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Personally I despise rubber tires.  They eventually fail, requiring periodic replacement.  They limit electrical pickup by reducing the number of conductive wheels, and as they disintegrate they leave black residue all over the track.

I'm not sure what the product number of your GP-9 is, or what vintage.  My first recommendation would be to add a 2nd motor / powered truck.  This could be easy or difficult, depending on whether your existing powered truck also has collectors (pickup rollers), and how it is mounted to the chassis.  This will greatly increase tractive effort because now 100% of the loco's weight is on driven axles.  THEN add more weight, as low as possible in the fuel tank or chassis.

It's never good to add so much weight that the traction exceeds motor torque.  This is another reason I don't like rubber tires- running the loco above the motor's current limit, especially at slow speed, can burn out motors and circuit boards.  Some books will tell you to add weight to the point where the wheels just barely slip at the motors' full rated current.  Personally I wouldn't add more than about 10 ounces.

If your loco can't pull the desired train, look at each car and make sure the wheels rotate freely.  If not, put ONE drop of light oil on each car's wheel bearing.  Make sure the loco wheels AND your track are clean and free of oil.  Also make sure the loco's wheels are centered on the axle, and not out of round due to a manufacturing defect.

If your loco STILL can't pull the train, you will have to reduce your slope / grade, or do as the real RRs do, and add a 2nd powered unit.  With command control, a helper operation could be very interesting!  Hope this helps!


Last edited by Ted S

I suspect that the wheels can be changed out for wheels that have the grooves that can have traction tires..

I have a 1983 New York Central 20th Century Ltd set. It has a 2 motored AC A unit. Dummy B &A units: and seven aluminum passenger cars. It always had trouble on Atlas track. I had Mr Timko, of Timko's Repair Depot in Ohio, change some of the wheels to ones that can accept traction tires. Now the train runs fine (fully loaded) on Atlas track.

I suspect the Geep wheels and F3 wheel are comparable.


Very easy to do.  For Williams diesels without tires, I just stretch two over a pair of drive wheels on the same axle, and touch the seam with a drop of regular / water thin CA. Capillary action carries the CA around the circumference of the tire & wheel.

The weak shear strength of CA makes it very easy to just break off the tires & clean the wheels later if you need to.

The Stewart/Calumet 2505 Super Traction Tires seem to work best for this.

When traction tires first came out on Lionel products in the MPC era, I actually went the other way and converted those engines over to magnetraction so it is possible to go back the other way. In my case the axles, gears and wheels needed to be replaced. In your case just pull off the solid wheels and press a grooved drive wheel with the traction tire on to the axle.   Should be simple to do.

Last edited by Dennis LaGrua
Newt posted:

0D2CD28D-41C1-4C59-B781-AF3B932AB16DA48B9B52-3EA7-4983-9C4B-D97B590067A3Alright, I think I’m going to try to swap the wheels out for a set with traction tires. Can anyone suggest a wheel puller and where to get it? Also, where do I get the replacement wheels? This is a Lionel GP9 6-18879 with TMCC. Thanks for your help. 

I sent mine to Timko and he machined grooves in the wheels for traction tires.

Instead of pulling wheels, and possibly ruining two trains, I would look for an MPC-era rectifier, EP-5, or single-motored F-3.  They're so cheap nowadays you could steal the truck block and then get some of your money back selling the shell, e-unit, etc., on a popular auction site.  Or look in junk boxes at meets (remember those?)

Last edited by Ted S

No problem. If the locomotive doesn't have a die cast metal fuel tank you may want to find one of those as well. I have a late 90's Lionel GP9 with a Pullmor motor and Magnetraction like your locomotive. I added a die cast metal fuel tank and it'll pull 20 scale boxcars or 5 16 inch aluminum passenger cars with no problems on level, steel track. 

Newt posted:

Is it possible to add traction tires to a Lionel GP-9 (single can motor) with magna-traction? The magna-traction is dead on this loco and even if it wasn't, I'm using Atlas-O track (non steel track). Any thoughts on how to improve traction would be appreciated. Thanks. 

As Pete said, use Bull Frog Snot

It works very well, is easy to apply and isn't visually obtrusive.  WE've used it a l;ot at the HO club I belong to.  I've used it on a Lionel 1862 GHeneral that couldn't pull its own train, and now it pulls fine.

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