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Ball Bearing Wheel Set Upgrade
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Ball Bearing Wheel Set Upgrade

Upgrading to Ball Bearing Wheel Sets with Power Pickup

Two main problems with the stock power pickup system on several Aristocraft's cars is the drag they create and an occasional power pickup problem. Several cars, including the Sierra Passenger cars and Long Steel Caboose come these wheel sets that use carbon brushes as the method to pickup power from the track. These brushes act as brakes on the wheels, dramatically increasing the drag on the car. In addition, they may prevent the wheels from turning which may cause intermittent power pickup which will cause the lights to flicker.

An easy way to correct these issues is to upgrade the power pickups system on the cars with Aristocraft 29123 ball bearing wheel sets. They come in both nickel plated and blackened versions. This is an easy upgrade to perform. The only downside is the cost of the wheels. This cost can be partially offset by using the wheels that are removed to replace plastic wheels on other cars.

To install the new wheel sets follow these steps.

  1. Remove the smokestack from the car and turn the car over onto a towel or something else to protect the top of the car.

  2. Pull excess wire through the brush assembly.

  3. Make note of which side of the axle the red and black wire goes to.

  4. Remove the screw holding the brush assembly to the truck bolster and pull the brush assembly from between the wheels. Be careful of the springs and carbon brushes as they may go flying. If they did not, remove the bushes and springs from the brass bushing. The spring may not come out if it was soldered in with the wire.

  5. Pull the brass bushings from the brush assembly.

  6. Use a soldering pencil or gun to heat one of the brass bushings. Pull on the brass bushing with a pair of pliers until the solder melts and the bushing comes free from the wire. Repeat for the other bushing.

  7. Pull the red and black wires through the brush harness.

  8. Remove the axle by gently spreading the truck frame to release the axle.

  9. Put the ball bearing wheel set into the frame and rotate the power pickup tabs to be oriented towards the wires.

  10. Feed the wires through the appropriate power pickups on the axle.

  11. Solder the wires to the power pickup tabs.

  12. Pull the excess wire back through the trucks.

  13. Turn the car over and replace the smoke stack.

This page last updated April 21, 2003