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Lionel Alco AA set - one powered unit with Pullmor strains to pull three passenger cars on level track and I'm planning a steep grade to a second level.
Also ERR or other cruise control will be added after power upgrade, I have two unused ERR Cruise Cmdr-LITE boards that I'd like to use.

Considering these options:
1) Powering the dummy with Pullmor motor from donor loco.
2) Converting Pullmor to can motor, and likely the dummy A.

I'm a DIY guy so if anyone can point to source of can motor conversion parts please reply.

Lionel Alco ARR in foreground - K-Line MKT in background



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  • IMG_6259: Lionel Alco in foreground - K-Line in background
Last edited by Kelunaboy
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I have had the same experience with K-Line Alco's.  I added a second motor to the A unit and powered an additional A unit too.  Now longer trains are fine.  I would suggest that you add a second Pullmor. Or, you may want to choose the Williams powered trucks with can motors.  I've done both.  Converting a Pullmor truck to a can motor may be problematic, I've not tried that. The easy swap is the integrated truck and motor.

Last edited by Ahitpy

This is the way I went a few years ago. You may want to borrow an idea or two - or not.

WBB 027 FA2's. AA. I added Alco sound, ERR Cruise Commander (can motors required), an Electrocoupler at each end, directional headlights, and I moved one powered truck to the dummy, so both are powered. Not needed; I just liked the idea.  Big upgrade for a little locomotive, but it's a jewel. Fantastic switcher.

Added side numbers. Always loved the Erie scheme, but it no longer says "Erie".


My "tether" - isn't. I have to pick these up together, but they are easy to handle. One day, a diaphragm will hide the wires.



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For the F3, you might want to consider grafting a second power truck in, it makes an amazing difference!  I added the rear motor to the Lionel Phantom, and it turned an anemic puller that had trouble pulling it's four cars  on level Atlas track into a totally different locomotive!  It has sufficient pulling power to haul a dozen diecast hoppers all around the club layout, including the large grade.

Link to topic: Improving the Lionel Phantom Locomotive

Last edited by gunrunnerjohn

Thanks for all the suggestions!  I think my best option would be powering the second A with a donor Pullmor chassis and installing the ERR AC Commander.  I like this set
because it matches the Lionel Alaska O-27 Streamliner set (6-29041) that I have, and gotta love the Pullmor sound!

Chuck - good point on the Magne-traction.  I used FasTrack on a previous layout in Hawaii but had major problems with rusting rails.  I have moved to Washington State and
switched to MTH Realtrax,  I will test using steel tubular track for my layout incline to planned upper level.

D500 - Nice conversion of those Williams!  I have Williams Santa Fe F3 ABA and FA-1 AA - wonderful looking and running models - they are projects for the future.

Ahitpy - been on a K-Line buying bender, have MKT and Golden State (GS) AA passenger sets, and the GS has dual powered AA units and sounds, the sounds aren't
to my taste and may upgrade to a RailSounds board and swap in the MKT shells and use the GS set for parts.



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Last edited by Kelunaboy

I don't know about that Chuck.  My Phantom on Fastrack was a lousy puller with the single motor as well.  It also had really rotten speed control, basically stopped or warp speed!  Adding the second motor gave it much more controllable speed as well as way more pulling power.

A motor in the front is the worst place to put it, and it totally escapes me why if it would fit, they didn't put the single motor in back!

The motor in front pulls better.

We'll have to agree to disagree on this point!  I actually did some tests on the single Pulmore motor SD-11 engines as I had a customer that wanted to upgrade five of them.  Obviously, a second Pulmore motor was not an option in these models due to the narrow shell.

However, just turning the engine around and running it in reverse putting the motor in back increased it's pulling power by over 30%, a significant difference.  I did the same test with the Phantom before I did my mods and got similar results.  If I currently had a single Pulmore motored unit, I'd do the test again, but I don't.  However, I'm pretty convinced that the tests I did were accurate.

