Let me start out this clinic my saying that I really love the old Athearn Blue Box cars. They offer a quality model for a value price. They don’t have the detail of some of the higher end equipment, but for me, this is actually a positive. I transport my cars to train shows all over the midwestern United States, and these cars hold up better to the constant handling, transporting, and storage better than most.
However, one thing about these that I absolutely despise is the metal clip designed to secure the couplers. If you’ve ever had one of these fall off, you know my pain. And in the past, my attempts to drill out the coupler pad to add a screw have ended mostly in failure. So for most of my model railroad life I have just dealt with it.
About a year ago after attending a train show in Oklahoma City, I purchased the Bulls-eye Drill Jig from Micro-Mark. This incredible little piece of metal helps me drill the #50 hole in the spot on these cars. This conversion is now a required step before any Athearn car goes into service in my fleet.
- Your Athearn Car
- Bulls Eye Drill Jig
- A pair of couplers (Kadee #148 recommended)
- Two 2-56 1/8″ screws
- #50 Drill bit and pin vise.
- 2-56 Tap
- Small screwdriver
In the picture at the top of this clinic, you can see two cars – one with just the clip and one with the screw installed. Here is how that is done:
It takes me about 5 minutes to convert each car, but the piece of mind of knowing that the coupler is securely mounted is well worth the effort.