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Greetings,  Has anyone installed rubber traction tires on a 1989 vintage 6-18501 Western Maryland NW-2 Switcher?  When applying voltage the wheels spin, but the NW-2 needs a little push before it moves.   

I cleaned the wheels and O'Gauge tubular track, but it hasn't improved performance.  Was considering installing rubber traction tires as a possible solution, but thought I would bounce this off the ORG Forum first for feedback.  Thank you.  Urbie

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@Urbie posted:

Greetings,  Has anyone installed rubber traction tires on a 1989 vintage 6-18501 Western Maryland NW-2 Switcher?  When applying voltage the wheels spin, but the NW-2 needs a little push before it moves.   

I cleaned the wheels and O'Gauge tubular track, but it hasn't improved performance.  Was considering installing rubber traction tires as a possible solution, but thought I would bounce this off the ORG Forum first for feedback.  Thank you.  Urbie

I am sure someone will correct me if I am wrong but I am quite sure the Lionel Western Maryland NW-2 Switcher which headed up the Fallen Flags #4 set back in 1989 did not have rubber traction tires but rather used good old post-war type magne-traction ; at least mine does.  If your Magne-traction is still good I see no real need for rubber traction tires.

Last edited by OKHIKER

You are correct!  When first sold the 1989 this NW-2 Switcher did not have rubber traction tires.  I was thinking in terms of an enhancement to eliminate the "wheelie" that happens when applying power to the unit.  From a dead stop, the wheels spin, but have difficulty grabbing.  Again, cleaning both wheels and rails did not solve the problem.  And, yes, the magne traction is still good. 

I have 6-38303 PRR GG1 (#2340) Conventional Classic circa ’08, and it has both magne traction plus rubber traction tires.  So there is precedent to have both on a modern era Lionel motive. 

Thank you for your reply.

How much are you trying to pull?  Are your wheels and track scrupulously clean?  Did you (sparingly) oil the axles of the trailing consist?  Personally I think die-cast freight cars were a terrible idea.  If you have any in your train, all bets are off.

One of the easiest things that you can do, is to add a little stick-on lead weight under the frame.  If the wheels are spinning that badly, it makes me wonder whether one of them is out of round, or your power block has warped from zinc pest.

If you're determined to have tires, you'll either have to pull your wheels and press grooved ones on in their place, or cut grooves into the wheels you have.  IMO that job is best left to someone like Frank Timko who has the experience and machine tools to do the job.  Finally, you could do what the real RRs did: add another loco, or reduce the load.  My $.02.

Last edited by Ted S

Thank you, Gentlemen for your suggestions.  Grove wheels are needed for traction tires to be installed.  I had forgotten about that.  So the traction tire option is out!  That was the basis for my initial question.

Should have mentioned the problem I am experiencing is new.  Previously the NW-2 pulled the exact same string of cars without the wheels slipping. 

I'll do some more experimenting and try and find a solution.  Again, appreciate the recommendations.

@Urbie posted:

Thank you, Gentlemen for your suggestions.  Grove wheels are needed for traction tires to be installed.  I had forgotten about that.  So the traction tire option is out!  That was the basis for my initial question.

Should have mentioned the problem I am experiencing is new.  Previously the NW-2 pulled the exact same string of cars without the wheels slipping.

I'll do some more experimenting and try and find a solution.  Again, appreciate the recommendations.

Be aware that it *is* possible to install 'traction tires' of a sort even if the wheel is not designed for it. I have several Marx 1829 4-6-4 steam engines that had exactly the same kind of traction problem you described, and as an experiment I installed flat rubber bands of the appropriate size on one of the driver wheels on each. None of the wheels were designed for traction tires (no groove, just a flat surface), so after disassembling the connecting gear to gain access, I added a rubber band to one of the outer rail wheels (when run in the direction I typically run the consist) on each engine, with a few careful drops of super glue placed between the 'tire' and wheel to secure it in place. I've had a few slip off in the past after a lot of running, but I guess my technique has gotten better because they seldom pop off any more, and so far there's been no apparent damage to the wheels or engine AFAICS.

Thank you, Steve,  I do have extra traction tires for my 6-38303 PRR GG1 (#2340) Conventional Classic circa ’08 that appear to be the same diameter as the wheels on my NW-2.  There is a single screw holding the side trucks to the wheel assembly so gaining access to the drive wheels would not be difficult.

I have a few more tests that I want to try first before going in that direction, but your feedback addresses my question about the feasibility of using traction tires as a possible solution...even if the wheels do not have groves. 

Thank you, again, for your reply.