Well if you want to go in-depth, Lionel and the LCCA got taken to the woodshed with New Haven 'Merchants Limited' set. This was the first re-issue of the 'conventional classics' style Alco, from the rare 1958 set. It has a powered rear truck like the postwar version and later MPC ( 1970-80 ) Alco engines.  The locomotive could barely pull the set. When the add-on B unit and cars became available, forget it. The engine wheels would just spin. I have the original and LCCA re-issue sets. I placed the 1958 locomotive in front of the set and it walked away with the set. What was the problem? I found out by playing around with both sets that the Magne-traction on the LCCA re-issue was very weak compared to the originals. Cheap Chinese magnets. The way I corrected my problem was I has a spare 2 axle magne-traction truck from a broken common 218 Santa Fe Alco. It was a very easy swap of trucks as the re-issues are the same mounting as the original. Now the original and re-issue New Havens pull equal.

Operators were (are) very disappointed with this set.  If you go to Lionel's parts break down of the New Haven Alco, you will find this the only re-issue of this style of engine with the motor in the rear, all the ones fallowing are front truck drive. They have now added traction tires to the wheels along with a slightly improved Magne-Traction. The 209 NH did not have tires. I Asked Mike Regan years ago why Lionel changed from rear truck to front truck? Pulls better was his reply. Why couldn't they just make the magnets more powerful instead of changing the whole set-up? His reply was something to effect of 'That's just the way Lionel does thing now' Probably a pre-curser of Chinese manufacturing to come. (My comment).

So the OP's Alaska engines have the front truck motor with traction-tire wheels and Magne traction. Be sure the traction tires are fairly fresh and not glazed from running a lot.

So that is the story that got a lot of LCCA members back in 2009 PO'ed at Lionel for not making good on repairing the traction problem. I remember several 209 engines brought to me saying the engines were broken because they didn't pull the original passenger set.

Chuck, all I can say is I tested this twice as described, and both times I got better pulling power just by turning the engine around and running it with the motor in the rear.  So, unless proven wrong, I'll still advocate the motor in the rear if at all possible.

Lionel even got the message after a spell, check out the Vision Line Genset with the single motor in the rear.  It's an excellent puller, but I'm sure running it backwards would drop that tractive force a bunch.

Chuck you got me interested in the history of the Lionel Alco and it's fascinating.  Like most Lionel products, there were many variations, including both front and rear drive.
And yes my Alaska 1200 is front Pullmor drive with both traction tires and Magne traction.  New traction tires might help and I have ordered replacements.

I'll be on the lookout for a clean late model Alco with the front Pullmor and Magne traction, to serve as donor to power my dummy, which doesn't have pickups or lighting.

Would not mine having a 2033 AA set with the die-cast frame, but I would not modify it.

Last edited by Kelunaboy

That may have helped, but the Alaska, and others have the motor in the front, clearance problems I'm sure.

Hi Chuck... I could not find a parts breakdown on Lionels replacement parts ..BUT from the picture of the alco  in question . It looks like a normal postwar style shell.. if indeed it is why not just swap chassis and use the postwar style 200 series drivetrain.. and maybe do the upgrade I done ..    daniel

I guess it would depend on how much the OP wanted the larger motor. yes your motor modification would work if the motor was rear mounted, but that would involve drilling new holes in the frame for the speaker in the front, and other modifications for the circuit boards, etc. Lionel shows on their parts list the the original rear motor cutout frame is still available from NLTW, so if the OP wanted to get the frame and rebuild the engine and use your modification, it would be very possible. Would have to get a new front truck assembly also.

Last edited by Chuck Sartor

Since this Alco has a front coupler, you might experiment with running it backwards. That would put the motor in the rear for you. Of course, be sure the cars roll freely, too. Who knows? It might work. If so, then a shell-swap like DanssuperO suggests would be a simple and adequate solution. Though, I would use an MPC Alco rather than a postwar 200 series: better (more rigid) drive train, die cast sideframes on the rear truck for extra weight, already has traction tires. No magnetraction, but IMHO, if you already have tires, the magnetraction is superfluous.

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