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This will most probably seem like a dumb question to most who frequent here.  I have learned many things here on the Forum, and the one thing of certainty is that there is a whole more I do not know versus what I do know.  That  being said, what the heck are "fast angle wheels"?  How do they differ from wheels that are not fast angle?  Are fast angle wheels better than those that are not fast angle?

 

 

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Its not the needle point axles.

The wheel tread has an angle vs flatter PW type.

This wheel tread is more prototypical in action also, but I think its use was really chosen to ease removal from the dies or molds. They are solidly connected to the axle, so tilting provides the differential action around curves. This also produces a sway in the cars as they travel if you look close.

This is my understanding of the difference. I'm sure someone on the forum will correct me if I'm wrong.

Normal train wheels are basically square if looked at from the side.

 regular wheel

 Fast angle wheels are angled.

 fast angle wheels

 What this does is reduce the friction between and wheel and the rail because less area is touching and it allows the wheel to slide easier from side to side on the track on curves or areas where the distance between rails might vary slightly. Less friction means less drag on the engine and couplers. 

 

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  • regular wheel
  • fast angle wheels

I believe Dave is correct.  I also understand that the taper on the wheel tread was supposed to aid in tracking on tubular track, in particular.  The taper riding on the rounded railhead tends to keep the car 'centered', keep the flange away from the rail, thereby reducing friction.....?????   Of course, maybe this was just all so much hypothesis-without-data thrown about as we sat around the potbellied stove at the store.....never saw an 'official' write-up, sales spiel, etc..

 

Nowadays....and in particular on O3R rail profiles such as by Gargraves, Ross, Atlas, and, yes, even FasTrack...I'm not sure that tread configuration is worth squat in terms of improved performance.  Seems that most folks (on this forum, anyway) prefer a wheel design with minimal flange, overall profile closer to scale (see NMRA 2-rail wheel profile standards, for instance.), etc., etc., blah, blah.

 

Hmmmmm...... Never gave it much thought 'til now.....  Lionel really likes the 4-letter word "Fast".....  FasTrack, Fast Angle Wheels,.....Fast Production Delivery, Fast Service/Repairs/Parts, .......!!.....(sorry, got carried away.)

 

Too early.....need more Joe....

 

 

 

 

 

BTW, there are no dumb questions on this forum.  Only dumb opinions about questions.

Last edited by dkdkrd

Fast angle wheels are wheels that have an angle on them.  Since the wheels are pressed onto the axle and rotate as one whole unit, the angle allows the wheel to ride up on the curve as it goes around.  The idea behind it was to reduce friction.  The only friction points are the ends of the axle which press up against the truck housing.  Less friction - easier rolling cars.  They do live up to their claim.  The main issue is that they are not prototypical.  These do not require any lubrication since the axle ends are the only part making contact with the truck housing.

 

Postwar wheels where cut with a 90 degree angle.  The wheel surface is flat.  The wheels are not pressed into the axle.  Rather, they rotate on the axle.  The reason behind this design was for curves.  The wheel on the outside of the curve needs to travel farther than the wheel on the inside curve.  Since each wheel is free rotating, the outer wheel can do this independently of the inner wheel.  This design also requires more lubrication as you have to oil the axle on which the wheel rotates.

 

Current Lionel wheels on scale rolling stock use a flat surface wheel.  The newer designs roll much better than postwar designs and look more prototypical.    Traditional rolling stock tend to use the fast angle wheels ( I assume they are also cheaper to produce).  I think the newer designs can do very well when compared to fast angle wheels.

Last edited by Joe Fermani

Whatever other advantages you can cite, if you can find a set of trucks with wheels that aren't tapered and one that has wheels that are, but are otherwise the same (same bearings, same wheel diameter, same wheelbase), and you test them you discover:  

- they roll with the same amount of friction, etc., on straight track, whether tubular or solid, at least to the limits of what tests I could do which were probably accurate to only 10% or so

- the fast angle wheels roll with least friction on tubular curves - about 20% less on 36 inch curves.  

- the fast angle wheels roll with just about the same friction, maybe a tiny bit less but not a lot less - in curves on solid, flat-top track.

 

Thus, I always assumed they were invented mostly to reduce the very evident slow down on O-27 curves you sometimes get with toy trains.

Last edited by Lee Willis



quote:
Thus, I always assumed they were invented mostly to reduce the very evident slow down on O-27 curves you sometimes get with toy trains.




 

As two people have already posted, the model railroading "press" of the day reported that the fast angle wheels were driven by a happy accident of needing to taper the wheel treads to get them to eject from the mold properly.

