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I've been experiencing de railing of various rolling stock going into or out of old vintage 022 switches. The engine is a Lionel Legacy SW8 Conrail #8657, Lionel' number 2133590. The heavier the car (like an old vintage 3472 Automatic Refrigerator Car), the less prone it is to de railing, but if I try to couple up with a lightweight CSX tank car, it will definitely slip off the rails about halfway through the turn, no matter how slow I go. Yet, around the same 031 curves on uninterrupted tubular track, there is no problem. The minimum curve on this Legacy switcher is 031, so it can't be that.  It really defeats the purpose of this switcher- getting cars off of my inner track, and moving them to my outer track, or vice versa. I'm stumped.  I'm using the old tubular track from Menard's. Could it be this switcher isn't compatible with the old 022 Lionel switches?? I even tried different ones, and tried inserting them on other areas of the track with no joy.

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I'll check the wheel width. But this is happening on too many cars.  Strangely enough, my two LionChief Plus 2.0 ET44AC diesels manage to push or pull the exact same cars through the switches with no problems- even the LIGHT ones, like the tankers.  I'm beginning to suspect the spring tension on the coupler arm?? Maybe there is too much resistance when the arm swings  all the way to the left or right??

There are several topics concerning adding weights.  For  example - https://ogrforum.ogaugerr.com/...0#152477233903365760

You will find it worth the the time to check the weight of all of your rolling stock and adjust the pieces that are underweight.  All you need a small kitchen scale and some weights.  A number of people, myself included, used wheel weights from Harbor Freight.  They come in 1/4 and 1/2 ounce and they are self adhesive.

Appreciate all excellent responses.  At first, I was suspecting something wrong with my newest Lionel SW8 Conrail Legacy switcher, but I'm seeing that it's actually related to the cars themselves, and there is no universal "one size fits all" easy fix, but to start analyzing each car and adjust the weight on the problem ones.  As noted before, the heavier vintage Lionel cars- like the #3472 Automatic Refrigerated car (20oz), the 3461 log car (12 oz) , and the #3469 Automatic dump car (15oz) are no problems, so I naturally place them near the front. And, I assume I don't have to add any weights to them, correct?

I think I'll go with the Harbor Freight 1/4 and 1/2 oz self sticking weights, but do I really have to make ALL my lighter weight all  plastic cars (like my Menards) 15 oz?? That's almost a POUND for EVERY CAR!  Or, do I simply start adding weights,   a little at a time until I reach stability over the switches in both directions? I have some all plastic Menard flatbeds that are actually no problem, believe it or not-  although I'm hesitant to raise the speed. Should I still add weights to them?

Another issue to consider is one I encountered with a Lionel Alco S2 switcher. It was brand new and would derail going into a curve. It turned out, the traction tires were way too thick. I took them off and it solved the problem.

I replaced them with thinner MTH tires and they worked fine…here is a before and after photo set…

48ABD0E0-F5A1-4DD5-98EA-3F70408618F396E99C16-0E9F-41C1-BCB7-3DED0248ED4A

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  • 48ABD0E0-F5A1-4DD5-98EA-3F70408618F3
  • 96E99C16-0E9F-41C1-BCB7-3DED0248ED4A
Last edited by Krieglok
@Jim R. posted:

I assume you haven’t created S curves surrounding your 022 switches. Picture might help.

I'm a little hazy on whether I positioned these 2 switches incorrectly.  Two "legs" of each one DO immediately go into an 031 curved tubular section of track, and all three "legs' of the other switch go directly into 031 curved sections.  Could THIS be causing the peculiar de railing, and the "sensitivity" of electro coupler's arms?

This is really frustrating- even my HEAVY vintage Lionel Automatic Dump Car #3469 sometimes de rails halfway over the switch. Of course if I CRAWL I can avoid it, but I wouldn't think this should be necessary. I've attached some pix, including a PROPOSED shot of where I USED to have the switches- an unconventional side by side arranResized- End of table showing current problematic 022 switch and SW8 EngineResized- PROPOSED old design DSCN0588Resized- Showing BOTH of the problem switches currentlygement, eliminating ANY direct curves to any leg of the switches using 5" straight pieces of track.

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Images (3)
  • Resized- End of table showing current problematic 022 switch and SW8 Engine
  • Resized- PROPOSED old design DSCN0588
  • Resized- Showing BOTH of the problem switches currently
@Krieglok posted:

Another issue to consider is one I encountered with a Lionel Alco S2 switcher. It was brand new and would derail going into a curve. It turned out, the traction tires were way too thick. I took them off and it solved the problem.

