P48 – The Cost of Conversion

I was pleasantly surprised to find the Twin Star Cars website up for business this morning. Reviewing the offerings prompted me to sit down with a fresh Atlas O PS2 4427 hopper and develop a plan to convert it to P48. The wheels of course, but also the couplers, probably the trucks and the truck bolsters. It took about an hour to remove the couplers, disassemble the trucks and figure out what I would need to convert the car. Shopping for parts made me pause to consider the cost of conversion. These projects get expensive pretty quickly and can require significant work.

This post is about the costs and considerations I have as I dig deeper into the P48 sub-culture.

There are 2 methods I am considering to convert this car to P48. Use new Protocraft trucks or keep the existing Atlas side frames.

New Protocraft Trucks

The best detail method uses new Protocraft Trucks mounted on conversion body bolsters from Twin Star Cars and Protocraft couplers. This option requires the existing bolster pin to be milled from the bottom of the car, but I think will yield the best looking results.

Protocraft Trucks ConversionPrice
Twin Star Cars Conversion Bolsters $26
Protocraft Trucks & Bushings$67
Protocraft Couplers$11

This method is most expensive, requires the most work and is not easily reversed. Once I mill the underframe, I’m invested and re-selling the car as a standard O is probably not going to happen. On the plus side I already have the trucks and couplers (although I can probably sell them and recoup my investment). I think this method will also yield the best looking result.

Keep Existing Atlas Trucks Side Frames

This method keeps the existing Atlas truck side frames and utilizes a conversion truck bolster sold on Jim Lincoln ‘s Shipways store to narrow the side frames to the exact prototypical width. This method will require P48 Protocraft wheel sets and new Protocraft couplers.

Keep Atlas Side Frame Conversion Price
Jim Lincoln Conversion Bolster$14
Protocraft Wheel Sets$18
Protocraft couplers$11

This method is cheaper, less work and is easily reversed. Since the trucks are highly visible on these models, the biggest drawback is that the the Atlas truck side frames are too thick and are less detailed than the Protocraft version.

Other Considerations

Not having a P48 layout hampers my ability to test if P48 works for me. So options that do not require modifying the car are appealing. I’m also not sure if I will like operating with Protocraft couplers or if Kadee is the way to go. Up to this point my P48 adventures have been conversion experiments. I think I’m willing sacrifice a couple more cars to that experiment, but I’d really like to move beyond conversions and start experimenting with operating to see what actually works.


Author: Greg Amer

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