Much ado about nothing. I run trains everyday. Have replaced two tires on two 25 year old diesel engines due to drying out. One is lionel and one is Sam hongsa fm trainmaster. Have never replaced a tire on Lionel steamers. Gaps certainly do not chew up tires. I run 72 inch curves at moderate speed. Always run five 18 inch passenger cars or 15-20 freight cars all o gauge. I do not use any track cleaner chemical other that goo gone on thick build up crud mostly at Ross switches. All other track cleaning is by dry wipe with white rag. I do alternate all my engines which does decrease the run time of each but still they all see plenty of running time.