I replaced them with thinner MTH tires and they worked fine…here is a before and after photo set…

48ABD0E0-F5A1-4DD5-98EA-3F70408618F396E99C16-0E9F-41C1-BCB7-3DED0248ED4A

Thanks for the tip- I don't have that problem YET, but will definitely keep it in mind. In my case, the Lionel Legacy Conrail SW8 switcher ITSELF doesn't de rail- various freight cars hooked directly to it do, mainly the lighter ones, unless I weigh them down considerably.  Right now I'm going to re position the location of my 022 switches (adding STRAIGHT sections of track to each "leg".  This problem is unique ONLY when using my Conrail SW8 Legacy switcher, and I still have a hunch it is due to the SHORT electro coupler arm, which pivots ALL THE WAY to extreme right or left, applying significant lateral pressure to the freight car truck, causing the freight car wheels to momentarily "snag" the indented part of the switch rail that accomodates the width of the swivel rail (I hope I explained that correctly?)  You can feel this abrupt indentation by rubbing your finger across this section.  I simulated this phenomenon manually by rolling a freight car thru any one of my numerous 022 switches, and by appying slight side pressure on the truck, the wheels fall into that "gap", and if I keep going, eventually the wheel will pop out of that gap, and up and over the rail- INSTANT de railing!  As I mentioned earlier, this engine is the ONLY one causing these freight car wheels to ride up and off of the 022 switch rails, and sometimes the adjacent tracks connected to them.

Back in the day track options were 27" radius or "O" which was 31" radius [O22 Switches]. Today there are more options. We also had "magnetraction" especially post Korean War, rather than "traction tires" (which reduced manufacturing costs).

The beauty of O gauge was how nicely it fit on a 4x8 platform.  Track speed was limited to keeping the trains on the track and out of the repair shop.

Switches were always subject to "slow orders".  1/2 straights following the curved switch legs are a good practice, but often are often not practical for space utilization.

There have been some excellent suggestions.  However, tubular track, heavier all metal trucks, and magnetraction locomotives were much kinder to O and O27 layouts. Adding weight and slowing down  for switch curves will be helpful.

O22 switches are an absolute bargain when compared to their prices in the 1950's and current day prices for alternative trackage.

Back in the day track options were 27" radius or "O" which was 31" radius [O22 Switches]. Today there are more options. We also had "magnetraction" especially post Korean War, rather than "traction tires" (which reduced manufacturing costs).

The beauty of O gauge was how nicely it fit on a 4x8 platform.  Track speed was limited to keeping the trains on the track and out of the repair shop.

Switches were always subject to "slow orders".  1/2 straights following the curved switch legs are a good practice, but often are often not practical for space utilization.

There have been some excellent suggestions.  However, tubular track, heavier all metal trucks, and magnetraction locomotives were much kinder to O and O27 layouts. Adding weight and slowing down  for switch curves will be helpful.

O22 switches are an absolute bargain when compared to their prices in the 1950's and current day prices for alternative trackage.

Excellent info on these old vintage 022 switches! Thanks. Actually, right now I'm rearranging my switches precisely following your tip about the 1/2 straights added to the curved switch legs. I really think I totally VIOLATED that rule of thumb, because this derailment scenario is not making sense anymore. I'll keep you posted.

I run O27 now but for many years used O and these switches.  I NEVER had to slow down rolling thru them and NEVER had to consider their relative location to other switches.  I NEVER made any accommodations for them.

I had 14 PW pieces of rolling stock and never had problems with any of them going thru the switches.  Maybe the weight suggestion has some merit because all of my PW cars were certainly not light.

I only say that because some of the suggestions, while good, sure don't match to my experiences.  I used them for the better part of 25 years.

You mentioned the 'indent' on the rail where the swivel fits into.  When I first went to O27 I used Liionel switches and had that same problem with a few of them.  I don't recall how I resolved it but I do know that I kept playing with it and did eventually.  I wish I could remember so as to help you out.

Good luck and I know you'll solve this.

- walt

All great advice so far. I will now chime in re my experience with Lionel Postwar switches, which I have always liked a lot.

Some of what I'm about to say is common knowledge and already known by many of us re derailments on these switches.

I find derailments of train cars are most common when the train is going in reverse.

Always best for the heavier train cars to be nearest to the locomotive and lighter cars closer to the caboose, especially when train is running forward.

IMO, it's best to keep the switches as level as possible.

Also, running the train slow and smooth, especially using DCS or other command control, helps minimize derailments. I find this to be true especially when pulling Postwar operating cars with sliding shoes.

