60 mph setting which gives approximately 10 volts.

As anyone who has one of these little dynamos knows, there is a rod running the length of the handcar that bumps into a solid object, moves slightly and changes the direction of the unit. When you think about this, it is running along and slams into a solid object, which is bad enough, but then also changes direction immediately. I would love to be able to calculate the gravitational forces generated, but suffice it to say, I would not want to be one of the little guys riding it when it does this.

We started thinking about just how many times the little handcar has slammed into a wall and changed direction. The more we thought about it, the more we were amazed. On our layout, at the settings above, it changed direction about every 8 seconds. So let's do the math. Changing directions every 8 seconds yields 7.5 reverses every minute. So then for every hour it runs at a show it slams into the wall and changes direction 450 times.

Now our average show runs from 10-4 or 9-5 or somewhere around 7 hours on average. Let's say we have an hour of down time because of changing engines or derailments or a child's helping hands causing an issue on the Super-8. That means we run for a solid 6 hours. This translates into 2,700 reverses every show day. At this point, any additional math is pointless because anything slamming into a wall 2,700 times a day should prove it is bullet proof, but just for fun, think about how many shows we might do in any given year and multiply that by the 4 plus years we have been using this little handcar and I think you will be amazed at the reliability of this item.

So obviously the reversing part of the handcar is durable, but now also consider the jarring it constantly takes and what that must be doing to the motor. Also consider that the abrupt directional changes must have a rather dramatic effect on the brushes and armature inside. Then consider the almost instantaneous direction change slams the gears from forward into reverse. The torque generated on the axle shafts within the frame for all these years is also impressive.

So from years of running I can honestly say the Reversing Handcar is bulletproof!

Note: A video of the Atlantic Coast S Gaugers "Super 8" layout in action, including the handcar can be viewed at:

Bill Clark


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