Steam loco tenders: types, weight & other characteristics


This page started with the question: "What should a tender weigh?". Why am I even asking this?

Well, after finally "graduating" to good enough trackwork to handle long trains, with wheels properly gauged, and switches that work, and body mounted couplers, I found that I could not only run long trains, but I could also back long trains without derailments.

But, when I tried backing long trains headed by steam locomotives, I got derailments.What was happening to my smoothly running railroad?

It was the tender! With such a short "car" it could not be problems with curvature. I remembered something else at this time, the Northern that Rex Ammerman bashed for me had a really heavy tender. Hmm, maybe Rex knew something I did not.

So, I weighed some of my tenders, and while constructing this page, have added some additional reference information:

Aristo "Long Tender" ART-21800

This tender originally came with the Aristo Pacific and Aristo Mikado, and was available separately.

No backup light, power pickup sometimes 2 axles, sometimes 4, but only one wheel per axle. Rarely wired correctly.

The stock Aristo Mikado "long tender" weighed 3 pounds xx ounces with factory speaker.

The speaker is 70mm, the outside dimension is 3". (remember the right way to measure speaker diameter is the cone plus the surround diameter, not the outside of the frame).

The trucks are leaf spring type, and the wheelbase on the trucks is 2.7"

Aristo "USRA Tender" ART-21875

Came with the the Aristo 2-8-8-2 Mallet

Included a backup light.

The stock Aristo Mallet tender weighs 3 pounds 10 ounces with the factory speaker.

Aristo Consolidation tender:

Not sure of the part number, never sold separately as far as I know.

Aristo 4 axle (ART-21850) and 6 axle (ART-21810) Vanderbilt Tenders

came with backup light


Ted Doskaris reports: "4 lbs., 9 oz. for the Vandy tender with its 3 axle trucks."


Commonwealth trucks:

The 3 axle Commonwealth trucks were also sold separately.

The trucks have a wheelbase of 3.7", wheel diameter 1.25".

Note that the pivot point on the truck is offset about .45" from "center"





Lionel Atlantic tender



Lionel tender with 3" speaker is 1 pound 12 ounces.

"Aristo" Northern Tender


Northern tender (from  Rex Ammerman  4 pounds 8 ounces. This is a Aristo USRA type with Aristo commonwealth trucks

Accucraft/AML K4 tender 6 pounds 13 ounces

Not surprisingly, it never derails.



USA Trains Hudson tender


11 pounds, 14 ounces





A tender needs to weigh as much as a regular 40 foot car, if not a bit more.

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