One can think positively about derailments, which I endeavor to do. They are opportunities to improve one's layout. Arnold

Great advice. I've tried all the tricks. Sad to say, I've given up on this particular switcher.  Using FIVE of my other engines, both steam switchers and regular diesel, I can run through all my switches both pushing and pulling with NO PROBLEM AT ALL- NO DERAILMENT and NO WEIGHTS NECESSARY.   I even got brave and put my LIGHTEST freight cars right behind the tender or engine and ran into and out of those old 022 switches with no derailments!

As I mentioned before, IMHO,  the fault is the short arm of the electro coupler on this SW8 switcher, (Lionel 2133590), pivoting all the way to the right or left when passing through one of the curved legs of the switch, which consequently pushes the rolling stock wheels to the side because of the significant spring tension in this position.  THAT is why the wheels grab the small divot of the switches halfway through the turn. And, yes- I DID make sure to add 1/2 straight tracks to the switches to give them a fighting chance. I give up! It's a fine Legacy switcher- just not for my old vintage 022 switches with 031 curves.

Any switching will be made from now on with my LionChief Plus 2.0 A5 0-6-T or my LionChief Plus 0-4-0.  I noticed that there is a new Lionel LEGACY version of my LionChief Plus 0-4-0- which I will consider for the future. Right now it is Pre Order Only. It's the  2232050 Bethlehem Steel #111-Legacy 0-4-0.  I'm a little disappointed that I couldn't do any CAB2 programming to perform switching operations with my 0-4-0 because it's not TMCC or CAB2 compatible, but the more I think about it I think that is wishful thinking. Even if I COULD program some switching events via my TMCC or Legacy, odds are that they wouldn't be consistently successful/repeatable because the rolling stock cars would constantly shift into new positions each time because of the switcher backing into or pushing into the couplers.  So what's the sense? I can perform the switching just fine using the Lionel Universal Remote manually (so to speak)

@walt rapp posted:

I run O27 now but for many years used O and these switches.  I NEVER had to slow down rolling thru them and NEVER had to consider their relative location to other switches.  I NEVER made any accommodations for them.

I had 14 PW pieces of rolling stock and never had problems with any of them going thru the switches.  Maybe the weight suggestion has some merit because all of my PW cars were certainly not light.

I only say that because some of the suggestions, while good, sure don't match to my experiences.  I used them for the better part of 25 years.

You mentioned the 'indent' on the rail where the swivel fits into.  When I first went to O27 I used Liionel switches and had that same problem with a few of them.  I don't recall how I resolved it but I do know that I kept playing with it and did eventually.  I wish I could remember so as to help you out.

Good luck and I know you'll solve this.

- walt

I'm with YOU- I NEVER had this problem until I got THIS SW8 switcher!!!!  If you go over some of the threads on this, you'll see that I've given up on this particular switcher.  Last night I used my two other switchers, and ran 15 or 20 different cars into and out of the THREE 022 switches WITH NO PROBLEMS AT ALL- just like you said! Sometimes we can't see the forest through the trees.  I jumped on this switcher because it was Legacy and affordable, and would have made a nice addition. Little did I know that it would not "play nice" with my 031 curved switches.  I'm back to my other two LionChief Plus and LionChief Plus 2.0 switches.

I don't know if the O22 switches develop the same problems as the 1122E switches I use BUT here's what corrected my derailing. Parts get worn out from the wheels crossing over at the switch, my wheels would run off. In this photo you'll see I used JB weld on 3 places. 1) the frog...2)the middle finger at the center rail and 3) by the inner curve. These worn out spots allowed the wheels to "run straight" and derail. Hope this helps.





IMG_7571

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  • IMG_7571

I don't doubt that the wear of those old switches, like my 022's play a role in the derailing. I have 8 or 9 of these switches, and tried them all. I've really isolated the problem to this one engine- the SW8.  I haven't given up yet, and might pursue changing out those electro coupler arms if possible, to longer ones. Here are some pictures that I hope illustrate what I think is the problem.....,Close up of an older switch showing the divotClose up of my 022 switchCloseup of the SW8 coupler arm going through the switchCloseup of the 0-4-0 LionChief Plus SwitcherSide View of 0-4-0 Swicher coupler arm

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  • Close up of an older switch showing the divot
  • Close up of my 022 switch
  • Closeup of the SW8 coupler arm going through the switch
  • Closeup of the 0-4-0 LionChief Plus Switcher
  • Side View of 0-4-0 Swicher coupler arm

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