Purchased ten years ago, from a used set breakup.

All four drive wheels are "ribbed".  It runs fine but sounds like a sewing machine on the track. 

The manual I downloaded doesn't mention traction tires or the "ribbing".

Is the purpose of the "ribbing" traction?  Have not seen other locos with this.

I installed traction tires but of course that insulates the outside rails and it won't run.

I could leave 2 traction tires off, which reduces the sewing machine noise, but also impacts operation, is there another solution?



Alaska T0-4-0



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Original Post

Yep, the ribbed wheels were an alternative to the rubber tires. They are very noisy when in motion. Certainly an idea many years ago that flopped. I have a JC tank steamer that has the ribs, don't think they were used on the larger locos.

Thanks Bill

Very noisy, don't like running it. 

Too bad, it's a nicely proportioned little engine. Wonder if there's room for a sound board...

Alaska Docksider MTH


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Last edited by Kelunaboy

Not a good design in my opinion. Could cause wear (on track and wheels) at track joints and on turnouts at gaps in rails. Roughness on the wheel surfaces that contact the rails would be better but not easy to manufacture.



I have quickly and easily machined the wheels smooth, and it is now a joy to run and it can pull 6 - 10 cars on level track with ease ! Flywheel action on this loco is top notch! I will post pics of the process and the results this week. Anyone can do it. It is worthwhile !, Clifford.

Kelunaboy, I will try to explain, but pictures would be helpful. I used a 2" abrasive pad, (3m) on a  air powered angle die-grinder . I used an accessory transformer attached to the roller pick-up and the frame. Flipped the loco on its back and secured gently in a vise. Here is the key to success, With voltage applied, I chose 14 volts, using light pressure on 1 drive wheel while pulling the trigger on the die grinder apply light to medium pressure on the wheels surface while watching the ribs disappear, at the same time you should count at about once a second. When all of the ribs disappear stop the grinder and keep track of the number you counted to. Use this number to count to on the next wheel and so on until all the ribs are gone from all 4 wheels. If you keep a good count all 4 wheels will be nearly the same and the loco will operate smoothly and quietly without wobble. I've done it 3 times with success. IMG_0597IMG_0598


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Clifford thanks for reply and tracking down those photos - all very helpful!

Will take stock of what I have for grinding and give it a try.


I have the same 0-4-0, it's the only one I've seen with the ribbed wheels.  I keep is as a curiosity.  I converted mine to TMCC and added automatic smoke control to turn it off when I stop.

Clifford and others

I would sure use a shop vacuum hose nozzle as close to the wheel grinding to try to catch the metal dust and keep the metal dust from getting in motor and wheel bearings.  Covering the running engine with a soft rag would help too if it can be kept out of the engines running parts.



Last edited by Choo Choo Charlie

I'd be real concerned about the metal shards getting into the locomotive as well.  Can motors have those nice magnets that want to attract those magnetic bits.

@CLIFFORD- Thanks for posting the photos and process you used. I have three of these Tank engines and love them but hate the wheel noise too. I don't have a lot of money into any of them so it's worth taking a shot at grinding the ribs off.
I think similar results can be achieved with an abrasive wheel in my Dremel.



If you run the motor, just holding a flat file on the wheel would probably knock the ribs off.  I wonder if knocking "most" of them off would still give a little traction and not be so noisy?

It would be difficult to use a file and end up with a round wheel. It would end up bouncing off the ribs leaving you with four dissimilar polygons. High speed abrasives with a light touch would give the best result.

If I had one of these I would just machine 4 metal tires. Actually it appears MTH just left off the tires to save a few cents.



Actually, I've done smoothing of wheels like this, and it works fine Pete.  Yes, if I had the ability, I'd machine them, but since I don't...  I've used the file method shaping several flywheels that I needed to add clearance, they were smooth as glass.

Spinning the wheel and using the Dremel would work well too, and it may yield a smoother result.

"Actually it appears MTH just left off the tires to save a few cents."

I always thought that the reasoning was electrical pickup; the flanges do indeed do part of the connecting on our locos, but I imagine that 4 wheels with "rubber" tires on them would have given iffy performance at best. 2 smooth and 2 "tired" might have worked. 

My ROW 3RO brass "Docksider" has no traction tires at all. It pulls anything that an 0-4-0 should be asked to do. If you find one of these on eBay it would make for a nice upgrade from the MTH. I think that they are both over-scale, especially the RK.

Tri-Ang used to produce a small 0-4-0 switcher with knurled wheels like that - even in OO, on solid track it was pretty horrible sounding 

Hand filing or Dremel grinding should be easier than filing down the diameter of a smooth wheel.  The bottom of the ribbed valleys would be a guide all around the wheel to keep one from over filing one spot.  Final grinding could then be done running the engine to spin the wheels to finish off the job.


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