Originally Posted by C W Burfle:

quote:
Thus, I always assumed they were invented mostly to reduce the very evident slow down on O-27 curves you sometimes get with toy trains.


 

As two people have already posted, the model railroading "press" of the day reported that the fast angle wheels were driven by a happy accident of needing to taper the wheel treads to get them to eject from the mold properly.

Which proves nothing.  One of those people thought they had read that, and several other people said it was for other reasons.  What I know is that:

a) its pretty easy to pull vertical edges out of molds - you don't have to taper things: I've seen machinery do with vertical faces several times a minute, and I've also seen machined fast-angle wheels (i.e., they aren't molded).

 

b) fast-angle wheels definitely slow down less on curves, as I said.  I did the test, it was clear

c) they aren't called 'tapered wheels' but marketed with the name "fast" in them, so I think they have a purpose associated with speed or slowing. 

Last edited by Lee Willis

 

quote:
a) its pretty easy to pull vertical edges out of molds: I've seen machinery doe it several times a minute, and I've also seen machined fast-angle wheels (there would be no manufacturing advantage there)



 

 

Were those machined fast angle wheels made in 1970?

That's when Lionel started used die cast fast angle wheels.

 

Unfortunately, I don't have those old magazines any longer.

But even if I did, there is no way of knowing whether it was just a story.

 

Last edited by C W Burfle
Originally Posted by Lee Willis:

I always assumed they were invented mostly to reduce the very evident slow down on O-27 curves you sometimes get with toy trains.

Lee,

I thought that the fast angle wheel sets w/pointed axles was done to cut expense..........LOL! 

 

CW,

It seems like it was PMRM(Railroad Model), maybe Model Railroader?

I corrected my mistake. 

Last edited by Prewar Pappy
Originally Posted by Joe Fermani:

Current Lionel wheels on scale rolling stock use a flat surface wheel.  The newer designs roll much better than postwar designs and look more prototypical.    Traditional rolling stock tend to use the fast angle wheels ( I assume they are also cheaper to produce).  I think the newer designs can do very well when compared to fast angle wheels.

The newer Lionel trucks with those flat wheels roll amazingly smooth. And they don't seem to hunt left / right as much on flat track as the old fast angle wheel trucks do.

A flange is necessary to keep the wheel on the track. Some steam locomotives had "blind" drivers without flanges for tight curves but their tires were wider and they were kept on the track by flanged drivers next to them.

 

3railguy posted this explanation of "fast angle wheels" on Classic Toy Trains Magazine Forum:

 

Fast angle wheels first came out when MPC took over Lionel. The wheels are not squared off where they ride on the rail. They are angled to the flange. "Fast angle" is a toolmaker's term for adding an angle to a surface so the part can be quickly removed from the tool without marring the surface during manufacture. Hence the term "fast angle wheel" coined by Lionel employees.

 

 

The fast angle did more than benefit manufacture. Because the wheels are fixed to the axle, it benefits them on curved track. The wheelsets can drift to a point where one wheel diameter point touching the rail is slightly larger than the opposite wheel diameter point touching the rail. This reduces friction because the outside rail is longer in circumference than the inside rail. Especially sharp 031 or 027 curves.  If you look closely, you can see the cars lean into the curves as the outside wheels drift to a larger diameter.

 

 

The only problem I ever experienced with fast angle wheelsets that are fixed to the axle is with postwar 711 072 switches as the wheels sometimes hug the guardrails. That happens because the wheels are fixed to their axles. Not because of the fast angle.

 

Originally Posted by CAPPilot:

Here is a diagram discussing real train wheels.

 

 

Since the wheels are attached to the axle, the coning is needed to allow the wheel to efficiently go around a curve (outside wheel will travel farther than the inside wheel). Same thing is needed for our toy trains.   

It doesn't show that the rails are also canted inward, on real railroad track. The tie plates have a definite direction to them, in order to cant the rails inward at the proper angle, which matches the same angle on the wheel treads, i.e. a 1 in 20 taper, on freight wheels and high speed passenger locomotive wheels have a 1 in 40 taper.




quote:




CW,

It seems like it was PM, maybe Model Railroader?





 

Back then, I switched between Model Railroader and Railroad Model Craftsman, based on which one I thought was more friendly towards Lionel fans.

There were a number of feature articles about what Lionel was up to.

I also remember one about the creation of the baby Madison cars.

 

Regardless, the appearance of the fast angle wheels was coincident with the switch from sintered iron wheels to die cast ZAMAC wheels.