Urbie, only other thing that I can think of would be for you to test the strength of the magne-traction on your Switcher.   I have heard from time to time that the on some post-war engines the magne-traction has weakened considerably with the passage of time.   Given the fact that this switcher is 34 years old it's conceivable that could be your problem.  I have been very lucky because I bought mine new way back in 1989 and the magne-traction is still super strong.    I can pull at least a dozen modern era freight cars including some die-cast cars with no spinning whatsoever.  Good luck.

Last edited by OKHIKER

If this thing pulled the same cars recently, to be sure the magnetraction hasn’t croaked that quickly, eliminate the variables by starting simple, …..look at the cars in your consist, which are often overlooked, be sure they all roll free, and the wheels are clean, and lubed. A lighted caboose with gummed up rollers & wipers can make a very effective brake …..

Pat

@Urbie posted:

Thank you, Steve,  I do have extra traction tires for my 6-38303 PRR GG1 (#2340) Conventional Classic circa ’08 that appear to be the same diameter as the wheels on my NW-2.  There is a single screw holding the side trucks to the wheel assembly so gaining access to the drive wheels would not be difficult.

I have a few more tests that I want to try first before going in that direction, but your feedback addresses my question about the feasibility of using traction tires as a possible solution...even if the wheels do not have groves.

Thank you, again, for your reply.

No problem, Urbie.

Please note that I fully agree with others that the best 'solution' is to use traction tires on wheels designed for them, but faced with slipping drivers on a non-traction tire-equipped locomotive, and all the other suggested remedies cited have been explored to no avail, it still may be possible to cobble together a solution. Please note my earlier caution, though: I can assure you that ending up with the loco's wheels and connecting gear superglued together will not improve your situation! However, with due caution in application, my proposed "backwoods" solution can help you stave off the wheelspin dilemma. Good luck!

Last edited by Steve Tyler

I'm just curious: for Magnetraction-equipped locomotives, is there any way to re-magnetize wheels that have lost their mojo over the years? Or, extending the question, can non-Magnetraction wheels be magnetized to create the same boost in traction?

On the second question, my suspicion/assumption is no, since AFAIK the original wheels would have had to have been made of some ferrous or other magnetism-friendly (nickel?) metal, rather than the (I assume) non-ferrous pot metal usually used in model railroad castings. I suppose it might be possible to embed a series of high-flux magnets around the rim of even a non-ferrous wheel, but at minimum that would take a lot of extremely fiddly metalwork, so it would probably be easier to fit replacement Magnetraction wheels (if available!) to non-Magnetraction locos.

Has anyone either experimented with either of these areas, or found an authoritative source of guidance?

Magnetraction uses a magnet in the truck or frame, not magnetized wheels.  There are threads on replacing the magnet though I've never personally done it.

Ah, thanks, GRJ, makes sense. Are the magnets suspended above the center rail, or are they designed to slide along it, like an electrical pickup slider? Any prior discussions about adding magnets to non-Magnetraction rolling stock?

[As you can probably tell from my assumptions, I'm not hands-on with Lionel rolling stock, being a mostly Marx guy.]

Good day, all,  Mystery solved!  After thoroughly checking the NW-2 for any possible issues, and bench testing the e-unit, the Switcher cycled correctly and the wheels turned freely.  Nothing to indicate a problem.  So the next step was to check the 6 PW cars in the consist for possible issues.

Sure enough, one of my PW operating cars (3672 Bosco Milk Car) had developed sticking axles.  Cleaned and oiled the axles and placed it again behind the Switcher.  No more "wheelies", and the NW-2 moved w/o any issues.

A simple but overlooked solution that was suggested.  I am embarrassed I didn't consider this during the early stages of troubleshooting.

Thanks to everyone for weighing-in with solutions and suggestions...all helpful!

I see the conversation has shifted to magna traction so I will leave that conversation up to the experts. 

Signing Off!  Urbie

@Urbie posted:

Good day, all,  Mystery solved!  After thoroughly checking the NW-2 for any possible issues, and bench testing the e-unit, the Switcher cycled correctly and the wheels turned freely.  Nothing to indicate a problem.  So the next step was to check the 6 PW cars in the consist for possible issues.

Sure enough, one of my PW operating cars (3672 Bosco Milk Car) had developed sticking axles.  Cleaned and oiled the axles and placed it again behind the Switcher.  No more "wheelies", and the NW-2 moved w/o any issues.

A simple but overlooked solution that was suggested.  I am embarrassed I didn't consider this during the early stages of troubleshooting.

Thanks to everyone for weighing-in with solutions and suggestions...all helpful!

I see the conversation has shifted to magna traction so I will leave that conversation up to the experts.

Signing Off!  Urbie

Sure glad you diagnosed the issue ……no sicklier feeling than tearing down a locomotive for no reason at all,…..😉

Pat

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