Proto:87 Wheel Swap

What is Proto:87

Before I go too far along in my layout, I wanted to give Proto:87 a try. If you are not familiar with Proto:87 it is basically improving the prototypical appearance of your railroad by using wheels and track that are to scale.

There are two basic components to a Proto:87 upgrade

  1. Proto 87 wheels. The wheels are much thinner and use a more scale flange.
  2. Proto:87 turnouts. The frogs have narrower flange ways.

The wheels may not be as visibly noticeable, the turnouts definitely will. More information on Proto:87 is available at, you can find NMRA Proto Standards at: S-1.1 General Proto Scales,S-3.1 Trackwork Proto Scales,S-4.1 Wheels Proto Scales.

Proto:87 Wheel Swap

Swapping freight car wheels is probably the easiest part of upgrading to Proto:87, it’s pretty much like any other wheel swap: remove the old wheels and replace. Even though it’s an easy process, I thought I’d make a video to demonstrate how easy it really is. In the video I swap wheels on an Atlas 17,600 gal Corn Syrup Tank Car to Northwest Shortline (NWSL) 37618-4 36″ P:87 1.015″Pointed Axle Wheels.


Author: Greg Amer

8 thoughts on “Proto:87 Wheel Swap

  1. Guys, I just forked over a few dollars extras to get 4 #9 turnouts from Proto87 Stores ready made.

    I’ve got a couple kits to have a go at as well, for the long winter nights and figured it wouldn’t hurt to get some rtr to speed me on my way.

    Have to say I have the same fetish for ‘proper’ looking track and wheels that you guys do. Wish I was also a locomotive engineer and got to look at track all day… 🙂

    Now I need some P87 wheelsets…

    Hoping to get started on my shelf switcher this winter – got a pair of MP15ACs that need some exercise…

    1. That’s awesome Michael. I thought about having some turnouts made for me also, but decided to try it myself first. I read your post ( and I think we’re of the same mind about the Peco tunrouts. The only reliable option I’ve seen for wheels is NWSL.

  2. Greg, building your own turnouts is quite easy, especially if you have the frog and points already built. The easy way to make points is to grind/file down the stock rail. I make my points from the point rails and leave the stock rails whole, but than I’m using code 215 rail, not code 70! Calipers are necessity as well!

  3. Michael, running on the Peco flex track shouldn’t be a problem, however it won’t work with the turnouts. I’m considering two options 1. Code 83 Peco flex with Proto:87 Stores turnouts. 2. Code 70 Central Valley Ties with Micro-Engineering rail and Proto:87 stores turnouts. Of course that all hinges on wether I can successfully build a Proto:87 turnout. Otherwise it’s back to straight Peco.

  4. Can you run stock with P87 wheels on Peco code 83 track?

    I’d like to avoid building my own track in the first instance as it’s a chore, and I thought I might use Pecod code 83 as a stop gap before building my own track.

    Otherwise, I’ll never get anything up and running 🙂

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