It appears that Just Trains started putting his thoughts on Lionel wheels down on his web site: article

I read through this and don't think anyone has mentioned this.... or I'm just mistaken.  But I think real railroad wheelset are also this way in order to center the car even on the straights.  It keeps the flanges off the rail.  Instead of relying on the flanges alone, which would wear them and the rails out faster, they use tapered wheels that make the car roll down the tracks without the theoretical need for the flanges.  Of course you must have the flanges because the taper is not enough to keep the cars on the rails but it does work.  In the image below you see the flanges aren't even touching the rails!

 

whl001

 

Below is a picture of the theoretical wheelset without flanges. It would ride down the rails if everything were perfect.  It just wouldn't go through switches well.  

images

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  • whl001
  • images
Originally Posted by tackindy:

I read through this and don't think anyone has mentioned this.... or I'm just mistaken.  But I think real railroad wheelset are also this way in order to center the car even on the straights.  It keeps the flanges off the rail.  Instead of relying on the flanges alone, which would wear them and the rails out faster, they use tapered wheels that make the car roll down the tracks without the theoretical need for the flanges.  Of course you must have the flanges because the taper is not enough to keep the cars on the rails but it does work. 

 

You are correct!

I wouldn't put my eggs in one basket here.

Delrin over metal (the cost cutter too), needle point axles and the smoothness of those needle point tips vs PW straight tips. Then there is wheel tread taper contact area and wheel side thrust effects now being applied into them. The rolling stability, less toe in/toe out, wobble & the loss of friction points in a press fit wheel, are all present. 

 In order? Id guess the roll & re-delivered side thrusts #1, delrin, and tips are the next real keys. Wheel friction at the axle, then finally, the contact patch size on the rails last.

  Id give the position and angle with side forces applied better, more credit than the contact patch size.  The "flat" isn't really flat anyhow when you consider all the deviations from square possible, to have much more contact friction on a rail than a FstAngle at any given moment, and I think the wedge shape gains static friction vs flat a bit by shape/gravity alone maybe enough to negate the extra contact of the flat.

IE, I think movement, and angles are left after taking "O' razor" to it.

 Any physics majors?

 

   I was into the hobby back in 1981 and I remember that the chief advantage of Fast Angle wheels was as Pat Kn said: "What this does is reduce the friction between and wheel and the rail because less area is touching" the rail. In other words less "wheel" is touching the rail than with standard wheels, and so less friction is created. So, rolling stock with Fast Angle wheels roll more smoothly than PW wheels.

 

John Knapp

Erie, not Eerie

It isn't the fast angle wheels that actually improve the rolling characteristics, it is the switch from having the wheels rotate on the axle to having the axles rotate with needlepoint ends. The angled wheels facilitate the design by shifting on the rails while going around curves.

I have a source for this: page 101, first full paragraph on the right hand column, "Lionel, A Collector's Guide and History, Volume IV: 1970-1980"

What C.W. just said.

 

It is difficult to assess the impact of the fast angle of the wheels themselves, since I don't believe anyone has ever produced a wheelset with the 90 degree (flat) tread that has the wheels rigidly attached to needlepoint axles.

 

The only exception may be some wheelsets with smaller (closer to scale) flanges produced in the 1950s era by Walthers and Auel, among others, and intended primarily for 2-rail use.

 

You would need to compare rigid axle designs for both tread types for the results of a rolling comparison to be meaningful.

 

Jim

Last edited by Jim Policastro

Here is a great video that address angled wheels on trains that makes it pretty clear how it works in the real world and for our toys.

 

 

Here's yet another video that demonstrates the principle using a hoses for the rails, and plastic bottles and plastic cups to simulate the wheels and axles.

 

 

There also is another video somewhere, but I can't find it, where a guy does similar experiments with a heavy cylinder rolling on a curved toy train track and off course it doesn't handle the curves at all.  Then he does the same experiment where he uses a cylinder that is tapper on both sides and it perfectly navigates around the tight curve track because it can self adjust itself around the curve.

 

If I find that one, I'll post it here.

 
 
 
Last edited by pmilazzo

Think of it in feet per minute. Going around a curve at the same RPM the outer wheel must travel at a greater "Feet Per Minute" in order to keep up with the inner wheel thus eliminating drag. This is accomplished via different diameters of the wheels. On a curve the outside wheel will ride up on the larger portion of the taper and the inner wheel will ride on the smaller portion of the taper eliminating the SKID or Drag which allows for a smoother rolling of the car. On a straight track both wheels would be centered and ride at the same tapered portion of the wheel. 

Rod Miller

romiller   

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