The Odometer Car

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Duration:   1:04   mins

Norm Stenzel knows that the track on his Brandywine and Benedictine model railroad is exactly 324.5 feet. How does he have such a specific number? He made an odometer car. Norm took a digital counter from RadioShack and mounted it in a 50 foot boxcar – something with double doors so the screen can be seen would also work.

Wiring it to one of the trucks was easy, the hard part was finding a wheel set that rotated a full 10th of an inch. This he just happened to be able to find in his junk pile. One revolution of the wheel needed to read one 10th of an inch. The odometer car is able to read off the exact number of inches when it is ran along the track. Simply by running the car around his railroad from point A and back to point A, Norm discovered that his track was exactly 324.5 feet. What a clever and easy way to determine track footage.

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3 Responses to “The Odometer Car”

  1. Charles Kinzer

    Something seems wrong with the math. If a wheel set traveled one tenth of an INCH per revolution it would be 0.1 inch / pi = 0.032 inches diameter which is under a scale 3 inches in diameter. That’s a pretty tiny wheel. I suspect the travel is one tenth of a FOOT per revolution. That is a wheel diameter of (0.1 foot / pi) * 12 = 0.38 inch diameter or a scale 33.23 inches diameter.


    That is spectacular,how did he wire it to the truck wheel,amazing that he said that was the easy part. May be hard to find a wheel though.

    • Customer Service

      Hello Daniel,

      Good question. There must be a contact on the axle with a wiper on the truck bolster that makes a contact once every revolution.


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